What does it take to hike the entire Appalachian Trail?

Itching for adventure and seeking a break from their D.C. jobs, Elise Mann and Will Stowe figured it was time to go for a walk.

In 2015, that’s exactly what the couple did, hiking roughly 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine through woods and mountains, snow and rain on the Appalachian Trail.

It took 146 days, four pairs of hiking boots each and more nonperishable food than either wants to think about, but the couple became two of the approximately 19,000 in history who have “thru-hiked” the trail, meaning they completed the entire length on foot.

To get prepared, they did a lot of Googling and finding forums online. There’s one called whiteblaze.net. There are a lot of former thru-hikers on there — Stowe used it a lot to figure out what equipment they should take.

They also took a day trip from D.C. out to Harpers Ferry, WV and visited the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Their favorite advice was, “Just don’t be stupid.” It was a lot of talking to people and hearing what their experiences were like. There’s a really great network to plug into.

Mann, 28, and Stowe, 30, shared the secrets of how they completed such an undertaking — and how you can, too.


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