Feel it? That sense of longing, the almost universal urge to escape the routine of your daily life--or at least to sneak away for a while? Call it a mid-life crisis or just a vague daydream, but you find yourself imagining a simpler, more natural life. In that case, the Appalachian Trail is waiting for you, all 2,158 miles of it.
Trip JournalsProphets and Dreams: Hiking Through Georgia
Rodger and his pal Terry disguise themselves as thru-hikers on the Appalchian Trail and encounter amazing sights and characters.
The Ups and Downs of Standing Indian Basin, NC
Do the men have what it takes to do the Standing Indian Loop, a trail routinely backpacked by the elderly? All it takes is a healthy sense of confidence.
Five Days Afoot: Rainbox Springs to Cheoah Bald, NC
Sure, he's survived an overnight in the woods by himself before, but that's just one night. Can Rodger elude the bears and other forest creatures for a full five days?
The Hard Miles: NOC to Fontana
Okay, these are rumored to be some of the hardest miles on the AT. Can our aging heroes make the climb?
Proposed Rules of EngagementDespite our dreams, not everyone can take six to nine months off to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one push. Some will inevitably attempt the less dramatic but almost as noble goal of hiking the entire trail in shorter segments over a period of years. To help these individuals, we modestly propose these rules for making an officially-recognized thru-hike:
- The hiker must start the hike at the beginning of the trail (either north of south), not in the middle.
- The hiker must hike in a consistent direction (i.e., north or south). If hiking north, for example, you must hike all segments from south-to-north. Should you hike any segments north-to-south (Clingmans Dome to Fontana is a common problem), you must hike that segment twice in the correct direction to receive credit, since a single re-hike simply erases the original problem.
- The hiker must begin each new segment at the end of the last--no skipping ahead and trying to fill in later! Penalty miles will be assessed for those who hike a section out of order.
- The hiker must carry a minimum of 40 pounds on all segments. If at any time the hiker's pack weighs less than 40 pounds, he or she must load it with rocks until the minimum weight is achieved. Note: the weight of the bathroom scale used for the daily weigh-ins can be included in this total.
- In accordance with the Kyoto Protocol, the use of hiking or treking poles is strictly forbidden and may disqualify any participant. Any thru-hiker found using such devices must return immediately to the start of the trail (either Springer or Katadyn) and begin the hike again, sans poles.
- In the event of a tie, hikers will face off in a sudden-death water filtering pump-off at the nearest source of water. The first hiker to purify and drink ten gallons of water (using filters, heat or chemical means as appropriate) will be declared a thru-hiker.
- Hikers should not dream up any new rules while delirious from lack of food, sleep, or common sense. We already have enough of those.
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