After a rough day at work I decided that I would embark on a solo journey and hike the AT. Throughout the months of planning I found myself with so many questions...where will I stop each night? Is it easy to access food on the Appalachian Trail? What hostels are hiker friendly? Is it better to make my own food and ship it?
I scoured the internet for information, read blogs, and wrote to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. In the end I did make my own food. In fact I dehydrated 6 months of food and packaged it into individual portion sizes. Now 3 years later, I receive random e-mails from people who are willing to take the risk, quit their job, pack up their stuff, and hike the trail.
To give back to this amazingly supportive community I wanted to post some advice and information.
Food: I did in fact ship my own food, 12 drop boxes in total. I wanted the experience of preparing for such a long trip. In retrospect, I don't feel this was necessary. On average, one is able to access a town with a good grocery store every four days. With regards to shipping the food across the border I did not have any issues. I stated that the contents of my boxes were dehydrated food. Only two of my boxes were opened and inspected, but none of the items were removed.
Recipes: If you are keen on making your own meals here is the spreadsheet I used to plan out the 14 different meals I made. The recipes were taken from Lip Smackin' Backpackin'
Recipes and food planning for the Appalachian Trail
My planned and actual mileage for hiking the Appalachian Trail
Where to stay: Having the first night planned was key for me. Originally, I had arranged to have someone pick me up at the Atlanta airport and drive me to Springer Mountain. The night before I left Calgary the Hiker Hostel called saying they had a cancellation (I was on their waitlist). This was the best thing that could have happened. The hostel has an amazing service. They pick you up at the end of the MARTA rail line, drive you to Walmart so that you can pick up supplies, feed you this amazingly delicious breakfast, and then drop you off at the trailhead. I really can't say enough positive things about this establishment. They truly were wonderful! They even mailed one of my drop boxes for me!!!!
Shoes: By the end of the trail I went through 3 pairs of trail runners. I preferred the trail runners instead of proper hiking boots because of the weight and comfort.
Gear: Here is a list of the majority of the items I carried in my pack. With one liter of water and two weeks of food my pack weighed 30lbs! Keeping my bag light was a priority for me so I invested in newer gear. To help me decide what items to replace I looked at the cost to oz saved ratio.
Gear List for my 2013 Thru Hike of the Appalachian Trail
Are you a Thru hiker? Do you have any other advice? Feel free to post advice in the comments!