Reflections from the Halfway Point of My 2018 AT Thru-Hike

I’m writing this from Carlisle, PA, at mile 1,130 of my 2018 AT thru-hike. These are some thoughts I’ve had as I reflect on the journey so far.Marker signifying the halfway point of the AT

People are supportive of thru-hikers.Shutterbug provided much appreciated donuts and Gatorade at a lunch stop

I have been surprised at how many people are willing to give their time and resources to support thru-hikers on the trail. I have been the recipient of trail magic in the form of drinks, snacks, and rides into towns on several occasions.

The AT is incredibly well-maintained.

Well-maintained trail on the AT

Having hiked half the trail so far, I have been very impressed with how well the trail has been maintained. There are rarely obstructions along the way. Kudos to the individuals and groups who give their time to keep the trail a pleasure to hike.

Hiker hunger is real.

Enjoyed this incredible breakfast at the Mountain Harbour hostel

I had heard of hiker hunger, but I was truly surprised at how much and the types of food I am eating. It’s been interesting to eat as much of anything I want and not gain weight.

Hitchhiking has been surprisingly easy.Town I hitchhiked to

I had never hitchhiked in my life prior to starting the AT. I really was not looking forward to this aspect of the hike, but sometimes it just makes great sense to do it. I’m amazed at how quickly I have been picked up and taken to and from the towns. The locals are comfortable with hitchhikers and there is no stigma attached to it.

The trail has been a contrast of deprivation and luxury.

Shelter on the AT

One day I’m shivering, trying to get some sleep on a cold night in a shelter. The next I’m sleeping in a hotel with all conveniences provided. I can be eating trail food one day, and enjoying an IPA with my rib eye steak the next.

It’s been nice sleeping in different location each night.

I’ve actually enjoyed sleeping in a different place each night. I’ve stayed in hotels, motels, shelters, hostels, peoples’ homes, and my tent. Even if the location isn’t ideal, it’s only for a night!

It’s truly a privilege to attempt an AT thru-hike.

Sign on the AT

So many things need to come together to even attempt an AT thru-hike. You need the time off, the finances, health, family support, and some luck for obstacles outside your control. I am trying not to forget this is a privilege afforded to relatively few people and be appreciative even in the hard times.Day 1 on Springer Mountain starting my 2018 AT Thru-hike

 

Affiliate Disclosure

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.

Comments 12

  • Avatar
    Capt. Norm : May 22nd

    I’m 59 also and trapped on a boat (for 40 years). Just about had it. Few health issues to clear up (knee replacement) and, god-willing, I will be following in your footsteps Rob. Good luck and Godspeed.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Rob Small : May 24th

      Your time will come Capt. Norm. You have an amazing adventure to look forward to!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Tina Swick : May 22nd

    I am 53…grew up in Chicago and lived in Downers Grove. I worked in Naperville back in the day. I am attempting my thru hike next March an the time isn’t going by quick enough! Have a great hike!!!!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Rob Small : May 24th

      Great to hear Tina! Train for hills and bring your warm sleeping bag.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    ADK46r : May 22nd

    I’m 64 and finished the ADK46r a couple of years ago. I’m starting the AT this September from Springer Mtn but in sections (luckily I finished Mass, NH, and Vermont sections already). I’m looking forward to getting “back out there” for all the reasons you mentioned. Happy trails!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Rob Small : May 24th

      No matter how you do it, the AT is amazing, have a great time!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    ron bluemer : May 23rd

    congratulations on making it this far. Hiked through Arches NM but never attempted the AT. Wish I could still join in the hiking and camping but at 76 you learn to slow down. Hope to see you when you return.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Rob Small : May 24th

      Thanks Ron, looking forward to see everyone in August

      Reply
  • Avatar
    ron bluemer : May 23rd

    Can’t imagine hiking the mountains through the winter months. Cold rain should soon be replaced with warm, sunny skies. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Ray w : May 23rd

    Keep us going Bob enjoy the time and nature for all of us stuck in cubes!!!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Rob Small : May 24th

      Thanks Ray, looking forward to getting together with you when i get back!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Pritch : May 26th

    Great article Starbucks! You’ve been a great hiking partner through the first half of the AT. … Pritch

    Reply

What Do You Think?