It began with Ed Garvey’s book “Appalachian Hiker II,” which I discovered at a backpacking outfitter. I read it to enjoy a first-person account of walking the legendary footpath which runs from Georgia to Maine. I didn’t realize I would find myself tracing Ed’s footsteps just over a year later.
Finishing my read, I considered what sort of preparation it must take to complete the 2,000-mile trip. Curious to find out, I purchased one in a series of Appalachian Trail Conference guidebooks. The “North Carolina/Tennessee” guide came with colorful but serious topographic maps. The chapters showed mileage, road crossings, resupply info, reliable water sources, local history, as well as the flora and fauna a hiker might expect to see. This was intensive logistical and planning material! I was amazed by the necessity of planning and preparation required of anyone heading out to hike. Walking the Appalachian Trail would not be a matter of simply shouldering a pack and hitching a ride to the trailhead. A successful hike meant planning and answering a lot of questions:
- how much money would it take to hike the entire Trail?
- how far could one expect to hike in a given day?
- what sort of food would a hiker need to eat to sustain their energy?
- what physical preparation was required?
- what risks/dangers were involved?
- what if it rains? snows?
- how much weight could a hiker carry?
- how big should a pack be?
The list of considerations seemed endless, and overwhelming at times. Priorities would need to be set. Decisions weighed. As if on autopilot, I found myself awash in the details involved in making preparations, which was where my own personal journey on the A.T. began.