HI I’m Pie!

On the 15th of September 2015 I completed a Thru-Hike of the 2189 mile (3523km) Appalachian Trail, walking from Georgia to Maine. I started on the 5th of March, taking 6 months and 10 days to complete this wonderful adventure. I'd love to share the adventure and answer any questions people have, it was an amazing experience and it would be great to help and encourage any aspiring Thru-Hikers! AMA!

Checkout my blog - {HERE} (https://pieonthetrail.wordpress.com/)

Checkout my youtube page - {HERE} (https://www.youtube.com/c/pieonthetrail?gvnc=1)

Find me on Instagram - {HERE} (https://instagram.com/pieonthetrail/)

Comments: 2433 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

MysteriousBeing835 karma

How did you afford to take 6 months off from life to do this? What type of job allows this or how did you raise the money for this?

Very curious as life seems to just be about sustaining yourself month to month on the income you get from working all month

EDIT: Sweet moses I didn't realize this would become a "My country is better" war. Haha. Well I come from neither Europe nor America, so I win.

pieonthetrail718 karma

Good question. I'd been saving up for quite along time to do this and had budgeted around 6000 dollars for the trip. I left home not knowing if my job would still be available to me but luckily it is, i'll be going back to work in the next few weeks. Trail life can be really cheap if you want it to be, eating ramen noodles and pop tarts is cheap and you can dave a lot of money but not staying in towns and drinking lots of beer

Sunderpool41 karma

What about rent? And utilities? Or did the $6,000 account for that?

pieonthetrail110 karma

We own our own apartment and had money put aside to cover the utilities etc

antlong703 karma

Did you ever run in to Bismarck, the fugitive who evaded capture for years by hiking the trail?

pieonthetrail949 karma

Haha actually yes! The night before i started my hike we were all staying at the hiker hostel near springer mountain. He was a really nice guy and we bumped into him a few times before we heard he got arrested at trail days. Crazy!

dankenshire410 karma

I've seen clips on YouTube that showed large amounts of people hanging out and drinking and having fun on the trail. Obviously it's not like that everywhere, but did you experience any of these random people party's or was there none of this?

pieonthetrail901 karma

HAHA! There's actually a lot of that, especially at the start. Generally speaking AT Hikers when they're not hiking like to rest, eat food and drink beer. Also there's a phenomenon called "trail magic", this is where people set up at a trail/road crossing and give food and drinks to Thru Hikers. They're often former Thru Hikers that want to give something back. It's just one of the examples of the great community on the trail

Freeky718328 karma

Did you stop off for a couple nights in. Towns ever or did you stay on trail for the majority? Also did you hike alone?

pieonthetrail793 karma

Yeah every 4-5 days the trail crosses some kind of road, we would hitchhike into town to re-supply on food. Sometimes we would stay in town for a night to shower and do laundry. If we needed to take a break we would take a "Zero" day (zero miles hiked), in which we rested, relaxed and usually drank beer and ate lots of food

I started alone, I flew in from Finland to Atlanta. The night before I started the trail I met two awesome guys and ended up hiking with them for the majority of the trail, we all finished together on the 15th of September. The community on the trail is so awesome, you meet people who will become friends for life

8allgreat293 karma

What was your favorite location on the hike? I'm from Maine, and I'm curious if other parts of the trail are as wonderful as here

pieonthetrail420 karma


Honestly I'd say the Whites in New Hampshire, they were definitely the hardest section also, I plan on returning there at some point. Maine was awesome as well very different scenery from the rest of the trail, awesome lakes

Projectahab260 karma

I've heard that the hiking community is still great but the towns are becoming less hiker friendly. Did you find that to be the case?

pieonthetrail429 karma

I'd heard that also before starting the hike. I honestly didn't experience any real negativity whilst in towns. It's a difficult social situation when you take a bunch of stinky hikers that want to relax, find free wifi and beer and dump them in a small rural town. The best towns are the ones that embrace the hikers, realising that we are normal (ish) people and that we are a great source of income for the towns

aurthurallan248 karma

Why did you do it? What lead you to decide that was how you wanted to spend the next 6 months?

pieonthetrail439 karma

Well i'd read the Bill Bryson book which inspired me as a child. In 2010 I did some hiking on the trail whilst working at a summer in New York state and got speaking to some thru hikers, after that experience I knew I had to do it. Also i wanted to do it just to see if i could, if i was capable of it. Plus I love travel and being outdoors, the experience didn't dissapoint

clapcoop233 karma

I'm a single woman who's interested in hiking the AT, but I'm curious about the safety of going it by myself. Did you run into any solo women hikers on your trip and if so were you able to get a sense of their experience?

