When Brent and I mention that we’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, we hear similar responses and questions. As it turns out, most people have one of two reactions. They either think we are crazy and a potential dinner for bears or creepy woodsmen, or they display a strong interest in our journey because of its similarity to their own adventures. We thought we’d address some frequently asked questions here.
1. Why the hell would you want to do that?
Simply put, for the adventure and challenge. It seems we’ve been edging our way to the trailhead since we met. We started with car camping and road trips across the United States and have gradually found ways to be more efficient and adventurous with our budgeted traveling. We also share a love for nature, which resulted in trips centered around visiting National Parks. After watching National Geographic’s documentary on the Appalachian Trail, I felt compelled to try it. And it didn’t take much to convince Brent to give it a go. We’ve spent the past year planning and anticipating this journey.
2. When are you leaving and how long will it take?
Most thru-hikers begin the trail in March or April, but this timing interfered with my graduation. For this reason, we have selected to leave during the second week of May. It typically takes 5-7 months to thru-hike the trail, so we hope to reach Mount Katahdin in October.
3. How many miles will you hike each day?
I did the math and, with the time we’ve allotted, we’ll need to hike around 13 miles per day. A former thru-hiker advised us to start slowly, hiking around five miles per day the first few days in order to adjust and not overexert ourselves. We will gradually increase our mileage each week, but there will be some days (because of weather, tired bodies, or distraction) that we won’t hike at all and some when we will hike more than 20 miles. Although we are on a mission to complete it, the most important thing is that we enjoy it.
4. Are you hiking with a group?
Yes and no. Brent and I will hike the entire length of the trail together, without a group, but there will be many other hikers that we will meet and potentially hike with for short periods of time. Hundreds of people thru-hike the trail each year and even more enjoy day hikes along the route, so we are hoping to share our hiking experience with those a part of the Appalachian Trail community.
5. How are you getting to the trailhead and returning home?
We have people who love us. Brent’s mom will drive us to Georgia and drop us off at the approach trail to the A.T. Once we complete the trail, my amazingly-cool-for-doing-this family will pick us up after their long drive from Kentucky just to turn around and take us home.
6. Will you be able to shower?
Brent’s showers will be limited compared to his normal routine, which includes two or three showers a day. Of course, my routine of showering every few days will be maintained! Seriously, we are taking a shower on the trail with us and will look forward to using it as much as possible. You can read more about this in the post titled, “The Get Out More Tour.”
7. Will you carry six months of food with you?
No. We will carry 1-2 weeks worth of food in our packs and have the rest sent to us along the trail. There are post offices in some towns along the trail, and others that we will have to hitch a ride to in order to resupply. We will be preparing boxes of the supplies and food and handing them off to family members, who will send them to us when we are approaching a deficiency.
8. Who is going to take care of your house and pets and how are you going to pay your bills?
Our friends will be moving in our house, taking care of our pets, watering our plants and paying the rent and utilities while they live there. We are extremely lucky to have this arrangement and have these friends! Brent cancelled the insurance on his car, and we share my beloved Sentra. When the time comes to leave, we’ll move out of our house and park our cars at our parent’s houses.