Just the Facts!
7 Sep 2017
It’s been a little over a month since I made my departure from the AT. As I look back, I often wonder, “Should I have continued?”
Even though I was hurting and falling down almost every step, I wonder if I made the right decision to end my AT Thru Hike. I do believe it was the RIGHT decision to leave the trail…but I want to go back.
Now that I’m home with the creature comforts of RV Living, I have time to ponder many things about the trail. Even though I had HATE for the trail at various times, I now look back at the fond memories that captured my adventurous heart as I traversed the miles day after day. While there were MANY, and I do mean MANY, times that I prayed for the day and hiking to end, I now think about it very differently. In fact, I find myself contemplating another go at it to finish what I began.
While I read about the snow beginning to be reported in The Whites, especially on Mount Washington, I know I won’t head back to that part of the trail IF I head back at all. That’s just too much COLD for me to deal with.
Additionally, I found myself going over my plans, calculations and spreadsheets after I got home. I had kept some data while hiking on my daily distance, locations I stayed, speed and times. These figures are eye opening for sure. It was nice to know if I was going slow or if I was being lazy on the hike. Even with some difficult terrain, I found that this helped motivate me to get moving each morning. Additionally, myWife insisted I keep track of my financial outlay in a spreadsheet which covered all costs associated with this hike. Therefore, I think it only befitting to provide those figures for the pleasure of the viewing audience.
For those PLANNING an AT Thru Hike, my numbers may not be an accurate figure to base your future plans because of my injuries and traveling back to Missouri. I did spend substantial money on my travels during my thru hike which I hadn’t planned for. However, it is the cost of doing it…it’s not cheap to get to and from Maine.
Give Me Some MILES
First off, I was surprised (really disappointed) to learn that I had only spent 58 days hiking with 6 of those being NEROs. Yeah, with 107 days elapsed since I started this adventure — that’s a 54% hiking rate. I did have many days off trail due to injury and recovery, but I still find it hard to believe I was only hiking for a little over 2 months…it sure felt like a LOT longer than 58 days.
- 107 total days
- 58 hiking days
- 52 long hiking days
- 6 Nero hiking days
- 1 Zero day (Monson after the 100 Mile Wilderness)
- 11 Travel days
- 12 Injury days
- 25 Recovery/Wait days
How’d I HIKE
My breakdown of hiking went like this…
- Hiked 9 days
- Break back to Missouri for 5 days
- Hiked 21 days
- Injury Zeros for 2 days
- Hiked for 2 days
- Injury off trail for 32 days
- Hiked for 9 days
- Zero after 100 Mile Wilderness
- Hiked 15 days
- Injury off trail for 6 days
- Hiked 2 days
- Off trail for good
Push the PACE
While I did have a few good runs with 21 days and 15 days of hiking (there were some Neros in there), I felt good with that pace. It was the injuries that took their toll on my schedule. The biggest hold up was scheduling a campsite in Baxter State Park to get back on the trail in Maine for my Flip Flop. While I was ready to get back on the trail in about 2 weeks, there weren’t any available reservations for me to get started (again). So wait I did…
My fastest day was on 19 July when I pushed out a 4 mph pace. Granted that was only a 3 mile day, but I was moving quite quickly to get to my Nero and ZERO in Monson, Maine after being in the 100 Mile Wilderness. There are somethings, like food, a bed and some much needed rest that help you pick up the pace to get into town. This was definitely the case as I came into Monson…I was ready for a break. My fast LONG hike day was when I was heading into Hot Springs. On 25 May, I hiked 17.9 miles at a 2.557 mph pace. Not too shabby for a long day.
As for my slowest day, it was my last day on the trail — from Imp Campsite to Pinkham Notch. With a pace of 1.09 mph, it was SLOW… Additionally, my average hiking speed on hiking days (Nero and Full Hiking Days) as a respectable 1.839mph, but that was sliced in half if you include the total number of days (107) to snails pace of 0.99mph.
The breakdown on days for speed was like…
- 4 days >= 2.5 mph
- 13 days >= 2.0 mph
- 46 days >= 1.5 mph
- 12 days < 1.5 mph
- 3 days <= 1.125 mph
- 0 days <= 1.0 mph
That’s LONG Enough
My longest hiking day was on 27 May when I hiked 22.8 miles hiking from Little Laurel Shelter to Hogback Shelter. I can remember this day well, because Chipotle (@chipotle.hikes) was the driving force on my big hiking days back then. He easily did 19 miles in about 5 hours less time than me. However, each morning as he passed me on the trail, he’d goad me on by saying “I’ll see you at the shelter tonight!” So, I would push on to meet up with him, Yogi and Blitz. However, there were many times, I didn’t know how I made it! Thanks for the extra push from Chipotle, I made it each time.
I was impressed with my miles per day average. In fact, I was surprised to find out that I did so well with most (47 of the 58 hiking days) being Greater Than 10 miles/day.
- 2 days >= 20 miles
- 26 days >= 15 miles
- 47 days >= 10 miles
- 11 days < 10 miles
- 3 days <= 5 miles (Neros)
- BTW: I had ONE day in Maine where I had my One and Only 10 miles before 10am
Show Me the MONEY
Travel Costs…Ride in Style
The travel costs ate my lunch. While I had planned on this in a round about way, I never imagined it would skyrocket like it did. My total travel costs include myWife taking me to Springer Mountain and returning home (gas, lodging, food, etc.). Additionally, the cost to come pick me up in Damascus, VA are added to this… Finally, my Flip Flop to Katahdin and trip home were the final travel costs. The travel cost total ended up being $2,427.00 YEAH…that’s steep! That’s a cost of $3.12/mile for travel expenses.
Hiking Costs per Category
The cost of hiking includes the various equipment and gear I purchased BEFORE I even did one mile on the trail. As a NEW hiker, I had to get all of the gear to do this. Then you add in the Hostels, Hotels, Resupply, gear on trail, eating in town, laundry, shuttles and permits. This amounted to $4,739.29 OUCH!!! Here’s the category breakdown…
- Gear – $2,302.70
- Hostel – $605.79
- Hotel – $457.56
- Resupply – $536.60
- Eat – $652.34
- Permit – $52.00
- Laundry – $38.00
- Shuttle – $17.00
- Donation – $77.30
That’s a whopping $6,502.63 for the entire trip (Travel and Hiking costs).
Cost per Day
Again, the cost per day was pretty steep. I never imagined it costing my $60/day for ALL days (hiking, injury, off trail, travel). But the real eye opener was the cost per hiking day…which came in at $110.21! Yeah, that is correct…OVER $100 per day of hiking.
Cost per Mile
Then there is the cost per mile. When you use the 778.1 miles, it makes the cost per mile $8.36/mile. This was broken down in to hiking costs per mile at $6.09 and the travel per mile cost of $3.12…I’d say I was just dumping money along the Appalachian Trail. So if you find any cash just laying around out there…it’s probably mine.
From this, it is easy to see that hiking an AT Thru Hike is NOT cheap.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
Thanks for the cost breakdown. I had no idea that it could cost that much. You had to get there. You had to eat. You needed equipment. Not very much room for cutting expenses. If you would have completed your thru-hike do you think the hike would have been worth it to you?
Your AT financial experience was a lot of money. Knowing how you spent your money, what could you have changed to lower the price? This is probably a leading factor in the dropout rate on the AT.