NOTE: This page is rather a relict of the old days of the early internet. The vast majority of the links go to "file not found." The ones which actually work(!!!) have a beside them.
In addition, there is an organization called the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) which has a publication and an annual Gathering (usually around the Columbus Day weekend) which may be of interest to people looking for hiking advice. The address of ALDHA is: 10 Benning Street, PMB 224, West Lebanon NH 03784. There is also an ALDHA-West, many of whose members have hiked the Pacific Crest Trail: P.O. Box 804, La Pine, OR 97739. (The "A" in this ALDHA stands for "American.")
And here's Wingfoot's Page for Thru-Hikers (due to go online November 1, 1996) -(Taken offline around November 5, 2001.) (Seems to have some activity in the Forum section as of April 2013.)
One more thing: "Trail Days" are held about the third weekend in May every spring in Damascus, VA. In 2002, May 11 - 19.
From: grg at world.std.com (Gerry Gladu) Subject: Re: Hike the Appalachian Trail in '95? In article D1y2D8.ICo@world.std.com you wrote: : :: Also, you are just now : :: planning a Spring 95 departure for an AT through hike? IMHO, yer : :: nuts. Too late to get your sh*t together. On the other hand, : :: miricles happen, so good luck to you! : I did my '93 thru hike with no planning whatsoever. I already had all of : the gear so I just picked up thru hiker's handbook from the ATC and : pretty much winged the whole thing from start to finish. Couldn't see : making any plans beyond the next town stop or two. That way I kept things : pretty flexible and all under my control. I mean, who knows how far : you can hike in any given stretch - eg, pain can slow you down, good : weather can speed you up. If I needed an equipment drop, I'd call it in : from a week or so away from the drop point rather than plan where & when : I wanted it way ahead of time. What few mail drops I tried weren't working : out that well, anyways. : Of course, that's me. Some folks liked a more structured hike, most were : somewhere in between. But IMHO, flexibilty will get you a lot farther : than structure on a thru hike. : gerry : (moonshot, AT '93) -- From: firstname.lastname@example.org In article email@example.com you wrote: : :: Also, you are just now : :: planning a Spring 95 departure for an AT through hike? IMHO, yer : :: nuts. Too late to get your sh*t together. On the other hand, : :: miricles happen, so good luck to you! : Gr: I did my '93 thru hike with no planning whatsoever.
: I did my '79 thru hike with less than 1 week of planning. I got : the maps and books for the trail from GA to Harpers Ferry. I : mailed them ahead after 2 weeks. Mail drops for food? I guess : if you like life structured that's okay but I preferred to get : my food when and where I stumbled close enough to a place where : I could do so. I had never done more than an overnight so I : also ended up shipping some stuff home and buying some gear on : the way. : When I look at the fancy gear I have now compared to the crap : I used then I am amazed that I enjoyed myself - but I did. : Jon (firstname.lastname@example.org) : ('79 TMI Refugee)
Alan, I'd say wait. No, I take that back. I'd say definitely wait. At some point in my hike, when I realized that, barring some unfortunate accident, that I was actually going to finish the trail, Katahdin turned into this huge magnet drawing me north. Part of this was just wanting to see it, to see this great big chunk of rock that I had heard so many stories about, but had never seen with my own eyes. When I finally caught my first glimpse of Katahdin, with about 200 miles to go, tha attraction really kicked in. As I made my way through the 100-mile wilderness, the mountain kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. On my last day, I started at 3am, climbing the back of that magical mountain in the dark. When I got to the top, in the morning's clouds, WOW! So again, I'd say wait, it is too important a part of a thru-hike.
