Q: How long is the trail?

A: The Appalachian Trail is 2,190 miles covering 14 states from Georgia to Maine. It takes thru-hikers on average 5-7 months to complete. Hikers that start in Georgia refer to themselves as NOBO, short for northbound. (That’s me!) Maine to Georgia hikers are SOBO, for southbound. NOBO is the more popular choice.


Q: You’re doing the whole thing?

A: Yes, that’s the plan! I’m aiming for 5 months, which is averaging just under 15mi per day. The only thing that would hold me back is injury/illness. (Knock on wood my ability  to stay injury free from 10 years of running carries over.)


Q: Where will you sleep?

Gooch Mountain Shelter in GA. Photo courtesy of whiteblaze.net.

A: I will be carrying a tent with me, but there are also shelters along the way to sleep in, spaced about a day’s hike apart. There are also towns along the trail with hostels and hotels, where I will occasionally stay.


Q: What about food?

A: On average, I’ll be carrying a 3-5 day supply of food. The AT either passes through or by towns quite often. I will be both buying food at stores, as well as sending myself food in mail drops. (Actually, it will be my mom sending these boxes to me.) I’ve been busy in the weeks leading up to my hike cooking and dehydrating meals! If you try, there’s an endless amount of creative, trail-friendly food out there.


Q: Are you hiking by yourself?

A: Yes. By “myself” for the majority of the trail is correct, but far from reality. I am starting the trail by myself, but with 1500 others starting within the same 1.5 months, I won’t be alone. I’m sure I will make friends and having my own trail family.

I will have many visitors in the trail, too! I’m spending my first week with two friends from college. On the trail I’ll have family, my boyfriend, college friends, and ASP friends joining for a bit. I can’t wait to share some mileage with them by my side!


Q: What about safety?

A: Lions, Tigers, and Bears, hh my! Really it is just black bears and snakes. (And ticks… Lyme Disease would be AWFUL.) Some people have expressed a concern about other people as well. For safety, most past hikers would comfortably say that they feel safer on the trail than in society. I think the safety concerns from others are rooted in the unfamiliarity of the woods. Society gives us a false sense of security, when in reality hiking on the trail by “myself” is safer than living in a big city by myself.  

I appreciate your concern about my safety and your care for me. Know that I will have safety constantly on my mind, and I feel my approach is the most realistic I see for myself. (I will be carrying mace, I know self-defense, and I will be using my trusty ol’ brain.)


Q: How are you updating this blog if you are in the wilderness?

A: Primarily, this is the work of my AWESOME boyfriend. He’s the one receiving my journal entry pictures (when I have service), and typing and uploading them here.


Q: Can I send you mail?

A: Thanks for asking! Of course! Email my mom at clcassidy@sbcglobal.net for post offices and other locations I will be picking up mail. (Or text me or email me, but expect a delayed response.)


Q: Will you take pictures?

A: YES! Follow me on Instagram @tessmcassidy .


Let me know if there’s any other general questions you have, and I’ll try to include them on here! Email: tess.m.cassidy@gmail.com