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The Time and Money Needed for a Thru-hike

The hardest part of thru-hiking, besides the actual act of hiking, is finding the time and money to make it happen. In this post, I will cover how much time and money my thru-hike required, as well as some methods I used to keep under budget.

Time Statistics

Start date: March 21st
End date: September 17th
Time spent off-trail for surgery and recovery: 16 days
Total number of days on-trail (with zeros but excluding surgery): 165 days
Number of zeros: 12
Average miles/day with zeros: 13.3 mi/day
Shortest day: 3.5 miles (hiked on the day I had norovirus to get me to the nearest road)
Longest day: 26.7 miles (hiked in Virginia near Bear Garden Hostel where the owner baked a cake for anyone who hiked a marathon and stayed that night)

Thoughts On My Start Date

I intentionally chose my start date with the knowledge that I would be inside of a hiker bubble. I wanted to have other hikers around so I could begin to experience the hiker community as well as have people around in case I needed help.

In the beginning, I often camped at very crowded campsites and shelters, but once I reached Virginia, the bubble began to dilute and I was able to find more secluded campsites. I definitely got used to being around a very small group of people—when I began to hit a SOBO bubble and hikers of the Long Trail, I felt very overwhelmed despite there being fewer people than I encountered at the beginning of the trail.

I only arrived at a shelter or campsite to find it completely full twice—on Day Two at Gooch Mountain Shelter, and on Day 161 at Logan Brook Lean-to. I occasionally camped at very crowded sites, but these were the only occasions when I arrived to find it too full to set up my tent or sleeping pad in the shelter.

Despite being very busy, I would definitely recommend future aspiring thru-hikers to begin in March because, in my experience, it allows for the most ideal weather. I did encounter a non-continuous few weeks of 17-degree nights and did get lightly snowed on a few times, but with my gear, I never spent a night cold and was able to stay warm during the day by hiking for the most part. This start date also gave me plenty of time to finish before the cold returned up north, even with a few weeks off in the middle for surgery.

if you are interested in learning more about how much time and money Ann Marie White's thru hike cost, head here.


October 20, 2023

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