pieonthetrail318 karma

Yes there were MANY solo female hikers on the AT, ranging from 20's to 60's. The Appalachian Trail is really a safe place, id be much more afraid walking through a major city in the middle of the night. From spending lots of time with solo female hikers I think they'd agree. The trail also has such a good community spirit, hikers take care of one another. There really isn't that much to worry about as long as your prepared and sensible. Go do it, you wont regret it

tomansari199 karma

Did you experience a life changing epiphany or a realization of your purpose in life? Or were you just like 'Hm, that was cool'. How did this change you you as a person?

pieonthetrail382 karma

I wouldn't say I had a singular life changing experience but the experience did change me in a way you could only know through experience it. It gave me so much time to be with my own thoughts, come to terms with issues from the past, planning for the future and thinking about what I want from life. I feel more confident, motivated to succeed and thankful for the wonderful life I have

Great question

jwt1025145 karma

pct 2017? love, cheesebeard

pieonthetrail100 karma

You wont do it

Jagoonder133 karma

As someone who is just getting into hiking, I have a few questions.

Can you describe your gear?

What kinds of food did you bring, initially? And what kinds of food were you able to find while hiking? Did you gather any food from edible plants along the trail? Did you do any fishing?

How did you handle water needs?

pieonthetrail134 karma

Great questions. First I'd recommend you check out my blog and youtube page in the links above. I go into a lot of detail on food and equipment and am putting out new videos everyday.

The only wild food I felt comfortable eating was wild blueberries because i'm very familiar with them. Are you familiar with wild edibles? If so i m sure there's a lot to be foraged. I did do a little fishing in Maine with a line and lure but had no luck, I did have friends who caught fish with the exact same setup though.

Reddits_penis130 karma

Did you see any bears?

pieonthetrail305 karma

I did! A lot of people saw bears pretty early on, not me, i guess i was making too much noise shambling through the woods. But eventually, in Vermont (I think) I saw a mother and two cubs, pretty close up. I made noise so they knew I was there and the mother stared at me and let me pass by. I'm from the UK and live in Helsinki, Finland where there are zero bears so it was a great experience for me.

Footwarrior112 karma

Why did you choose to hike the Appalachian trail instead of the Pacific Crest trail or the Continental Divide trail?

pieonthetrail134 karma

The Appalachian Trail was the first long distance trail I'd heard of and had done a few short hikes on the AT already. Although the terrain is considered the hardest of the three on the AT, the logistics are easiest. Those reasons led me to do the AT, but who knows? Maybe the PCT is next...

sryguys86 karma

Any moments where you were in serious trouble?

pieonthetrail172 karma

Nope, not once.

Little cold here and then but thats fine if you're prepared. Few strange people but 99.9% of people out there are awesome.

spudzad84 karma

My brother finished hiking the AT about a month or so ago. You were both heading the same direction so you probably never crossed paths, but did you meet anyone by the name of Backtrack?

pieonthetrail110 karma

Yeah i did meet backtrack, was only in passing though. Glad he completed his hike!

Ducknish74 karma

How long had you been hiking before starting the trail? Have you made any section hikes on the trail beforehand, or was this your first time on the Appalachian Trail?

pieonthetrail88 karma

Id done two, 4-5 day trips on the AT before. I live in Finland and go hiking pretty regularly here. I've also been lucky enough to do some hiking in the National Parks in the US and some more stuff in South America

chrome-spokes69 karma

Good on ya, a great experience!

Bear I read you mentioned. What other fauna did you see & have experiences with?

Carry fishing tackle? If so, what were caught and best tasting?

Ha, and the .1% of "strange people"? How so?

If could say, what was your average day hike in miles? And the longest singular day trek?

Last, approx. how many pounds did your pack weigh in at?

Having packed in the Sierras, The Appalachians have always intrigued me. So, thank you for sharing your experience with us.

pieonthetrail93 karma

Some great questions here.

Deer, wild turkey, skunk, coyote, various bugs, rattlesnakes and Moose. The most memorable for me was the bear encounter or the moose, we were hiking along and in the middle of the trail is a huge momma moose with a large calf. She didn't seem to even notice us and we were able to snap photos and video and enjoy being in their company

I didn't carry any but used a friends line and lure, I didn't have any luck but he caught several trout. He threw them all back as they were pretty small. The only real fishing to be had was in Maine.

