Preparing to hike 2,200 miles across America
In March 2018 we will be attempting to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail northbound from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
A lot of people have asked why... Well, there are several reasons. We have both spent many years living in London working hard to serve other people in healthcare and coffee jobs, and we were tired. Tired of being surrounded by hundreds of people every day. Tired of commuting to work. Tired of pollution, of always being surrounded by buildings and traffic and stressed out people who are always in a rush. Don't get us wrong, we don't hate cities and certainly don't hate London, but neither of us wanted to be there full time. We found ourselves spending more and more time away from the city at weekends and yet these breaks weren't enough. We felt we needed a lifestyle change and a new adventure.
Chris had been reading a lot of adventure books and started to read travel stories from people who had attempted thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. He became a little obsessed with the idea and that's where it began. Once this idea had formed neither of us could imagine not doing it. Or at least trying it. Only one in four people who attempt to hike the entire 2,200 miles will actually complete it.
Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is like walking from London to Atlanta, USA (if you filled in the ocean). The elevation we will have to endure is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest 16 times. Or like climbing Snowdon every day for the whole trip. Not only is it going to be physically challenging, but it's going to require a lot of mental willpower and resilience. And money. And gear.
We spent almost a year buying and testing out our gear. We went on several hiking camping trips throughout 2017 to make sure we have everything we need and that it works well for us. We soon discovered that our bags were far too heavy and our sleeping bags were not warm enough. We bought an ultralight tent, ultralight sleeping pads, warmer and lighter sleeping bags, warmer thermals, lighter cooking equipment and a better water filtration system. It has cost us a lot of money but means we can actually carry our bags without damaging our backs, and we enjoy walking with packs much more. We can also sleep without waking up numb from the cold. This will be particularly important in the first and last months of the hike where temperatures will be lower and there may be snow.
We have also been trying to get fitter by running every other day. We found a couch to 10K app on our phones that worked well for us and have been very disciplined with this, making sure we go running no matter what the weather is like. We have been running in 35mph winds, in the rain, sleet, fog and bright sunshine. This has been mentally challenging, especially in the wind, but the weather is likely to be much worse some days on the AT, so we need to get used to it. You can watch our first ever 5K here.
As for finances, we've tried to save enough to ensure we can complete it and get return flights to the UK after 6 months, but we don't have much leftover for replacement gear. I guess we'll just see what happens... We have been contacting companies to see if anyone would like to sponsor us and we've set up a Patreon page in case anyone wants to support us by pledging money in return for video diaries and other content. Hopefully this will help when our shoes and equipment start to fall apart!