Appalachia

Walking The Appalachian Trail

Dean Fletcher

I’ve read just enough about the Appalachian Trail to have sort of a romanticized thought of how cool it would be to walk the entire trail. Leaving the romantic notions aside-I’m positive it takes a lot of hard work, stamina, and determination to make the trek.

I recently read Dean “Right Here” Fletcher’s book detailing his journey from one end of the Appalachian Trail to the other as a thru hiker.

The book is Fletcher’s daily journal from his trail trip. Each night he ‘jotted’ down details from his day in his cell phone.

Fletcher started his hike at the south end of the trail in Springer Mountain, GA on March 15. He completed his 2,185.3 mile walk at the north end of the trail in Mount Katahdin, MA on August 29.

Most nights were spent in his trusty tent. Other nights Fletcher stayed in hostels and huts set up for trail hikers. And on the nights he had to go into town for supplies, to rest up, and to dry out he stayed in motels and inns.

Although I don’t see hiking the Appalachian Trail in my future-I truly enjoyed the book. I was amazed by the ‘trail magic’ Fletcher ran into. Folks who live near the trail or folks who have hiked it in the past-showed up along the way with food, soft drinks, and other goodies.

I was also impressed with Fletcher’s attitude. He seemed to decide from the beginning that he would make sure he enjoyed every moment of the walk-even the ones that weren’t so great like walking miles upon miles in torrential downpours. And with over 170 color photos-the book truly gives you a peek into what each day on the trail was like.

A tradition from the Appalachian Trail is that all thru hikers take on a new moniker during the journey. Fletcher’s new name was Right Here. He says the name helped him remember he was ‘right here’ in the journey and helped remind him to appreciate each step of the walk.

 

Some of you may already be wondering if Dean Fletcher is related to Blind Pig reader and guest post contributor Charles Fletcher. The answer is yes. Dean is Charles’ son.

Charles published his son’s book and generously sent a copy for me to read and to giveaway here on the Blind Pig.

If you’d like a chance to win the book Right Here On The Trail leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Sunday January 11, 2015.

The book is also available for purchase at Ingram, Amazon.com, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, and directly from the publisher: Charles C. Fletcher, 2310 Harris Circle N.W., Cleveland TN 37311; phone 476-6835; or email: [email protected]

Tipper

 

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52 Comments

  • Reply
    Shirley
    January 11, 2015 at 11:13 am

    My daughter actually lives right off the Appalachian trail in Virginia. I suspect someday she and her friend would love to hike the trail – starting from her own backyard.

  • Reply
    Rhonda
    January 10, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve never been hiking. Watched some hiking shows, does that count? My brother and sister-in-law hike, it would make a nice present for them.
    I saw part of the Trail during my visit to the mountains during the summer.
    I checked Amazon for the book.Read the reviews. Only 2 new copies left in stock.
    You better hightail it over there if you’re thinking of ordering from Amazon.
    Thanks!

  • Reply
    kay
    January 9, 2015 at 9:11 am

    my sentiments exactly. i’ve romanticized walking of the trail also; but that probably is not going to happen. so i’ll just read his book and travel with him. thank you for your blog. faithful follower
    kay dallas

  • Reply
    Luann
    January 8, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    This would be a great addition to other AT/trail hiking books I’ve read. Dolores mentioned Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods—it is a funny read, more a ‘how not to hike the AT.’ :o)
    Also good reads: A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt (he hiked the AT as a fund raiser for a charity) and Wild by Cheryl Strayed—now out as a movie with Reese Witherspoon. It’s on the Pacific Crest Trail (if I remember correctly).

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 8, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Sounds like a great read- My neighbors hike a good sized portion of the trail every year. They also maintain a portion of it closer to home. Elrose and Sue will turn 80 this spring and have many more adventures planned!

