Category Archives: Long distance backpacking

5 Anchors for the Appalachian Trail

If your boat (or life!) has no anchor – you’ll drift! Likewise, if you’re backpacking the Appalachian Trail intending to reach Katahdin, you’ll need your own unique anchors to avoid “trail drift.”  We review what they are on this Flashback Friday. Enjoy!

Write in Front of Me

Photo courtesy talksrealfast at Flickr Photo courtesy talksrealfast at FlickrWill you anchor hold in the storms of life,

An anchor is defined as “a person or thing on which something else is based that can be relied upon for chief support, stability, or security; a mainstay.

The greatest anchor is Katahdin, whose looming summit entices when you first see it.  If the spirit of this summit doesn’t burn within you from the time you leave Springer Mountain your chances of becoming a thru-hiker diminish.  This is the “grail anchor,” and its majesty is compelling.  But Katahdin is many footfalls distant.  One needs other anchors — other goals — to guarantee a successful hike.  Let’s look at other anchors you can use to propel you to Maine

Towns.  Whether it’s to resupply for the next stretch of trail, or to find that all-you-can-eat restaurant you’ve been reading about in the trail registers, towns are significant…

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Decision making, guidance, Hiking, Life direction, Long distance backpacking, Outdoor sports, outdoors

An Appalachian Trail Backpacker’s Code

As backpackers and hikers gear up for another season in the wild, it seemed appropriate to revisit this post.

Write in Front of Me

Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr

Daniel Wood left journals from hikes he had taken. Among those pages I discovered this document. I testify it was written by him. He requested whoever discovered it would post it online for all Appalachian Trail hikers and backpackers.

A Backpacker’s Code

I realize that choosing to hike this trail is a fulfilling, but serious endeavor. In setting foot here, I choose to be responsible not just for myself, but for those I meet on the trail. While I may never find myself in such a situation, I owe it to myself and others to hike responsibly and stand ready to help another backpacker should the situation arise.

I realize that I am to be responsible to myself first, and self-reliant to the extent of my backpacking and camping skills. If I do not have the basic skills of the art I will seek out seminars…

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Life direction, Long distance backpacking, Outdoor sports, Travel, Walking, Wildlife

7 Posts From My Archives Every Anticipating AT Hiker Should Read

Stubbs offers some fascinating and worthwhile advice on how to increase your chances of enjoying a successful Appalachian Trail backpacking adventure!

Stubbs Rambles On

Hello readers! My apologies for my total lack of new content lately, especially on trail life. I’ve been tied up in the “real world” trying to get my life back on track after my injury, and I’ve also been in the process of getting back to work. It’s about that time of year when expectant thru hikers and section hikers are about to get the show on the road, and are wrapping up on that last minute planning and preparation. I aim to kick out some more hiking content in the coming weeks, but until then, I’ve put together a wrap up of some of my archived posts that I thought are worth a read if you’re still concerned or confused about things. All of these posts can also be found on “The Trek” blog, which I used to write for.


1) Happy Feet: Your Guide to Not Having Angry…

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Filed under Adventure, Adversity, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Dreams, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, outdoors, Transformation

Y’all come sit by the fire now…it’s story time! (Tales, Poems, and Songs for the Appalachian Trail Hiker)

What’s a hike along the Appalachian Trail without a good fireside tale?  Let Robert W. Service (1874-1958), known as “the Bard of the Yukon,” warm your bones with this classic chiller poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee.

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Fear, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, outdoors, Poetry, stories

The Dare Out There

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“On the street of by-and-by, one arrives at the house of never.” – Cervantes

The pressure is strong; the urge unrelenting.  The demands of life – work, earning a living, plus a thousand other things – quickly jam into each nanosecond of our existence, leaving little time to catch our breath, plan meaningful futures, or nurture things which matter most, such as relationships and finding a life purpose to fully commit to.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to take a leap of faith.  You have to simply put all other things aside and go; even if you don’t know how you’ll get there or what will happen when your backpacking boots move beyond the starting line at Springer Mountain, Georgia.

You just know: “I’ve simply got to do this.  Now!”

Somehow you just know.  The food that will fuel your soul, the sustenance which will galvanize you into going inside and giving yourself time to think and get to know who you are – lies in the glory of nature.  Yes, there will be a price to pay in pain and hardship, loneliness and ache.  But if you cross the zone along the trail (for me it was about the fifty mile mark) where it feels something has shifted and that you’ve somehow “broken through” the majority of your resistance and second-guessing, you will know you can achieve what you set out to do.  Hike from Georgia to Maine!

