the appalachian what?
the appalachian trail. you know.. that thing we briefly touched on in high school. it's a trail that was thought of in 1921 and completed in 1937. it runs 2,181 miles from springer mountain, georgia to mount katahdin, maine. it's said to take roughly 5,000,000 steps to complete it. we'll see... i'm carrying a cheapo pedometer.
are you going alone?
of course not... i'll have my dog with me! in all seriousness, though, you're never alone on the AT. roughly 2,000 people attempt a thru-hike each year, and the AT runs through numerous state and national parks that are frequented by millions of tourists annually. plus, it's pretty much guaranteed that once you start hiking, you'll wind up hooking up with a group that hikes at your relative pace.
what will you eat? how will you get food?
i'll eat lots and lots of ramen, and i'll kill it myself. just kidding... ramen's already dead.
honestly, as a long-distance hiker, your budget pretty much determines what you eat. there are towns along the trail that you hit every 40-70 miles of hiking, and the towns are where your resupply comes from. my allocated funds for this hike are extremely low compared to what some others have spent, so i'll be stocking up on a lot of ramen, poptarts, and peanut butter in town. others, however, have spent upwards of $8,000 on a thru-hike, and i can only imagine that they were buying two large pizzas and a six pack of beer every chance they got.
some other people plan food and mail drops for themselves. these people plan months in advance and ship themselves food supplies at set intervals so that they don't have to go into town and buy more poptarts - they just have them waiting on them at the post office once they get into town!
what about water?
in addition to the tap water available when you hit a town, there are plenty of water sources directly on the AT. there are streams and lakes and rivers you can drink from. once you've collected your water, you pretty much have two choices: you can purify it, or you can leave it as it is. purification can be either be attained by microfiltering the water or by adding chemicals to kill any bacteria or viruses that may be present. there has been a lot of data gathered and studies done and there's no clear relation to purification of water and wellness on the trail. it may simply just give us peace of mind to filter our water. my "purification" method will include filtering my water through a bandana to get all the debris out and then adding a tiny amount of bleach to it. it's clean enough and basically free. :)
what about taking a shower?
what about it? you learn to live with yourself. i'm gonna take a rough estimate here and say that 99% of hikers don't wear deodorant. why? because it wouldn't do any good anyways! a good application might last you ten miles on a good day, fifteen if you're lucky. and those figures might be on the generous side... i just don't know 'cause i've not ever hiked wearing deodorant. ;) you sweat and you get used to it and you stink and you no longer smell yourself and then you convince yourself it's normal. you may hit a trail town every couple of days or so, and most places along the AT cater to hikers. they will offer to let you shower for about $3 and you can usually do a load of your laundry for not much more than that as well. then you get to hike off into the woods smelling good for the next six miles.