A 2,200 mile hike with my dog Nara.
There were many reasons I thru-hiked the AT. But to put it simply, a sense of adventure as well as doing something out of my comfort zone.
I've heard faster hikers walk the entire Appalachian Trail in 100 days. That would be 20+ miles per day without any rest days! Since I'm bringing Nara, I'm not going to push for such an aggressive pace. Most successful thru-hikers generally complete their hike in 5-7 months.
I'm not sure what I'll be eating later, but my starting menu will look something like this:
Breakfast: oatmeal, dried berries, poptarts, coffee
Lunch: beef jerky, dried fruit, dried squid, candy bars, cheese, chocolate
Dinner: chicken or tuna, mashed potatoes, pasta side or quinoa all mixed together
Most days I will be sleeping in a 2-person tent with Nara. The Appalachian trail has a network of 3-sided shelters spread out about every 10 miles, which are first come first serve. Shelters are built and maintained by trail clubs in every State, so a big thank you to all the volunteers. If vacant or not crowded, I will stay at shelters. I'm going to try and limit my time in towns, but every few weeks, I will likely be staying in motels/hostels from time to time to wash up, recuperate, and to take a break from the woods.
Nara does well on weekend hikes, but we'll see how she does after a few weeks on the trail.Update (Aug-27,2013):
During our first week in Maine, she did not eat much and lost a lot of weight. When we reached Monson, ME, just outside of the 100 mile wilderness, many hikers said she looked pretty bad (so skinny you could see her ribs). But after reaching Harper's Ferry, WV, I'm happy to report that Nara regained her weight and is doing great on the trail. Her paws are also doing well after hiking across Pennsylvania's notorious rocks.Update (Nov-30,2013):
Nara completed our thru-hike looking like she was ready for another 2,200 miles. Fortunately, we're back home, and she is also enjoying climate-controlled dwellings and a much more easygoing lifestyle.
Not everyone needs to thru-hike to enjoy backpacking. What's important is just getting out there. Best thing to do is start gradually. Start with a day hike. When you feel comfortable, go for an overnighter with a friend. Next step would be a multi-day hike. You will learn as you go. Check out my links page to get started.
I found it relatively easy to find rides into and out of towns. My longest wait was maybe around 30-40 minutes and that was on a sparsley travelled road. There are a lot of dog-lovers and friendly locals with pickup trucks.
This was a question and answer posted on Appalachian trails subreddit. H/T to user dahvzombie for permission to reprint.