There are a few ways to hike the AT, but many stick to one of two ways: doing it shorter bursts or hiking all the way through – thru-hiking.
Thru-hiking is tough, we’re not going to lie, challenging you both physically AND mentally, but with some good advice you can go far (literally!)
Luckily, we have a thru-hiker vet right here in the ENO offices – our General Manager Lane Nakaji! He completed the trail in six months, hiking it north from Springer Mountain in Georgia, to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Aside from having a whole lot of fun, he picked up some great tips he is willing to share! Here are his top 3…
1) Less is definitely more – As long as you have all the essentials (food/water/shelter), the less you bring carries you further. A smaller, lighter pack will help you trek the extra mile and will save you energy and probably a whole bunch of back pain too! When packing for thru-hiking, think about picking the lightest versions of all equipment you want to bring. Although it’s tempting to bring all your favorite gear, it is possible to keep the weight of a full pack under 30lbs, so check and re-check everything you bring super carefully!
2) Hike your own hike – Even if you decide to hike the AT by yourself, at some point you are inevitably going to run into other hikers. You may have caught them up, or they may have caught you, but remember one thing – they are not YOU! Don’t try and keep up with their pace or their schedule. They may be more experienced or enjoy hiking at a certain pace, or they may have hiked less than you and wish to stop off at different towns for a longer period of time. Although 2,174 is a long way to hike by yourself, only you know the pace you want to move at, so stick to your guns and do you!
3) Look at it as sections – Don’t view the whole hike as one big journey. Instead, just concentrate on going from hike to hike. Break it into pieces and enjoy each new place you visit. If not only for a physical break (rest those weary feet!), it will help you mentally refocus on what you are doing out there and why you want to continue! It will also give you some free time you can talk and share experiences with other hikers – and who knows! Maybe you’ll pick up some more tips along the way!
Over all, enjoy the hike and soak it all in! Thru-hiking is a once in a lifetime experience that will give you not only give you a huge sense of accomplishment, but also a whole bunch of memories.
If you need ideas on gear, check out our ProNest, ProFly Sil and Slap Strap Pros, three great, lightweight products designed for adventures in the woods!
Check out fellow ENOpian Eric DeForge relaxing in his ENO in the Shenandoah Valley area of the AT!