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Looking to hike the Appalachian trail ..any suggestions?

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posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 07:36 AM

Appalachian trail .. a 14 state 2190 mile hiking trail that many know about. If you are a "thru Hiker" you will be planning on traveling the full length in one shot. Spending 6-8 months away from family and friends, becoming one with nature again.

There is also day hiking, multi-day/weekend hiking, and section hiking. The first two being self explanatory, the third just means that you are doing a section of the trail at bit at a time, eventually hiking the whole trail over a few years versus doing it all in 6-8 months. Most people do this, section hiking. Over 3 million visitors a year to the trail, the youngest person to have hiked it being 8 years old, the oldest being 81 years old. With varying ages in between (I believe there is a 15 year old girl who was the first youngest solo thru hiker) and a 74 year old woman whose trail name is Drag'n Fly.

For having so many visitors on the trail, the death toll is miniscule (any death is not to be taken lightly, but to have so few with so many hikers is a good thing) There was one person who has been deemed the Appalachian Trail serial killer. Randall Lee Smith (excerpt below)

There are many perils on the Appalachian Trail, including exposure, dehydration and wild animals. And then there’s Randall Lee Smith. In 1981 Smith befriended two hikers on the trail. But in the middle of the night, while the three slept at the Appalachian Trail’s Wapiti Shelter in southwestern Virginia, Smith shot one of his new companions in the head with a .22 bullet and, after a struggle, killed the other one in a gruesome stabbing. In a plea deal, he was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder for his crimes.

The trail is marked with blazes, which show you the trail through all 14 states. White blazes denote the trail, blue blazes denote side trails and there are lots of other colors located along the trail. Some notable ones are brown (privy areas) , Amber (town close to buy beer) Pink (Lovers meeting place) etc..

Also, camping away from the trail more than 1 mile is suggested if you are wanting to set up a tent of your own, but there are designated campsites and shelters along the trail that most use. These shelters are usually meant for one to two people, and also are home to some small rodents, including mice and snakes (this is not a good thing for me) But, on some parts of the trail, there are trail towns, which are usually 30-50 miles away from one another, that offer cheap housing and hotels to trail goers.

So, there it is (see pic below), running from Maine to Georgia. And I am looking to become one of the many "section Hikers" that visit there. I am wanting to pick a section that is low to moderate in intensity. I am in average to above average physical condition, but I have never hiked before, not even a day hike. The area I live in is mostly flat land, there is no real opportunity to "condition" my body to severe terrain changes. I would like to do a seven day hike which would have me covering roughly 40 miles(5-8 miles a day being the average distance covered)

I was just wondering if there were other ATS members who have tackled this and if anyone had any advice they could offer. Something they wish they'd known prior to hiking it or a section of the trail that was better/worse than others. Also..would you do it again? The best/worse part of your experience while hiking. Just basically any information that would be helpful to know before going.

I will be at work today, so won't really be able to respond to any posts until I get home late this evening. But would appreciate any information/experiences someone has to share.

Thanks ,

Buddy Backpacker
Dragn - Fly
Trail Map
Step by Step Hiking Guide
edit on 13-3-2016 by blend57 because: (no reason given)

edit on 13-3-2016 by blend57 because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 07:40 AM
a reply to: blend57

Check out "A walk in the woods" by Bill Bryson. It's an interesting book written whilst he walked a section of the trail.

Also bears, lots of bears apparently.

Your in extreme envy,


posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 07:48 AM
Hiked several times Blue Ridge and Smokies. Nothing more beautiful. Of course , I live here and not too far away.
Advice - be careful and do not travel it alone.
More advice - Have lots of fun.
Oh , and if you here what seems to be a can filled with BBs. Stand very , very still.

edit on 7201631070320167 by Gothmog because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 08:05 AM
Bring a gun and some night vision. Lots of bodies along the Appalachian Trail, for real.

