In 2005, Kevin Gallagher thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Each day he took 24 pictures of 24 successive steps along an exemplary stretch of trail. In 2011, Gallagher released "The Green Tunnel," a time-lapse compilation of these images that compresses the thru-hiking experience into a short, fascinating four-minute video. (It takes a few seconds to get started once you hit play.)
Green Tunnel from Kevin Gallagher on Vimeo.
There are some useful insights in the video for aspiring AT hikers. First, notice the substantial snow in the early frames of the video. Then, after a long stretch of early-spring hiking, snow reappears in abundance at the 0:57 mark for a few days. Gallagher began his hike on April 2, (later than many other thru-hikers) so it's evident that winter can strike along the trail well into the AT hiking season. Waterproof footwear and a lightweight pair of trail gaiters would certainly be beneficial—and recommended—for the first month or so of hiking.
Second, keep an eye on the trail conditions underfoot throughout the video. For the first half of the hike, much of the trail is relatively smooth with minimal roots and rocks, with only a few rough sections. But check out the 2:38 mark in the video. This is somewhere near the halfway point of the hike, when the trail starts to hit Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic. From this point on, the trail is a much rougher, rockier experience. Hikers with weak ankles might want to consider swapping, and upgrading, their footwear to something with a bit more stiffness and support around this time.
Third, Gallagher's video is aptly named. Most of the trail travels through shady forests and dense foliage, with only a few intermittent fields and open mountaintops for the first two-thirds of the hike. That changes dramatically when he hits the White Mountains of New Hampshire at 3:25, then enters western Maine at 3:38 (notice the blue state line sign). For hikers looking to hit the most abundant and dramatic views along the AT, the stretch from New Hampshire's Mount Moosilauke to Maine's Mahoosuc Range is the one to hike.
For more on the Appalachian Trail, you can check out my previous post: Appalachian Trail: The Latest Stats, Books, and Maps (links have been updated for 2012 versions of guidebooks) or visit the recently redesigned Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.
Labels: Backpacking, Hiking