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As I've begun talking to people about beginning this hike, a lot - and I mean A LOT - of y'all have had some of the same questions. So to get those out of the way, just gonna roll through with some answers.

Q: How long is this hike? Where do you start, where do you finish, and how long will it take?

A: The official 2021 mileage of the trail, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, is 2193.1 miles. The official number changes year to year as parts of the trail are modified or rerouted. The options for thru hiking the AT are northbound (Georgia to Maine), southbound (Maine to Georgia), or flip flop (starting at a middle point, hiking to one terminus, returning to the starting point, and hiking to the other terminus). We'll be doing a northbound hike. The official southern terminus of the trail is Springer Mountain in Georgia, although a lot of people (ourselves included) opt to start in Amicalola Falls State Park about 9 miles south of Springer Mountain, since it's easier to access. The northern terminus is Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine. Most AT thru hikes take 4-6 months to complete. We're allotting ourselves 4.5 months to do it, starting on March 1st and hoping to finish by July 15th.

Q: How many outfits will you have?

A: For hiking, I'll have one pair of hiking pants that convert to shorts, one sports bra, one short-sleeved shirt, one long-sleeved shirt, one fleece, one rain jacket, one puffy coat, and two pairs of socks. Yes, I will wear the same outfit pretty much every day (weather-dependent, obviously), and yes, I will be able to do laundry every now and again when we're in towns along the trail.

Q: What will you do about food?

A: I think a lot of people assume this sort of experience is like Bear Grylls, hunting squirrels, foraging for berries, just being totally off the grid. In reality, we'll be able to restock on food every few days as we pass through towns. Even if it's just a gas station, we should come across food resupply options every 2-5 days, depending on where we are! Mitch is bringing a cooking system, but I don't plan on cooking. We won't be sending ourselves food drops; I don't want to rely on external forces for my meals.

Q: Do you ever get to stay inside?

A: Yes! Not every night, or necessarily particularly often, but we will have the opportunity to spend sweet sleeps in real beds or couches sometimes! There will definitely be hostels or motels along the way, and I know of a few friends who have already offered to take our smelly butts in for the night when we're near their abodes. I think this year will be particularly unique, what with COVID precautions; usually, a network of people called trail angels will swing by the trail and offer hikers rides or food or water or a place to sleep that night, but I don't think that will be as common this year, so maybe we'll have to rely on our tents more than in typical years.

Q: Are you going to use your phone?

A: I plan to keep my phone on Airplane Mode when I'm hiking and only turn that off when I'm in a town. I will be using my phone for music, podcasts and audiobooks, and pictures and videos. I do have a satellite communication device that will allow us to message our parents when we set up or leave camp, which we plan to do every day (clear skies permitting). If you want to text me, please go right ahead! I'll check my phone every few days, so don't think I'm ignoring you if I don't get back to you right away!

Q: So... bathroom?

A: #1: squat and drip dry. #2: dig a cathole 6" deep, 200' from any water source, and off the trail; squat; use a nearby stick to mix it together with the dirt for speedier decomposition; pack out the tp and dispose of it when you're in town (yes, even biodegradable tp). And that's the nitty gritty on that. Hey, you asked!

Q: You're seriously not bringing deodorant? Ew!

A: I defy any of you to try to smell decent while hiking all day for months on end in all types of weather, and then we'll chat about hygiene :)


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