The Appalachian Trail is, perhaps, the most famous hiking trail in the world. Right now, late march, is the peak time for A.T. thru-hikers (those doing it in one complete go) to begin their quest.
A great way to learn about the A.T. is to read the journals of hikers currently on the trail, or the journals of those who finished in a prior year. Go to www.trailjournals.com and make a selection. I can go back to ’03, for example, and read journals of A.T. hikers I met that year. Or, I can follow someone this year, post by post.
Whether you plan to thru-hike, or hike the A.T. in sections, you will want to study the offerings on the official website: www.appalachiantrail.com Here, you can also purchase maps, books, and guides, to suit your needs.
One book that is particularly helpful is The A.T. Guide by David Miller–get the most recent edition. Another book I like is How to Hike the A.T. by Michelle Ray.
One regret I had, was not learning about flora and fauna before I thru-hiked; I would have known more about the pretty wildflowers in the picture above. The Appalachian Trail: A Visitor’s Companion by Leonard Adkins would have served me nicely. An extended hike is less tiring and more enjoyable if you are in tune with your surroundings.
Here’s to all A.T. hikers in 2011.