October 8, 2002
8:15 AM   Subscribe

The Appalachian Trail is a continuous marked footpath that goes from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, a distance of about 2160 miles. It passes through 14 states and takes about 5 to 7 months to hike through. Hey, if a blind man could do it, so can you. If you are not actually up for hiking right this moment, you could always...(more inside)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy (22 comments total)
...read some on-line journals, write to a hiker, read a book, or you could go.....shopping!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:15 AM on October 8, 2002

Or you could have already done it.
posted by Hall at 8:18 AM on October 8, 2002

And to think he was just popping out for a loaf of bread and some sugar.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:27 AM on October 8, 2002

Gravy, did you read A Walk in the Woods? I started it this summer while hiking around Skyline Drive and was greatly enthusiastic, but - SPOILER ALERT - was greatly disappointed that Bryson's epic, heroic project turned into a wimp-fest, as he said, OK, I won't do the whole trail, just this much... OK, I won't even do that, just this... OK, screw it, I'm goin' home. I wish someone had given me that spoiler before I started the book. I felt like a chump for believing he was really gonna do it.
posted by soyjoy at 8:43 AM on October 8, 2002

Oh yeah, the Appalachian Trail's reasonably safe for lesbians who don't want to be murdered.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:45 AM on October 8, 2002

The Appalachians don't stop in Maine, why should you? According to these guys, You haven't really done the AT until you've ended your hike at the Gaspe Peninsula.

One of the most fascinating statistics is that 2/3 of the U.S. population lives within a day's drive of one of the AT trailheads. (And if you're on the other side of the country, the Pacific Crest Trail is for you.) There's really no excuse not to enjoy what is one of the most ambitious and dedicated volunteer projects in American history.

Still haven't walked enough? The American Discovery Trail goes from Delaware to California.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:52 AM on October 8, 2002

Warning from personal experience - avoid having too much to drink and then stumbling over to a cliff to relieve yourself. You never know what you might be relieving yourself on. (I've never had to run so fast with my shorts around my ankles.)
Honestly worth the hike though. Ahh, the stories . . .
posted by tr33hggr at 9:04 AM on October 8, 2002

My crazy friend Mike is hiking the whole trail right now, under the alias "Nameless Mike". From the last email I got from him:

Nameless Mike: "Are you through-hiking?"
College kids: "Yes."
Mike: "Which way are you going?"
Kids: "Back to the parking lot."
posted by xil at 9:29 AM on October 8, 2002 [1 favorite]

i encountered an albino hiker on the piece of the A.T. that runs through Williamstown, MA about 2 years ago. not as good of a sighting as a blind hiker probably, but i thought it was out of the ordinary.
posted by henriettachicken at 9:31 AM on October 8, 2002

I thought Bryzon's book was great, but if you want a book that's more about actually hiking the trail then I'd suggest Walking With Spring by Earl Shaffer, the first man to hike the trail end to end. For a more recent perspective, try Walking the Appalachian Trail by Larry Luxemburg.
posted by maurice at 9:45 AM on October 8, 2002

Soyjoy: I had a different take on Bryson's book. I loved all the history, anecdotes, and descriptions. At times the book is hysterically funny, It didn't bother me a whit that he didn't do the "whole thing" because his reasoning behind the decision made sense.

I strongly recommend this book-- particularly in audiotape form-- it's great for treadmill workouts.

So, Hall, since you walked the trail, tell us a little bit about it. Any scary moments? Any amusing moments?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:04 AM on October 8, 2002

The other two long NA trails are the Continental Divide Trail and the Trans Canada Trail. A pair of the most epic "through-hikers" are Jenny and Ray Jardine, who have bagged the PCT, the CDT and the AT (twice) at an average pace of 40 miles/day.
posted by bonehead at 10:21 AM on October 8, 2002

Hey, if a blind man could do it, so can you.

Hey, if a one legged man can run across canada, so can YOU!

Do you have any idea what is involved in thru-hiking the AT? I've spent countless hours hiking the AT in the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire and I have passed many a dehydrated or injured idiot who obviously figured if a blind man or a wimp like me can climb mountains, so can they.

Bill Irwin was able to do it because he planned it well, he was strong, courageous, he had a support system, and the will to finish. Not because it was so easy a blind man can do it.

Sorry to come off as bitter and elitist but as a trip leader for the AMC I'm tired of hearing stories of people almost killing themselves and putting the lives of rescuers in danger because they don't fully realize what they're getting themselves into.
posted by bondcliff at 10:21 AM on October 8, 2002

Inspiring link. I drove along the trail a bit this summer and I've been considering returning on foot for a while now. If hadn't ever seen Deliverance, I might have already made plans. tr33hggr's experience isn't too encouraging either.
posted by SimStupid at 10:22 AM on October 8, 2002

SimStupid - don't let my experience throw you off. It was well worth it, and that one little incident was a result of my stupidity. I have the best memories from my time on that trail. And, in retrospect, that one was quite funny.
posted by tr33hggr at 10:42 AM on October 8, 2002

Bondcliff - I must say your link produced peals of wholly inappropriate laughter after the MASH theme song autoplayed over the list of people who died on Mount Washington.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:45 AM on October 8, 2002

heh. Too funny. I have sound turned off. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by bondcliff at 10:46 AM on October 8, 2002

Gravy - I loved the history, the descriptions, etc. too, but while I was reading them I invested more faith and credence in Bryson's opinions (e.g. on the BLM, Army Corps of Engineers, etc.) because they were coming from a guy who had hiked the whole Appalachian Trail! So when I got to the end I felt like I had been cheated somewhat. If he had said at the beginning, here's how I thought I'd hike the whole trail, and how I realized that was a pipe dream, I probably would have enjoyed the writing just as much, but wouldn't have been so pissed at him for wussing out.

Anyway, this is all tangential to your excellent post, so I'll quit. I recommend the trail (and even the book, with this spoiler) to anyone remotely interested in the outdoors or Americana. And that's coming from someone who has hiked the Appalachian Trail - for a whole hour and a half!
posted by soyjoy at 10:50 AM on October 8, 2002

aside : MASH theme song, the real title of the song is "Suicide is Painless."
posted by crunchland at 11:14 AM on October 8, 2002

GoLite for lightweight gear.
posted by stbalbach at 2:55 PM on October 8, 2002

(And if you're on the other side of the country, the Pacific Crest Trail is for you.)

If you do the PCT, give yourself plenty of time relax at Deep Creek. You can swim in the river during the day and soak in the hot springs at night.
posted by homunculus at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2002

I must agree with bondcliff here.

As a young teen, when I was in much better shape, I joined a group of Boy Scouts on a 5 day 50 mile hike in Colorado Rockies.

The hike ended up being 3 days and 60 miles, 23 miles on the 3rd day alone as we carried out one of the leaders on a makeshift stretcher.

Third hand reports said his cardiologist had a fit about him hiking near 13,000 ft. with a heart condition.
posted by Plunge at 4:31 PM on October 8, 2002

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