In 2013, Harpo + Groucho thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, a footpath spanning from Maine to Georgia, a journey of 2,200 miles lasting nearly 5 months.
Start Date: Independence Day, July 4th, 2013, Mount Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Maine
End Date: Thanksgiving Day, November 28th, 2013, Springer Mountain, Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia
States Traversed: 14
Total Days: 148
Days Hiked: 134
Zero Days: 14
Miles of the AT: 2,186
Average Miles per Day: 16.3
…Biggest Day: 44 miles (as part of the 4 State Challenge)
…Miles Blue Blazed (hiking non-AT trails or roads): 60
…Miles Yellow Blazed (driving instead of hiking): 30
…Miles Slack Packed (hiking w/out our packs): 30
Nights spent sleeping at a drive in movie theater: 1
…in the yard of a neighborhood bar: 2
…at the home of a friend or family member or trail angel: 16
…in a hostel or hotel: 24
…camping or in a trail shelter: 105
Base weight of our packs (without food/water):
…average “full” load with 6 days food and 1 liter water: 25lb
…most ever carried (by NKO) including a 30 rack of 12oz Pabst cans, 2 10# bags of ice, 2 plastic pints of Jim Beam (a pint is a pound the world round) and 1# of birthday Oreos for our friend “Shakes”: 50lb
Coldest night sleeping outside: zero degrees
Bears seen: 18
Poisonous snakes seen or heard on trail: 2
Calories burned daily (each): 4,000-7,000
Calories consumed daily (each): never enough
Pairs of shoes worn through:
Total Elevation Gain/Loss: 515,000 feet*
Steps taken (common estimation): 5 million
Why hike? Why a through hike? Why 5 months?
Many times a metaphysical journey begins in the most surprising ways. In this case, it began with only a few steps… Sara and NKO began walking together, and kept going. After sharing many trail miles and hours of conversation, the idea emerged: to see America and to meet America. By spending enough time on the trail, we realized a new narrative of our lives could emerge; we are capable of shaping our own destiny, simply by moving forward.
Why the Appalachian Trail?
One conversation we revisit often regards the quintessential American experience. In 2012, we began talking about ideas of American identity based around our collaboration on the People’s Grand Opera project. “The Public Road”, the contemporary performance we created, illuminated poet Walt Whitman’s utopian American through the tradition of shared singing and community-based choral music. Our project built an environment that welcomes and illustrates connections between spiritual practice and performance; history and contemporary culture; poetry and song; individual and collective voice; body and soul.
Many of these same philosophies also informed our decision to undergo a through hike together. What is an ‘authentic’ American experience? What binds us? What is it to be a human, and a citizen of the world? What do we share, and what are our voices?
By hiking the AT we hoped to find some of these authentic experiences – interactions and images existing outside the narratives of consumerism, capital, politics, religion and even architecture. The journey created an intentional shift in our lives, in our expectations of each other, and our perceptions of community and culture.
Our AT Thru Hike was the genesis of the songsoutofthecity.wordpress.com where you can still see our notes, scores of images and even some videos from the trail.
Look at all our entries categorized “Appalachian Trail“… OR… just check out our AT Blog Highlights:
Maine – 281.4 miles
Continuing to Begin, Again
Economics of The Trail
Biblical Plagues and an Angel Named Michael
Economics of the Trail Part 2: Gift Economy
Trail Recipe: Sugarloaf Trail Crepe
A Notch in the Belt
Unpacking a Clown Car
Trail Invention: Toeless Socks
Massachusetts – 90.2 miles
Sandy the Salamander
Connecticut – 51.6 miles
Generosity Killed the Cynic
New York – 88.4 miles
Are You Having the Time of Your Life
New Jersey – 72.2 miles
Pennsylvania – 229.6 miles
Lying Liar Pants
Maryland – 40.9 miles
The Four State Challenge
West Virginia – 4 miles
Georgia – 76.4 miles
Field Notes from the Appalachian Trail
Home Again Home Again Jiggidy Jig
Harpo & Groucho write about “Wasting Time” in Seattle’s City Arts Magazine