It’s question and answer time everyone! You asked, and now I will answer your most pressing questions as best I can.
Is the entire AT government owned or does it go through private property? Does it cross over fences or is it all continuous trail? -Aunt Kathy
Great question, Aunt Kathy! More than 99% of the trail is federal or state-owned. The rest runs through private property by right-of-way. The trail is managed jointly by the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It is considered a National Scenic Trail and is maintained by several trail clubs that take care of small sections of the trail. It runs through eight national forests, national recreation areas, two national parks, state parks, and right-of-ways, which are land easements through private property. In these small areas of the trail, there is no camping allowed since the only intended purpose of the easement is for hiking.
We use stiles to cross over fences. There were a lot of these in Virginia as we crossed through farmland. The stiles are either ladders or steps that go up and over the fence. The trail goes directly through several towns and we also cross many interstates either by underpass or overpass. While there are some remote sections of the trail, often times, we aren’t too far from a road or town.
Aside from food, what items of trail magic do you like best? Soda, fruit, candy, or what? -Jack
We love all trail magic! But, some of our favorites are ice cold drinks for one. There’s nothing like a cold Gatorade, water, or soda after a hot day of hiking. On the other end of that, hot dogs and hamburgers are a favorite and we love eating fresh vegetables. We certainly don’t get enough of that while hiking. Miles says he loves a good, cold beer! He also mentioned doughnuts and juice as favorites.
What are your trail names and how did you pick them? -Gerry
I was actually just thinking about this the other day. I think I’ve only mentioned our trail names once before, so I’m glad that you ask, Gerry.
My trail name is Flash Gordon, or Flash, for short. Miles’ is Miles To Go. My trail name was actually a nickname I had in sports growing up that I got from my softball coach when I was eight years old. His daughter was named Lindsay (not to be confused with Lindsey), so to make it less confusing, he gave me that nickname since my last name is Gordon. And it has stuck ever since. About two weeks into our hike, I didn’t have a trail name yet. I mentioned that name to a few people and they loved it. I wanted to be given a new trail name, but I was also tired of not having one yet, so the hikers staying with us at the shelter that night dubbed me, Flash Gordon.
Miles’ name comes from the last stanza of a Robert Frost poem. “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. Miles to go before I sleep.” A few people had mentioned that line to Miles when he introduced himself, so he decided to use Miles To Go as his trail name since it was very fitting for a thru-hike and the fact that he enjoys reading and writing poetry. He took this as his trail name after Wild Willy repeated the line at Blue Mountain Shelter in Georgia.
How have you been a avoiding the Poison Ivy?!?! -Jason and Wendi
Miles actually just got a rash from poison ivy this week! He’s not sure where he got it though. I have avoided it so far. I worry most about it when I have to go off into the woods to use the bathroom. I try to be extra cautious then!
What gear are you really glad that you brought along? What have you decided you can do without? And is there anything you picked up along the way that you wish you had from the very beginning? -Kristin
I’ll mention a few items that have been very useful and work great. First, we love our tent. It’s the L.L. Bean Microlight FS-2. It’s super easy to set-up, has a door on each side with an alcove for each of us, and it has kept us dry on many rainy nights. And it’s affordable and cheaper than a lot of the top notch tents we looked at. We also love our REI Revelcloud jackets. They compact very well, but have kept us warm on many cold days and nights. Can’t beat the price of these either over the $200 Patagonia coats! We also can’t do without our 4 liter Platypus water bag. We fill up that,
plus a 2 liter bag at night, allowing us to only make one trip to the water source. Sometimes the water sources can be a long way down a steep hill, so you really don’t want to make more than one trip after a long day of hiking. Lastly, the Sawyer squeeze filter has been awesome. We love it and the fact that you can drink filtered water right away, with no added chemical taste. Also, a very affordable piece of gear.
We really haven’t gotten rid of much gear since we started. I did a lot of research before we left and I felt pretty good about the gear that I chose. Besides a few unnecessary first aid items that I sent home, I’ve used every piece of gear and almost all, I use everyday. I have added a few things however. When it was really cold in the beginning, I added an extra base layer to wear while hiking and an extra pair of gloves. That way, I had a dry pair for camp. I sent those items home in Hot Springs after it warmed up. I’m glad that I picked up a book as well. I always read to leave the books at home. If you’re someone who’s on the edge about this one, I’d say, bring the book. There is time to read and it’s a great way to relax.
Does one part you guys have done already remind you of the Hunt Trail or any Katahdin trail in terms of steepness or rocks/boulders? -Glenn
We haven’t hiked the Hunt Trail before, but we haven’t hiked many parts that remind us of Katahdin trails. Not yet at least. The final ascent up Albert Mountain in North Carolina sort of reminded us some hiking we’ve done in Maine. Maine is considered one of the most difficult states of the AT, so I guess we’ll have to wait until NH and Maine for the more Katahdin-like part of the trail.
How is your main gear holding up: pack, tent, sleeping bag)? -mmaki1014
Our main gear is holding up very well after the halfway point! There a few wear and tear spots on our packs on the hip belt pocket and a couple of straps, but nothing that affects the performance of the pack. Tent is holding up very well. We really love the tent as I mentioned earlier. And our sleeping bags are still working great. There was some feather leaking in mine in the beginning, but not lately. It’s still keeping me toasty warm!