In an environment like the AT everyone is a little weird right ;) The .1% were the ones that just made everyone feel a little uneasy or were not able to interact well socially. I would say that pretty much all of these were section hikers rather than Thru Hikers though.

Average mileage was probably around 12-15 per day, less at the start. My biggest single day was 26 miles and it sucked. HAHA

My pack was around 20lbs without food and about 25lbs with, checkout my youtube for a breakdown of all my gear.

Thanks for all your questions. I encourage you to spend some time in the Appalachian Mountains

MankindMF63 karma


pieonthetrail109 karma

Most people do on the AT. The idea being you carry as little weight as possible on your back therefore you can use lightweight trail runners that are comfortable and dry fast when wet. Boots tend to be heavy and hold water. The only downsize is that they tend to fall apart quicker, i went through 4 pairs of shoes on the trail

EggsAckley60 karma

By chance did you encounter a man named Mark Sanford and an attractive Argentinian woman?

pieonthetrail7 karma

Cant say I did

kvw26055 karma

This is on my bucket list. I have a 10-year old son that has grown up hiking and backpacking in Montana. He found out I want to do this and now wants to be included. How feasible is it to plan an extended summer long trip with him? Any specific things I should consider? Probably wouldn't be for a couple of years.

pieonthetrail69 karma

Awesome! It's 100% feasible, the key is to do the research and proper planning. I met several people hiking the whole trail with their kids, some were hiking as a family, mum, dad and kids. I believe the youngest child to ever hike the whole trail was around 7. The AT is very safe, no need to worry about that. Check out the links to my blog and youtube pages above to read more and see videos on all the gear I carried. Go do it, it will be a great experience for you and your son

Muhahahahahahaha50 karma

How much did the trip cost?

pieonthetrail87 karma

I budgeted about 6000 dollars and it was right around that. However some people did it on ALOT less by not staying in hotels, not drinking beer and eating at restaurants when in town. Other people spent more by splashing out and "living it up"

5YearSailPlan48 karma

How much weight did you lose?

pieonthetrail81 karma

Not that much actually, around 8-10 pounds. I didn't have an awful lot of extra weight to lose but still expected to lose more, I blame it o the Snickers bars. I knew of people who lost upwards of fifty pounds on their hikes though

GetRichOrDieTrying108 karma

How were your feet affected from the hike, if at all? And how much gear did you start with/finish with? 25lbs/10 kg? Or way more?

pieonthetrail18 karma

Not as much as i would have thought actually. I only got one or two blisters the whole time. I did deal with some foot pain which was worst in the morning but would be fine after they had warmed up hiking. They have pretty much returned to normal now that im home. I owe it to good shoes and good preperation

RE-Zen36 karma

Trail name?

pieonthetrail56 karma

My trail name is PIE

shad0wkiller13432 karma

What was the wackiest thing you saw on the hike?

pieonthetrail45 karma

Hmm good one. Honestly for me it was coming up close on a mama bear and cubs. Im from Europe so it was a pretty big moment for me and one I wont forget

Sciencetist30 karma

How did you deal with the blisters?

How many off-days did you take?

Did you reward yourself with a really good meal or a cozy bed every once in a while? What was your favourite reward?

Did you ever start going crazy from hunger/thirst?

Most rewarding part?


pieonthetrail58 karma

I had 2 or 3 blisters max. I credit it to good socks, rubbing a thin layer of vaseline on my feet every morning before hiking and some good luck.

I took around 35 days off total, more than most, less than some. I'm glad I did though, I had a great time and I finished which was the most important part.

Yeah once every couple of weeks we would share a hotel room amongst a bunch of stinky hikers, we even found some with hot tubs and saunas! Craft beer, real coffee and BBQ were my rewards

Thirst - no, hunger yes - being hungry all the time got old especially when all the foods your carrying your kind of sick of already and you just want to eat "real" food.

The most rewarding part was reaching the sign on the top of katahdin, knowing everything you'd been through to get there and what a personal achievement it is. Very rewarding indeed

mycall24 karma

Gratz! I bet it was beautiful and fun.

Plan on doing the Pacific Coast Trail or other trails sometime?

pieonthetrail28 karma

Thankyou! It truly was.

Hmm i've got friends trying to convince me to do the PCT but im not sure yet, maybe one day. I do have plans to hike the Annapurna Trail in Nepal next year though. Do you have any experience on the long trails?