  • Reply
    Bob and Inez Jones
    January 8, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Tipper-I always like to boast about living at the end of the APPALACHiAN tRAIL.i LIVE IN nEW bRUNSWICK, cANADA, ABOUT 12 MILES FROM THE mAINE BORDER.When I go out my road about 2 miles the elevation is a little higher, and I can see the top of Mt. Katahdin .Although it is about 80 miles from my home I feel it is part of me. I have read accounts of people’s hikes and think how challenging it must be but how rewarding. How could anyone end that trek being the same as when they started.My congratulations to each who has completed or even hiked some of it..Would love to read the book.Thanks.

  • Reply
    Nita
    January 8, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I read a book about a local girl who walked the trail, she ran into a few adventures while there, a dead body, snakes between the rocks and a pesky guy who kept following her! I would love to read another!

  • Reply
    Dale Anderson
    January 8, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Always dreamed of walking the trail, but some dreams just fade in the distance. Would enjoy reading about it now in my old age.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    January 8, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Tipper: You sure got the great responses on this AT post. We have hiked the AT out of GA to the Standing Indian Mountain on Shooting Creek. VIEWS ARE WONDERFUL! There we camped for a night. The next day we chickened out, packed up and drove back to TN!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    John Reese
    January 8, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    I have done some backpacking mostly on local trails. My dream is to hike at least some of the A.T. At 64 I don’t know if I could do the entire trail but some would be nice.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    January 8, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    what a determination – even just doing it in segments. I have great admiration for someone doing it from end to end. It would be interesting if someone did write about the “angels” along the trail as well.

  • Reply
    Ken
    January 8, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Tipper,
    I got to hand it to anyone who has the stamina to walk the Appalachian Trail from start to finish.
    Boy it sure was cold at my house
    this morning. Five below Zero! And I had almost 1/2″ of the powdery snow, most blowing off my porch before midnight. Had to charge my battery to get to work…Ken

  • Reply
    Jerry Finley
    January 8, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Tipper, I continue to enjoy Blind Pig EVERY day. The many different topics discussed continue to amaze and entertain me daily. I have a grandson who made the hike from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Coast Trail a couple of years back and then took a plane to Maine where he then started down the App trail. He totally enjoyed it, but he did not make it down to Georgia on the App trail, feet gave out just a few days on the trail. If I don’t win the book, I intend to purchase a copy for him, bet he would enjoy it.
    Jerry

  • Reply
    Joe Penland
    January 8, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Our grandson hiked the Pacific Crest Trail last year and we followed him from his postings. I would love to read this account of the AT and compare it to others.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 8, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Tipper,
    When I was a young girl maybe 22 or so, I went with my Aunt to meet her sons, my two male cousins. They were supposed to come off the trail, I think it was around Hot Springs. She taught school in Asheville and was a real nature buff, although she didn’t get to hike that much. They were going to take a break, rest up and then get back on the trail in the next couple of days. Since both were working and/or in college they hiked the trail in sections as time permitted.
    I remember looking up that trail and wondering when they would come strolling down the path! We were parked off the side of the road and got out to wait. They had notified my aunt as to about the time they would be getting to the crossover. Of course, there were no cell phones at this time and the time was just a guess-a-ment. I begin to worry! What if they didn’t show up within a reasonable time. Back then I was still holding on to my fear of black bears after one swiped the side of our car while in a parking area in the mountains, when I was a child!
    My aunt wasn’t concerned at all, or if she was she didn’t show it. Within 45 minutes of the allotted time, there they came walking along, with backpacks, etc. There were hugs, kisses, etc.
    I was so glad to see them, remember this was back in the late fifties early sixties, not as many hikers then. I was glad they hadn’t been eaten by bears or kidnapped by the “old mountain hermit”…another thing/shabby pole carrying man, I saw walking along on a lonely mountain road about 2:00 AM in the morning, while crossing the foggy mountains….but that is another tale!
    Yes, I would love the book!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Tamela
    January 8, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Since my husband was stationed in Virginia, I have been enamored with those beckoning green pathways and vistas. But that was 40 plus years ago and the likelihood of checking that trek off my bucket list is becoming more remote. At least I can do so vicariously through writers such as Dean Fletcher. Please add me to the drawing “bucket”.

