The Hard and Fast Numbers of the Appalachian Trail
Well, I did it.
I started April 22 and finished Aug. 31. In 132 days (four months and nine days), I took every step between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. I’ve celebrated with the friends I hiked with, I’ve had cake and champagne with family, I’ve visited nearly every friend I have in the Southeast, and I’ve even gone back to hike a 100-mile section just for fun. I spent about two months reflecting on my experiences before I finally settled back down (for now) and am back to working.
It didn’t take long at all for me to lustily miss the thrill of trail life. As much fun as it is to have access to a fridge, microwave, bed, and toilet 24/7, I know that the life I love the most doesn’t exist under a roof. And so, as the threat of post-trail depression looms ever closer, I have finally taken to compiling my notes to share for the viewing pleasure of not only myself, but everybody coming out of (or heading into) their next/first adventure.
Though I was not the most disciplined in keeping up with my blog (this one) while I was on the trail, I managed to journal every single day. Meticulously so. And with the help of the Fitbit that I wore every step of my journey, I am proud to post my trail statistics. For your viewing convenience, I have posted my stats under three topics, saving the longest and most tedious for last. The categories are finances, odds and ends, and miles and steps. I am happy to answer any questions anyone may have about any of these numbers, and in fact I welcome them. My hope is that this post will answer some questions aspiring hikers may have, but an actual discussion would be even better.
As I once presented my pack to the hiking gods at the end of the AT, I now happily share these numbers with you. Enjoy!
As one of the most frequently asked questions I have come across and also potentially one of the more awkward to ask, I have broken my expenses down so that folks can see how much an average/slightly fast hiker spends and what on. Before my trip even started, I spent about $2,000 on my gear. This number included all three pairs of shoes I wore and pretty high-quality, lightweight backpacking gear so that I was able to get my base weight down to about 12 pounds. After that, the total amount that I spent while on trail came out to $3,163.33.
It should be noted that I am from East Tennessee and have ample family and friends for about the first 1,000 miles. This meant that I had a few extra free places to stay and even a few resupplies taken care of by some of the generous people in my life. Even without these kindnesses, though, I would say that I still paid for 90-95% of what I needed for my hike on my own. Keeping these facts about my trip in mind, my numbers are as follows.
Amount Spent per State
Total: $3,163.33; Georgia: $82.23; NC/TN: $649.21; Virginia: $717.02; West Virginia: $0; Maryland: $42.81; Pennsylvania: $237.28; New Jersey: $166.25; New York: $60.08; Connecticut: $115.12; Massachusetts: $137.73; Vermont: $264.07; New Hampshire: $239.31; Maine: $452.22
Amount Spent per Day by State
Overall: $23.96; Georgia: $11.75; NC/TN: $21.64; Virginia: $23.90; West Virginia: $0; Maryland: $21.41; Pennsylvania: $23.73; New Jersey: $41.56; New York: $15.02; Connecticut: $38.37; Massachusetts: $34.43; Vermont: $29.34; New Hampshire: $21.76; Maine: $32.30
What I Spent Money On
Town meals: $863.82; lodging: $696.01; resupplies: $662.44; gear adjustments: $455.37; snacks in town: $153.12; drinks in town (mostly Gatorade): $104.10; transportation (not including to Springer or from Katahdin): $99.50; ice cream: $64.97; recreation: $49.25; laundry: $14.75
What I Spent, by Percentage
Town meals: 27.31%; lodging: 22%; resupplies: 20.94%; gear adjustments: 14.4%; snacks in town: 4.84%; drinks in town: 3.29%; transportation: 3.15%; ice cream: 2.05%; recreation: 1.56%; laundry: .047%
Odds and Ends
This is probably the most interesting section of this write-up, so if you are skimming and are only going to really look at a few numbers, check these bad boys out. I kept track of as many odds and ends as possible during my hike, and here is my collection.
Ramen bombs: 45
Cheesy shells: 13
Other trail dinners: 17
Lone ramens: 25
Tuna packets: 89
Pop-Tart packs: 29
Clif bars: 53
Other bars: 211
Stuff from Strangers
Free beers: 108
Shared marijuana: 27
Trail magic: 40
Hitches into town: 22
Hostel nights: 7
Hotel mights: 11
Other Things I Kept Track Of
Names of other hikers learned: 262
Times I totally ate it: 21
Bears seen: 19 (14 in Shenandoahs)
And the number I’m most proud of, my most miles in a day: 41.3
Miles and Steps
Miles per Day
These are my straight up raw numbers, the number of miles in each state divided by the number of days I was in that state.
