Hiking the Appalachian is a Bad Idea for newbies
You have just watched the movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon or the comedy A Walk Into The Woods featuring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte; and would like to finally try out hiking. While hiking is an excellent activity, you need to remember the part that many inexperienced hikers die every year due to not being prepared for the trail ahead. Not wanting to be the ones to burst your bubble, we are still going to be the ones to fill your mind with some actual serious stuff about hiking. Our goal is to prevent you from attempting the Appalachian Trail as your first hike.
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Following are the top reasons why you need to start small:
Lack of Connectivity
Do you love your connectivity? Do you love posting pictures on your Instagram every 10 minutes? Do you like to check your Twitter feed every 2 minutes? If yes is the answer, then know that all of that will not be available to you on a long hiking trip. While, after spending quite a few bucks, you can get enough equipment to have your cell phone charged and working all the time, the same cannot be guaranteed for internet connectivity. This is true even on the Appalachian Trail which has 250 shelters created specifically for hikers, at about a day’s distance.
Being Self-sufficient and Skillful
Are you a person who is self-sufficient? Hiking on long trails means that you will not be in contact with other people for long periods of time. So, you have to be self-sufficient at all times. This means eating cold, canned food for the most part. If you want to make your food hot, then you need additional skills such as lighting a fire safely, and not letting it burn down a national park.
Here is another question to ask yourself, do you find it difficult, when you come back home after your job at the office, to put food in the microwave to warm it up? Then you need to understand that the only way to warm food in the wild is to light a fire. Food has to be carried around all day, and even bags from the North Face will not lighten the burden much. Plus, lighting a fire can be difficult even for the most experienced people like Bear Grylls. And unlike him you will not have a camera crew following you, or a helicopter ready to lift you up in an emergency. Your lack of planning may lead you to experience The Hunger Games in real life.
Lack of Access to Basic Amenities
You will not have access to basic amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, chocolates, or even toilet roll, but that is small when compared to the fact that on most days you will have to do your business outside. If you cannot do your business if you have the feeling that someone is watching you, then let us tell you that in the wild you always have birds, mosquitoes, flies, and many other insects always watching. And, believe us when we say, they are not shy of making a meal out of you. Imagine having to bear that for six months, which is the average time to cross the easiest of the long trails.
We all laughed at the bear scene in A Walk in the Woods, but real life encounters can be very horrible. On average bears kill 4 Americans annually, and you do not want to be one of them. But, what is even more important are the dog attacks, which kill about 26 people every year in America. Generally speaking encounters with wild life are not really that exciting when they are after you. And if all your experience about animals, in general, comes from Madagascar (whichever part you saw), then let us tell you that lions do not dance to music.
Hope we have knocked some sense back into your noodle. Our purpose was not to put you off from hiking; it was to discourage you from a long hike – which could only lead to disaster. To start with, go out camping somewhere easy to acquaint yourself with nature. Then go to a small 1 day hike on your own. Carry on going to small hikes, successively increasing the period, and according to our calculations it will be relatively safe for you to go for a long trek in about a year.
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