Day 0: Amicalola Falls State Park

Well. What to say. Today sucked a little. I know a thruhike is difficult and that I sometimes need to “embrace the suck” and just enjoy whatever the trail brings me … but that’s tough to do if I can’t get to the trail.

After boarding my 7am flight in LA, we had electric problems and were forced off at 9am. Then, after 2 more hours of waiting we were re-scheduled for a 3pm flight that arrived in ATL at 9pm. So … long story short, I sat frustrated at the airport, missed my shuttle to Amicalola Falls, and left Keg waiting in at the airport all day. The Captain had a late flight too, so we eventually got a rental car and arrived at Amicalola around midnight.

Oh, and did I mention it’s raining?

But all is good now. Just the first of many tests I suppose. With today’s problems behind me, I am enjoying a warm bed at Amicalola Falls Lodge and ready for tomorrow’s 8.8 mile hike up the approach trail to Springer Mountain. With the new day will bring a new attitude and a fresh start to adventure. Hello Neiman!

  • Start Mile: 0.0
  • Start Time: 00:00
  • End Mile: 0.0
  • End Time: 00:00
  • Miles Hiked: 0.0
  • Miles to Go: 2190.9
  • Lodging: Amicalola Falls Lodge

T-Minus 3 Days

Had a couple important thoughts come my way this past weekend that felt both timely and relevant. With my start at Springer Mountain just a few days away, all my planning is about to be tested against the reality of the trail. Tired legs, wet gear, new friends, missed intersections, low spirits, hunger cravings, hostel availability … so much can change the itinerary set for the days to come. Continue reading

AT Section 11 Preview

The final section, the final preview, the final leg, the final countdown. Call it what you will, this is the end of the Appalachian Trail road. It’s no cakewalk, and it has some well-known trail milestones to prepare for, the greatest being Baxter State Park and its ultimate summit of Mt. Katahdin. For the 20% that make this far, here’s what to expect!

  • Start of SectionStratton, ME (2002.7)
  • End of Section: Mt. Katahdin (2190.9)
  • Total Miles: 188.2
  • Total Days: 13.5
  • Avg Daily Miles: 14
  • Planned Town Stops: 3

Highlights and Preview of Section 11

  • 2008.2 – No surprise here, coming out of Stratton you are met with a sequence of peaks over the next 7 miles: North Horn, South Hern, Bigelow Mountain, and Avery Peak. But after that, hiking levels off more or less until Katahdin.
  • 2039.3 – Here lie’s the infamous Kennebec River. You can not and should not ford this river, as it is 400 feet wide with a swift current powered by hydroelectric facilities upriver. The depth and current of the river can surge quickly and unpredictably, so hikers must use the ferry manned canoe to cross to Caratunk, ME. But don’t worry, the canoe has a white blaze painted on the hull, marking it an official part of the Appalachian Trail.
  • 2056.4 – Moxie Bald Mountain will be nothing to a hiker at this point, but on paper, it is a notable climb.
  • 2073.1 – Monson, ME is your last town stop before entering the grueling 100-Mile Wilderness next. You’ll need to resupply, but unless you plan to carry 100 miles worth of food, should also consider purchasing a resupply to have dropped halfway on Mary Jo road.
  • 2076.4 – Start of the 100-Mile Wilderness, the wildest and remotest part of the Appalachian Trail.  It is challenging to traverse and offers little support if needed.  No trail towns to resupply and no access to civilization (besides a few logging roads). Yes, it can be dangerous, but less so if you prepare.
  • 2118.1 – From the summit of White Cap Mountain, you get the first view of Katahdin and your final destination.
  • 2134.9 – Jo-Mary Rd, where hopefully a pre-arranged resupply is waiting on the side of the road for you.
  • 2143.2 – Twitchell Brook offers a short side trail for another view of Katahdin
  • 2145.2 – If you didn’t arrange a resupply, consider arranging a pickup from the Mahar Tote blue blaze trail here to the White House Landing Camps.  They provide beds, showers, resupplies, etc. They also accept maildrops.
  • 2154.6 – Nesuntabunt Mountain, with another view of Katahdin … now 16 miles away as the crow flies.
  • 2169.8 – Rainbow Ledges and another view of Katahdin … I’m noticing a recurring theme in the guide-books at this point…
  • 2176.3 – Entry to Baxter State Park and end of the 100-Mile Wilderness.
  • 2185.7 – Katahdin Stream Campground offers the last place to stay before summitting Katahdin. Hikers will need to pick up a permit here, but can also leave their packs with the ranger station for the final summit hike. This is also a good place to arrange travel to Millinocket 25 miles away, which is the common place to conclude and stay after summitting Katahdin.
  • 2190.9 – Katahdin, Baxter Peak, Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

And that’s it, folks!  Sounds easy enough, right?  Only 11 sections full of exciting sights to anticipate along the way will make this an easy trek, right?  I can only hope the journey provides me as much excitement and joy as planning it has, but the reality is about to set in. For all those who followed along with these preparation posts, thank you. For those who ignored it but may come back for daily journal updates, thank you.

For everyone else, you aren’t going to see this anyways, so screw you! Just kidding, I love you all and can’t wait for this adventure to finally begin next week. I’ve spent my entire adult life romanticizing and dreaming about this hike with hopes to one day actually live it. On March 1st, that dream becomes real.

Thanks for reading and Hello Neiman!

Final Preparations Video

Eight days to go, and lots of last minute things to check off the Big To-Do list. Of course I have a list for that, I have a system for everything at this point.  So much so, that a fellow hiker suggested my trail name should be “Spreadsheet”, in order to adequately and mockingly describe my obnoxious overplanning behavior. It’s a cute idea (and probably well deserved), but nah.  I think I’ll stick with what I have for now, and see what the trail provides.  Continue reading

AT Meal Plan: Resupply Test Run


I have to admit, with this 2nd video done, I’m starting to feel comfortable with this on-camera approach to blogging. Not my usual style, but it is fun and relatively painless. In this video, I test out the anticipated resupply options after a shopping trip to a $0.99 Store in LA. The end result isn’t too bad, so take a peek to see how I did. Hello Neiman! Continue reading

AT Section 10 Preview

Wow, can’t believe I’m just over 2 weeks from starting this journey. I recorded my first YouTube video last week, having stumbled a bit through the process, software learning curve, and upload quality restrictions. I want to focus the last few journal entries sharpening that skill before I’m trail bound, so am going to breeze through my remaining trail previews quickly. I’ll publish videos here as new posts as well as my YouTube channel, so follow along either place. Almost there, so close yet so far. Hello Neiman! Continue reading

AT Section 9 Preview

My approach to section 9 is a bit abby normal, since my preliminary Hike Plan has me hopping off-trail for a wedding in the middle of it (shout out to Sarah and Jack!). I’ve excluded that in the preview below and will instead focus on what a normal hike of this section will look like. Section 9 spans the White Mountains and Presidential Range of New Hampshire, which is the most technically and logistically difficult part of the AT. However, it is ALSO arguably the best this trail has to offer! These summits are no joke, but with some good preparation (and even better flexibility), this could easily be the highlight of the entire thru-hike. For this reason, I have both family and friends joining me throughout this section. Hello Neiman! Continue reading