Overall: 16.77; Georgia: 11.84; NC/TN: 13.22; Virginia: 18.13; West Virginia: 9.4; Maryland: 19.65; Pennsylvania: 22.55; New Jersey: 17.85; New York: 24.05; Connecticut: 18; Massachusetts: 21.63; Vermont: 16.42; New Hampshire: 16.13; Maine: 19.51
Miles per Day Without Zeroes and Neroes
Overall, I took 16 zeroes and 14 neroes. For my own sake, I decided to quantify nero days (days I didn’t hike all day) as days that I was finished hiking before 2 p.m. Of these 14 days, 11 of them were less than ten miles (and only two of those were in the first month). So, with the low numbers taken out of the equation, this is what my numbers looked like.
Overall: 20.54; Georgia: 13.82; NC/TN: 17.7; Virginia: 22.4; West Virginia: 9.4; Maryland: 19.65; Pennsylvania: 22.55; New Jersey: 23.8; New York: 24.05; Connecticut: 19.55; Massachusetts: 21.63; Vermont: 24.08; New Hampshire: 19.17; Maine: 21.02
Steps in Each State
Thanks to Fitbit and their awesomely simplistic Fitbit Zip (basically just a clip-on pedometer), I was able to thoughtlessly count my steps over the course of my trip. My desire to count my steps came after I read Zach Davis’s book, Appalachian Trials, where I first heard that it takes about five million steps to hike the AT. Even acknowledging that my Fitbit definitely wasn’t totally accurate, I was pleased with my results.
Overall: 5,209,067; Georgia: 210,637; NC/TN: 891,807; Virginia: 1,274,975; West Virginia: 50,753; Maryland: 90,758; Pennsylvania: 510,420; New Jersey: 165, 301; New York: 217,474; Connecticut: 129,703; Massachusetts: 204,294; Vermont: 352,003; New Hampshire: 469,668; Maine: 641,274
In his book, Zach suggests that even with an extremely high accuracy of walking (99.99%), a hiker will still take 500 bad steps. I decided I would figure out my own hiking accuracy, so every day as part of my routine, anytime I took a “bad step” (a step where I had to reset my footing to stay balanced), I kept tally in my head. The numbers below are the amount of bad steps I took in each state. For the record, I found that my hiking accuracy came out to 99.97%.
Overall: 1,430; Georgia: 51; TN/NC: 226; Virginia: 338; West Virginia: 0; Maryland: 19; Pennsylvania: 171; New Jersey: 54; New York: 61; Connecticut: 47; Massachusetts: 43; Vermont: 43; New Hampshire: 148; Maine: 229
Steps per Day
For the sake of keeping this post moving along, I will go ahead and just post my steps per day in each state only for my full days of hiking, that is, not counting my zero and nero days.
Overall: 47,727; Georgia: 34,037; TN/NC: 38,443; Virginia: 51,515; West Virginia: 25,376; Maryland: 45,379; Pennsylvania: 51,042; New Jersey: 53,754; New York: 54,366; Connecticut: 45,934; Massachusetts: 51,072; Vermont: 56,107; New Hampshire: 49,212; Maine: 49,147
Steps per Mile
OK, so this is getting a little bit tedious, but for anyone interested, it is indeed true that not all miles are created equal. This list breaks down how many steps each mile took in each state.
Overall: 2,353; Georgia: 2,541; NC/TN: 2,249; Virginia: 2,344; West Virginia: 2,699; Maryland: 2,309; Pennsylvania: 2,264; New Jersey: 2,315; New York: 2,260; Connecticut: 2,402; Massachusetts: 2,362; Vermont: 2,382; New Hampshire: 2,648; Maine: 2,347
If you’re still reading at this point, congratulations! If you are interested in any further resources, I would be most happy to share my spreadsheets; just send a message to [email protected] and I’ll hook you up. Also, here is my list of gear I used on the trail https://lighterpack.com/r/26yeev
Thanks for reading and happy hiking!
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