12 things you may not have known about the Appalachian Trail

This forum is for the Appalachian Trail which runs for nearly 2200 miles through 14 states from Georgia to Maine.
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Post by TreeFrog » Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:15 am

12 things you may not have known about the Appalachian Trail

1. The length of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is constantly changing. In 2010 the trail was officially 2,179.1 miles, crossing 14 states from Maine to Georgia. This year it's 2,181. Why? The added distance is due to upgrades and repairs.

2. It's possible to hike without a tent. There are more than 250 garage-size shelters "roughly a day's hike apart" along the length of the Appalachian Trail, according to Brian King of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the nonprofit corporation that leads efforts to maintain the trail. That's a shelter about every eight miles on average. They're free.

3. You won't see nearly as many animals as you'd expect. That's because most can hear, see or smell you long before you hear, see or smell them, and they'll flee. In the case of bears, wild pigs and snakes, that's good.

4. It's hard. Literally. Most of the trail is strewn with rocks. That makes sense, because for the most part it follows the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.

5. Downhill is worse than uphill. Hiking uphill carrying 20-30 pounds is strenuous, especially when it's a half-mile climb up large rocks. But on a steep downhill, your knee takes more impact. After some distance, each step is painful. Trekking poles and walking slowly can ease some of the discomfort. But knee damage is possible.

6. An estimated 12,000 people have hiked the full length of the trail since it was completed in 1937. King said it usually takes five to seven months. The numbers are derived from sign-in sheets at either end of the trail and at conservancy headquarters at the unofficial midway point in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

7. Detailed maps, books and other information about the trail are available through the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website at appalachiantrail.org

8. The trail is maintained by volunteers. Last year some 6,200 volunteers, led by members of 31 official Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs, worked 210,000 hours repairing trails, painting blazes and maintaining shelters, privies and wells, according to the conservancy. The conservancy is staffed by 44 paid workers year-round and 12 to 15 seasonal workers.

9. "Trail magic" comes from "trail angels." Trail magic is an unexpected act of kindness or generosity. It can be as simple as a candy bar.

10. One day hiking feels a lot better as therapy than a year of visits to the shrink. It also probably is better than a day in the gym, burning 400 to 500 calories an hour while carrying a 30-pound pack.

11. The world is your toilet—as long as it's a "cathole" at least 6 inches deep and 200 feet from a trail, campsite or water source. Most shelters have privies, the more pleasant of these being composting outhouses, which require users to do a bit of yardwork before use. They work by adding a handful of dirt after each visit.

From CNN.com - http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/07/06/12 ... ian.trail/

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