Here’s What My Thru-Hike Plan Looks Like

I will be thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail going NOBO (northbound) starting April 8, 2019, and should finish around Sept. 22, 2019, plus or minus a week or two. That is, if I make it all the way. Here is my plan:

Getting to the Trail

I’ll be flying into Atlanta, GA, on April 7 and have arranged to have Ron’s Appalachian Trail Shuttle Service pick me up at the airport, supply me with a canister of cooking fuel, and drive me to Amicalola Falls State Park. At the visitor center on Monday April 8, I will sign in on the NOBO thru-hike registry, get my thru-hiker tag, weigh my gear on the famous pack scale, maybe get a picture taken at the famous archway, and then hike the 8.8 mile Approach Trail to the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. That’s right. I’m hiking 8.8 miles before I even get to the start of the Appalachian Trail, and at the beginning of this Approach Trail are 604 steps to the top of the falls. Some people skip this hike, but for some crazy reason, I am not.

My Itinerary

Around the beginning of the 2018 year, I picked up a copy of the 2018 Northbound AT Guide. This guide shows the trail and elevations, marks off the miles, shows all the shelter and water source locations, and gives all kinds of other information crucial to thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. With this guide and some additional research, I determined that I wanted to send myself 18 mailed boxes from home with food and other resupplies. These mail drops would be for areas that look like they do not have a grocery store or very good resupply options. While working through this exercise I also determined my estimated pace, what shelters and hostels/hotels I would stay at, and when my approximate finish date would be. According to my resupply plan, I should summit Mount Katahdin and finish my thru-hike on Sept. 22. Of course, this plan is most likely to change. If I’m lucky, I’ll be within one or two weeks of it. Fortunately, I don’t have a set date that I have to finish by, other than Baxter State Park’s Oct. 15 cutoff date for summiting Katahdin. I also will have my resupplies set up to be flexible so that I can choose not to send some items and choose alternative mailing locations. It would be remiss of me not to mention my dear friend Nancy Gamon, who will be sending me my resupply packages. Thru-hikers depend on those friends and family members giving their support through social media, helping with mail drops, or lending support in other ways, and I am tremendously grateful for mine. Thank you, everyone!

Next time, I’ll talk about the dangers of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

So until then, happy trails.

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Comments 6

  • Elizabeth Fisher-Smith : Feb 11th

    You are giving me so much to think about. I have the Northbound book also. Are you using Guthooks? What do you think your pace will be – and I guess it will change depending on section. The Happy and Yappy SOBO person did almost 30 one day recently just south of Smokies. I’ve never done more than a 12 mile trek in a day. I’m going to get one of those tick removers too.

    • Karl Halvorson : Feb 11th

      Hi, Elizabeth

      Yes, I will be using the Guthooks app.
      I am planning to start out with 8 to 10 mile days and work my way up to 10 to 15 mile days with maybe a few 20 plus mile days here and there. I doubt I will be doing any 30 mile days, but who knows.

  • Katy Amphlett : Feb 12th

    I’m starting the 8th, too! See you out there!

    • Karl Halvorson : Feb 15th

      Awesome, Katy! Can’t wait!

  • John Pence : Feb 15th

    Hey Karl , I live in the Cincinnati area and hope to start the AT adventure in 3 years. Good luck and I sure will be watching close.

    • Karl Halvorson : Feb 15th

      John, maybe I’ll see you around when I get back. You should check out Cincinnati Area Backpackers on Meetup if you haven’t already. Great group of people.


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