Welcome to
The Thruhiking Papers

The Thruhiking Papers
      Part I                        

The Thruhiking Papers
      Part II                        

I came to realize that a life lived to help others is the only one that
matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has
devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is
my highest and best use as a human.
      Ben Stein – columnist, "Monday Night At Morton's."

That quote captures the spirit and intent of The Thruhiking Papers.

The Thruhiking Papers originated long ago and far away in response to a series of questions on the at-l email list. Our answers to those questions came from personal knowledge, observations, philosophy and lessons-learned from our Appalachian Trail thruhikes. Over a period of several years our answers evolved into something reasonably coherent, so we called them “The Thruhiking Papers” and some friends put them on the Web. The original Thruhiking Papers were specifically Appalachian Trail-oriented. But much of what's there will be useful regardless of which long distance trail you intend to hike.

Katahdin from Rainbow Lake - Sept 1992

Part I is the "original" Thruhiking Papers with some minor updates due to the changing nature of the Trail over the years. We reread these pages every couple years and rarely find anyting we think needs changing. A heavily edited and truncated version appeared in the Appalachian Trailway News (ATN) in 2003, but this is the "full Monty."

“Part II” is a series of articles that we wrote while planning our Continental Divide Trail (CDT) thruhike. They’re the result of a lot of thought, a lot of hiking and a lot of planning. In their own way, they may be better than the original Thruhiking Papers. They're certainly more directly related to planning a thruhike because much of the material was taken directly from my AT planning notes.

The Thruhiking Papers are about "long" trails" - so they're long. And we haven't even come close to being comprehensive. But that wasn't our purpose. If you want to know the basics of backpacking or thruhiking, there are lots of books that you can get from your library, your local outfitter, or the various trail organizations - or Amazon. Or you can go to some of the Internet lists and discussion groups.

Some of what's here you won't find in books, in part because it's our opinion, our observations and conclusions, our lives. And in part because it's not necessarily "conventional wisdom" or "common knowledge". Personal opinion is that "conventional wisdom" and/or "common knowledge" are very often neither wisdom nor knowledge, but rather unsupported and insupportable opinion.

Everyone who intends to hike the AT has questions. If you intend to thruhike the Appalachian Trail - or any other long trail - you'll want answers to your questions. We've given a few of "our" answers here, but we'll guarantee that "our" answers won't work for "EVERYONE" any more than anyone else's answers will work for "EVERYONE." You're a unique individual and you need your own unique answers - answers that will fit your life and your hike. What's written here can only serve as a guide - it's not a textbook.

Have fun with it – we did.

We'd like to thank O.D. Coyote for allowing us to adapt the title from his "Slackpacking Papers".
We'd also like to thank the Weathercarrot for his input.

Created: 30 Oct 2004
Revised: 30 Sept 2016
Copyright © 2004-2017 Spirit Eagle