**Keep in mind, these are all just ballpark figures.
Gear: $2,000 ($1,000/person)
While on trail: $12,000 ($6,000/person)
Plane tickets to TX from GA and then from ME to TX: $1,100 ($550/person)
Q: How heavy were your packs?
Little Engine: My pack, in the beginning winter months, was about 35-40 lbs. Pretty heavy but I didn’t want to be cold. When it got warmer my pack got lighter and I was only carrying about 25 lbs. during the summer.
Timber: Mine started at about 45 lbs. in the winter and went to about 35 lbs. in summer.
Q: What type of cameras, batteries, and chargers did you carry?
Timber’s camera was a Sony Cybershot TX-10. A waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof point and shoot camera. It was the only “everything proof” camera that captured in 1080p at the time. Never worried about it getting damaged. It is all kinds of dinged up by the end though. There have been two upgraded versions now.
The Ipod Touch (used for update filming/editing/posting) was in an Otter Box like case and kept in a Ziplock when in steady or heavy rain.
Ambassador’s camera was a Nikon D-7000. He kept it in a fanny-pack in front of him for easy access. When it rained, it went in the pack. Never had a problem. The D-7000 is weather resistant which helped because it did get wet occasionally. However, double Ziplocks didn’t fail us when we capsized our canoe aquablazing.
Memory was a tricky thing to plan, at first. We ended up buying 5 extra 32GB SD cards. $100 from Amazon. It turned out to be just as much as we needed. However, we did NOT want to keep “all of our eggs in one basket”. So, monthly our “HQ” mailed us a care package which included a netbook and a 1TB external hard drive. Monthly we would offload and backup all of our media.
Also, we use two Pelican 915 cases. One for SD cards (holds 12) and one that I modified for camera batteries. Nice, small, waterproof cases, where everything fits snug.
Batteries. If you’re using a point and shoot, you’ll need at least 3. A DSLR, 2. I found that buying generics on Amazon was by far the cheapest, and they worked just as well.
Note: When it’s cold, batteries die Very Quickly. Keep your camera and spare batteries in your jacket, and your sleeping bag at night.
Charging. Consider bringing a small battery bank and multi-charger. Anker (found on Amazon) makes some great, well prices products.
Here are some product links for your research. We used all of these:
– Anker Battery Bank – www.amazon.com/Portable-External-Flashlight-Thunderbolt-Incredible/dp/B005K7192G/
– Updated version of Camera – http://www.amazon.com/Sony-DSC-TX30-Digital-Stabilized-3-3-Inch/dp/B00BEHQLP6/
– Pelican 915 Case – http://www.amazon.com/Pelican-Black-Memory-Protective-Replaces/dp/B005D2JE2A/
Q: Did you edit video in town or on trail?
Editing can be very time consuming. Editing on trail during some down time would be great if it didn’t drain the battery so much and then we wouldn’t be able to shoot as much video. We usually tried to edit if we had access to a power outlet (or knew we would soon). We later bought a small battery bank that allowed us to edit on trail, which did in fact save us a lot of time in town to allow for uploading and relaxing.
Q: How did you upload your videos?
Uploading for us required finding wifi, which was an adventure on it’s own sometimes. We sat in some display patio furniture inside a Lowe’s in Waynesboro, PA for 1.5 hrs to get an upload. Sometimes it took a very long time to upload anything (5 hours was the longest I think) and sometimes the upload failed over and over which was very frustrating. Typical best spots for wifi for us – Libraries and Grocery Stores that have a cafe (shortest upload time: < 5 min). Hotels and Hostels were not usually very good, but you could just begin the upload and leave it there. Sometimes we had to forgo uploading until the next resupply due to time constraint or lack of sufficient wifi. In which case, we would just upload two videos.
Q: Did you see any bears or moose?
We saw about 5 bears total out there for all of maybe 20 seconds as they were running off. They are incredible animals but act like scared raccoons most of the time. As for moose, we saw one. Sadly, we were not out in the woods when we saw it. We had just been picked up by a friendly passerby and were driving into town. We saw it on the side of the road, in Maine, at a popular moose sighting spot. Honestly, we’re glad we didn’t see it in the woods because you have to worry way more about moose charging you then a bear.
Q: Did you carry a gun and did you feel safe on trail?
