AT '12. AT '14. FT '15. CA '15.
On my first night, myself and a hiker named "Yazzie" went to work on a fella we named "Mule". We pulled out (the stuff I can remember anyway); a steel hatchet, 1 of his 3 5lb bags of rice, a pair of blue jeans, a battery powered Coleman lantern and the 4 D-cell batteries that powered it, a hardware store "survival knife", and a dozen little things. We tried to take his extra pair of hiking work boots he had tied to his backpack and his canvas tent that probably slept 10 comfortably, but he fought us on those items. It was insane and he was a "thru". We left his stuff in hiker box after hiker box, on and off for a month until we got him squared away and his pack weight down to 50 something pounds. I think Mule left the Trail somewhere in New York, but he earned the name "Mule" for sure!
He was but one example and only one of the 'special' hikers I adopted for a time. But he was not alone. You will laugh out loud at some of the things you see in the first few weeks. Some of them will inspire pity and you'll adopt them so they don't get themselves killed. Either way, there is somebody behind you picking up the gear that is left behind. I've heard of folks making a partial living collecting abandoned gear. There is certainly enough of it!
My favorite score, was a leather jacket. I kid you not! I carried it until I found a Post Office and then sent it home. I still wear it when I'm working in the pasture.
I'm really excited to take this next step in the adventure that is life; especially the pain, knocks, bruises, crappy weather - basically everything that makes you know you're alive.
The more I read about thru-hammocking the more determined I am that it's the right decision for me; I sleep 10x better than in a tent, my entire gear (including tarp and suspension) weighs a whole pound less than my UL tent, and nothing can be more necessary than proper rest and sleep on the trail.
Sure, I may not have the luxury of having the privacy of a tent to get changed, or a vestibule to cook in if the weather's nasty, but I'll learn to adapt - that's part of the adventure, stepping out of one's comfort zones and learning new skills.
Very true comment Cannibal.
Was there a lot of people with heavy pack on the trail? I know the PCTers have most of their gear diled in.
Yes, there were a lot of people with crazy heavy packs.
The AT is much more of a social experience than the other long trails and the best known. If I had to take a guess, I would say around 10-15% of the thru-hikers I met were from other countries and had come here just to hike the AT of legend. There are 100s of books about it and far too many people think they can do it without experience or research. Some of them do it just fine, but most of 'those' people are gone long before Virginia. After that, you don't see many hapless folks. There were already dialed-in prior to departure, or took their lumps and bruises along the way and figured it out.
It must be hard for the thruhikers from other countries. They would have to be prepare for almost anything.
We are pretty blessed to have many options of major thru hikes in the states.
This book is about a woman who decided to hike 100 days on the PCT to rediscover herself. She had never backpacked before. After several trips to REI, her backpack was so heavy she almost could not stand with it on! That is the way she began her hike!
My experience goes back to early Hennessy's not the AT. From what I saw there I would take a space blanket and 1 or 2 meters of light shock cord as part of my kit. When the weather is particularly nasty you can figure out a way to make a partial cover/wind block that will significantly warm up the immediate area inside your hammock. Nothing extra over your face. Weight is a couple of ounces at most. YMMV, HYOH, free information worth every penny paid. ;-)