Day said in setting out was to cover about 20 miles per day.
“You’d struggle all day going up and down mountains and being covered by woods and the scenery wouldn’t be all that great and then ‘boom,’ all of the sudden you hit the top of the mountain and see that tree line,” he said. “It’s like you’re on top of the world. It’s honestly one of those life-changing things. You get up there and it gives you a whole new perspective on life.”
Day said he spent some nights sleeping out in the rain, but there were other times when the weather was fine and the group would laze around a watering hole and spend the day relaxing.
Despite the mountains and the rough terrain, what eventually derailed the hike was Hurricane Sandy. They struggled through snow that was at times nearly chest high.
Had it not been for other hikers traveling south to north, he said they would have had no warning.
“We were lucky that we even had advanced warning,” he said. “We had hikers coming from the south say ‘you know that Frankenstorm is headed this way? It’s a super hurricane, and a blizzard.’ So then we started getting on our phones, so we had advanced notice to hunker down in the closest town.”
Most towns along the trail route have hostels or inns that cater to hikers. You can spend the night, take a shower, do your laundry, and get a hot meal before heading back out. And in some places, people open up their homes to accommodate the hikers.
“There was a guy, somebody gave me his number further north, that said that when you get to Bastian, Va., call True Brit,” he said. “That was his trail name, and he was a British guy who was in the Special Air Service (SAS), so he was a military advocate. All the pieces were coming together perfectly.