My AT Trek is Over for Now

My Thru Hiking Lesson After 777 Miles on the AT

Nothing could have ever prepared me for what lie ahead when I embarked to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. My major dehydration/heat exhaustion in Unionville, NY, the dental problems in Monroe, NY and finally the severely sprained wrist in Lincoln, NH.

One never budgets the expenses that go along with such pitfalls mentioned above. It’s expensive when you’re not on the trail! Those motels/hotels and town meals do major damage to the wallet and can send the 3$ a mile budget into a free fall.

After that mean fall coming down Moosilauke and severely spraining my wrist, I made the tough decision to return home to recover. And that ended up costing me almost triple after trusting an irresponsible person that had committed to get me to Logan on time, then failed to follow through.

Be that as it may, I will not be returning to the trail for a while. After reevaluating my funds available and another unexpected expense after arriving home, there just isn’t enough left in savings to hike the remaining 1400+ miles without going totally broke. And the wrist is not healing as fast as I hoped it would either. It’s a very depressing world right now.

Over the last 10 weeks I have learned some lessons the hard way. These were things that I had read about ahead of time, but they just happened to appear differently for me. I think that impulsiveness was my primary enemy as it has always been. It’s okay to say no when others are taking a zero that wouldn’t be a healing experience for me. Having a plan to get in and out of trail towns without an overnight stay would have done wonders for me early on. Because when you’re not on the trail, it’s expensive. I would always tell myself: ‘I need to stay on the trail more’, but didn’t follow my own advice too well. Going that extra 30 miles or so will cover a resupply and a nice meal in town every time.

I had not been very good to my body the first 300 miles of the hike. Hydration and diet are the backbone of a successful thru hike and certain diuretics rob the body of essentials needed to fuel a 15 to 20 mile a day hike. My 55 year old body needs a liter of water every 3 or 4 hours enriched with electrolytes and B vitamins. My consumption of foods to properly fuel my body was also taken for granted early on. I did a lot better job at this over the last 200 miles.

My hike would still be thriving had I adhered to the advice above. And hopefully, it will help someone from putting their hike into the same predicament after reading this. Had I followed what I fundamentally already knew, I could have better absorbed and prevented the expenses that came with those unexpected setbacks that occurred during my hike.

Had I hiked my own hike and listened more closely to my body and better judgement, I would probably be in Maine today.

So, as the saying goes:, “I’ll be back”.

As ironic as it is, the AT did not give me a Discount! And for those that don’t know, Discount is my trail name and I was doing a flip flop thru hike NOBO from Harper’s Ferry. Hopefully, I’ll be ready for a full NOBO next Spring.

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Comments 8

  • Laurie Potteiger : Jul 8th

    Discount, it was such a joy to meet you in Harpers Ferry and follow your thru-hike progress. Your enthusiasm and humor just lit up the Trail. I’m so sorry to hear about the injury to your wrist–and your wallet. It’s hard to leave the Trail before you had planned. I would have driven you to the airport if that would have saved your hike!

    Hope you have a great year and I can’t wait to see you come through Harpers Ferry again next year!

  • Brent D Csehy : Jul 8th

    Discount –
    I met u during a rain/hail storm in Vermont at Stratton Shelter (I think that was the name of that thing). You gave me advice on jar vs. individual cups of peanut butter in Manchester Center. I am so sorry to see u leaving the trail. ..I truly hope u are able to heal physically and financially and find ur way back to the trail.
    Take care of yourself! !
    – SomeDay

  • Sandta Moore : Jul 8th

    Discount…Sorry to hear of your injuries but there is always next year.
    Not sure whete you’re from, but if you’re interested in hiking from HF next year, we could help each othet save money & help each other’s “older” bodies remain & maintain better balance.
    I was 2 days away from leaving MT last year, my hiking buddy backed ouy, my docs were fine with me hiking BUT my hubby wasn’t excited about me doing a Section Hike al9ne due to my heart diseases. So, I canceled my Amtrak ticket & stayed home grumbling while Dan was off skiing for a week.
    I am training for 2018 & am lookong to jike, be sage, save money & finally scratch the AT off of my Bucket List. We all know that my heart is not anle to do the entire jike in 6++ months but I can do Sections.
    I will “Hike My Own Hike”…dont meed help physically, except to satisfy some of my friends, my hubby’s and Docs concerns.

    I long distance walk at 6000+ feet, bike poorly & walk & hike a lot. Ski 5 days a week in the Wintertime.
    Hoping to do some hiking on the PNT tjis year or next year also with a friend.

    I can help you if you can use some Amtrak points for travel to & from your area.

    Hoping that I’ll get to hike with you. Personal email is Gerald10121926@gmail and my name is Sandra. Im a 64 yr old “wannabe” AT Hiker in 2018. Trail name : MONTANA. So original:)

    Hope to hear from you.

  • Sandta Moore : Jul 8th

    Sorry. My typing is bad! Fingers too large for keyboard…

  • Mike Berman : Jul 9th

    As someone almost exactly your age that has the desire to achieve the same goal I found your article particularly helpful. My biggest problem is that I am still a couple yrs away from my start date….I guess being financially ready to.go six months without income and spending money in trail towns is quite a financial committment. I am considering splitting the hike up into one third sections over a three year period. I would be interested to follow your exploits when you return to the trail.

  • MARK : Jul 14th

    Interested on what you recommended for electrolyte and be vitamin additive to water

  • Ruth Morley : Aug 19th

    Discount, I hope you’re healing up well and have plans in the works for next year.

    I’m presently SOBO from H. Ferry for the past 26 days. Plan on getting to Springer in late October. I’m taking your advice to heart and drink plenty of water and Nuun electrolyte tablets in water, as well as a nutrient rich diet.

    I truly hope to see you out there next year. I’ll be starting my NOBO half from H. Ferry in mid-April ’18.

    Take care and get healed.


  • Ruth morley : Mar 24th

    Discount, will I see you on the trail this year? I had to quit after 500 miles last September, due to foot issues. I’m heading back in 4 weeks to continue SOBO from southern VA, then back up to do the northern half.

    I hope to see you along the way, with that wrist well healed.


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