Appalachian Trail Lessons: Of reading, planning, and logistics

A pathway into the wilderness.


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.


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Filed under A.T., Achievements, Anxiety, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Backpacking, Climbing, Competitiveness, Consequences, Courage, Decision making, Earl Shaffer, Fear of falling, Fear of heights, Foot travel, Goals, Hiking, Life changes, Living, The Appalachian Trail

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