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Author Topic: Appalachian Trail  (Read 2903 times)

greensleep

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Appalachian Trail
« on: November 10, 2015, 07:17:38 AM »
Have any of you hiked the AT, either section hiked or thru? I am planning a thru hike upon retirement in a couple of years and am looking for any advice I can get.
"Humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy"    Ilyea Kuriaken, Man From Uncle

indiana journey

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  • Posts: 147
Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2015, 08:30:22 AM »
You might read "A Walk In The Woods" by Bill Bryson.
It will give you a humorous view of hiking the Appalachian Trail and is fun reading.
Good Luck,
Indiana Journey

Rene T

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  • Great being on the right side of the grass
Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2015, 08:46:26 AM »
What a coincidence. One of our locals just did the trail and the article came out in the local paper today. here's his story.

By Caitlin Andrews
candrews@fosters.com

 Posted Nov. 9, 2015 at 5:04 PM
 Updated Nov 9, 2015 at 7:33 PM

 

ROCHESTER — Many people go through life-changing experiences and come out a different person.

Alec Clement, a former Spaulding High School grad and local Rochester resident, doesn’t think he changed that much after completing the Appalachian Trail. But after close encounters with wildlife, battling a bum knee, and hiking around 2,180 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery he had ever seen, Clement said it was one of the most worthwhile experiences he’s ever had.

“It’s just so hard to comprehend how beautiful the whole thing is,” 22-year-old Clement said in a recent interview. “I can’t explain it. Some places you would just look out over the views and be like ‘I could die happy right here.’”

When Foster’s last spoke with Clement in June, he had only walked 703 miles, or about a fourth of the way on his journey, which started at Springer Mountain in Georgia and ended at Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Clement was a three-sport athlete at Spaulding High School in Rochester before he tore the meniscus cartilage in his knee during a regional wrestling meet his senior year in 2011. Three surgeries and an associate’s degree at the University of New Hampshire’s Thompson School later, he decided to tackle the Appalachian Trail because it sounded “crazy,” he told Foster’s in June. “So of course I loved it.”

The Appalachian Trail passes through 14 states, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website. It is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world.

It is estimated that about two to three million people hike parts of the trail every year. Around 1,800 to 2,000 people attempt to "thru-hike," or hike the trail from start to finish, every year; about one-fourth of those hikers successfully complete the journey.

Clement began his trip April 8 and finished his journey Oct. 15, which he said is usually the cut-off date for when the trail closes depending on the weather. He said that when he last spoke with Foster’s, he felt like he had already become an expert on the trail.

“That wasn’t true at all, I had hardly done anything,” Clement said. “I had so much further to go, but time is kind of strange on the trail. It contracts and expands — a day can feel like a week, a week can feel like three months, and then it can go back to normal.”

Clement said time could be especially hard to judge when he hiked alone. Although he traveled loosely with the same group of people, he spent most of his time on the move alone. But that’s not to say he didn’t enjoy the company when he kept it.

“Some of the people I’ve met I’ll keep in contact with,” he said. “On the ATC you have a tramily, a ‘trail family,’ and everyone takes care of each other. Some of these people I wouldn’t have even learned their real names (it’s traditional to create a trail name when hiking the ATC) or phone numbers after traveling with them for three months, but I knew everything else about them. It was more deep and less superficial.”

Not everyone on the trail was good, however. Clement said he saw multiple incidents of "Yellow Blazers," people who are only hiking part of the trail or day hiking, but who present themselves as "thru-hikers," or "White Blazers." The names come from how the two groups travel, Clement said. Yellow Blazers refers to the yellow lines on a ride, while white refers to the white markers that lets hikers know they are on the correct ATC path.

“There were a lot of people who would just party all the time and leave trash all over the place and act like they were seriously hiking the trail,” Clement said. “They were giving us a bad name.”

The other negative Clement mentioned was battling the intense heat that comes with hiking through the mid-Atlantic states during the summer. To avoid the heat, Clement said he often tried to hike at night.

There was another terror that came with hiking during the day, according to Clement: bugs.

“You’re often by large bodies of water, and the mosquitoes would be all over you. Even if you put a bug net on, they’d be just hovering around you,” he said. “They’d fly in your eyes and ears and mouth. You couldn’t stop moving.”

Other animals to be careful around in the Mid-Atlantic states included black bears and rattlesnakes, Clement said. He recalled a few close incidents where he and his friends would come upon an animal and have to act carefully to avoid trouble.

“We were walking once and I looked up, and there was a 350-pound black bear about 15 feet away from us,” he said. “And my friend startled a rattlesnake while going down a hill that was also going downhill, so it looked like the snake was chasing him.”

Hills proved an additional challenge for Clement because of his knee. He said his right knee popped out every day and was a problem he had to wait out.

“I wasn’t going to let it stop me,” he said. “For me, finishing the trail wasn’t a choice. It was like a sentence: Katahdin or bust.”

