The Appalachian Trail and Its Accommodations

With the overwhelming surge in development that the United States has produced over the last half century, it is becoming extremely difficult to escape into nature. That is why the preservation of hiking trails is becoming increasingly important.

The Appalachian Trail is a breath of fresh air that extends over 2,178 miles and passes through 14 states. Most through-hikers begin the trail in Springer Mountain, Georgia and attempt to finish it in Mount Katahdin, Maine. This is because spring starts earlier in the southern states providing hikers with an earlier start when heading northbound on the hiking trail.

It takes roughly between five and seven months to traverse the entire length of the trail. Every year, over 4 million people start. Only 9,583 people have officially reported finishing since the 1930’s. Currently Andrew Thompson holds the unofficial speed record for finishing the trail with 47 days 13 hours and 31 minutes.

It is a drudgingly long and often tedious walk. Most of the people that give up midway through their hike do so because the reality of the length of trail sets in really quickly. It is easy to look at a map after walking for several hours and become discouraged. Hikers need to keep in mind that the trail is not a race.

Successful hikes are the result of careful preparation. Attempting to haul unnecessary gear is a frequent mistake. The problem is attempting to determine what is and what is not essential. No one wants to throw hundreds of dollars worth of gear away in the middle of the wilderness because they realize too late that their pack is too heavy. Potential hikers should conduct thorough research prior to setting out. Determining what to bring in regards to the appropriate clothing, type of tent, style of pack, as well as the selection of food requires a rigorous selection process. What may seem vitally important in the midst of civilization can rapidly become burdensome in the wilderness.

Accommodations on the trail are sparse. Most people set up their tents and camp wherever they can find available space. However, there are 250 shelters staggered throughout the trail. Most of these are open three walled lean-tos that are maintained by volunteers. On some sections of the trail, people can even find inns with warm beds and running water.

Traveling along the Appalachian Trail is a life changing experience. Few people are able to walk its entirety. Glimpsing even a tiny portion of its breathtaking length is enough to make people want to come back for more.