Everyone should have a bucket list. It’s an easy way to ensure that you’re getting the most out of life. If you ask someone on their deathbed if they have any regrets, they might tell you they regret what they didn’t do more than what they did.
What many people don’t realize about bucket lists is that the majority of goals on that list often pertain to the outdoors. This makes sense considering the outdoors offers so much beauty, adventure and exhilaration.
Goals can include hang gliding, climbing one of the seven peaks, kayaking around Long Island, camping in the desert, going hot air ballooning, fishing in Montana and much more. This list can vary greatly depending on the individual’s personality. That said, there is one goal that is often found on American’s bucket list, which is to hike the Appalachian Trail.
What’s the trail like?
The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine. It mostly goes through woods, but it also goes across meadows, beside rivers, around lakes, through cities and over mountains. Is that enough adventure for you? How about sleeping in close quarters with strangers and eating Ramen Noodles every night? If you can handle these factors, then the Appalachian Trail might be for you.
A lot of people think that hiking the trail is about enduring a three to six-month hike from Georgia to Maine. They think it’s about the scenery and that they will find themselves. While the scenery is great, you’re not going to find yourself. You will be the same person when you come out as you were when you went in, just a lot more tired.
However, what you will find more than anything else, including scenery, is friendship. In many cases, these friendships end up lasting a lifetime. There is something about the trail that makes you feel as though you’re a teenager at summer camp again.
Almost everyone on the trail has a nickname, people tell stories around campfires at night and you spend your days together bonding. It’s an experience of a lifetime. It’s just a different experience than what most people expect.
How should I hike it?
Most people like to begin in Georgia and finish in Maine. A common strategy is to begin in March. This is the most logical approach because you don’t want to end up in the White Mountains during the winter. The other option is to begin in Maine, but then you will be hiking in the south during the summer, which can be brutal. Regardless of which option you choose, be sure not to rush. Almost every hiker who attempts speed doesn’t complete the trail. Aim for a steady pace of around 19 to 21 miles per day. That will feel like a lot in the beginning, and your feet will ache, but after a few weeks that will feel as though it’s not enough distance.
Good luck and enjoy your time on the Appalachian Trail. It will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life, guaranteed.