Are you thinking or dreaming about an Appalachian Trail thru-hike? If you’re looking for a way to connect with yourself, others, and nature, all while experiencing jaw-dropping scenery, then thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail may be for you! Here are some things to know before thru-hiking the AT.
Planning an AT thru-hike? Plan Ahead of Time
The Appalachian Trail can be unpredictable. To avoid injury, dehydration, and other problems, you need to plan your hike ahead of time. You need to plan where you’d like to rest, where you will replenish your supplies, and which trails you will take.
When considering things to know before thru-hiking the AT, you should be sure to leave your hiking itinerary with an emergency contact. This will make it easier to get help if you end up lost, delayed, or in an emergency situation along the way.
Be Prepared for Unpredictable Weather
The Appalachian Trail is incredible, but it often has unpredictable weather. Staying up to date with local weather conditions via your cell phone or another device is important, but you also need to know what you can expect.
Sudden snowfall and freezing rain can occur all the way through April. Temperatures can drop below freezing at night nearly any time of the year, even during the summer months. During summer days, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of hypothermia, heat exhaustion, and sickness. Part of staying safe means keeping your body healthy. This includes rest, wearing the right clothing for the weather, sleeping in a safe environment, and cooling off when necessary.
Planning an AT thru-hike? Pack the Right Kind of Food
One of the most important tips on hiking the Appalachian Trail is to make sure you’re fueling your body with good food. You can’t carry too much weight if you want to successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. You’ll need to pack lightweight yet nutritious foods such as powdered meals, trail mix, and packets of peanut butter.
Since the Appalachian Trail is often a vigorous, uphill hike, you’re going to need to consume more than 5,000 calories per day to stay energized and ready to go. There are many resupply options along the way, so pack about a week’s worth of energy-boosting food each time you get supplies.
Find Ways to Stay Motivated
Staying motivated while on the trail is important. Hiking should be a good experience – you don’t want to be miserable or bored. While it may seem insignificant, one of the most important tips on hiking the Appalachian Trail is to know what motivates you and cling to it. Journaling, meditating, getting in social support, and even listening to music can all keep you going when mental fatigue kicks in.
Keep these tips in mind when planning an AT thru-hike and embarking on your life-changing journey. For more AT information, or to help maintain the trail, please visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.
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