David W. Bailey MIT Ultimate The Leg Lab AT Thruhike MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory GA-->ME `92 From dbailey Fri Jul 15 10:38:09 1994 EDT To: email@example.com In-reply-to: firstname.lastname@example.org's message of Thu, 14 Jul 94 21:14:44 -0500 email@example.com Subject: OK, now you've gotten me all excited about hiking again. Here goes: 1. Resupply points. I had 20 mail drops. I'll list them later if you want. The only thing that my maildrops did not have was bread and jelly. This worked great. The only problem was making sure that I was in town by the time the PO closed. This made some days kind of hectic. In some towns, Erwin, Pearisburg, Front Royal, Waynesboro, Delaware Water Gap, Manchester Center, Hanover, for example, there are BIG grocery stores where you can get everything you need at a decent price. At other stops, Neels Gap, Fontana Dam, Bastian, Stratton, Monson, the selection isn't so hot. So, if you are going to be going to the store anyways for bread (and the all-important in-town snack), you might aswell get everything else. (Note: Never shop on an empty stomach, oryou will be carrying a lot of extra food out of town) That said, there are somethings which are nice to mail. For example: portions of the big vat of gorp I made before I left, letters from home, Fab One-shot laundry detergent, portions of other bulk foods you buy, vitamins. Another note on maildrops. It took me and my Mom about 4 drops to figure out what I wanted, and how much to send. My appetite got huge, and stuff I thought would be great to eat didn't work out (pancakes, real rice). We had all of the drops figured out, and put in open grocery bags. That allowed Mom and Dad to move food around asnecessary. So in conclusion, I would kind of mix and match my maildrops. (How's that for a definitive answer :) 2. Bugs The bugs weren't bad at all. There were a couple of places that I wasglad for my tent: Harriman State Park in NY, this one shelter in Mass, and Antlers Campsite just before Katahdin. However, I did carry my tent with me the whole way, even though I only used it maybe a dozen times during the whole trip. The bulk of the places I used it was when there was no shelter, not when the bugs where bad. I probably could have left my tent at home for the bulkof the trip, but I liked the idea of having that shelter on my back. That was insurance/convenience that I was willing to carry. As for repellent, I didn't use much at all. I'd just pack one bottle, and pick it up ingrocery stores along the way if you happen to get low. My bet is that you won't. 3. Rain Gear I had PVC coated nylon. I sent my rain gear home someplace in Virginia, and din't get it back until right before the Whites. In fact, I didn't use my full rain suit from Mt Rogers, VA until the peak right after Andover ME, where I almost froze to death before I stopped and put everything I owned on. My take on rain gear is this. If you wear rain gear and hike, you are going to get sweaty. Gore-tex Smore-tex, if it is just as humid outside the suit as it is inside the suit the water vapor's not going anywhere. You'll only get that transfer when its cold and dry out. Why get wet and stinky when youcan just get wet? Just wear quick-dry fabrics, ie a Capilene shirt (a long underwear top if its a little cold) and nylon shorts, get wet, and dry out when the rain stops. Get a cover for your pack though, and pack everything you care about in a plastic bag. 4. Clothes needed in April I started in Mid-march. I walked through snow in the Smokies. I had the following clothes: 1 set lightweight polypro long underwear, 1 set midweight Capilene long underwear, a lightweight Capilene tshirt, nylon shorts,a wool sweater (though I would have traded it for a heavy fleece jacket), some synthetic gloves, a wool hat, socks, my raingear. This worked great. If I put all of that stuff on, I was pretty warm. When I started walking, I was fine. I was very happy with my clothes. When it got warmer, I sent some stuff home, like the rain gear, the lightweight lu top, the midweight lu bottoms, and I tradedmy wool sweater for a fleece pullover (which was nice to wear after a day of hiking, and made a great pillow). 5. H2O filter Hmmph. I just carried a First Need, backflushed it in town once in a while, and got a new filter in Pennsylvania. My pump sprang a leak once, put First Need sent a replacement lickety-split. The filters that I was jealous of, except for the fact that I paid less then they did, were the MSR Waterworks, and some PUR model. I had the following system for getting water: I carried one of those two-gallon water-bags, the kind with plastic bag in a cloth cover, and they have a simple spout. Each evening, I'd fill my bag with appropriate amount of untreated water, and bring it back to the shelter. From the bag, I could get water to cook with (I boiled up the water for hot chocolate, and then dumped in dinner), clean with (add a little bleach to the rinse water and voila, superclean dishes), and the bag was easy to pump out of (No dirt, and I was right at the shelter, sitting comfortably). I definitely reccomend carrying a water bag. 6. Misc I could go on and on with advice, but I'll stop here. If you want, I can mail you a copy of my schedule, with what I planned to do, and what actually happened. Just for your interest, I only planned to take three days off. In actuality, I took a total of 21 days off, and still finished two days early. However, you can never do too much planning. Just be flexible enough to break from the plan when you're actually out on the trail. I hope this helps.
