6 Great Tips for Successfully Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail
If you love hiking, Appalachian Trail is just the thing for you. This National Scenic Trail is one of the most popular outdoor destinations not only for Americans but also for people coming from all over the world. This really isn’t surprising as Appalachian Trail or A.T. is one of the most magnificent trails in USA. However, hiking on this trail is not as easy as one may presume. It requires thorough mental and physical preparation. There are also numerous things you have to know when it comes to diet, rest, water, wild animals etc. So, if you intend to thru-hike A.T., better check these 6 awesome tips.
1. Setting Reasonable Goals
Appalachian Trail is approximately 2,000 miles long. It is a long journey and for most people, it takes about 6 months to hike-thru. Based on this alone, most people will not make it. Before you start hiking, you have to set reasonable goals that will help you perform this feat. If you do not have the necessary physical preparation, it is better to start with smaller distances.
Furthermore, if you haven’t done any prior preparation, do not be surprised if you falter after a couple of days. You have to be realistic and base your hike on that. There is no shame in hiking for a week or two. It will still be a positive experience. On the other hand, there is no point in forcing yourself to hike if your body is no longer able to withstand such physical strain. With that, we come to the second thing on our list.
2. Physical and Mental Preparation
Thru-hiking can be really arduous. Not only do you have to be perfectly healthy and fit, you also have to have strong will. Without it, you might stop at any time. But, before we can talk any further about your will, it is necessary to get into shape. You will require enormous amount of endurance and leg strength. This will also allow you to withstand all the mental trials. It is also recommended to lose a couple of pounds before you start hiking.
Even if you are fit, you will probably lose a lot of weight on the trail. Hiker has to deal with constant exhaustion. This is why you have to be mentally prepared. Do not think about long-term goals; hike day by day. Also, you have to convince yourself you are able to do it.
3. Prepare a Lot of Money
As previously mentioned, thru-hikers usually take about 6 month for the Appalachian Trail. In other words, you will have to feed yourself for 6 months. When talking about money, hikers spend different amounts on the trail. There are those who hike on a budget and are able to spend about 1,000 dollars per month and there are those who prefer a more luxurious option and spend more than 3,000 per month. Nevertheless, you will have to have some money on your bank account. Additionally, if you do not have camping equipment, you will need another 1,000 to 1,500 dollars.
4. Be Careful With Food
Food is one of the most important factors allowing you to thru-hike the A.T. Without it, you won’t get the necessary nutrition. Hikers who walked on this trail know that you will constantly be hungry. However, most of the people make a mistake and only eat one or two types of food, usually those that are most nutritious.
Although this is the way to go when it comes to nutrients, it can be devastating for your psyche. Eating one and the same food over and over will allow you to withstand physical pressure but it will also force you to quit due to mental strain. So, every once a while, treat yourself with a cooked meal, candies or fast food.
5. Respect the Nature
Hikers often feel that Appalachian Trail is a safe haven due to numerous hikers, nice paths and shelters. But, no matter what you think, you have to realize that you are still in the wilderness. There are wild animals around you and various hidden dangers. With that in mind, do not stray too far from regular paths and do not interact with the animals.
Bears represent the greatest danger. They can easily sense your food and come to your tent. Make sure to cook and prepare food away from the tent so that the smell doesn’t linger around attracting the bears. Also, put your food high on the trees. Do not sleep near your food.
6. If Possible, Find a Company
In last couple of years, there has been a lot of hikers on A.T. That being said, it shouldn’t be too hard finding company. Hiking with another person (preferably your friend) takes the edge off. It relaxes you and it can be a great stimulant for finishing the trail.
Furthermore, company of another person can be one of the best things for your psyche. However, you will have to be careful. If you decide to start hiking with a person you do not know, bear in mind that person might be a bad one. Most of the hikers are regular people who came to conquer the trail. But, there are always bad apples.
Good preparation is crucial for beating the Appalachian Trail. Even if you do not have any experience hiking, we recommend that you try out this trail. The natural beauty alone will be enough to make it worthwhile.
Written by Nik
Nik is a copywriter and content strategist for BackpackerVerse.com. He is very keen on hiking and travelling and loves to spend time in nature with his family. He has hiked some of the most popular trails in Europe and is looking forward to expanding his backpacking experience in America and Asia. The next thing on his bucket list is the Appalachian Trail which Nik is hoping to thru-hike in 2017. He’s a family man and enjoys making new friendships and conquering new peaks.