  • Reply
    Jack
    January 8, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I’ve hiked a lot of AT sections that can be done as day hikes, including Mt Katahdin and some White Mt portions. I think NC and Va have the prettiest stretches. I’ve met a number of thru-hikers on the trail and know a couple that have completed the trek. I admire their accomplishment, but it’s not my “cup of tea”. Enjoy reading published accounts of the hike and in progress online entries posted by the hikers.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    January 8, 2015 at 11:29 am

    My brother is hiking the Trail in segments. He has gone from its Georgia beginnings to somewhere in Pennsylvania. I often daydream that I will start and run and hurry and catch up with him but my movement is like a tractor pull; the further I go the less likely I am to go much further.

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    January 8, 2015 at 11:22 am

    A friend and I, when we were about twelve years old made ourselves a promise to walk the entire trail when we got to be sixteen years old. That never happened, but I have enjoyed our local portion of the trail. Another friend, Bert Kunze, has done the whole trail as well as the John Muir trail in California. He put together a lecture with a slide show that is very interesting. He addresses the problems with hygiene, etc.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    January 8, 2015 at 11:11 am

    “Hard work, stamina and determination” is an apt description of the Appalachian Trail thru-hiker. I’ve only hiked segments of the AT but my daughter and her husband-to-be, to cement their commitment to each other, hiked the entire trail the hard way–Maine to Georgia (you can’t start until June 1) at an average 18 miles per day, turning them both into tough sinew as they trekked through the “long green tunnel.”
    Perhaps the most significant Appalachian Trail saga is that of Earl Shaffer, the first person to hike the entire trail in one trek, which he did alone back in 1948 when he was 29 years old.
    Earl didn’t leave it at that, though. He did it again when he was 46, completing the more demanding Maine-to-Georgia route at a blistering three miles per hour pace that put him on Springer Mountain after a mere 100 days.
    But Earl still wasn’t done with the Appalachian Trail. In 1998, 50 years after being the first to do it, a 79 year-old Earl Shaffer hiked the entire AT for a third time. His 173 days on the trail were only a week longer than Dean Fletcher’s adventure. I’m sure Earle was not exaggerating when he said that it was the hardest thing he’d ever done.
    A modest, nature-loving bachelor, Earl Shaffer lived his life, without plumbing or refrigeration, in a simple country cabin that acquired electricity only two years before illness forced him to move in 2000.
    My hat goes off to Earle Shaffer, my daughter and son-in-law, Dean Fletcher and all the other hard-working hikers with the stamina and determination to master the daunting Appalachian Trail.

  • Reply
    Thurmon Allen
    January 8, 2015 at 10:59 am

    I have hiked many miles on the AT taking a week here and week there to get out and enjoy mother nature. The Grayson Highlands with the wild ponies is probably one of my most favorite areas. I am sure the book will make for a great read.

  • Reply
    C Ron Perry Sr
    January 8, 2015 at 10:44 am

    I have always wanted to do that but family is too important to me to be away from them for that long. Sounds like a great book.

  • Reply
    Sherry
    January 8, 2015 at 10:38 am

    It used to be a dream of mine to walk that trail. It does take alot of walking practice. I tried walking our circle the other day and did not even get half way. Ain’t that pitiful…so please put me in the drawing…at least I can enjoy reading about it!

