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Since 1968, the Appalachian Trail has been a protected area according to National Trail Systems Act. In the last 10 to 15 years it has become an international phenomenon. So, do not be surprised if you hear a lot of foreign languages while hiking it.

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Even with all its beauty, there are numerous dangers on the Appalachian Trail. It’s no easy task to hike across the entire trail. This is why you have to get prepared in advance, both physically and mentally, for the challenges that lie ahead.

Here’s some tips for your first hiking tour along the Appalachian Trail:

Set your goals

I remember the first time I hiked AT. I just wanted to see all the natural beauty and get a new experience. But, it became exhausting after a few days and I was forced to quit. I had no plan or will to continue going forward. This is why you have to set goals in advance. Hiking is primarily a mental challenge. It will get tough. If you set your goals ahead, it will help you achieve them. Have in mind: AT is almost 2,200 miles long. Not everyone can finish it. Even if you quit, there is no shame in it. But, if you really decided to thru-hike it, you will have to prepare both physically and mentally.

Hiking is not a race

OK, there are those who are willing to run during entire trail. On average, thru-hiking takes about six months. In other words, there is no need to rush. Take your time and rest when you need it. You can also take free days (so called Zero Days). Although you will be often challenged, make sure not to cross your breaking point. You will probably have to recover from your physical wounds and mental exhaustion.

Make sure you have enough money

The average person takes about six months to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. This can be a great burden on your wallet. Do not start hiking (especially thru-hiking) if you are not sure that you can make it financially. Form someone who has hiked the trail many times, if you are an inexperienced hiker, you will probably spend much more than you initially expected.

Spoil yourself

This may sound strange given that hiking is such a trial. Nevertheless, it is important to do things which will make you happy. This obviously depends on the person, but could be carrying an mp3 player, talking with other hikers, eating candies during your free days or taking more Zero Days. You catch my drift. By doing this, you ensure that you head is still in the game.

Food and water

In order to continue your journey, you will require a lot of nutrients. You need food with a lot of proteins and carbs. Nevertheless, you can spoil yourself from time to time. No matter what you do, make sure to find a proper balance between your mental desires and physical needs. When it comes to food, always cook away from the tent. Smell can attract bears. Also, hang your food on the trees so it’s out of reach. You will drink a lot of water as as you will be relying on springs along the trail, be sure to filtrate it properly.

Bring a high resolution camera

This is something people rarely mention. Usually articles focus on walking the trail and overcoming obstacles which makes us forget the main reason why the trail became popular in the first place. And that is natural beauty. Unless you are a hiker who is solely interested in challenge, I recommend bringing a high resolution, professional camera together with batteries and additional equipment. Although I am certainly not a professional photographer and don’t even like taking photos, there are irresistible photo opportunities along the trail. Without it, the experience will not be complete. You will thank me later.

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