Appalachian Trail is one of the most impressive National Scenic Trails in the United States. Millions of people visit it each and every year.
Now, whether you are a long-term hiker or a newbie, there are a lot of things you should know about A.T. Proper preparation will determine successfulness of the entire hike so make sure to read these tips!
- Plan the length of the hike
Worst thing you can do is to go on the Appalachian Trail without a proper plan. Length of the hike will determine everything. A lot of the hikers hope for a thru-hike only to quite after a few days due to the bad preparation and/or lack of resources. Similarly, you might start hiking for a few days, after which you decide to prolong it only to discover that you don’t have enough money. Make sure to plan every mille, how much you can hike per day and ultimately, how many days you plan on remaining on the trail.
- You need to be well-rested
Needless to say, you have to be in a good shape before you start the hike. But, some of the hikers make a mistake and decide to start the expedition while tired or under a lot of stress. Truth be told, most of us have tight schedules and we can barely squeeze a couple of days for hiking. Some people believe that hiking will help them alleviate the stress and relax. Although this is true to an extent, you definitely shouldn’t be tired when you start the process. Hiking itself is very strenuous and you will be completely drained after a day or two which will force you to quit prematurely.
- Plan your supplies
Experienced hikers always opt for dry food. This is the best option. Your food won’t spoil as you go and you will also get some extra space in your backpack. If you are going for a longer hike, you should also make a plan for of all the places where you need to resupply. Another thing you need to account for is that you will eat much more while on the trail. In that regard, it is ok to pack a little bit more.
- Go ultralight
More and more hikers prefer to travel ultralight. This is especially important for those who wish to thru-hike long trails such as the Appalachian Trail. Wearing a heavy backpack can lead to extra pressure on your back, hips and shoulders which can have long-term consequences. At the same time, it will increase the fatigue while decreasing maneuverability.
- Learn more about wildlife
Every trail has its perils. Besides the terrain, wildlife is the second most common cause for concern. When it comes to A.T. bears are the biggest threat. Make sure to cook away from your tent. Bears can easily sniff out the food so you might get unwanted visitors during the night. Also, you should hang your food on trees. Never leave food in your tent. Besides the bears, there are several other dangers among which insects, poison ivy and wild boars are notable.
- Think about sleeping
Appalachian Trail has a network of shelters. Nevertheless, you should still carry a tent. You can never tell if a bad weather will struck somewhere along the way and you are forced to seek a temporary protection. Anyway, every hiker should plan how many miles he wishes to cross in a day and where he will sleep afterwards. Besides shelters and tents, there is also an option of renting a bed.
- Get more info regarding the weather
A.T. is a rather long trail. Southern areas have much higher average temperature than the northern ones. Temperature and weather will also vary depending on the height. Time of the year also plays a factor. Regardless, you will still need clothes for both the sun and the rain. However, by getting informed in advance, you can at least know what to expect.
Preparation is half of the hike. Unless you are a casual hiker who wishes to walk for a day, it is better to learn more about the trail. Hope you have fun!