Why You Shouldn’t Hike the AT

You see people’s true colors when they realize you’re doing something that they believe is a horrible mistake. You get the caring, harmless worriers saying, “can I put a tracker in your arm?” or “don’t get eaten by a bear.” You get the people who don’t get why you’re doing it: “I can’t understand why you’d do this to yourself” or “the PCT is cooler.” Then, there’s my least favorite: “don’t go because what if you fail.”

Everyone has said something when they find out I’m doing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Some are excited for me, nervous for me or happy that I’m stoked for this adventure. Many have tried to stop me from going. So, clearly, amidst all these naysayers, I’ve decided to use up all my teenage rebellion that I didn’t use in the first place. I’ll go on the trail despite those who’ve tried to convince me otherwise—I’ll finish or I won’t. Regardless of the end-game, it’ll be a wild ride that I can’t yet fathom. If you’re on board with my adventure, take a look at the details, packing list and all the planning I’ve done that is sure to go out the window as soon as I set foot on the trail.
The Dirty Deets:
I’m rolling out beginning of March for a chilly start on the Approach Trail with my friend, Kyle. My Mom thinks it’s good to be going with a friend so I can feed him to the bear and make my getaway if we ever get attacked.

Luckily, both Kyle and I have skills to bring to the hike, which should save us in dire backcountry emergencies. Kyle: dad jokes and the ability to drink twice as much Pabst as the average man. Me: dance moves and laugh-crying.

My pack isn’t ultralight, but it’s not crazy heavy (base weight: about 16 lbs). I got the pack weight down by wearing tall socks and shorts instead of pants, a skill passed onto me from my brother’s après ski lifestyle.

It will be a pretty straight shot to Maine aside from a week-long break I’m taking to see one of my best friends get married in North Carolina. Somehow, I’ll have to hitch a ride down there in all my smelly glory. I’m saying a preemptive “you’re welcome” to the friendly stranger who lends me a seat in their car.
The Trail:


The Appalachian Trail is a 2,190-mile trail that spans from Georgia to Maine. Hikers start in the Spring if going from South to North, which is what I’m doing. Hikers trek through and sleep in the forest with stops in towns along the way for showers, food and rest about every 4-7 days. It goes through 14 states and there is approximately a 464,500′ gain/loss in elevation along the way, about the same as if you ascended and descended Mount Everest 8 times.
The Gear List (as of now):

Packed Gear Weight Worn Gear Weight
Big Agnes FlyCreek UL1 1 lb 10 oz 1 sock 2 oz
Footprint 4 oz 1 undie 2 oz
Thermarest Ridgerest 14 oz Leggings 3 oz
Osprey Kyte 36 Liter 3 lbs 14 oz 1 T 3.6 oz
Sea to Summit Bag Liner 8.7 oz Pataguc fleece 11.7 oz
Nemo Siren 30 degree Sleeping Bag 1 lb 3 oz Shorts 4.7 oz
Pocket Rocket 3 oz Sports Bra 3.2 oz
Black Diamond Headlamp 3 oz Raincoat 6 oz
Katadyn Filter 3 oz Beanie 1.7 oz
Pot/fuel/utensil/stove 1 lb 9 oz Buff 1.2 oz
Brush/Paste/Nail Clipper/Face stuff 3 ox Gloves 1.2 oz
Advil/Moleskin/Benadryl/bandaids/neosporin 2 oz Trail Runners 9 oz
Lighter 0.7 oz
2 wool socks 5 oz
2 undies 4 oz
Leggings 3 oz
Longsleeve T 4.7 oz
1 T 3.6 oz
Wool midlayer 8.7 oz
Rain pants TBD
Cap 3.7 oz
Tweezers 0.2 oz
CamelBak 6.7 oz
Hand Sanitizer 2.2 oz
Washcloth 0.7 oz
Fem Stuff 4 oz
Sunglasses/case 3.7 oz
Charger/extra battery 6 oz
Phone 8 oz
Meds 0.8 oz
Soap 2 oz
Insect repellent

Meteorites and Mountains

Note from Cat: I’m a little behind on posts since the post trip relaxation has truly kicked in. Evan will claim it’s because I hate him that these posts are late, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Authored by Not Wanderlust’s head geologist: Evan Dismukes 

Quick Vocabulary:

Laccolith: when a pluton is created and makes the overlaying rock bulge upward
The remainder of our sojourn through Canada was spent visiting cities so this post is going to be short and sweet. It does involve engaging topics such as meteors, mountains and magma.

We entered Sudbury. I’m not sure if the depressed vibe was a result of the rain or because the Timmy Ho’s we stopped at for breakfast was entirely comprised of homeless people. Either way, it had the classic post-economic collapse of blue collar towns, an environment we are familiar with being from Pittsburgh. Despite all of this, Sudbury is the “Nickel Capital of the World.” The city is in the middle of a giant crater that was created by an asteroid impact about 2 billion years ago. It is the second largest confirmed meteor impact on earth. For comparison, the third biggest impact is the one in Mexico that killed off the dinosaurs. The rocks in this area are mostly gneiss and fragmented granite. The gneiss was granite from the Canadian Shield that metamorphosed into gneiss as a result of the asteroid impact. The fractured granite are the pieces of the Canadian Shield that were broken up and thrown into the sky as a result of the meteor impact. With the Canadian Shield’s rich minerals and the meteor materials, Sudbury was primed to be a booming mining town. It’s title of “Nickel Capital of the World” after the Big Nickel Company was founded in the area and became the largest producer of nickel in the world. Regardless how it seems, Big Nickel is actually the name of the company and not just what conspiracy theorists call the nickel industry in the town.

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Fin (Big Trip Days 45-56)

This is the “I had a case of the home-stretch lazies and didn’t write posts” post. So, here’s the truncated version of the last leg of our Big Trip. The gear review post will be coming soon, so stay updated if you’re interested in how things like our stove, tent and shoes worked out.

Day 43 and 44:

We popped into a family friend’s house in the ‘burbs of Toronto after I accidentally turned on the car alarm in the middle of the Canadian highway (you can’t win them all). From that base point, we took the train into the city for a day to catch the Hockey Hall of Fame and traipse around the lake shore. On our last evening in the ‘burbs, we got crafty and painted commemorative mugs (see below for the exclusive designs).

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A Mixture of Young and Old

Authored by Not Wanderlust’s head geologist: Evan Dismukes

Quick Vocabulary:

Lithified: the process of hardening into a rock

Canadian shield: billion year old rock in the northern part of America made up of mostly granite

Rift valley: place where the Continental Plate started separating
Traveling from the ranches and mountains of Wyoming and the trashy tourist towns in the Black Hills to the flat, buggy and forested emptiness of the Canadian Shield.

Everywhere we went on this leg provided a wide range of geology experiences as well as some other not so positive experiences.

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