Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Topics: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Backpacking Pages: 7 (1057 words) Published: October 8, 1999
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 cannot
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...
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