My Appalachian Trail Thoughts

My Appalachian Trail Thoughts


Hiking the trail cannot follow a schedule or firm plan. You must be able to adjust as you meet challenges/changes.

Initially I was concerned with the miles, it was halfway through that I realized the trail family and community is more important.

I didn’t consider myself a “people person” however the trail taught me how important friends are.

You very quickly adapt to being filthy and smelling (very bad at times).

Your either wet from rain or wet from sweat. Rarely are you not wet!

Hiking the trail is hard work, “It’s the most fun you can have being miserable”.

When a total stranger stops you and wishes you success……it feels great!

Hikers are as close as a military section. Even though you only just met them.

My feet feel like they are bruised constantly, I get shooting pains through my legs and my knees are sore.

I lost 50lb!

I lost the feeling in some of my toes.

I hated the beard but miss it now.

Looking like a homeless person in some towns meant I was looked down upon by tourists that didnt know what a “thru-hiker” was. NEVER judge someone by looks alone.

Town water SUCKS! Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia had the BEST water on the trail. Nothing tastes better than cold fresh spring water.

Craving soda and ice cream is normal. Eating all you want of what you want is great (and still lose weight)

I slept in three shelters the whole trail and much prefer tenting.

Putting on wet cold clothes in the morning is not pleasant.

Pack weight is important to the point of an obsession.

I fell daily, in the early days three times a day.

I prefer to hike in cold/snow than heat/humidity.

45-50f was perfect hiking temperature. No rain is better!

An umbrella is a bonus for sunny and rainy days.

Having a tent that will keep you dry is critical.

Not all hostels are created equal.

The AT passport is a great keepsake and I support the program.

Mosquitoes and black flies make life miserable.

There are snakes EVERYWHERE.

I saw Bear, moose, chipmunks, snakes, lizards, ground hog, variety of birds and other wildlife and feel blessed.

Fungi on the trail are amazing to see. So many varieties and interesting types.

The Whites are amazing!

I will hike 0.3 mile off trail for water but 0.5 for cold soda!

Sharing the experience with my son was amazing.

The Whip-poor-will song sucks…..Loons have a beautiful song.

Coyotes screaming outside your tent can be unsettling at 1am.

Day hikers and section hikers smell fresh and of flowers. Thru-hikers smell of funk.

Ramen and summer sausage is not a “great” meal.

Checking the calorie to weight ratio of food in a store is normal.

Going up hill is easier and less painful than going down.

The wind in the southern states sounds like a train going overhead.

You can be in freezing wind on one side of a ridge but warm sunshine the other.

If you feel a hot spot or chaff, treat it immediately.

When a hiker says he/she uses protection……he/she means a zip lock for their gear.

Mary-Jane is a way of life for many; just accept it.

When meeting a stranger (none hiker) you will be asked in this order:

  • “Where did you start?”
  • “When did you start/how long have you been hiking?”
  • “Is it Hard?”
  • “I wish I could do that one day!”

I miss the trail and trail life………..


Paul’s Goals:

Short-term – Completed!

  • √   To get my son’s Green card so he can stay the full time required to complete walk
  • √   To field test equipment
  • √   To start the Appalachian Trail
  • √   To achieve as much sponsorship as possible to support Help for Heroes


  • √   Walk HIKE the Appalachian Trail
  • √   Lose weight – I lost about 50lb and Callum 40+lb
  • √   Not sustain an injury that would end my hike We had injuries but not hike endingHow to deal with those that do not support your thru-hike
  • √   Sleep throughout the night without medication Within a week of starting
  • √   See a bear in the wild I saw 5 and Callum saw 7
  • √   See a Moose in the wild I saw 2 and Callum saw 4


  • √   Stand on top of Katahdin Mountain with Callum having completed the trail 04 August 2014!
  • ×   Decide whats next! Still working on that………