Chances are, you’ve thought at some point, “Gee, I wish I could just live in the woods and not deal with the real world!” I am here to tell you that you can do that thing.
Step one: Determine your eligibility to hike!
Are you blind, a senior citizen, deaf, missing limbs or otherwise physically handicapped in some capacity? Yes? Great! It’s been done, and you can do it too! Have a family? If it’s that important to you, just bring them along.
Families have hiked the A.T. successfully. Here is a list of hikers who defeated the odds. No excuses.
1. Grandma Gatewood; the first woman to thru-hike the A.T. was a grandmother of like 8 billion humans, and did it three times.
2. Bill Irwin: The first blind hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail! I had the pleasure of interviewing one of his fellow hikers, John the Baptist, from the A.T. class of 1990 http://www.billirwin.com/
3. Scott Rodgers: He hiked the entirety of the trail with only one leg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Rogers
4. The Family Kallin: A family of four who hiked the AT http://kallinfamily.com/why/
Step Two: Get MoTIVATED
Step Three: Get Stuff
Unless you are a rich, decisive person, buying gear will be the most difficult part. Good gear is expensive, and buying cheap gear will cost you more in the long run. You have to keep in consideration that you are carrying your life on your back, so weight and quality construction are huge factors. You need a backpack to carry it all in, a sleeping bag, bag for your sleeping bag, a sleeping pad (a bag for that), sacks for food, toiletries other clothes.. the actual food, toiletries and other clothes, your stove, your water, a filter system, hiking poles, and a tent. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but keep in mind that list is not expanded. Here is a picture of an entire SUMMER hiking kit- I am too lazy to take a picture of my own 🙂 A winter kit will have crampons, heavier clothes and heavy stuff. At the end of the day, however, there is no wrong way to pack, as long as you are happy with it!
Step Three: Prepare Mentally. Or not.
You could be wet, covered in blisters, cuts and bug bites, be hot, cold, and sunburned all at the same time- with 12 more miles to hike in the day, and you have a giant mountain in front of you. Plot twist: your friends just sent you a picture from the beach. You are jealous and want to be sitting on a towel getting tan, sipping on a smoothie, taking in the view of all the awesome humans that you love and care about. Too bad, you have to keep going, and then fall asleep by yourself wishing you were surrounded by your humans. Dropping everyone and everything in your life to wander down a trail for six months by yourself is not easy. One of the hardest things to swallow is that life goes on without you; the world does not pause and people move on with their lives… and that sucks big-time. On the other hand, you get to immerse yourself in a completely new community, experiencing things that you would never get to do in a normal setting with you friends, and that can lead to the makings of a very cool journey. Any way that you shake it, you are in fora most excellent adventure.
Step Four: GO FOR IT!
There is nothing more important than experiencing the full spectrum of the human experience. You only get one-hundred years on this amazing planet at best, and spending it in the loving embrace of a grey cubicle is not my idea of fun. What are you waiting for?