As a father of three and Director of Sales at a major marketing agency in Austin, Texas, Brian McPeek often has very little time to pursue his hiking and camping hobbies. However, this year Brian McPeek hopes to change this as he will be undergoing one of the most intense hikes in the United States, completing the legendary Appalachian Trail. As only 600 hikers complete the mammoth task each year, Brian McPeek recognizes the importance of preparing for this 2,000+ mile hike and hopes to document his preparations within this site.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail Overview
The Appalachian Trail is a marketed trail that spans roughly 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is the longest hiking-only rail in the world and sees approximately 3,000 hikers each year attempt to complete the trail in its entirety. The trail spans fourteen states, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and eight national forests. In order to complete the entire trail, most thru-hikers will start their AT hiking trip in the first half of April at Springer Mountain in Georgia and hike through summer, where they will finish in Maine in September (6 months). In order to complete the entire 2,200 miles of AT in the summer window, hikers will need to complete roughly 12 miles each day; however, by the end of the AT, many hikers are averaging roughly 16-24 miles each day.
Biggest Challenges of Hiking the AT
While the average person may need between 1800 to 2200 calories in a day to maintain their weight, that amount of calories will not cut it on the AT. As the average thru-hiker walks between 12-15 miles a day, they will need at minimum 3,500 calories to maintain their weight. As space is always an issue on the trail, it can be difficult for hikers to pack enough food needed to maintain their weight. For this reason, Brian McPeek will discuss in future entries what foods thru-hikers recommend for the Appalachian Trail.
Ideally, an Appalachian Trail hiking pack will weigh no more than 15 pounds, quite tricky for a pack that will house all your possessions for six months. As gear can either make or break a hiking experience, it is often challenging for hikers not to overpack while preparing for every eventuality on the AT. For this reason, Brian McPeek recommends hikers contact individuals who have hiked the AT and ask what items were essential on the trail.
Dehydration can be a real problem on the Appalachian trail, especially in areas with limited access to water. As many hikers are completing 8 hours a day of moderate exercise in sometimes extreme temperatures, it is crucial they come prepared with a sufficient hydration system. A good rule of thumb is to drink half a liter of water per hour of moderate activity. This means that the AT hiker should drink 4 liters of water a day; however, this is easier said than done as 4 liters of water weighs in at just over eight pounds. In order to sufficiently hydrate without overextending a daypack, hikers will need to bring a filtration system in order to clean the river or lake water they have access to.
In upcoming blog entries, Brian McPeek will continue to explore a wide variety of hiking topics and share further plans and preparations for his Appalachian Trail hike. Those interested in learning more about Brian McPeek or his hiking experiences are encouraged to return to this site.