The Appalachian Trail is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. Part of the National Park System, the Trail winds through fourteen states and measures 2,180 miles. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is among the partnership of an extensive network of public and private organizations that manage the Trail. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy provides a website with a tremendous amount of information on the Trail and advice for hikers interested in anything from a day hike to a through hike, which typically lasts about six months.
One aspect of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s user friendly site features hiking basics, which offer advice and suggestions on topics including hiking gear, food and water, and health and safety. This information is valuable for not only hikers on the Appalachian Trail; it can help anyone planning a trail hike become better prepared to enjoy time spent in nature and contend with potential emergency situations.
Food, water, and shelter are all concerns on any hike. Lightweight and weather-proof shelter and gear are important to contend with any weather extremes that may occur. Along the Appalachian Trail, unseasonable weather is fairly common, such as snow outside the winter season, especially at higher elevations. Preparations for a hike should include maps of shelters along the way, as well as hiking provisions to stay dry and warm. Food should be lightweight and calorie dense. Even a day hiker should include emergency rations among food provisions in case the need arises.
Water purification capabilities are an important aspect of preparing for any hike, including the Appalachian Trail. Contaminated water can taste fine and appear clean and safe. Even swiftly moving cold mountain streams may contain contagions and cause sickness. Using filters and treatments for water purification such as tablets that are effective germicides against bacteria and the parasite Giardia lamblia is important when collecting water from natural sources along a hike.
The Appalachian Trail is well traveled, but emergencies can occur at any time. You may find yourself in a tough predicament and have to fend for yourself for a time. It is important to prepare before any hike in case things go badly.
Certainly blisters are a big concern while hiking and hikers should include treatments for comfort and to prevent infection. Hikers should also plan for the aches and pains, weather exposure, and minor cuts and scrapes that are common ailments with outdoor first aid kits. Hiking emergency kits should always contain first aid treatments, and other essentials such as emergency food and water. Other practical items detailed on the Conservancy’s site include a knife, maps, and means of communication to summon help in more serious circumstances.