Longtime Jasper veterinarian Mike McGhee completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on August 19th.
Here’s a look at his hike on the 2,181 mile trail by the numbers:
• 143 days - total number of days on the trail.
• 20 days - spent not hiking at all.
• 15 miles - overall daily average. This figures in the days spent not hiking.
• 27 miles – longest single day.
• 4 pairs - shoes used, favorite pair were trail runners, not hiking boots. Each pair had been bought and broken in prior to starting and sent ahead to mail spots along the trail.
• 20 pounds - usual weight of pack first day out of a town. As food was eaten it would get lighter each day until resupplying.
• 39 pounds – weight lost on trail. McGhee started the hike at 189 pounds and finished 150.
• 10 bears sighted – Five in New Jersey, four in Virginia, 1 in Vermont
• 1 Moose
• 0 poisonous snakes. “I saw plenty of non-poisonous ones and I’m sure a lot of poisonous ones saw me,” McGhee said.
• 80 percent – time McGhee said he enjoyed the epic hike.
• 20 percent – time not-enjoyed due to nagging injuries, tiredness or hunger.
• 100 (Mile Wildernesss) – The longest section in a wilderness setting is the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine, which McGhee said was not a full 100 miles nor a true wilderness with several dirt road crossing.
• 19 degrees – Coldest temperature on trail
• 97 degrees – Hottest weather on. “I’ll take the cold days any time. I can always put more clothing on,” McGhee said.
• 8 days – Number of days with some frozen precipitation
• 90 percent – Nights spent in tarp, rather than shelter.
• 170 miles – How far his Jack Russell made it on trail before getting worn down. • 6,643 feet – elevation of tallest point on trail, Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee. The mountains on the northern part of the trail are much more challenging he said, with more rocks, and bouldering/climbing needed, but better views.
1 time – incidences where McGhee seriously thought of quitting. He actually walked off briefly and was going to quit with a hurt ankle on one side and a subsequent foot issue on the other. This was in New Jersey where it rained all day and the mosquitoes were horrible, he said.
Final thoughts: McGhee said it was harder and more physically demanding than he had expected, yet “an experience beyond description.”
McGhee, a longtime outdoorsman, said he thought he would grow more accustomed to the physical demands as he went along but he never did.
“I don’t want to give a negative impression,” he said. “If you have a dream you want to do, you need to follow it. For years I had wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail when I retired and it helped me keep in shape so I that I could do it physically.”
He retired and sold Wayside Animal Clinic in Jasper the year before starting the trail.
Read more about life on the trail on McGhee’s blog. See link at pickensprogress.com.