The Appalachian trail or simply A.T is a hiking trail in the eastern board of the United States. It straddles from Springer Mountain in the state of Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. In total, the trail covers about 2190 miles (3500km). The length changes over time as paths get modified, closed shortened or rerouted. The trail passes a total of 14 states. These are North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. The others are Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Georgia and New York. It was completed in 1937 after more than a decade work, although modification and improvements continue to this day.
The management of the trail falls into the hands of three main groups. There is the National Park service, United States Forest service, and the Appalachian Train Conservancy. Most of the on-ground stewardship is handled by the state agencies, volunteers, and partners. The trail consists of structures, natural resources and cultural resources, sites and artefacts. The scope of the maintenance work includes helping set policies, supply funding, provide training, building shelters, and structures, clearing natural growth of the paths and relocating sections of the footpaths. There is a total of 31 trails clubs that handle different parts of the Appalachian trail.
Shelters on Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail has a total of 250 backcountry shelters covering the entire 2100 mile stretch. This puts the shelters at within 8 miles of each other. The shelters range from 5 to 15 miles from each other. A typical Appalachian Trail shelter has an overhanging roof, wooden floors, and three walls. They are mostly built close to creeks, springs or a flowing stream. In some regions, the shelters are about 30 miles of each other. That’s if there is a town or motel in between them. The shelters are occupied on a first-come-first-serve basis. They are for individual users not big groups. Some heavy use shelters require permits and registration. That’s why you need to have a guidebook with you before starting the trail.
Safety and Security
Personal health and safety are such a critical part of hiking the Appalachian trail. You need to carry the basic first aid kits with you just in case one falls sick. One of the viruses that affect most people on the trail is the stomach bug (norovirus). Pick up some basic ideas on how to treat the virus. At least 2 million people hike at least part of the trail. Roughly 3000 people hike the entire trail. Therefore your personal safety in the middle of strangers is very critical. First, let someone know your plans before you start hiking. Tell them you’ll call them at specific times along the trail. Secondly always carry updated maps to avoid getting lost in the trail. Always practice situational awareness. Be mindful of the people is around you and assess whether they pose a threat.
What To Carry
The items you carry are mainly determined by the duration and length of your hike. A one day hike has lesser demands than an overnight hike. Longer hikes require lots of gear and planning. First, you’ll need clothing items. These include boots, rain coats, heavy socks, sunglasses, sunscreen creams, etc. You’ll also need food items. On average 1.5 to 2 pounds of food is adequate for a day. You can buy food in outlets along the trail. Make sure you buy more dry foods and less of canned food. Next, on you’ll need shelter. You can carry small portable tents, as well as a foldable mat and sleeping bags. You should also carry ropes and knives both for your safety. Lastly, take a basic first aid kit with you.
Hiking trails is an adventurous and memorable event. Even then there are lonely moments along the trail when you are alone or with fewer people. That’s why you might need some form of entertainment. A smartphone is the one device that can help you when it comes to entertainment. It can act as a computer, notetaker, camera, MP3 player, communication device, and flashlight. You can also download some apps that can work as maps and join the other Appalachian enthusiasts online. Some hikers prefer a quieter experience, and they carry books or eBooks for reading along the trail. If you are more outdoorsy and adventurous, you can carry with you some board games or light sports gear for group play along with the trail.
The Appalachian is one of the major attractions and wonders of the world. Since it was conceived by forester Benton MacKaye in the early 1920s, the trail has grown to become such a central part of American outdoor life. It should be on your bucket list. Keep in mind that as you hike, you never have to finish the trail. You can do segments at a time over a couple of years.