Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Preparation Takes Several Months
Admitted, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. All I had done was read Bill Bryson’s bestseller, A Walk in the Woods. Nonetheless,
I spent at least four months of almost full-time planning to thru-hike the 2,181 mile Appalachian Trail. I had never even spent the night
outdoors. Of course many thru-hiker wannabes will have backpacking experience under their belt. Why does it take so long? Actually some
of that time was physical training which I highly recommend. The most difficult of the fourteen states are the last two, New Hampshire and Maine.
However the next most difficult two are Georgia and North Carolina in the rugged southern Appalachians. So you need to have your game face on from the
beginning. And you need to have most of the right equipment and a backpack that does not weigh too much (if you ask me, you should not exceed 30 pounds).
Another thing to remember is that you will probably order things online that might need to be returned. My 7-foot long down sleeping bag from Western
Mountaineering did not have a ‘full-mummy’ feature, which I decided I needed. The replacement I ordered arrived the week of my thru-hike.
It’s not rocket science; but it all takes time for everyone but the most experienced hikers (and they are probably not reading this blog!).
Bill Walker is the author of several popular hiking books including Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail. He is also the author of
Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago, and Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.