BTW, if that is your pic, I will be glad to go along and be your body guard

edit on 13/3/16 by spirit_horse because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 08:14 AM
a reply to: blend57
In Georgia , the Blue Ridge Mountains ( the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains). Hike your 40 miles (whatever) starting there. That would put you roughly a little into the Smokies. Plenty of small , good matured towns around. This time of year you should not have any issues finding places to stay along the way. Plus , if you wait just a few days more , you may get to take in some of those small town's Spring Festivals (better in the Fall Festival's though), Talking Rock , Old Talking Rock , Jasper , Ellijay....Also , some good cheap eats. I recommend anything with chow-chow. Not that store bought stuff , real homemade. Apples Peaches (though it will be too soon for those) .

The reason I say start there , those are the foothills The trail on further , say in NC , is a bit more testing.I have been the entire trail (not at one time though) from Georgia to about 1/2 way into Virginia..

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 08:19 AM
a reply to: blend57

Good luck to you!

I think that Virginia is the place for you.
The Shenandoah National Park.
Link To Park Info

It is what I would call a moderate/easier hike. Depending on your pace, it could take one to two weeks.
Incredibly beautiful (impossible for me to describe accurately).

Skyline Drive is a road through the park road and an unfortunate thing is the trail crosses the road frequently. Which may not be a bad thing for folks on their first hike or overnight hikes...
We used to drive up Skyline Drive often when I was a kid, day trips. Beautiful.

Nothing else to add except I hope upon your return you will share stories and photos.

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 08:32 AM
a reply to: blend57

Take care of your feet.

Make sure you have plenty of good socks, and change them frequently. Though only doing 5 - 8 miles a day you should be fine.

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 09:21 AM
Heading to work, but I thought I would respond to those that posted.

a reply to: nonspecific

Thank you..I was wondering if that book would be worth reading, I'll check it out. Bears..not afraid! Snakes and rodents..very afraid.

a reply to: Gothmog

Was actually looking to do a portion of this by myself. But will see if I can find someone to do the whole 7 days with me. Thank you! Standing still is not in my nature..but if I do hear something that sounds like BBs..I'll do my best. Said 40 miles going on average miles per day estimated. I don't know if i could do more or less, as this is my first hiking experience.

a reply to: spirit_horse

No guns allowed on the trail...besides, I would think that a knife would be of more use in this scenario. Um, to use as a tool as well as protection. Not my pic. I'm ugly as hell and taken..but thanks for the offer to be my body guard.

a reply to: TNMockingbird

Thanks for the link! I'll check it out when I get home from work later. Virginia sounds beautiful, as long as the trail isn't too hard to hike, I may start there..

I will take lots of pics and probably some video as well..if not video the whole thing..and post them when I return..if not here then via PM to you.

a reply to: watchitburn

One of the first things I read and good advice..don't let them get too wet, change socks often, if you feel the start of a blister, use moleskin or bandages to take care of immediately. Thanks!

I won't be doing this trip until the end of April/beginning of may. Just want to collect as much info as I can before then. To be as prepared as I can...

Thanks to all who offered up some advice/information. I definitely appreciate it and will be using it to plan my trip!

Thanks again,

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 09:28 AM
a reply to: blend57

Thanks for this thread. Am planning a 2-3 maybe 4-5 day hike through remote northern michigan alone this summer. We have a log cabin in the Huron National Forest 200+ miles north. Planning from there or 300 miles North, farther and basing back at the cabin as a staging area.

Planning 3 different weeks and will choose best based on forecast. I already see here some helpful info, so am glad you started this thread.

My excursion is not as epic as yours but I always wanted to do the Appl. Trail. 1 thing though, I'm carrying my 45 acp and another because there are crazies out there, and miles from help, a hiker's on their own.

I'll be following along here with interest. Thank you again for starting this thread!


edit on 13-3-2016 by mysterioustranger because: add

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 09:57 AM
I've spent a lot of time in the areas in Tennessee. That is where I'm from, and my Grandma's family has been in that area of Appalachia since before it was Tennessee.

I don't know much about hiking, but I have been camping from modern cabins to real rustic camping -none of that electric hookups and shower houses! Though, mostly, I grew up camping in places like Montgomery Bell or Smokey Mountains...

