Hiking The Appalachian Trail


The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, is a footpath in the
eastern United States for outdoor enthusiasts, extending about
about 2140 miles from Maine to Georgia, along the crest of the
Appalachian Mountains. The trail passes through 14 states and is
maintained by 34 different trail maintenance organizations. It is
the longest marked, continuous footpath in the world, at some
points reaching elevations of more than 6000 feet. Wooden
signposts and white paint marks on rocks and trees are placed
along the trail.
Construction of the Appalachian Trail was begun in 1922
near Bear Mountain, New York. By 1937 the footpath, extended from
Mount Katahdin, in Maine, to Mount Oglethorpe, in Georgia, and
was ready for use. Later, (after 1937) the trail officially ended
at Springer Mountain, 10 miles northeast of Mount Oglethorpe. In
1968 the Appalachian Trail became part of the National Park
System and was officially renamed the Appalachian National Scenic
Trail.
To hike the Appalachian Trail, it is suggested to shop
around for a good pair of hiking boots, a tent, and a sturdy
backpack. Hiking the distance mentioned above obviously requires
excellent footwear, and a light pack. Figure in fatigue and you
need a comfortable tent to sleep in at night.
Good boots are "solid" on the bottom, so that you cant
feel rocks or stones through the soles. If you can press in the
bottom of the sole with your thumb, the soles are probably too
soft to give your foot proper protection. The top of the boot
should be stiff to hold the ankle in place and provide it with
good support. While it's possible to treat non-waterproof fabric
boots with liquid silicone, it generally doesn't waterproof the
boot enough to be useful. Stick with leather boots that can be
treated with Sno-seal, beeswax solution, or other waterproofing
solutions.
Feet change over time, as do shoes. Wearing a pair of
shoes and/or hiking boots changes the shape of the shoe to fit
your foot. Eventually though, the reshaping causes the shoe to
rub places on the foot, causing blisters. All boots are made on
different "lasts". The last is the "form" the boot is built
around at the factory. The size and shape of these lasts, even
between identical sizes of boots, can vary greatly. For instance,
some boots are built around a European last which is typically
narrow in the front, compared to American feet, which are not.
Also, some brands are narrower all over, or shorter in sole
length, such as Nike.
A boot that fits well will not slip in the heel area, and
provide your toes with plenty of room in the front. Hiking boots
are generally sized a little longer than your standard street
shoe. Bring along, or wear the socks you intend to wear on your
trip. it is recommended that beginners wear two pair. Ideally,
the socks should be synthetic or wool.
A tent is nothing more than a shelter you carry to
protect you from the elements. The decision concerning what tent
you buy should be based on the kind of elements you want to
protect yourself from. For instance, if you intend to hike the
Appalachian Trail in the summer, you don't need to carry a tent
designed to withstand high winds and heavy snow. However, if you
intend to head into the Rockies in the winter, you may want
something more than a plastic tube tent.
A good shelter at a minimum will keep you dry and
comfortable in rainy weather and keep the bugs out during the
summer . If you hike solely during the summer months, then
virtually any moderate quality tent will do. If you plan to hike
through more than one season, you might consider a shelter that
has a bit more comfort and room inside for rainy spring or fall
days when dressing inside the tent in the morning, or spending
the evening inside before bed, is preferable. Also snow loading,
access, and high winds are a consideration, and more care must be
taken in choosing a shelter to protect you from the harsher
winter months.
A summer tent is a simple, A-frame style nylon tent with
a waterproof fly and mosquito netting. A waterproof fly is a
urethane-coated nylon sheet that hangs over the tent body. A
three season tent may be a stronger A- frame design or a dome
style tent. The goal is to provide a more rigid shelter
capable of withstanding wind and possibly light snow loading. A
four-season tent is designed to withstand harsh winter
conditions, wind, and significant snowfall. These tents are
always all-nylon, with no upper body netting. These designs
typically have less netting than other tent designs and can be
warmer in the summer. Because four-season tents are sometimes
made from heavier