HikeMore Online Newsletter - Appalachian Trail Edition, Spring 2004


AT Survey Guide

Getting Ready
Background Info
Making Time
Start Dates
Mail Drops
Bounce Boxes

Backpacking Gear
Top Twelve
Sent Home
Best Gear
Worst Gear
Top Brands
First Aid
Water Treatment
Maps / Guides
Seasonal Changes
Backpack Weight

Pain / Problems

Weight Loss

Trail Food
Top 5 Foods

Danger on the Trail

After the Trail
End Dates
Hiking Again
Favorite Sections
Biggest Surprise
Best of the Trail
Worst of the Trail
Lessons Learned


Appalachian Trail 2003 Hiker Survey

The majority of survey responses we received were from northbound thru-hikers, so these results are therefore representative of their experiences. To date we have received 49 replies to our Appalachian Trail survey. According to the ATC, there were 503 hikers that reported finishing the AT in 2003.

Getting Ready - Continued


There is definitely more than one way to hike the Appalachian Trail. All along the AT, you'll often hear the mantra "hike your own hike." Many choose to hike the Trail all at once from end to end- "thru-hikers." Another way of thru-hiking the Trail is to "flip-flop." Hikers begin at a point along the trail and walk to a specific point. Once there, they jump ahead, hike the opposite direction, and finish where they left off. An example would be to begin at Springer Mountain, GA, hike to Harper's Ferry, WV, jump up to Katahdin, and then hike south back to Harper's Ferry to finish. Others who simply don't have the time or funds to hike the whole Trail at once hike sections at a time, over the years, until they have completed the entire Appalachian Trail.

Below are statistics from the Appalachian Trail Conference:

2003 Northbound Thru-Hikers

Begin - Springer Mountain, GA 1,750
Finish - Katahdin, ME 352

2003 Southbound Thru-Hikers

Begin - Katahdin, ME 291
Finish - Springer Mountain, GA 45

Flip Flops

Reported Finishing in 2003 26

Section Hikers

Reported Finishing in 2003 80
Total number of hikers who reported finishing the Appalachian Trail in 2003: 503

Mail Drops

Mail drops can be a hassle for many, and ease of mind for others. The careful planning of what to include, when and where to send the packages, and who to trust to mail them on time. It can be a handful. For others - those who have the gift of scheduling and organization - mail drops can be a great help. You can send yourself items you may not be able to find in remote areas along the Appalachian Trail where shopping is limited to convenience stores. Perhaps the idea of picking up quantity deals to cut back on costs, or preparing your favorite backcountry recipes in advance will be your deciding factor. Mail drops can definitely be beneficial in these ways.

Everyone should at least consider the use of mail drops when thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Listed below are some things that may make your decisions easier, including survey results.

Did You Use Mail Drops?

Yes 90%
No 10%

How Many?

1 - 5 19%
6 - 10 14%
11 - 15 36%
16 - 20 14%
Over 20 17%

Would You Use Mail Drops Again?

Yes 71%
No 29%

Bounce Boxes

A "bounce box" is a package that a hiker sends to a post office up the trail, sort of like a traveling suitcase. Hikers find there are things that are useful in town, but not important enough to carry on their backs while hiking on the trail, including items such as town clothes and extra supplies. Bounce boxes are especially convenient for shipping ahead items you need but can't use up while in town, such as food, toiletries, laundry detergent, etc. It is often difficult to find only small amount (sample size) of what you need; sending the extra ahead can prevent waste and make your next town stop easier.

Did You Use a Bounce Box?

Yes 53%
No 47%

Some of the most popular bounce box items were:

  • extra food
  • town clothes
  • maps and guide books
  • batteries
  • vitamins
  • cell phone chargers
  • first aid items

Other items included: razors, toiletries, stamps, envelopes, paper, extra Ziplocs, nail clippers, medications, waterproofer for boots and gear, laundry detergent, lighters, new shoes or boots, seam sealer, and gear repair kits.

When shipping your bounce box via Priority Mail, you may forward it ahead if it is unopened. This means if you pick up your box in town, and realize you don't need to use any of the contents, you can forward it to your next town stop at no additional cost. More information on Priority Mail can be found at the USPS website.


Next > Backpacking Gear

< Back to Getting Ready

Hiking the AT in 2003
Danger on the Trail
Agony of the Feet
Appalachian Trail Documentary
Appalachian Trail 2003 Survey Results
Trail Food Ideas and Recipes
Comics - Coming Soon
Trail Days in Damascus

Additional AT Info

Back to Contents
Contact HikeMore

HikeMore Online Newsletter | Appalachian Trail Edition | Spring 2004

© 2004, All Rights Reserved | Email: webmaster@hikemore.com