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
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?
- To live for a few months where I am my own boss,
moving at my own pace.
- 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.
- To try something that few people accomplish.
- 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
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
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
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
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
|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
|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.