A Guide to Safety on the Appalachian Trail

The wilderness of the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail can pose many risks to its visitors. Getting hopelessly lost or falling ill, wild animals and dangerous weather are all possibilities. But no risk is so ominous as the humble tick. That is, at least, according to Matt Graves of the National Park Service.

“You would think it would be things like wildlife, raging rivers and stuff like that,” he said. “But it’s the little things that will get you.” Hikers unknowingly pick up the ticks, and then two or three weeks later find themselves laid low on the trail by the fever and other flulike symptoms of a tick-borne illness.

To be sure, lightning strikes, falling trees and getting lost are real dangers along the route that stretches between Georgia and Maine, said Mr. Graves. But cases like the death of Geraldine Largay, 66, who wandered off the trail in Maine in 2013, those instances are very rare.

“On the Appalachian Trail, we have little subtle things, dehydration, norovirus from hikers spreading stomach flu to one another,” Mr. Graves said. Preparation is key.

See how to avoid trouble…


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