The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a marked hiking trail that extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia al the way up north to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The length on the Appalachian Trail changes often as some of its paths are sometimes rerouted, but generally speaking the trek from beginning to end measures roughly 2,200 miles, making it the longest hiking trail in the world. The Appalachian Trail passes through 14 states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. We want to focus especially in the tri-state area of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia since here is where we do most of our hiking and a few of the trails I have talked about here in Sudir Raju’s Blog, do include and mention the trail to some extent.
Here we have gathered some expert advice that not only applies to hiking the Appalachian Trail, but also any type of trail that presents a challenge due to being expense or because of the conditions that can make the walk challenging. We recommend before anything else to mind your health first and to understand that the greatest feats of hiking are accomplished through hard work and dedication, and are not the product of simply going out there carelessly.
Train for the trail
If you want to undertake a bigger endeavor like hiking the whole trail or at least a portion of it, then you must understand that it is going to be tough and prepare for it. You cannot train for something unless you are able to duplicate the conditions of the real deal, which means that you must walk up and down big hills in miserable weather and wearing a heavy pack, everything in short increments at first of course.
Packing is an art
The lighter you pack the best you’ll be. However, it is important to understand that are some creature comforts that may make your hike easier and be worth every once they have you endure. It is important to go with materials that are lighter and every gram you can save here and there by choosing a smaller knife of a lighter flashlight will count in the end.
Test your gear
Using gear for the first time on the trail is a mistake. You must make sure first that the gear you are using is durable, it lives up to the conditions and that it does the job it is supposed to do. It is important to learn how to use things in a controlled environment before you go out there when your integrity may depend on it.
Eating and drinking
Skipping meals and eating like you do when you are back home is a huge mistake. Your body is using up a lot more energy and that is why you need more fuel than normal. Starting your day with a good breakfast is just a necessary as to eat while you walk and snack often during the day. Eating something after a long day of walking is needed so your body can recover while you sleep.
Cotton is not the way to go
Cotton is great if you are just doing a day hike. It absorbs moisture to an extent and it is light and breathable. However, when it comes to the most grueling aspects of hiking you have to go with synthetic blends like polyester that dry faster and even when damp, it can keep you warm. Cotton also absorbs odors and retains them, something you do not want if you are going to be wearing the same clothes for days.
Having your pack sized correctly and choosing the correct one for your body type is very important. Choosing a pack goes beyond simply picking something based on its carry capacity. Something else to keep in mind is that packing depends a lot on the amount of weight you are carrying and the distance you plan on covering, so do it accordingly.
Hike your own hike
This is one of the most important pieces of advice when it comes to hiking. You should compare yourself or your pace to that of other hikers since everyone is different and responds in different manners to the conditions of the hike. Find your own pace and your own way of doing things and go with that works for you in an individual level.
Your mind will always quit way before your body does. Exercising is great for your body, but your mind also needs to prepare itself for the challenges you will go through. There are many things you can do for this: yoga, breathing exercises, meditation or simply preparing yourself by reading about the subject are great ways to prepare your mind.
Stop reading and start hiking
There are many blogs out there and books you can read to tell you about the experience others had, but nothing compares to the real thing, and that is way the best way to do it, is by actually doing it. So get out there and train and feel the trail.