My Preparation for an Appalachian Thru-hike
It was while hiking southern Utah that my Uncle came up with the idea to hike some of the Appalachian Trail. As I started looking at the trails I realized I would love to do the whole thing. Thus the start of my planning to thru-hike beginning in April 2020. Much of this site is going to be dedicated to my planning, advice, and experience in preparing to hike one of the greatest trails in America.
The Appalachian Approach
The Appalachian Approach trail begins at the Amocalola Falls State Park Visitors center and goes 8.5 miles to the Springer Mountain Appalachian Trailhead. I recommend hiking this trail as it was a great learning experience. I used the Alltrails map which I downloaded beforehand but the trail is well marked with signs and blue blazes. There is also a $5 entrance fee to the park.
My brother and I began at the visitor center and I took a 30lb pack to get an idea of what pace I could do with a fully loaded pack. I am still missing some supplies such as my tent, food, and various small items so I added two 5lb weights to my pack and with my 3 liter bladder and 2 water bottles it weighed just over 30lbs.
The trail winds around to the creek and you are met with 604 steps leading up to the top of the tallest cascading waterfall in the south. The falls are beautiful but hiking up a mile of stairs with a full pack wore me out and I began to question if I could make the approximately 17 mile trek. There is parking at the top of the falls if you wanted to skip that first mile. After the falls the trail leads through the foggy forest full of ferns, mushrooms, and snails. There are various camping spots we saw at the beginning of the trail which show up on the Alltrails map and you cross the trailhead for the Hike Inn loop trail which leads to an inn. I later looked into it and the Inn has a beautiful view with beds, showers, and family style meals.
The trail is mostly an uphil climb to Springer mountain but there are some downhills near the gaps. There were signs for two water stops along the way but I didn't check either of them out. As you approach Springer Mountain about a mile and a half before you reach it you'll come across Black Gap Shelter which has one of the water stops. We hiked to the Springer Mountain terminus plaque and took a few pictures before heading back down to have lunch at the shelter. Just past "terminus" appeared to be another camground and a mile further a parking lot. These were also identified on the alltrails map.
Back at the shelter we enjoyed lunch and rested before heading back. Overall the whole trip took us 9 hours and 20 minutes for a total of 18.4 miles.
This was definately a learning experience and I realized a few things. Stay light - Be critical about everything you bring. You feel every ounce.
Stay dry - Bring a microfiber towel for sweat and anti-chaffing cream.
Find your pace - This pace wore me out to the point where I might have had to take a day to rest and heal.
My Packing List
Here is a list of the items I am planning on bringing.
Pack: Loowoko Hiking Backpack 50L (45+5) with Rain Cover
*I upgraded my pack to: Vaude Zerum 48+ Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack
Sleeping Bag: Marmot Ironwood 20 Mummy Lightweight Sleeping Bag
Sleeping Pad: Klymit Insulated Static V Lightweight
Dry Bag: Sak Gear Litesak
Water Bladder: 3L Hydration Bladder
Helly Hanson SVOL Insulator Jacket
Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket
Merrell Long Sleeve Shirt
Tesla Gear Baselayer Shirt and Pant
Magellan Backcountry Pant
Solomon Waterproof Pant
Tesla Gear Cooldry Brief Mesh Underwear
Merrell Hiking Socks 3 pack
Laybya Waterproof Sock
Solomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe
Thru-Hikers Companion Book
© Copyright Michael Page