A lot, actually. Unless you’re an experienced thru-hiker (which I’m not), you probably can’t just decide to hike the AT tomorrow and be ready. If you can, congrats! There is a lot more that goes into it than I thought. I’m really glad I gave myself about a year to prepare.
Even just getting the gear I need is a long process. I’ve had to do so much research into different brands and which products have the most success on the trail and will last.
Food, well food is a huge issue, especially due to my allergies. I’ll probably give food its own post – it deserves it.
Then, I need to know the trail so I don’t die. I need maps, information on poisonous plants and which mushrooms I can safely eat in case I get hungry, etc. The AT is very different depending on what section you are on and which state you are in.
This is all just the research aspect of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. Some of the most important preparation though will happen as I do practice hikes whether for a day or a few nights. I’ll let you know how that goes when I get there…