Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions I've received. If you have a question feel free to ask it in the "comments section" below and I'll answer it as soon as I can. Thanks!

Q: How long is the AT?

A: Approximately 2,175 miles long. I say "approximately" because each year the trail changes each year due to natural hazards, private property issues and a litany of other reasons.  Access trails to and from towns, lakes, campgrounds and water sources add additional distance.

Q: Why is your trail name "Yahtzee?"
A: I love games and one of my favorites is Yahtzee.  I'm carrying the cup, dice and a few laminated score cards with me so I can play with fellow hikers at hiker hostels and trail shelters. 
Q: Are you going to hunt & fish for your food?

A: No way! I'll leave that to Bear Gryllis! From a practical standpoint it takes 180 days (averaging approximately 12 miles of northbound progress per day) to get from Georgia to Maine in one season. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough time to drop a line in the water and wait for the fish to bite. 

Q: How many people finish a thru hike annually?

A: Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people attempt a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail annually.  Of those who start approximately 200 to 300 hikers complete their goal. 

Q: Where will you sleep at night?

A: It depends. Mostly I’ll sleep in my tent at (or near) trail shelters. There will be a few nights spent in hiker hostels (when I’m in town to resupply) and a rare (and much anticipated) night or two in actual motel or hotel. Ahh… the luxury of a private bathroom!

Q: Are you afraid of bears?

A: A little… but I can tell you that they’re typically more afraid of us than we are of them. When I lived in Tahoe I saw plenty of bears. Most people have been much closer to these animals than they might know. Bears will typically run away or tree themselves when humans get too close. Next time you’re hiking in a wilderness area (national or state park for example) … look up - you might be surprised by what you see in the tree you're leaning against!

Q: Are you going with a group?

A: No. My thru-hike will be a solo endeavor although I plan to make friends with other thru hikers along the way.  The thru hiking community is very social so I'll have plenty of people to walk with, talk with and the all important safety element of having someone to watch my back. 

Q: What are you most afraid of?

A: Aggressive dogs. There are sections of the trail that come close to, or actually cross, privately owned property. I’ve heard accounts of hikers being charged by dogs protecting their territory. Unfortunately for the dogs … I’m not into being bitten so I've got two words for them: Bear Spray. If it’s between me and them … well it’s gonna be them. If the spray can repel an Alaskan Grizzley … I imagine it’ll do a bang up job on Fido (or even JimBob - Fido's owner - if necessary).

Q: Are you going to carry a gun?

A: No. They’re illegal on many parts of the trail and weigh too much to haul for 2,175 miles. The way I see it, look up the crime statistics for Long Beach, CA … no one ever asked me if I was packing heat when I headed off to work each day. The probability of something happening to me in Southern California is much greater than it is on the AT. Lastly, see afore mentioned note on bear spray. Bears, check. Dogs, check. Humans, check. Yup… legal and non-lethal … sounds good to me.

Q: Where do you go to the bathroom?

A: Third tree on the left (unless there's a cliff on that side, then it's behind the second bolder on the right).

** Have a question for me?  Ask away!  Thanks for reading my blog!**


  1. I love this !!! I'm getting ever so excited for you.. and I'm thrilled beyond words that technology allows us to follow your tracks ! Gonna be one HELLUVA journey and adventure ! My glass is raised to you my friend !! Let's get this party started !! XOXO

  2. I know you said you won't be carrying enough calorie per day of walking and supplementing with vitamins. You will probably lost a lot of weight towards the end. Do you exchange clothing at some point to warmer yet smaller size? Question by Nixon :0-)

  3. Good question "Nixon." :-) Yes, I've planned for the smaller sized clothing I'll need and have purchased some smaller items which will be sent in my resupply boxes, when requested. There are also outfitters in some of the towns where I'll be stopping ... so they'll get some business too. :-)

  4. Goon on ye, Little! What an exciting and brave adventure you're on. Looking forward to catching up on your blog this weekend.

  5. Hello. Nixon here and have 2 more questions from Costa Mesa, CA.
    1. What is the elevation change on the trail?
    2. Do most people start from south to north or do some go from north to south. And why one way or the other?
    I have a lot to time to ponder between meals so I think of many things to ask...

  6. Hi Nixon,

    Well to answer your questions ... the elevation of the trail changes daily, as I walk up and down mountains. It's not unusual to start at 1,500 feet and climb to over 5,000 feet only to drop back down the other side of the mountain to 2,000 feet. Up and down and up and down ... that's how the trail goes.

    I've already crossed the highest point on the trail, which was Clingman's Dome. Clingman's is 6,643 feet and is located in the Smokies. There's an observation tower (which people can drive to) on top of Clingmans but the day I passed through there the road was still closed for the "winter" so I shared the views with Boston Dan, Hemi, Zenon and 151. It was pretty cool to have the entire place to ourselves.

    To answer your second question; most folks choose to hike south (Georgia) to north (Maine). The primary reason for this is due to the fact that the northbounders (like myself) can walk with spring as we proceed north. Starting in Maine is difficult because you have to start much later, due to winter conditions in the White Mountains and 100 Mile Wilderness. Southbounders can start the trail as late as July.

  7. Hi there. Reading your posts (yes I'm a very well-read canine)... noticed that you are now needing lots of water. I tend to want to drink anything liquid on my daily walks, but how do you recommend how one can tell if "found water" is potable on AT? I'm sure you're not carrying gallons on you. And how much and often do you drink water? --Love, Nixon.

  8. Hi "Nixon"

    Yes,I drink a TON of water! In fact, now that the weather has reached the "opressive" range I average somewhere between 4 and 8 liters a day.

    While there have been a few days where I wished I could simply stick my face into the water source and drink my fill, I ALWAYS treat my water in order to avoid water born illness.

    I started the trail using iodine water purification tablets (when my brand new Katadyn filter broke on me the night before starting the trail). I used those for about a month before they started to bother my stomach. After that I switched to Aquamira drops (which is basically chlorine)and I used those until the water sources started to require filtering through my bandana to strain out the chunks. Since I'm not into texture in my drinking water I broke down and bought another water filter (the MSR Hyperflow - which I LOVE).

    The real challenge now is finding water sources, since the trail had a tendency to run up on top of mountain ridges. Water can usually be found in gaps or somewhere further down the mountain ... so I (as well as all other hikers) spend a significant amount of time walking "blue blazed trails" to water sources. It adds mileage to our days and the water adds pounds to our packs (appx. 2lbs per liter) but it's necessary.

    Hope that answers your question. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I need to be at a "real" computer to post responses to comments. My phone doesn't play well with the "post comment" feature on blogspot. Thanks for your patience!

    Woof at me with any more questions...



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