DW Bailey From dbailey Sat Jul 23 13:19:33 1994 EDT To: firstname.lastname@example.org In-reply-to: email@example.com's message of Fri, 15 Jul 94 16:08:30 -0500 firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Al, Sorry for taking so long to reply. I was/am going to try and get my planning spreadsheet into a form where I can mail it to you. For now,I'll just answer your questions as I read your post. 2 pr boots. This is kind of what I did. I had a pair of boots thatwere in decent shape and so just bought a new pair, which I tried tobreak in before I started, and then I got them in Harpers Ferry. One-shot laundry detergent. You can get it at most laundromats. I was mailing other stuff, ao it was just easier to go ahead and pack it. Bug nets. I'm telling you, the bugs aren't bad at all. For the few times you'll want any protection, just set up your tent. It was really 21 drops, plus being full at the beginning, ao it was more like a week between mail drops. The most I carried was 9 days of food, for parts like the 100 mile wilderness, and some sections in VA. Your maildrop idea sounds fine. What are you going to do for breakfasts? I assume you've bought whatever they are putting out for a Thru-hikers Handbook. Look for big name supermarkets Kroger, Food Lion, etc. in the town description. That will give you a clue as tothe size of the grocery-store. Rain Gear. My gear was pretty durable. It was made by and bought at EMS. I had bought it a couple of years beforehand. Capilene is high-tech polypropolene. It is softer, and doesn't absorb odors like polypro does, but has the same wicking/insulating properties. It is a Patagonia product. I don't like the poncho idea, but others do. Actually, I had two pairs of clothes. One to hike in, and one to wear in town. In all honesty, I got pretty nasty by the time I rolled into town. No one bothered me when I went into New York City though :), but my sister threw me in the shower right after saying hello. Starting time. Snowy, rainy, cold, nice, everything. There weren't too many other people starting. I mostly passed them pretty fast and started to catch up with people who were in front of me. Half the fun of hiking the trail is the people you meet. The crowds will die away, plus there will be chances to get away from people. H2O filters. I agree with being anal about water purification. Keeping healthy is one of the more important aspects of finishing the trail. I mailed my replacement filter, and I backwashed a couple of times in town. I think it was the PUR Explorer. The only complaints I have heard about the MSR Waterworks is that it clogged pretty easy, and wasn't quite as simple to clean as the manufacturer claimed. You may want to post on the rec.backcountry or check the FAQ for info about those models. MISC. I'll try and get my schedule to you ASAP. If I give it to youas a spreadsheet format, what type do you want it in? Shelter/lean-to sleeping works great. You don't have to mess with setting up your tent, there is a nice flat spot to cook on, and the evenings and mornings are great opportunities to joke around with your friends. Remember to hang your food though, cause they are mice magnets. DW Bailey From dbailey Tue Jul 26 09:46:46 1994 EDT To: email@example.com In-reply-to: firstname.lastname@example.org's message of Mon, 25 Jul 94 23:06:17 -0500 email@example.com Subject: AT hike Al, Breakfast. To each his own appetite. Here is what I did for food on a normal day. Breakfast - hike 1 hr (~3miles) - H2O break - hike 1 hr - granola bar/H2O break - hike 1 hr - H2O break - hike 1 hr - Lunch - hike 1 hr - H2O break - hike 1 hr - GORP/H2O break - hike 1 hr - H2O break - hike 1 hr - Dinner. You'll figure out how much you want to eat once you start hiking. 3 sets of clothes! I thought you were on a light kick! ;) Definitely take three sets of socks though. Transportation. I had it pretty lucky transportaion wise. My brother was working in Atlanta, so I went down and stayed with him for the weekend, and then he dropped me off at the blue-blazed trail to Springer Monday morning. For the way home, the night before I climbed, I got a hitch out of the park to a phone, and called my Dad. He did a marathon drive from DC to come get me. You should have absolutely no problem getting a hitch to Millinocket. I have no idea about the PUR Scout. I'll give you the printout, as well as sending you the spreadsheet also. I'm telling you, the spreadsheet is great. It has almost all of the shelters, campsites, and towns, with their mileage. You select which shelters/towns you want to stay at, and extract that list. Then you can look at things like scheduling your maildrops, average mileage, etc. DW Bailey From dbailey Wed Aug 31 10:29:56 1994 EDT To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Appalacian Trail info needed : Hello. I am looking for any books/pamphlets that map and give : information about the