The Appalachian Trail in 60 Seconds

28 days until Springer Mountain.

I’ve been toying around with exactly how to start this blog.  How to talk about my hike when my hike doesn’t start for a month.  Many questions I’ve been getting pertain to a fundamental curiosity as to what exactly it is that I’m doing.  What it is to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  A little background strikes me as a decent place to start.  Good as any. 

A few bullet points for those that haven’t looked much into it: the Appalachian Trail, or AT as it’s commonly referred, is 2,194.2 miles long and stretches from northern Georgia to central Maine.  The precise distance is often documented with variation from source to source, but I’m going with my guidebook’s number.

The AT terminuses exist on the tops of Springer Mountain (GA) and Mount Katahdin (ME), after the 8.8-mile Approach Trail to get to the top of Springer and the walk down upon completion in Maine, we are talking more than 2,200 miles. It goes through 14 states and takes people through six national parks and eight national forests. 

Most folks walk Georgia to Maine (northbound or NoBo) but you can do it SoBo or any way you want.  Doing the entire trail is referred to as a thru-hike. 

It is a continuous walking trail, systematically going up and down as many mountains as possible with minimalistic shelters located at differing intervals. 

When a shelter isn’t available either due to my chosen distance for that particular day or if it is already full of sleeping hikers, I will camp in my tent.  Every few days I will take an opportunity to resupply food and other necessities by going into a town or outfitter or convenience store.  Whatever may be available.  I’ll filter water from streams, wells, lakes, we’ll see.  I plan on sleeping in a hostel or hotel at least once or twice a week, grabbing a shower and a bed. 

You are expected to register your plans to hike with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and report back upon completion.  Based on these records, only around 22,000 people have ever successfully completed a thru-hike, a number that surprised me greatly. 

The trail was completed in 1937, and the first thru-hiker ever, Earl Shaffer, completed his journey in 1948.  Shaffer was a World War II vet, presumably working through some shit. 

I’m hoping through this experience and through this blog, to shed a little light on what it is that makes myself and so many others feel compelled to retreat to the woods when looking for clarity, peace, fun, escape, and freedom.  Figure out exactly what it is I’m working through, and maybe even work through it a bit.

*Appalachian Trail Guide 2022
*AWOL on the Appalachian Trail                          *Appalachian Trail Conservancy
*21 Fascinating Appalachian Trail Facts, Kenny Howell blog

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 6

  • pearwood : Feb 28th

    Go for it! Maybe we will meet on the trail. I am restarting in a week but not planning to set any speed records.
    Blessings on your way.
    Steve / pearwood

    • Big Mike : Mar 2nd

      Thanks again Pearwood! Hope to run into you out there!

  • Scooby Doo : Feb 28th

    Better to begin hike in March. Hiking the AT at a transitional point in life was good for me. Had sold my business and my husband took a new job in another state. He was great support and mailed all my provisional packages on time! BOSO twice a day saved my feet! Boots off socks off. All the best to you and God bless.

    • Tractor : Mar 2nd

      Cool Man, the trail and your body we tell you what you can and can’t do, listen to both. Good on you for walking just remember the trail and the streets are two different animals. Your hike may feel like work at times but don’t look at it as work. I think you are going to do just fine. Tractor

      • Big Mike : Mar 2nd

        Thanks for reaching out! To whatever degree my body is prepared, I feel like I’m mentally prepared to accept. Seems like a workable place to be. I appreciate the encouraging words. Happy hiking to you!

    • Big Mike : Mar 2nd

      Yeah I’m chomping at the bit to get started but know it’s best I wait just a bit longer. Registered for March 27th about a year ago! So fortunate to have the support of your husband during your hike. My wife has been amazing, I can already assume what a benefit that will be emotionally and functionally. Did you ever find that missing someone was a disadvantage? Bargaining with yourself about quitting to see your husband? Only curious


What Do You Think?