Clement cites mental preparation as the reason he was able to get through the trail and said there is no way to physically prepare for it. He also attributes his success to his parents, who sent him packages, his grandparents for praying for him, his trail family for helping him when supplies were low, and his girlfriend Courtney for sticking with him.

And there is one thing that he thinks has changed about him: his appreciation for learning.

“I must have listened to 50 audio books on the trail,” he said. “I wish I had done the trail before college, because I would have been way more tuned into learning. I feel like my thirst for growth has increased.”
Rene & Lucille & co-pilot Buddy
AKA  Pep N Mem
2011 Chevy Duramax 2500 HD 4X4
2011 Montana High Country 343RL
From the Granite State of NH
& Florida Snowbird in Lakeland FL

Maddie

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2015, 10:48:12 AM »
Never hiked it but live near it in NC.  One caution:  if you are planning to bring a dog with you, there are parts of the trails that won't allow you to take him/her due to it going through private land.  I don't know what hikers do when they run across that, maybe ignore the rule or get off the trail.  "Wild" is another good book/movie (book is better).  Its about the Pacific Crest rather than the AT, but same scenario.

Good luck, I admire anyone who has done it.
NC Foothills Workkamper
'14 Bounder 35K
'10 Wrangler Toad
Husband Fred, and 2 Border Collies

blw2

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2015, 03:43:28 PM »
I have no aspirations of through hiking the whole thing, but I would love to do a section or two...
Sorry no specific AT suggestions
but

I recently read this book
http://andrewskurka.com/product/ultimate-hikers-gear-guide/
I would suggest it strongly if you haven't read it.... unless maybe you are already a very accomplished distance backpacker.... even then you'd likely get something out of it.

Another suggestion might be to watch
Mile... Mile & a Half
A group of friends backpacking the John Muir trail.
I found it on Netflix a while back.
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
’13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
former tent campers

greensleep

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2015, 04:34:41 PM »
Thanks to everybody's input so far. I'm a fairly experienced backpacker with time in the Quetico national forest in the boundary waters territory (Minnesota/Canada), the continental divide trail in Colorado, much camping/hiking as a youth in Boy Scouts in the Midwest, and some winter camping in the South(Florida). The East Coast areas including the Appalachians are unexplored country for me. I've seen the movies and read the books(Wild, A Walk in the Woods, and a few others, but need to actually speak with experienced AT hikers about the "nitty-gritty" stuff..
"Humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy"    Ilyea Kuriaken, Man From Uncle

JackL

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2015, 05:24:26 AM »
We live at the base of Roan Mountain where the AT goes over Carvers Gap on the NC -TN line
 We have hiked portions of it including the northern end in Maine.
 Many consider the most beautify section the one right here in our "back Yard" where it is at 6000 feet

 Have you picked out your hiking name yet ?

Jack L

greensleep

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2015, 08:57:28 AM »
Jack,
     I'm considering a few names: Greensleep, Dharma bum, Alias, Curmudgeon, and a couple more. Each one has specific meaning to me, but don't know if I should just wait and "earn" a name on the trail.
"Humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy"    Ilyea Kuriaken, Man From Uncle

blw2

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2015, 10:54:32 AM »
Jack,
     I'm considering a few names: Greensleep, Dharma bum, Alias, Curmudgeon, and a couple more. Each one has specific meaning to me, but don't know if I should just wait and "earn" a name on the trail.

that's a new one for me.  Never heard of a "Hiking Name" before....
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
’13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
former tent campers

greensleep

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2015, 11:14:46 AM »
It's sort of a tradition on long distance trails. Not everyone participates, but often a person has a "trail name" "given" due to some witnessed mishap, personal characteristic, expressed opinion, or piece of hiking apparel.
"Humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy"    Ilyea Kuriaken, Man From Uncle

greensleep

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2015, 02:08:15 PM »
These trail names allow folks to communicate and get to know each other in a semi-anonymous fashion over the course of their hikes. No private demographic info is available if the hiker so wishes(no home phone #s, addresses, private histories,  family member names, etc..). Sometimes it's a safety issue, other times folks just prefer privacy. A lot of "thru hikers" (people that complete the entire long distance trail) will form lifelong friendships with co-hikers and exchange the info..
"Humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy"    Ilyea Kuriaken, Man From Uncle

Hfx_Cdn

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2015, 02:16:54 PM »
    Although many consider the trail to end in Maine, it does continue along the Appalachian Mountains in Canada, and it is equally spectacular acorss New Brunswick.  Here is a Wikipedia link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Appalachian_Trail

Ed
Ed & Donna
Winter-Pinellas Park FL, Summer- Maritime Canada
2000 Coachmen Catalina 34' DP (owned 2004 to 2015)
2006 Jeep Liberty Toad

JackL

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Re: Appalachian Trail
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2015, 02:31:17 PM »
that's a new one for me.  Never heard of a "Hiking Name" before....

 Everyone who has done a through hike grabs a name.
 it is almost like a badge of honor.
 If you ever meet someone who has done it, just ask them their trail name and they'll proudly tell you it and then usually the story behind it.

Jack L

 

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