Appalachian Trail, 2006

IN 2006, I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. I started in June, which was folly, and finished when the snows graced the mountains in Maine. I was unprepared to start, and learned a lot along the trail (although I’ve learned more since, such as how to not cook and still feed yourself, and how to hike 30 miles a day with a 15-pound pack). My ankles got stronger, I wrote a lot in very small print in a book (no iPhones at that time to write journal entries and upload) and the site I had all my pictures on has long since ceased to exist (It was self-hosted; I believe it went off the air in 2011).

With, and WordPress, I am planning to recreate the experience, with a more user-friendly layout, more curated pictures (i.e. paring it down from 1500 to, say, well, less than 1500) and some selective editing of things you didn’t really need to know.

A note on the log: a lot has changed since 2006. These notes were typed in a small book, then typed in a library or hostel, sent home, and posted on a home server. I should have used a blogging service, but of course the blogging services back then weren’t quite where they are now. So I created my own. Each day begins with some statistics, in particular the distance and net elevation change (although not the total climb), and then has three categories as follows:

Climbs are categorized on a sort-of-Tour-de-France system. I gave categories based only on the elevation differential of the climb (without a major descent; I believe 200 feet was the cutoff but it may have been 100). The categories are:

  • Category 4: 400 to 750 feet
  • Category 3: 750 to 1250 feet
  • Category 2: 1250 to 2000 feet
  • Category 1: 2000 to 3000 feet
  • Hors Category (HC): More than 3000 feet

Of course, I wound up working at Madison Springs Hut a few years later, where I’d ascend an HC climb (3500 feet, 4 miles), with 40 to 80 pounds on my back, twice a week. But on the trail, these climbs are few.

Weather is a mostly objective guess of several weather conditions:

  • The first number is the general hiking temperature. Usually this is the highs (if it said 70s, I guessed it was in the 70s most of the day) but sometimes it is a range if the temperature changed drastically.
  • The second number is the approximate percent of sun. 100% is sunny, 0% cloudy.
  • The final letters, if they appear, denote the weather experienced. R = Rain, T = Thunder, S = Snow, et cetera.

Beyond this come three objective measures of the day on a 1 to 5 scale, with a + meaning “better than 5″. They are:

  • Shelter: How well did I like my shelter that evening?
  • Dinner: How much did I enjoy my dinner? (This is a relative scale, with very few exceptions, I always enjoyed dinner)
  • Overall: How did my day go?

I’m in the process of posting the trip log, which you can access from the menu bar at the top of the page.