It may be the peak of thru hiker season on the Appalachian Trail but a new and exciting event has occurred for our fellow long distance trail on the west coast! Zach Davis, aka Badger on his 2011 AT thru hike, has once again brought an invaluable knowledge nugget to the long distance hiking community!
In 2012 he published his first book entitled Appalachian Trials. This book went beyond the scope of gear and trail etiquette that many other AT preparation books cover and went deeply into the psychological and emotional aspects of a long distance hike on the Appalachian Trail. It was a book that rocked the trail community and transformed the way prospective thru hikers prepared for their trek. Appalachian Trails, the book, turned into AppalachianTrails.com, the website, a place of knowledge sharing. The website quickly grew from a way to promote the book into a full fledged hiker think tank featuring copious former thru hiker writers/contributors, special guest writers and a plethora of current thru hikers blogging their experience each thru hiker season. Now, Zach has gone and done it again!
Introducing… Pacific Crest Trials!
Pacific Crest Trials is much of the same except this time the trials are completely different. There are no Virginia Blues on the PCT but you do need to be prepared for desert, alpine areas and rain forest like terrain all on a single hike. Zach has paired up with PCT thru hiker Carly Moore to nail down the PCT specific trials thru hikers face on this unique trail. Liz “Snorkel” Thomas threw in an excellent and very through gear chapter in which she breaks down the benefits of and tips for traveling light on the PCT.
For those of you unaware of the philosophy behind Appalachian Trials, Zach formulated a collection of list that assisted him on his thru hike. The lists covered three topics: “I am thru hiking because…”, “When I successfully thru hike, I will…” and “If I give up, I will…” These three lists became the basis of his book and in urging prospective hikers to create their own lists and bring them along on their hike, mental and emotional preperation became wide spread among thru hikers.
In 2013, before my AT thru hike, I read Zach’s bright yellow book and made my own lists. They came in handy sooner than I expected.
I began thru hiking the Appalachian Trail at the approach trail on March 3rd. On the morning of the 6th, I woke up in a snow storm just south of Blood Mountain to find my water frozen, my stove non-funtional and a blustery, white hell outside of my tent. I ate half a Clif Bar, stuck the other half in my rain jacket pocket and reluctantly started the hike to Neel Gap. I had never hiked in conditions like these before, particularly not alone. I was thirsty and frozen at the same time. I began down a side trail to a shelter and then remembered if was half a mile off trail. I didn’t have the energy to expel on a side trip but I needed shelter badly. I stood alone in the winter storm battling myself and my needs. I was unexperienced and up against more than I had bargained for. At last, I decided to make a straight shot for the hostel at Neel Gap, up and over Blood Mountain in a white, whirling blaze of wind and snow. When I finally made it hours later, I was left questioning my future on the AT. Was this what I had unknowingly signed up for? Tucked away down in the hostel, I reviewed my “lists”. I remembered the clean break I had made back home. I had left my dead end job, completed college, been telling my friends and family for over a year that I was doing this and had nothing to turn back for. After a hot shower and this little reminder, my mind was set on Katahdin again.