Planning a Thru-Hike? Here’s Some Insta-spiration

  If you’re among the thousands who will attempt to conquer a long-distance hiking trail in its entirety within the 2018 hiking season, then you’re probably already busy training, saving, planning, and steeling yourself for some serious communing with nature. In the United States, the term “thru-hiking” is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide Trail (CDT)—although there are plenty of other satisfying end-to-end hikes to tackle.

Hikers hitting America’s most sought-after thru-hike typically head to the AT’s southernmost point in Georgia within three weeks on either side of the spring equinox, so as to complete their 2,189-mile trek before October, which is when its northern terminus, Mt. Katahdin in Maine, closes. Northbound PCT hikers tend to journey to the Mexican border in April or May, with hopes of arriving in Canada, 2,660 miles later, in September. Tackling the CDT? Experts suggest you start the 3,100 miles spanning Antelope Wells, New Mexico, and Glacier National Park between mid-April and mid-May. (You don’t have to take the northbound approach, but most thru-hikers opt to start from the south.)

Before setting out on what is by all accounts a completely transformative experience, you’ll need to muster up some serious courage—along with reliable gear, good maps, and moral support. Planning a thru-hike can be seriously daunting, but keep in mind, you’ll experience profound rewards—just think of the beneficial effects of all that flora, fauna, exercise, trail bonhomie, toughening, and self-reflection. Plus, you’ll get to use the coveted #thruhiker hashtag when posting jaw-dropping landscapes and/or anecdotes worthy of a cocktail party at trail angel stops.

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