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.

Trail Health - Continued

Pain and Problems on the Trail

It's pretty much guaranteed that every hiker will experience some sort of pain or health-related problem when thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. The degree of the afflictions varies, ranging from bug bites and blisters to pneumonia and stress fractures.

Common Hiker Pains and Problems

Many people reported experiencing more than one ailment. Percentage for the top troubles is relative to the 49 people who replied to the survey.
Foot, Knee, and Joint Aches 61%
Numbness in Feet 27%
Blisters 14%
Toenail Loss 8%
Other problems reported include: fever, pneumonia, chaffing, rashes, stress fracture in foot, "trigger finger," bug bites, fractured ankle, pinched nerves in hips and shoulder, dehydration, hypothermia, shin splints, Achilles tendon pain, and heel spurs.


hiking blister   Appalachian Trail hikers with knee braces
Blisters are common during the first few weeks of hiking. This heel blister was the size of a silver dollar, and the other foot had one to match. Fortunately, they healed fairly quickly.   Knee braces are a common sight among thru-hikers. Most pain is due to overdoing it on downhills. Hiking poles help to ease some of the stress on legs and knees.


After Effects of Long Distance Hiking

Hiking over 2,000 miles can leave a lasting impression on your body, whether it's for the better or worse. This survey was taken about 4 months after most hikes were completed, and many people reported experiencing more than one "after effect." Percentage is relative to the 49 people who replied to the survey.
No Problems 33%
Knee Pain 14%
Numbness / Pain in Feet 16%
Other post-trail problems reported include: stiff joints, kidney stones, "trigger finger," ankle pain, leg cramps, numbness in toes, numbness in thigh, and shoulder pain.

Interested in reading more about what can happen to your feet while hiking over 2,000 miles? Check out our article on the Agony of the Feet. This hiker takes the cake for overcoming foot pain to achieve her goal!



Taking a multivitamin or other supplement is a good way to ensure your body is getting what it needs to hike. The biggest decision is whether or not to carry the weight. Many hikers keep vitamins in their bounce boxes rather than carrying them in their backpacks.

Did you take vitamins during your hike?

Yes 68%
No 32%

Weight Loss

Looking for a guaranteed weight loss plan? Hike 2,000 miles over the Appalachian Mountains! Seriously though, many people drop a lot of weight during a thru-hike. Hikers simply are not able to carry enough food and calories to satisfy a body that is walking 20 miles per day. Men tend to lose more weight than women, and this may be due to the fact that while both men and women lose fat, women also gain more muscle mass.

On a personal note, being a female, I definitely noticed a huge increase in muscle tone. While lounging at one of the huts in the White Mountains, I talked with a lady day hiker / tourist. She said I was "ripped," and continued to eye up my legs throughout our conversation. While I was fairly embarrassed, I was definitely in the best shape of my life. If you plan on thru-hiking, enjoy it all while it lasts!

Weight Loss (in pounds)
0 - 5 27%
6 - 10 22%
11 - 15 4%
16 - 20 11%
21 - 25 7%
26 - 30 4%
Over 30 24%

Next > Trail Food

< Back to Trail Health Page 1

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

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HikeMore Online Newsletter | Appalachian Trail Edition | Spring 2004

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