Top Five Lessons from Former AT Thru Hikers

One aspect of hiking the Appalachian Trail I never fully appreciated, at least until recently, is the amazing generosity and support of the trail community…

From Trail Angels offering rides, food or stays in their homes to former thru-hikers providing encouragement.

I had pretty much given up on the long-ago dream of a thru-hike – too old, bad knees, etc. and then I stumbled upon Trail Journals and started reading. That led me to Appalachian Trials (first, the book, then the website.). I leaned that there were other grannies out there who had done this, including one that is pretty famous.

As part of my preparation I devoured blogs and journals, living vicariously through the classes of 2013 and 2014. Some of these hikers became role models to me – and boy was I surprised when some of my heroes reached out to help me!

So, in no particular order, here are the top five lessons I have learned from some of those who have walked the walk.

1. The hiking community are all pulling for you, so stay in the moment and HYOH. – Jim “Reset” Walker 2014

This makes me feel like we have a small army of supporters, mentally lifting us up.

2. The worst thing you can do is hike at someone else’s pace – too slow or too fast are both not good.  – Bill Herrick 1970s

3. Everything weighs something. Don’t think of two ounces as “next to nothing.” – Jackie “Left Turn” Kuhn 2014

4. After the first 500 miles it’s pretty much all mental. So, if you haven’t already, read Appalachian Trials– James “HOBO” Shrum – 2013

5. It’s not about camping the AT, it’s about hiking it. Nights in a bed and town food can really help with motivation.  – Mike “Don’s Brother” Stephens

In his journal, and in an upcoming book, Mike referred to this as the DBM (Don’s Brother’s Method).

For all of the e-mails, notes, comments and tweets, thank you AT Community!

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