Hiking The Appalachian Trail

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 cant 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 high winds are a consideration,
and more care must be taken in choosing a shelter to
protect you from the harsher winter months. A summer tent
is a simple, A-frame style nylon tent with a waterproof fly
and mosquito netting. A waterproof fly is a
urethane-coated nylon sheet that hangs over the tent body.
A three season tent may be a stronger A- frame design or a
dome style tent. The goal is to provide a more rigid shelter
capable of withstanding wind and possibly light snow
loading. A four-season tent is designed to withstand harsh
winter conditions, wind, and significant snowfall. These
tents are always all-nylon, with no upper body netting.
These designs typically have less netting than other tent
designs and can be