entire Appalacian Trail. The more inform- : ative, the better. Also I would like a VERY good book on hiking. : I know this may sound crazy but I have decided that I am going to : hike the Appalacian Trail and I have never hiked more than one : day before! Also, how much time and money do you think I would : need to do this (including buying any equpiment). Any help : is much appreciated. I plan on taking some time to plan this out : and maybe do it in the spring. OK, you asked for advice, here it is. First, join the Appalachian Trail Conference P.O. Box 807 Harpers Ferry, WV 25425 (304)535-6331 They are the body which manages the Trail. (Land acquisition, the smaller trail maintenace clubs, etc.) They also have sell by mail order such things as maps (you'll want these) and a some stuff for potential thru-hikers, like _The Thru-hikers Guide_ and some other useful planning stuff. You don't have to be a member to buy stuff, but you get a discount, which makes up the membership fee when you buy all of the maps(~$100). More importantly, if you are going to hike the AT, you should join the ATC, its just one of those etiquette type things. As far as time and money go, I spent 163 days (5.5 months) and about $2000 hiking the Trail. Note: If you get your equipment list nailed down quickly enough, Christmas/Hanukah presents! David W. Bailey MIT Ultimate The Leg Lab AT Thruhike MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory GA-->ME `92 From dbailey Wed Aug 31 13:41:17 1994 EDT To: email@example.com In-reply-to: Alison Blazich's message of Wed, 31 Aug 94 12:15:50 EDT CMM-RU.firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Appalacian Trail info needed Date: Wed, 31 Aug 94 12:15:50 EDT From: Alison Blazich email@example.com : Thanks for the information, David! When you say that you spent : about $2000, what type of expenses did that cover and include? : How much did you spend on equipment? I would love to hear : anything about your trip you would like to share (if you like to : talk/write). Thanks. : Lilie Here's a quick approximate budget: Tent 150 Pack 150 Boots 150 Thermarest 50 Stove 50 Maps 100 Clothes 200 Misc equipment 100 Train to Atlanta 100 ---------------- --- Total 1050 Plus, food and postage for 21 maildrops. As far as things I could share, I could go on and on for days about the trail. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to this guy who is planning a thruhike. Included are my letters back to him, answering his questions. You should be able to play Jeopardy and guess the question from my answers though. (Included responses to Al's questions.) DW Bailey
Stu recently wrote offering the following tip about slackpacking.
Date: Fri, 01 Mar 1996 22:57:00 -0800
I'm Stu. I attempted to hike the AT in 88, but due to a back injury in West Virginia was unable to complete it. I have since completed another 1/4th of the trail (total now around 1200 miles). I would be more than happy in aiding you in your advice section of you like. I have done both short and long hikes. I know most of the pit falls a hiker can come accros. For example: Never let someone take your pack ahead for you. Not because you might lose it, but because if you have been hiking for a month or more with it strapped to your back your back has become accustomed to it. This means that your muscles are used to the firmness of the pack. As in my case, I let someone take my pack ahead 18 miles, I was able to hike very fast without the pack, but my back suffered because of it. It seems the muscles were ready for that kind of free movement and the hiking caused a severe strain on them. It took almost six months to recover from that mistake...and I thought I was in great shape by the time I reached West Virginia. Anyway I'm willing to help.
my email is firstname.lastname@example.org (El Camino - The walker)
I wrote to Stu to ask what other tips he had for hikers and this is a list he produced:
Sorry I don't have much other advice to give... basically all my advice would come down to:
1. Don't worry about making miles.
2. Drink lots of water (purified).
3. Quit caffeine (long) before you start hiking.
4. If your feet hurt, stop.
5. Beer will make you lazy, especially in Parisburg.
6. Domestic dog is the greatest cause of injury on the trail.
7. Every local will tell you the section you're on is the hardest section of the trail. Only in the Whites are they right.
8. Don't take days off from the trail.
9. Don't stay in shelters near roads.
10.If you feel like quitting, hike three more days and see how you feel then.
11.You don't really need a fire.
12.Everyone gets lost.
13.Don't hit a skunk on the nose if it eats your left over tuna. (I know someone that did this!)
14.Poisonous snakes are endangered species...leave them alone. 15.I wish I could do it again.
Stu Gibeau "El Camino - the Walker"
Wishes are Fishes!
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