As for that part of the trail, it is so beautiful here! A few things to keep in mind...summers here are HOT. It gets muggy, sticky, humid hot. Even up in the mountains, it is sometimes miserable. It is the South, after all. Also, mosquitoes...just bring some spray and know it probably won't help, lol. They are the size of cats.

Other than that, make time to see Clingman's Dome. I am sure you will since it is the highest point in the mountains! I will be there soon myself before summer sets in. It really is amazing!

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 10:05 AM
a reply to: blend57

Take a gun and a transponder.

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 10:09 AM
a reply to: blend57

The only advice I can issue is watch where you step.

I'm not familiar with the trail but I have navigated scrub before and the wildlife is not the only problem. Heavy rains can expose roots and if you are not careful an exposed root can lead to a sprained ankle or worse.

Best of luck to you.

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 11:10 AM
While I'd never even consider doing the whole trail even when I was younger I was never that ambitious, living on the east coast I've done day hikes on sections in upstate N.Y. in MA in CT and in VA. Some parts you can be on the trail and on a city street at the same time.
What state or states are you considering.
If you do the whole trail start in summerand start in the north that way you finish in the south in winter. Less chance of snow.

posted on Mar, 13 2016 @ 12:56 PM
be very careful there are lots of nice folk out there but then there are the criminals too.

posted on Mar, 14 2016 @ 07:15 AM
a reply to: mysterioustranger

I'm glad that this thread has been helpful to you as well. Lots of good information hopefully will be gathered here. And hopefully, both our hiking excursions will be a lot easier and better prepped because of what people decide to share with us here.

a reply to: BarefootInWinter

mosquitoes ..yuck! lol, I don't sound much like a nature I? Tennessee sounds beautiful.

There are 94 miles of the A.T. in Tennessee, but the Trail runs along the Tennessee/North Carolina border for 160 additional miles.
As the A.T. ascends to the High Country of the state line, hikers traverse the highest mountains along the Trail, including several above 6,000 feet.

I don't know if I am up for scaling the highest mountains along the trail..first time hiking.. it is rated 1-7, easy to challenging.

a reply to: southbeach

No guns! And no personal tracking devices either. Third person to suggest a gun on this there something I don't know about? I linked the death tolls in the OP, very minimal, and also, I have looked up a few safety tips. The trail is pretty crowded in April/May, and safety issues don't seem to be a concern within all the websites I've read. Mostly the concerns were due to accidents and injuries along the trail. Minimal mention of any nefarious deeds going on..a back pack stolen once or twice (in town) etc..

Anyhow, I will take the advice into consideration, and look for reasons I should carry a gun, but as of yet, I see no reason to..thanks for the advice.

a reply to: Thecakeisalie

This is sound advice. I haven't ever hiked before, but I would imagine getting any type of injury out in the wilderness could mean the death of you if you aren't prepared for it. Even though there will be many hikers along the trail, still don't want to ruin my trip or anyone elses. Plus, I read there are many poisonous snakes on the trail. That is another reason you need to watch where you step.


a reply to: Sillyolme

I would be doing only a section of the trail. I couldn't be gone that long away from my family. And I am unsure which area I will be starting at. Just looking to find a stretch that is challenging, yet not too harsh.

I can start/go anywhere, really ... I have no preference. Except Tennessee has big 'ol mosquitoes the size of cats..may steer clear of that But I assume every state has it's own challenges and beauty, which is why I don't care where I start/finish at. I think anyplace is gonna be beautiful.

a reply to: ChesterJohn

I will be as careful and prepared as I can be. Thanks!

Grateful for all the responses, have learned some great things and I appreciate them. Please, keep them coming. It's not what you do know that matters on these trips, it's what you don't know. A few things you wish you would've packed, something that would've been useful to know while you planned your trip about the area/location you chose.

Really, even the littlest of thought/knowledge can be of high value.

again, I am grateful for all the responses and appreciate you guys taking the time to try and help me out..

Thank you!

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