Sunday, March 1, 2015

What is the Appalachian Trail (AT)?

I wanted to do an initial blog to let family, friends and readers know some of the characteristics of the AT.  This is not meant to be comprehensive.  There are plenty of resources on the net if you want to find out more about the trail...

The AT is about 2185 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.  Most hikers take from four to six months to complete the trek.  Only about 25% of hikers that start AT thru hikes finish in a year.  There are opportunities to resupply either near the trail or at nearby trail towns usually every two to seven days, most often within four days.  The trail passes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), Shenandoah National Park (SNP), and the White Mountains.  Here's a shot of the overall trail:

See the Appalachian Trail Conservancy site for an interactive map.  You can also see the ATC site for a history of the trail.

The AT goes through the more populous east coast (as opposed to the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail).  Each year more people hike the AT, and the ATC has begun offering voluntary start date information to help spread out the load.  Even so, most hikers go northbound and start in March or April.  The mass of hikers is known as the 'herd.'  Hikers have the option of staying in shelters, if they can find the room, or at tent sites.  Most shelters have privy's, and water is readily available along most of the trail.

Most hikers appear to treat the AT as a social trail, hiking in groups, and frequently making town stops at hiker hostels or motels.  Hikers can pretty much resupply on the trail, but mail drops are still used by some.

You can read hiker's journals at sites like Trail Journals, White Blaze, or on Blogspot or Blogger.  One well known Triple Crown hiker, Wired, has some very interesting and thorough journals at her site Walking With Wired.

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