This is an account of my attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, that is, to start at the southern terminus at Amicalola Falls, GA, and hike continuously to the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin, ME. I gave it a good try, but just couldn't continue due to my developing bursitis in my hip, and have backpacked a total of about 900 miles of this 2100+ mile trail that runs along the crest of the Appalachian chain.
To prepare for this monumental effort, I took many day hikes, weekend backpack trips, and week-long hikes carrying a full pack. Over the months of preparation I learned a lot about gear, what suited me and what didn't, and even at the last minute I was changing out one item for another. I belonged to two internet mailing lists for backpackers, specifically those interested in the Appalachian Trail, or AT as it is commonly referred to. One such list was the AT-L, and the other was known as the ATML. The AT-L is still in existence and I still subscribe to it for weeks or months at a time. I met many wonderful folks on these lists and still maintain friendships with some of them. Their advice to me regarding trail conditions, gear recommendations, and the thousands of little details one must consider when attempting such a monumental endeavor, were invaluable and helped me to achieve what I did.
In 1997 the question that every hiker had an answer to, was the question of whether or not to carry a cell phone. Most were against it, and cell phones were not as common then as they are today. I certainly didn't have one. Another item that was just beginning to show up was the Palm Pilot, or some means with which to send journal entries electronically. I was of the mind that anything electronic was against the whole spirit of backpacking - in fact, I loved backpacking in the woods because I was able to disconnect with the outside and get absorbed into the natural world. Why on earth would I want to be intruded upon by someone calling me to chat, or to ask how I was doing. And why have to worry about keeping devices charged, to say nothing of the weight of these items. When loading one's pack, every single ounce must be justified.
A dear friend from the AT-L agreed to receive my journal entries, which I posted in the mail when I came to a town to resupply. He transcribed them and uploaded them to the mailing list. The other mailing list was owned and operated by Dan "Wingfoot" Bruce, and he was beginning to set up an AT website, which included publishing journals for thru hikers. Mine was one that was published that year, and is reprinted on the following pages.