A man who just spent six months hiking the entire Appalachian Trail entertained Reddit users with details of his impressive feat.
Andrew Forestell, who goes by the trail name Reptar, lost 20 pounds along the way, starting the trail in Georgia at 155 pounds and ending in Maine at 135 pounds.
Although he started hiking with a friend, they parted ways in Virginia. He met a girl who became his “kind of girlfriend,” and they hiked the rest of the way mainly together.
Traversing 14 states, the AT spans 2,190 miles and hosts millions of hikers every year.
But few complete the entire thing, because it takes months of dedication and a not-inconsequential amount of money.
Forestell, 32, says he saved for several years and planned on the trip costing $3,500; instead, it cost close to $7,000. “Am now totally broke but it was worth every penny,” he said. He did note that many hikers fundraise, especially online, and are able to cover many or all of their costs.
“Gear, Food, Hostels and Hotels, Beer, Cell phone, Insurance. It adds up quick. However I pretty much bought whatever I wanted in terms of food, rooms, gear, or just tourist type things like going to Luray Caverns. And it still cost me less than paying rent for half a year,” he said.
“The problem for most is just having a lump sum of cash available and just being able to take 6 months off from your current life. If you can manage to do it though I assure you its worth being broke afterwards. I was living paycheck to paycheck before and I’m still living paycheck to paycheck saving a little here and there to go do the Pacific Coast Trail in a few years.”
As far as unexpected challenges, Forestell dealt with a lot of rain–12 of the first 17 days he was on the trail. He also had trouble with his trekking poles, and had to get shoes to ford streams since his camp shoes were flip flops. “Also Maine,” he said. “I did not expect Maine to be the hardcore beautiful brutal [expletive] she was.”
While most hikers mail food and essentials to themselves, or through the help of family or friends, Forestell opted not to rely on mail drops. He’d just pop into whatever store was around, whether it was a grocery store, a Walmart, or a market.
Forestell encouraged people who are thinking of doing the trail to do it, or at least sections of it. He himself asked for time off work but wasn’t able to work something out, so he quit. But after he returned the hospital hired him back, with a raise.
He also gave some other advice:
“You’ll want warm clothes and a decent rain jacket in the beginning because it’s cold and wet. Never quit on an uphill, never quit on a rainy day, if you’re pissed off eat something, tired? Rest up and eat something. Half of your problems can be solved by eating,” he said.
“Invest in Spotify and or audio books for your sanity’s sake. The trail is social but hiking alone all day happens a lot and being alone with your thoughts can make days seem longer and harder than the need to be. Other than that just know its not easy, you WILL get wet, you will be cold, you will get eaten alive by mosquitos even with bug spray. The AT is 30% physical and 70% mental (at least for me it was).
“The AT is long, really long. You will have hiked hundreds of miles and look at a map and be like…holy shit I’ve only gone 2 inches on this 3 foot tall map. The best advice I can give though is to just go out and have fun. It’s not a race, it’s not going anywhere, take your time and enjoy it because it will be over before you know it.”