NO, NO, and still NO!!! We strongly encourage you to NOT carry a firearm with you. For one, it’s illegal in a lot of spots according to the different state and park laws, second, it’s very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and even if you do, and lastly, it’s totally not needed at all. Bears will just run from you, if you are lucky enough to see one at all. There are always several people around so you have the whole “safety in numbers” thing going for you. You think you are going to be alone a lot out in the woods but you’re mistaken. There was not one single night out there that we were alone. It’s is the “people’s” trail after all.
Q: Did you resupply in towns along the way or do mail drops?
We mostly resupplied in towns for our food and day-to-day needs however, we did receive monthly mail drops from Little Engine’s mom. In our monthly drops we had things like, a laptop so we could backup all of our pictures and video, our pills and vitamins for the next month, feminine items for Little Engine, and anything else we thought of along the way that we wanted.
Q: What did you eat?
Our typical day went something like this:
Snack: a granola bar, Cliff Bar, Power Bar, Protein Bar, Neutragrain Bar, fruit snacks, or something like that
Lunch: Ramen, meat and cheese, or a meat and cheese tortilla wrap (that was heavy though)
Snack: Same as above
**When in town, we gorged ourselves on anything and everything. Little Engine usually craved fresh fruits and veggies (although, she had had her fair share of greasy food too) while Timber and Ambo usually craved greasy things like burgers and pizza.
Q: How much weight did you loose on trial?
Little Engine: 25 lbs.
Timber: 35 lbs.
Q: What is the #1 thing you couldn’t live without on trail?
Little Engine: Apart from the obvious food, water, shelter, and a warm sleeping bag (the true essentials) the best thing I carried with me was my wet wipes. I used them for so many things and they were a huge convenience. I “bathed” every night with them so I wasn’t too disgusting out there and that helped me sleep better. I also used them to clean our cooking dishes instead of having to trek all the way to the water source again, which was sometimes VERY far away and in the dark. They were a big morale booster out there for sure.
Timber: My favorite item was my bandana. I used it as a sweat band and rag, wash rag, portable A/C, a towel to dry off, to protect my head from the sun and or horse flies, etc. It was a multipurpose tool for sure.
Q: What were your favorite sections or trail, favorite towns, and favorite hostels?
Trail Sections: We absolutely loved the entire trail experience, even the bad parts like the bugs, the heat, and Northern Pennsylvania. Without all of these things the trail would not be the same and the victory would not be as sweet. However, we did have a few parts and places that stood out to us as truly remarkable.
Our favorite state, as a whole, was Vermont. It was just so lush, cool, and green and it was our first real reprieve from the heat and bugs after the Mid Atlantic area. Some other awesome sections were the Grayson Highlands, VA with the wild ponies, The Whites, especially Franconia Ridge, and Maine and all of its amazing lakes and getting to fall asleep to the calls of Loons.
Towns: We have very fond memories of Hot Springs, NC, Boiling Springs, PA, and Lincoln, NH. Hot Springs had the nicest people in the world, we spent a ton of time at the Artisun Cafe, the tavern, and the actual Hot Springs Spa. Boiling Springs was just so picturesque and quaint. Everything within walking distance, we fed ducks at the beautiful spring fed lake, and got a sweet deal at the Allanberry resort, and again, everything was within walking distance. Lincoln, NH was awesome because we were staying with Chet, one of the coolest and most giving people you’ll ever meet, they had a movie theater, grocery, and the best Thai food on trail, all within walking distance.
Hostels: I loved almost every hostel we stayed at but again, some rose above the others. The Sunny Bank Inn in NC, Kincora in VA, Terrapin Station in VA, Bear’s Den in VA, Chet’s Place in NH, Green Mountain House in VT, and White House Landing in NH
Q: Any general good advice before attempting a thru-hike?
The best book, in our opinion, to prepare yourself for the toughest part of the trail (the mental and emotional challenges) is Zach Davis’ “Appalachian Trials.” It’s packed full of wonderfully helpful information and tips.
Also, some advice that we received our second day on trail from a past thru-hiker that just really hit the nail on the head was, “The ones who finish are the ones who decide they WILL finish.” – Snail. This couldn’t be more concise and accurate. It doesn’t matter what gear you have, how much prep you did, or how in shape you are. If you want to finish, you will finish.
Have fun out there, enjoy it. And remember, it will get tough but that will just make the end that much sweeter. You will look back one day, on ALL of it, with such fondness.