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M Sunshine in the Deep South

by Eric Gjonnes

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Article Summary:

The winter went by quickly, and we enjoyed taking full advantage of the fact that the Appalachian Trail requires very little planning. Other than procuring the appropriate gear, separating our food into portions, and planning which 30 post offices to send our resupply packages to, there really wasn't much to do. After a tough year for navigating on the Pacific Crest Trail, I was thrilled to know that we could just walk from one white blaze to another without even bringing a map along. It was a no-brainer and frankly, after the logistical, navigational, and strategic nightmare that the high Sierra threw at us last year, my brain needed a rest. We literally look at The A.T. Guide by David "AWOL" Miller first thing each morning, look for a shelter with a privy (of course) that is approximately 20 miles away and start walking. We don't carry a map, but The A.T. Guide has an exceptionally precise elevation profile and multiple land marks to orient yourself by.

Now I'm not saying this is the right approach. I'm just saying that the trail is well marked and that town stops are so plentiful and easy that one can get away with just winging it. The folks who read the entire book in advance, did additional research online, and made notes definitely have an advantage. We have blown right by hostels and trail angels not ever knowing of their services or convenience, while others rave for the next several days about how great that $5/bed full service hostel was.

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