FAQs 

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

Helen Keller


Whenever people first hear that I am attempting this hike, they bombard me with questions, which I love to answer in order to educate others on backpacking and thru-hiking. In order to answer these common questions quickly, I have given short answers to those most frequently asked questions below. You will probably find longer answers elsewhere on the website, if you are interested.

Where did you ever hear of such a thing?

I first heard of the trail in "Backpacker Magazine" and then read the book Blind Courage about a blind thru-hiker who hiked the AT with his seeing-eye dog. After that it seemed like I saw and read things everywhere.

Why are you going?

Several reasons:
  1. To live for a few months where I am my own boss, moving at my own pace.
  2. To discover who I really am (priorities included) and practice being that person without being hindered by peoples' expectations which are based on previous interactions with me. I want to be kinder, less judgmental, less materialistic, and more open to the free expression of emotion.
  3. To try something that few people accomplish.
  4. To see America as we wish it could be (and is). There exists along the trail a micro-culture in which free assistance is given to hikers by shopkeepers, homeowners, hikers, truckers, postal workers, you name it. Examples include locals offering rides into town, or the use of showers. I have heard stories of hikers finding cupcakes, beer, water and the like left along the trail for hikers to take. Or, postal workers allowing packages to sit and wait for thru-hikers to come and pick them up, even after the traditional storage time has passed. Thru-hikers call it "Trail Magic." Plus, you are traveling along most of the original 13 states.

What will you eat?

Eventually, I will eat whatever I can get my hands on. Pasta and peanut butter will be a staple, I'm sure. When I get to towns, I will eat as much as possible, all things high in fat. I heard a story from a guy in Houston that he saw a thru-hiker eating mayonnaise out of the jar in order to eat as many fat calories as cheaply as he could. Yuck. I am also going to have some food mail dropped to me for those towns with little food and high prices. I will carry about 7 days worth at a time.

Will you get to shower?

Yes, since I plan to stay in town or someone's home (if I'm lucky) every week or so, I will take a shower about once per week. I will also wash up in streams and other water sources as they are available.

Will you lose weight?

Oh yeah. I will lose about 15 pounds (good-bye love handles). You can't carry enough food to keep up with the 6000 calories you burn per day. So, you slowly deteriorate the whole trip.

Won't you get tired?

Yes. The first 2 or 3 weeks will be the worst. After that time I will be trail hardened and not get as tired.

Where will you sleep?

In a bivy sack (a waterproof bag that slips over your sleeping bag) off the trail or in a shelter. The shelters are wooden with a bunch of bunk beds and mice.

What about bears?

They are along the trail but don't seem to cause much trouble. The trick is to protect your food by storing in a shelter or hanging from a tree.

Are you taking a cell phone or gun?

No. I am safer on the trail than in the city and besides, they both weigh too much. If together they weigh only 1 pound and I take 5 million steps while on trail, that "protection" just cost me a total weight of 2.5 million pounds per leg!

Who are you going with?

Me. I am not sure if there is anyone who could stand to be with me 24/7 for 6 months. I also want to have the freedom to do as I choose. Lastly, the trail is quite social and you meet people to hike with along the way. Some people even choose to pair up and share equipment, saving weight.

What will you wear?

See my Gear List

How far is it, where are you starting and where does it end?

2167 miles, starting on Springer Mountain, Georgia (north of Atlanta) and ending on Mt. Katahdin, Maine (2/3 the way into Maine).

How much will this cost?

A: The average cost just for the hike itself is $1.50 per mile. Add in car payments, insurances), renting storage space, equipment, etc.

How are you going to get in shape?

I started doing pushups and crunches and wearing ankle weights in December. I will start doing stairs in late January. Apparently, except for long backpacking trips, there is nothing you can do to get in the right shape.

How far will you hike per day?

I will need to average 14 miles per day to finish in 6 months. This allows for the extra mileage getting into towns for supplies.

Are there other long trails, and if so, why did you choose the AT?

In the US, there are currently the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. Both are longer than the AT but easier on the body (fewer elevation changes). They both are less social, not as well maintained, and do not have the history of the AT. A trans-continental trail is in the works, one end of which is in the Dakotas.