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    January 8, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Reality lets me know I could never accomplish such a journey, but I’d like to read of someone else doing it.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    January 8, 2015 at 9:55 am

    A brother-in-law walked the whole trail recently. It took him about six months. That included a couple of weeks rest midway to heal some foot troubles. Fifty or sixty years ago I probably could have done it – now three miles on a level track leads to an hours nap.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 8, 2015 at 9:45 am

    I was raised within a mile of the Wesser section of the Trail as a crow flies and have walked sections looking for lost and/or injured hikers in my younger days as a member of the Swain County Sheriff’s Dept., Rescue Squad and EMS. One thing that a novice must realize is that the Trail isn’t always just a peaceful jaunt in the woods. There are sections which are rough hiking with steep sections where a novice or careless hiker can become seriously injured, this is particularly true during periods of inclement weather. I would love to read Mr. Fletcher’s account of his accomplishment.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    January 8, 2015 at 9:32 am

    I have read a number of stories and books about walking the trail. Always thought I would like to do it, but alas, it is not something I am physically capable of anymore. I would like to read the book. If I don’t win, I will buy it.

  • Reply
    ed
    January 8, 2015 at 9:31 am

    If I ain’t mistaken didn’t the girl twins not sing on the Appalachian Trail last summer or the summer before that.
    I grew up mite nigh to it but never thought nothing about hiking it. We had too far to walk to even consider doing any hiking. When I studied about it and learned it went from Maine to Georgia I’m thinking “I go to Georgia four days a week and I ain’t lost nothing in Maine. And besides that when you are walking on a trail where so many have trod before and feel the need to visit nature, you have to be extry churful not to trod where so many have visited before.
    PS: Do hikers carry toilet paper and if so what do they do with it when it has served its purpose?

  • Reply
    Suzy J
    January 8, 2015 at 9:20 am

    I live very near the trail and have walked parts. So beautiful, but I can’t imagine walking the whole thing! I would enjoy seeing the trail through “Right Here”s eyes 🙂

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    January 8, 2015 at 9:20 am

    I would really like to read this book. Please enter my name in the Give away.

  • Reply
    Marge Borchert
    January 8, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Hello– There was a man who went by the name of Walkin ‘ Jim Stoltz. He visited schools & brought slides of animals & scenery that he came in to contact with along his journey and sang the songs that he wrote about the environment. He often spoke about his walk along the Appalachian trsil and the kind people he met along the way. I would like to ask if anyone has heard of the “ice cream lady” that gave ice cream to the hikers along the trail?? I would love to write a story about her. Walkin’ Jim Stoltz will forever remain in our hearts. He brings back wonderful memories & lessons about respecting nature and preserving our environment!! He walked trails all across the USA. Have you and/ or your readers heard of him?
    Marge

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I had a girl working for me as a waitress whose trail name was Trailangel Mary.
    On her days off she brought folks hiking the trail into town for supplies or to spend the night at the Duncannon Hotel. She always had lots of interesting tales to tell about the folks she met.
    I wonder if any hikers who read your blog remember her.

  • Reply
    dolores
    January 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

    This should be a fascinating book. Although I don’t have the stamina for a hike on the AT, I can admire those who have done it. While reading this info today, I immediately remembered a book by Bill Bryson – A Walk in the Woods. I was also fascinated by his writing. I would really enjoy reading this book.

  • Reply
    Dee Kimsey
    January 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I have traveled the width of the AT many times, crossing at Unicoi Gap, Hog Pen Gap, and Blood Mt. I am in awe of those who travel the length of the AT! Kudos to all those that have made the long trek!

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    January 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Interesting way to spend the summer. I would have to pull a wagon of supplies to stay that long. Great adventure.

  • Reply
    Sharon Stimson
    January 8, 2015 at 9:03 am

    I admire those who have the fortitude and stamina to complete the AT hike. I have read Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman and would love to read Right Here on the Trail. It’s great to travel through the writers eyes.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 8, 2015 at 8:35 am

    That sounds like a great book and if I don’t win I will probably go out and buy it. I met a man near Springer Mtn. at Amicalola Falls St. Park who walked the trail barefoot. Turns out there is a whole subculture of barefoot hikers. Doing it with a good pair of boots is quite an accomplishment in itself but doing it barefoot I think takes it to a whole nother level. Can’t wait to read the book!

