AT Report Card: Mid-Hike Review
I reached Harpers Ferry – the emotional halfway point of the Appalachian Trail. I’ve crossed over 1,000 miles and finished four (almost five) states. At this halfway point, I’d like to reflect on different aspects of the trail and trail life that I’ve experienced so far.
The weather has not been great. Of course, that is to be expected on the AT. But regardless, I’d give it a C-. I experienced snow in April and May has been about 85 percent rain. The sunny days have been rare – and when it has been sunny it’s been extremely hot and humid. We aren’t hiking the AT for good weather, that’s for sure.
Trail Conditions: B
The trail conditions have been good for the most part. Certain areas are extremely rocky, some have more blowdowns than others, but trails have been mostly well cleared and navigable. I’ve been overall very impressed with the trail maintenance and simplicity of following the trail.
I have met some amazing people on the trail. This includes fellow hikers, day hikers, and hostel owners. I’ve experienced a lot of hospitality at some of the most unexpected moments and it has added so much value to my journey. The people are what make the Appalachian Trail so special.
Trail Food: B-
At first I struggled to find nutritious foods that provided me enough calories and protein. It’s taken some time, but I’ve figured out what food satisfies me and how to get some (definitely not enough) fruits and veggies into my diet. It’s true that trail food does get repetitive and somewhat boring, but I don’t feel too uninspired yet.
Town Food: C+
It is true that any burger or any fast food tastes amazing while in town, but I would prefer to eat at more well-rounded, local restaurants while in town. I’ve felt like most trail towns lack a local place with serious variety. It’s true that Hot Springs had the diner and Damascus had some local options, but that’s one thing I wish we could come across more of. I think the North will have more of those options and I can’t wait to explore them.
My Gear: A-
I’ve been very happy with my gear so far. I am far from ultralight, but I think my setup is pretty good despite that. I’ve had to make some minor adjustments, but nothing serious. I wish my tent was a bit more watertight and I wish my rain jacket worked, but with the serious downpours we’ve been having, I don’t think anything would ever keep me actually dry. Moving forward, I don’t think I will have to make any other major gear adjustments. What I have now will be taking me to Maine.
Shelters and Privies: C
Some shelters are objectively nicer than others and the same goes for privies. A privy is a privy and serves a simple job so I can’t complain about them too much. Certain trail clubs seem to do a better job with upkeep and maintenance of privies so some have less of a smell and are more pleasant than others – it’s a small thing that makes the experience a bit nicer. I personally am not a shelter person. I don’t like the lack of privacy and lack of personal space, but mostly I don’t like the mice. When possible I sleep in my tent because I prefer having my own space that I control.
Overall Appalachian Trail Score: A-
Overall, so far, I would give the Appalachian Trail experience an A-. It has been everything I hoped and dreamed of, but it truly is the most challenging task I have ever undertaken. The trail is testing me and pushing my limits. It’s forcing me to grow and adapt. I love the trail and I hate the trail, but I cannot wait to see what the northern half of the trail has in store for me.
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