FAQ

How long is the AT?

Staring at Spring Mountain, Georgia, the trail stretches for 2,185.9 miles, running through 14 different states until ending at Mount Katahdin, Maine.

How long will it take you hike the whole thing?

We’re hoping to complete our hike in just over 5 months, but we’re budgeting time for 6. We’ll start out, hiking north, from Springer on April 10th, and hopefully end around late September.

What will you do for food?

Since the AT runs through the more developed east coast of the US, it is hardly as remote as many imagine it to be. There are frequent road crossings where rides can be hitched into towns for a resupply and times when the trail even cuts through town centers. We’ll be able to hit grocery stores pretty frequently, resupplying every 5-7 days.

In more remote areas, we’ll do mail drops of food for ourselves. We’re anticipating only about 5 of these.

As far as what we will actually eat, anything that is both easy to make, calorically-dense and lightweight. Couscous, quinoa, peanut butter and jelly wraps, nuts – we’ll get pretty sick of all these things!

Where will you stay?

The Appalachian Trail has a series of wooden shelters that are first-come first-serve at 10 mile intervals along the length of the trail. We plan to make use of these occasionally, but we are bringing a tent as our main form of shelter. It will always have room for us, never have any loud snorers, and will allow us to plan mileage as we see fit – not just between shelters.

In addition to the shelters, there are many hostels along the trail that cater to hikers. We’ll be stopping in when we want a soft bed and a warm shower!

How safe is it? (also known as, Will you carry a gun?)

Our concern for ounces aside (guns are heavy), it is actually quite difficult for anyone to carry legally on the trail since it passes through 14 states, each with unique laws regarding licensing and also a hodge-podge of national and state parks all with their own rules surrounding firearms.

That being said, the threat from large animals and other hikers is fairly negligible. The animals, bears included, are familiar with human presence due to the popularity of the trail.  Also, brown and black bears are far less ornery than their Grizzly cousins and are not likely to attack unprovoked.  As far as crime, you are much safer on the trail than in any major city.  Most people are not interested in robbing you of your dirty, smelly pack!

The bottom line for us is that we have found in our personal experience that the vulnerability of travelers often brings out the Good Samaritan in most people, and we will be trusting that to oversee our experiences on the trail more than we would care to trust firearms or bear mace.

Will you be blogging along the way?

Yes! As much as we can!

What’s with the name “Walltoskis”?

It’s a portmanteau of our last names. Ever try to name a blog? It’s hard.

What’s a ‘portmanteau’?

We’re not Wikipedia.

Can I come hike part of the trail with you?

We’d love that! However, you’ll have to be willing be pretty flexible as it’ll be hard for us to predict where we’ll be and when!  We’ll have estimates for when we’ll be reaching different parts of the trail, so keep an eye out for our progress and stay in touch with us regarding your plans.

Can I send you cookies?

This is encouraged, and especially encouraged of Maggie’s coworkers from the bakery.

You can have mail (or cookies) delivered to any post office near the trail by addressing it like this:

Mark/Maggie

General Delivery

Town, Zip

Please hold for AT Thru-Hiker ETA(MM/DD – MM/DD)

If it’s a package, make sure it’s mailed Priority – this allows us to forward it for free if we happen to pass through town when the post office is closed!

How will you use the…erm…facilities?

There are often pit-toilets at the backcountry shelters, however, if those aren’t available we’re digging a small hole next to a sturdy looking log! As part of Leave No Trace principles, we will carry our TP out. Hand sanitizer is a thru hiker’s best friend.

What will you drink?

All along the trail there are mountain streams and brooks! We’ll be filtering our water with our handy-dandy MSR filtration pump. It’s heavy and takes a while to pump – we’ll see how long it takes us to switch to chemical filtration. Both the pump and chemicals like Aquamira will kill off the harmful bacteria, so no Giardia for us!

We’ll also be enjoying plenty of Gatorade mix to keep up those electrolytes. And beer to deplete them!

How much will your packs weigh?

Maggie’s pack, with 5 days of food and 3 liters of water will weigh in at about 35 pounds. Under the same conditions, Mark will weigh in at 39 pounds.

What will you do if there is an emergency on the trail?

With over 2,000 people per year attempting a through hike, and a multitude of day, weekend and section hikers, we will never be far from other people who would be able to rush off trail to find help. On top of that, there is intermittent cell coverage throughout the trail. The furthest we will ever be from a major road crossing is 50 miles, halfway through Maine’s 100 mile wilderness. We’ve also both taken out catastrophic medical insurance should legs get broken or something equally severe.

Have you read ‘A Walk in the Woods’?

Yes.  Yes we have.

It’s by…what’s his name?

Bill Bryson. ‘A Walk in the Woods’.

What about your jobs?

We’ve both left our jobs…hooray for financial instability! On that note, if you’d like to send us your spare dollar bills, we will gladly give them a new home…most likely in our parents’ basements when we get back.

What will you do afterwards?

Mostly try to integrate ourselves back into society.  We expect that confronting rush hour crowds and re-conditioning ourselves to use indoor plumbing will be challenging enough.