  • Reply
    Vickie
    January 8, 2015 at 8:34 am

    I have always wanted to him the trail….sigh

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    January 8, 2015 at 8:31 am

    That book really looks interesting. We pass quite a few roads where the Appalachian Trail crosses through the Cumberland valley here in southern PA. We also have had the best hamburger at a hostel in Duncanon, PA where hikers from the Appalachian Trail. How wonderful that he could hike the whole trail.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    January 8, 2015 at 8:27 am

    I’ve been fascinated by the Appalachian Trail for a very long time, and I have read a few books on it. Would love to win the book!

  • Reply
    Janice Stout
    January 8, 2015 at 8:24 am

    My daughter has this on her bucket list. She loves to hike and camp and she will probably accomplish her goal one day. I think it would be a fascinating read.

  • Reply
    Pat d
    January 8, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Just went to Amazon and the book has no picture and they have the author as Fletcher Dean. Thought you might want to pass that info. on.

  • Reply
    lynn
    January 8, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Great story. Would love to read Mr. Fletcher’s book.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 8, 2015 at 8:17 am

    I have also always had a romanticized idea of walking the trail. I feel certain that it is a very fulfilling thing to do. However, think is all I’ve done. It tales a special kind of tough to make that trek.
    Shirley Mclaine wrote a book about her hike of the El Camino in France and Spain. It’s 500 miles is shorter the AT but also a challenge to the body and spirit.
    Right Here is a good way to live.

  • Reply
    Pat d
    January 8, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I think it would be fun to do too. I read a good book called “A Million Steps” by Kurt Koontz (I think) and he walked 500 miles in Europe. Good book. I think if I don’t win this book I will have to buy it. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for the review. Hope you are staying warm.

  • Reply
    Carolyn Hunt
    January 8, 2015 at 8:11 am

    One way or another I can see this a must read for me! I hiked a few places on the AT in my younger days but my hiking days are over. I have problems walking now days.
    The woods were my favorite place to be to marvel at God beautiful work even as a child. Now days all I can do is sit on my porch and look at the trees.

  • Reply
    Quinn
    January 8, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Well done, Right Here! If I’d known you were coming (I’m in MA) I’d have invited you over for a homecooked meal to celebrate 🙂
    For years I thought about walking the AT with Piper, who would LOVE it. At this point, for me, physically, it seems unlikely…but you never know!

  • Reply
    Steve Waddle
    January 8, 2015 at 7:46 am

    I’ve only hiked small portions of the trail and have spent a few nights in the shelters and a tent in TN. and GA. but my heart is still out there on many occasions when I’m able to get out and take short hikes anywhere in the Smokey Mountains and on the local trails we have here in KY. We are truly blessed with indescribeable beauty all around our country and I heartily congratulate Dean for his accomplishment of a successful thru-hike…walk on….

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 8, 2015 at 7:38 am

    I admire those like Dean Fletcher who begin and finish the Appalachian Trail. I have a young cousin who had this aim after he finished high school The trail goes by Blood Mountain and Walisiyi Inn, now a trail stop (used to be an Inn–back in the day) near where I grew up in Union County, Georgia. I always admired those whom I saw who had started at Trail’s beginning at Springer Mountain and were steadfastly set on reaching Mt. Kathadin, Maine; or those who had started in far-away Maine and were almost to their destination at Springer Mountain in the south. To reach that goal–traveling either way, north or south–takes plenty of determination and grit.

  • Reply
    F Horne
    January 8, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Walking the AT at times is like being in another world and most times I feel more like being in church with feeling of awe that makes me speak in muted voice. I have only hike sections but my congratulations to all who complete the trail. Fred (‘Lone Wolf’)

  • Reply
    PAUL NELSON
    January 8, 2015 at 6:16 am

    If it wasn’t for my bad leg I would so enjoy da mother nature walk…..

  • Reply
    TimMc
    January 8, 2015 at 6:15 am

    Wow that’s quite an accomplishment.. Good for Mr Fletcher, don’t believe my wife would let me stay that long,, or maybe she would.. just depends on what day your talking about.. Congratulations go out…

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