Fulfilling a Dream by Accomplishing the Task
This 'book' is based on my extensive observations on what helps a person complete their journey while so many others stop by the wayside. These words of wisdom are simple and based on four premises:
1) Walking the entire Appalachian Trail is not recreation. It is an education and a job.
2) Walking the entire Appalachian Trail is not 'going on a hike'. It is a challenging task - a journey with deeper ramifications. Are you willing to accept them and learn from them?
3) Don't fight the Trail. You have to flow with it. Be cooperative with the Trail, neither competitive nor combative.
4) Don't expect the Trail to respect or be sensitive to your domestic comfort level and desire (and past habits) to control your environment. In your avoidance of discomfort, you may become more uncomfortable. You can't make a mountain any less steep; a hot summer afternoon any cooler; a cold
morning any warmer; and, daylight any longer. But you can actually. How?
5) Time, distance, terrain, weather, and the Trail itself cannot be changed. You have to change. Don't waste any of your energy complaining over things you have no control over. Instead, look to yourself and adapt your mind, heart, body and soul to the Trail. Remember, you will be a guest in someone else's house the entire journey.
6) The Trail knows neither prejudice nor discrimination. Don't expect any favors from the Trail. The Trail is inherently hard. Everything has to be earned. The Trail is a trial.
7) Leave your cultural 'level of comfort' at home. Reduce your material wants while concentrating on your physical and spiritual needs.
8) "The more I know, the less I need." Yes, one can wear one t-shirt the entire journey; you don't have to take any showers; don't need to cook your meals; one does not need a roof and four walls around them at night; you don't have to carry a canteen of water with you all the time.
9) It is far better, and less painful, to learn to be a smart hiker rather than a strong hiker.
10) Leave your emotional fat at home as well. Feel free to laugh, and to cry, and to feel lonely, and to feel afraid, and to feel socially irresponsible, and to feel foolish, and (most importantly) to feel free. Relive your childhood and play the game of the Trail. Roll with the punches and learn to laugh in the shadow of adversity. Be always optimistic - things could always be worse; don't become mired in the swamp of sorrow. Don't blame your discomfort or depression on the Trail or the weather, but look at yourself for not being able to adapt. The more afraid you are, the heavier your pack will be.
11) If your goal is to walk the entire Appalachian Trail, then do it. People who take shortcuts, (i.e., blue blazes,) or hitchhike do so because it usually is shorter, quicker, and/or easier. So where is the challenge/honor in that? We have enough 'shortcuts' in the real world (i.e., ENRON, personal bankruptcies).
12) Expect the worst. If after one week on the Trail you can say that it is easier than you expected, then you will probably finish your journey.
13) However, remember we as individuals have our own acquired temperaments, levels of comfort, and thresholds of pain. If these three areas are congruent with what the Trail requires, you should succeed on your pilgrimage. Normally conditioned people should keep their pack weight to no more than 25% of their body weight. Your chance of injury is directly related to your pace and/or pack weight. People usually make the mistake of hiking too fast and/or carrying too much weight.
Weather? Expect 20% wet days; 20% dry days; 20% hot days; 20% cold days; and, 20% nice days.
There are three (3) surfaces for walking:
In high elevations, take advantage of good weather by hiking longer hours than normal. On level ground, take advantage of this surface to cruise long distances without taking a break. Starting your day right before or after sunrise gives you more flexibility during the day. More miles can be done, at the same pace, by starting at sunrise and hiking to sunset.
|The southern 421 miles of the AT are 50% uphill and 50% downhill.|
|Springer to Watauga Dam Road|
|6 months = 8-12 miles per day||5 months = 10-15 miles per day|
|The next 1,340 miles of the AT are 33% uphill, 33% downhill, and 33% level.|
|Watauga Dam Road to Glencliff, NH|
|6 months = 14-18 miles per day||5 months = 15-20 miles per day|
|The next 215 miles of the AT are 50% uphill and 50% downhill|
|Glencliff, NH to Flagstaff Lake|
|6 months = 8-12 miles per day||5 months = 10-15 miles per day|
|The northern 170 miles of the AT are 33% uphill, 33% downhill, and 33% level.|
|Flagstaff Lake to Katahdin|
|6 months = 12 – 15 miles per day||5 months = 15-20 miles per day|
If you are planning to do the Trail, the best information you can receive is not from the equipment outfitters and catalogs, or even from reading books on the Trail. The best information is obtained from talking with an individual approximately your age, sex, and socio-economic level, who has recently completed (and not completed) the Trail. Most recent thru-hikers are more than happy to take a prospective thru-hiker under their wings. The best place to meet those people that live in your area is to join ALDHA - the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (www.aldha.org). The best indicator of whether an individual can walk the entire Appalachian Trail in one hiking season is if that individual can complete Vermont's Long Trail between 21-25 days. Please do not base your hiking prowess on your hiking experience in Shenandoah National Park, northern Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey , New York or your 'info superhighway' experience. (except for www.trailjournals.com)13) However, please remember that we as individuals have different temperaments, levels of comfort, and thresholds of pain. "We see only as much as we possess."
|Hiawassee, GA 30546||Waynesboro, VA 22980||Manchester Center, VT 05255|
|Fontana Dam, NC 28733||Harpers Ferry, WV 25425||Glencliff, NH 03238|
|Hot Springs, NC 28743||Duncannon, PA 17020||Gorham, NH 03581|
|Erwin, TN 37650||Delaware Water Gap, PA 18327||Stratton, ME 04982|
|Roan Mountain, TN 37687||Unionville, NY 10988||Monson, ME 04464|
|Damascus, VA 24236||Salisbury, CT 06068|
|Bland, VA 24315||Cheshire, MA 01225|
This 'book' written by Warren Doyle (34,000-miler)
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