David Miller's Top Five Items You Might Not Think to Pack for a Long-Distance Trek (But Will Wish You Did)
Scissors: Scissors are better than a knife for common tasks like opening food packaging, cutting moleskin, or trimming your mustache. I carry the Leatherman Micra, which has a very functional pair of scissors and a knife blade.
Suntan Lotion: The AT is known for rain, cold and for long walks through the "green tunnel." Yet every year, especially before the trees regain their leaves, hikers will get sunburned.
Chafing powder: Hikers disagree about whether hiking uphill or downhill is more demanding, but they all agree that hiking with chaffed, burning skin is less tolerable than the ups and downs. Body Glide is another popular treatment.
Trash Bag: Pack it in; pack it out... and remember to have something to pack it out in. A gallon-sized zippered bag usually suffices.
Belt pouch: Backpack manufacturers have caught on, and many now offer packs with accessible pouches sewn onto the straps on their packs. If your pack doesn’t have belt pouches, buy add-ons. Keep your camera in your belt pouch, and you’ll take many more pictures than you would if your camera was in your pack. Also keep your spoon at the ready; you never know when your hiking partner might leave his food unattended.
Photos from the Appalachian Trail
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I hiked the Appalachian Trail again last week. My transcendent experience was made possible by David Miller of Titusville, who hiked the entire trail in 2003 and wrote about it in his new book Awol on the Appalachian Trail. Miller is a wonderful writer who expresses the emotions as well as the facts of the world's most famous hiking trail. Of course, fellow Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers reading his book will be like the choir before the preacher, devouring his passages like a mystery novel, despite knowing exactly how it will end. Miller does a particularly good job of describing how hikers' moods change more sharply than the physical ups and downs of the mountain chain -- from senseless euphoria to mindless morosity -- as they put one foot in front of the other for months at a time. In fact, hikers spend many of their thoughts contemplating why in the heck they're out there, suffering through the blisters, bugs, rain and boredom that are as much a part of the experience as the dramatic views and inspiring wilderness. And Miller, as one of the relatively few "thru-hikers" who succeed in making it the whole way in one year, puts such thoughts on paper about as well as anyone. --Robert Hughes, Florida Today Newspaper
David Miller's Awol on the Appalachian Trail allows us to sample the pleasures and the pains of hiking 2,172 miles from Georgia to Maine. Miller has a knack for storytelling and for describing his fellow trekkers. He writes about himself as well, of course, but he does so without any great show of conceit or inflated pride. Readers who are considering the Trail or who simply enjoy being in the outdoors will find this book most appealing, but Miller's talent should bring him an even larger audience. --Jeff Minick, Smoky Mountain News