That’s when things will get really interesting.

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine (or in any other configuration you choose) will always be a benchmark for the rest of your life.  Even if you should not succeed in completing the entire trail, you will discover your outlook is brighter, your spirit bolder, your boundaries of possibility expanded.

My advice is not to fuss too much about which gear to use or whether or not you should saw the handle off your toothbrush.  Not if it delays your setting out too long.  I spent a year in research, gathering equipment, and planning.  Even then, I hit the footpath with a pack weighing 55 pounds to start with.  By the end of my trip that weight had drastically dropped to about 30 pounds.  The thing to remember is that is plenty of room to learn as you go.  Stick with the basics and set out.

Treat the land as if it were your own back yard.  In recent years I’ve been dismayed to learn the trails has suffered from littering and graffiti.  If you care about stewarding the world you live in, leave shelters and campsites better than you found them.  You will be amazed at how good you will feel when you spend a few extra minutes sweeping out a shelter with a broom!

Take time to – as the old saw goes – “hike your own hike.”  Leave high-daily-mileage setting to those who feel the need for such accomplishments and focus on your own; the pace that enriches your soul and makes your spirits fly when you unload your pack at the end of the day.

Whatever date on the calendar you mark to begin your journey, remember that the dare out there will bring out everything that is within you, both good and bad.  And that’s OK.  You are about to grow in ways you could never imagine before.

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Filed under A.T., Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Discipline, Dreams, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, outdoors, Transformation

Note To Self: When You Think About Quitting Your Thru-hike

20140721-201217-72737161.jpgNo doubt about it: you will have days during your thru-hike when nothing will be as tempting as the notion of bailing out. I first met hikers who quit the trail well before the NC/GA border. Some discontinued their hike because of injury, others were homesick. One hiker said, “It just wasn’t what I thought it would be.” He caught a bus home the next day.

Within the first ten days of my trip I “enjoyed” nearly overpowering Georgia heat and humidity (and I’m from North Carolina!), discovering springs filled with brackish, un-potable water. Fifty-cent-sized blisters plagued both heels. The stinging nettles went on for miles, and drove some hikers nearly mad. One hiker made the habit of screaming aloud at the top of his voice as he plunged through them. Muscles and joints screamed for relief; moving gingerly first thing in the morning took persistent effort and ibuprofen became known as the “hiker vitamin.”

So, how can an aspiring long-distance Appalachian Trail backpacker up the odds of finishing atop Katahdin in autumn? There are as many answers to this questions as there are summits along the trail. But I recall in an old 1989 edition of the “Philosopher’s Guide,” some genuine advice. It suggested that if one feels like cashing in the trip they get off the trail and hold up in a motel for two or three days. If they find they aren’t missing what’s happening on the trail within that span of time, perhaps the hike is not for them and it’s time to set sights on a new goal.

I would add a simple suggestion; a “note to yourself.” Before you set out from Springer Mountain, jot down on a slip of paper the “why” which brought you to hike the Appalachian Trail. Make your reason as honest as possible, and retrieve it from your pocket to read during “those moments” — because you will have them, and that note to self may be the anchor and powerful motivation which keeps you hiking along the trail.

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, Timothy J. Hodges

Guiding Light – A song for the trail

One song that haunts me wonderfully as I hike and backpack the trail is this one by Irish worship leader Robin Mark.  Ponder the lyrics; enjoy the video.

 

O the road is wide,

And water runs on either side.

My shadow in the fading light

Is stretching out towards the night.

 

For the sun is low,

But I still have yet so far to go.

My lonely heart is beating so,

Cause I’m tired of the wandering.

 

There’s a sign ahead,

but I think it’s the same one again.

I’m thinking about my only friend,

so I’ll find my way home.

 

Chorus:

When I need to get home

you’re my guiding light, you’re my guiding light.

When I need to get home

you’re my guiding light, you’re my guiding light.

 

And the night is cold,

and yonder lies my sleeping soul

by all the branches broke like bones,

but this weakened tree no longer holds.

 

And the night is still,

but I have not yet lost my will.

So think I’ll keep on moving still,

til I find my way home.

 

Chorus:

When I need to get home,

You’re my guiding light, you’re my guiding light.

When I need to get home,

You’re my guiding light, you’re my guiding light.

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, The Appalachian Trail, Timothy J. Hodges