Zach Davis's book, Appalachian Trials -- A psychological and emotional guide to successfully thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail -- was first published in 2012. The value of Zach's insights is greater than ever, in my humble opinion.
For any long-distance hike, you'll need physical skills, suitable gear and a mindset, attitude or will to achieve your goal. When you're out on the Appalachian Trail (AT) for 5-7 months, you're have to endure the ups and downs of hills and valleys -- and emotions.
Zach and innumerable other successful thru-hikers have convinced me that the least amount of preparation goes toward psyching up your psyche to summit Katahdin.
After waiting too long, I asked Zach to pop me a review copy of Appalachian Trials. He kindly agreed and I marched through the book cover-to-cover, agreeing with his suggestions, opinions and conclusions all the way.
In the beginning, Zach suggests writing a mission statement about why you are hiking the AT. Not because you'll need it to get to the northbound (NoBo) trail head at Springer Mountain in Georgia, but because you will need it when the initial thrill of the Trail fades in Virginia.
In my words, if you don't know why you're on this trek, you won't know why you shouldn't quit. Zach says it better in his book:
"When it comes to backpacking 2,220 miles, the greatest determining factor of success is purpose."
The chapter on Conquering Obstacles is worth the price you'll pay for the book. You're going to have enormous obstacles. Count on it. Expect them and prepare for them in advance. Being shocked by tough times on the Trail sends many otherwise strong hikers home.
The advice on not attacking the massive marathon hike from Maine to Georgia as if it were a sprint is easily ignored. Hike your own hike, but if you violate your own limits your body will rebel. Maybe not until the White Mountains of New Hampshire or even until you hit Maine. Sooner or later, you'll have to synch your physical endurance, your ability to withstand blisters/bad knees/bugs/humidity/cold with the amount of time and money you have left to hike. You're going to face the question of whether you want to continue or not. Which will you choose? Why?
You'll want to go faster and observe less along the way, especially when you're "only" a few hundred miles from the end of the Trail. Read what Zach says in Appalachian Trials and heed his advice.
For what it's worth, Zach isn't paying me to say nice things about his book. (Not that I'm above being paid for my work.) He and I both want men and women who hit the Trail, hoping to thru-hike, to have all they need to make it. I recommend this book to all who are going to attempt thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2015 and beyond.
Zach can help you successfully thru-hike the AT.
Afterward, he can help you through the post-hike depression that whacks many hikers when their life changes from hiking 10-20 miles daily, living outdoors and eating food that would kill a flatlander. You can only visit Oz and the Appalachian Trail. Then you have to go home ... or somewhere. That's a hard transition. Harder than hiking, for some.
Know what you're going to face on the Appalachian Trail and what Appalachian Trials you'll have to conquer.
Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Entertainment, and Books
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