In about three weeks I’ll be starting what will hopefully be a 2,150-mile hiking trip.
Questions people often ask are:
How long is it going to take you?
About six to seven months.
Are you going alone?
Yes and no. I don’t have a designated partner, but I will have company; every year there are over a thousand people attempting to hike the entire trail, and the bulk of them start out in March from Georgia, just like me. The trail is also extensively used by people out on weekend camping trips, dayhikes, etc.
Where will you sleep?
There are something like 200 shelters along the trail. Most are basically three walls and a roof and are usually located near a good water source (creek or spring). I will sleep in them occasionally, but my preference is generally to camp out a hundred yards or so away – close enough to be social, far enough that people won’t hit me with shoes for snoring.
What will you eat?
Energy bars, nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky, chocolate, and whatever can be cooked by adding boiling water; usually some kind of pasta, maybe with some tuna added. I will also gorge when in town every 4-6 days
Is it safe?
You’re taking your cell phone, right?
Did you have to quit your job?
The college where I teach has very graciously given me a six-month leave of absence. Even more graciously, they’re continuing to pay the employer portion of my health insurance while I’m gone.
Have you read A Walk in the Woods?
Yes. For those who don’t know, AWITW was a 1999 bestselling book about two guys hiking the trail. It was responsible for a huge jump in the number of people hiking the trail in 2000-2001. Bryson is a controversial figure for some members of the AT community for a variety of reasons; nonetheless if you’re looking for a book about the AT, his is the one I’d recommend.
The other books I’d recommend are Earl Shaffer’s Walking with Spring and Bill Irwin’s Blind Courage.
Okay, that’s a start. If it matters to anyone, I may use your questions in writing a FAQ for a website I am creating.