Pauley: I have a question for Laurie and Joe. Are there sections of the Appalachian Trail that would be more hospitable for a person who isn't physically equipped to do the boulders and mountains we saw in Joe's story this morning?
Liles: Jane, I would recommend the A.T. as it goes through Shenandoah National Park and any of the sections in Maryland.
Potteiger: Jane, A great place to start is right across the Potomac River from Harpers Ferry, along the C&O Towpath (the southernmost 3 miles of the A.T. in Maryland). It’s a rare short section of the A.T. that is perfectly flat.
Comment from Chip: Life is a gift; we must choose to live it. I have recently been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. I am facing my mortality but I plan on hiking the A.T. and other trails to live life to the fullest.
Comment from Carolyn: Joe, you're an inspiration for all of us aging baby boomers. You've inspired me to dust off my hiking boots and start hiking!
Pauley: Carolyn, we’re on the same wavelength. A question for Joe: what happens when a person does get hurt or sick out in the wilderness?
Liles: Jane, to answer your question, I would recommend carrying a cell phone. In high altitude areas there is no problem getting a signal. You can use cell phones to get help. However, you will find yourself in a community of hikers who are willing to provide assistance to those in need. Use of a cell phone on the trail needs to be highly regulated as a courtesy to other hikers. One needs to realize that technology on the trail needs to be used responsibly.
Comment from Ken: I hiked the A.T. 30 years ago and it indeed was a life changing journey. Now at age 53 I've been diagnosed with MS. But the trail built character and now I rely on that to get though.
Comment from Tim: Jogging is another good way to get in shape for hiking.
Comment from Roaryo: Joe, did you keep a journal or blog? Would love to hear stories of your encounters on the A.T.
Liles: Roaryro, my blog website is http://joeliles.chunkyboy.com.
Comment from Chip: Laurie, how many people thru hiked the AT this year?
Potteiger: Chip, 1460 northbound thru-hikers started in Georgia this year. So far, 223 of them (as of today) have reported to ATC that they’ve completed the Trail. We’ll probably hear from a total of 375-400 in the next few months.
Starting in Maine, 256 "southbounders" started out this year. None of them have reported finishing in Georgia yet, but more than 100 have passed through and been photographed in Harpers Ferry.
Comment from Sally Sue: What is a realistic budget for such a trip?
Potteiger: Sally Sue, the average expenditure for a thru-hike ranges $3,000- $5000. Gear is another $1-2,000.
Pauley: Sally Sue, you might also think about some kind of a support system like Joe had. He left behind 28 pre-packaged, pre-addressed boxes containing dehydrated food, power bars and the like, with instructions for a friend who on a certain schedule mailed them ahead for Joe to pick up.