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Hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) is a long and strenuous process that will test both your physical and emotional strength. If you aren’t fully prepared to push yourself to and past your limits, you simply aren’t going to make this hike. With a length of roughly 2,180 miles, the AT is the longest continuously marked trail in the world. However, the feeling of completing something as monumental as the AT hike makes the blood, sweat and tears all worth it. If you’re thinking about giving it a shot, keep reading and we’ll reveal some essential things you need to know about it.
There’s really no “true” way to prepare yourself for hiking the AT. Unless you’ve done it in the past, then you might be surprised at just how many different obstacles you’ll be faced with. And even then you’ll probably have new challenges waiting for you somewhere along the path. So, how are you supposed to prepare yourself for such a huge challenge?
It’s best to start physically conditioning your body for long hikes. Take a shot at some of the shorter hikes during your free time to get a feel for what long hikes in the woods and mountains are like. Doing so will help you build up muscle strength, endurance and overall stamina, all of which will be useful on the AT.
A typical hike through the AT takes roughly 5 months to complete, so you can expect to be away from home for quite a while. For this reason, you’ll need top-of-the-line camping and hiking gear, as well as cash to purchase food, gear and other necessities along the way. Don’t try to cut corners or save money with your hiking gear, as quality matters on the AT. Spend the extra money to purchase gear that’s going to hold up on this long, challenging hike. Some of the cheaper stuff is likely to fall apart or not offer you the protection you need on the AT.
Important AT Hiking Tips
I can’t stress enough how important bug spray is on the AT. If you think mosquitoes are annoying, wait until you have dozens of ticks crawling and feeding on your body. Not only are they an unpleasant sight to see, but they can also carry some pretty nasty diseases. A couple of cans of deet-based insect repellant is a valuable tool in preventing ticks and other pests.
There are a lot of vertical inclines on the AT that will test your physical abilities. Take some rope and basic climbing gear with you to tackle these vertical spots head-on. As long as you remain confident and keep a cool head, you shouldn’t have a problem with them.