NinjaBullets23 karma

You got a before and after pic?

pieonthetrail33 karma

Check out my youtube, I have a pretty fun timelapse video showing the transition


siddhantak53722 karma

What is your experience while travelling and what difficulty you find in your tour???

pieonthetrail26 karma

The experience was an awesome one, I didn't have any major difficulties on the trip. The only issue I had was Visa issues which were pretty frustrating but it all worked out in the end

ChanandlerBong1919 karma

I am looking to start my hike on March 1st 2016, my main question that no one seems to really answer is... food I saw your video on a 5 day spread but is that how you ended up eating on the trail?? What is the longest streach without resupply.

pieonthetrail17 karma

Yeah the video I have on my youtube page is pretty accurate to how I ate the whole way on the trail, i may do an update to it but its a pretty good representation. Food really takes care of itself, you figure out what you like to eat pretty quickly and resupplying in towns is super straightforward. In theory the longest stretch of trail without resupply is the 100 mile wilderness which takes about 6 days, however you can pay the hostels in the area to meet you half way through and deliver a food drop. Any specific questions i can help with?

Just_That_Kevin16 karma

Any thoughts on Maryland? I live not too far from the trail.

pieonthetrail18 karma

Maryland was short but sweet. Lots of history in the area

fortylightbulbs15 karma

Awesome :)

How much of the trail was wilderness? Were there a lot of places where you had to go through towns or if a person somehow never had to resupply could they hike the entire trail without leaving the woods?

pieonthetrail25 karma

It really varied rom one stretch of trail to the next. A lot of the time you would feel very "out there" when in fact you were skirting around a town or road. A few times the trail actually goes through a town. Other area's such as the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine are pretty remote. The Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail are much more remote hikes.

Thaksin_Shinawatra14 karma

How often do you run into people on the trail? I have a good buddy from Boston named Jeremy who was going the other direction, so I thought about the possibility of internet stranger hanging with my bud in the woods.

pieonthetrail19 karma

Run into people constantly. Was he hiking the whole thing? Do you know what his trail name was? We all go by trail names out there so thats how id know him. It's very possible we crossed paths

redblueorange13 karma

I just watched a walk in the woods, have you seen it? How old are you?

pieonthetrail16 karma

I havent, I really want to see it though. See how it compares to the real thing, did you enjoy it? I'm 28

Eastern_Cyborg12 karma

2000 AT northbound thru hiker here! I'm 43 now, but hiking the AT was still the defining event in my life. So glad we've shared this experience. Cherish it forever.

My question is: I knew exactly 1 person carrying a cell phone, and maybe 5 people that were keeping some sore of live journal online. Can you talk about how technology has impacted life on the Trail today?

pieonthetrail12 karma

Hey congrats! If you've hiked the AT then you just know right?

Yeah its huge, everyone has a cell phone and some had ipads! Im not going to lie I loved having my phone with me. Listening to music really helped my experience. Cant imagine how it was without so much tech on the trail.

The funniest thing was to see numerous hikers in a place with free Wi Fi with their faces in their books

All the best

sonofashoe12 karma

How often did you stay in hotels? I've done lots of Caminos de Santiago & French GRs but fear I'm too precious to sleep on the ground & eat ramen noodles & snickers bars.

pieonthetrail12 karma

Probably every ten days or so we would splash out on a hotel or hiker hostel. There are lots more opportunities available than that however. If you have the money you can do the AT in style although I think that would detract from the experience a little. Go do it, you'll love it

lugubrious_louse12 karma

What was your normal mileage in a hiking day? I'm preparing to hike it summer of 2017.

pieonthetrail11 karma

Average day for me was between 12 and 15 miles. Good for you, if i can help somehow in your planning please let me know

teslas_pigeon11 karma

For someone planning on doing the hike soon, do you have any protips?

pieonthetrail19 karma

Do it! That would be my pro tip ;)

There's so much to think about and plan for, take a look at my blog and youtube pages above, there's a good amount of information on there and i'm adding to it everyday.

Preparation is the biggest thing I think, too many fail because they aren't prepared

d_abernathy898 karma

I did a week on the trail this year. Every night, someone in my group got their food bag chewed into, presumably by squirrels, while hanging on the bear bag line overnight. How did you deal with this?

pieonthetrail7 karma

Strange. Did you hang you hang your own bear bags? If so maybe they were too close to low hanging branches. The only problems i had like that were with the mice in the shelters, shelters (especially in the south) have mice communities that live off hiker food bags. You just need to hang your food appropriatley

ENTPbrain8 karma

I know the Appalachian is different from the PCT, but if you lost one of your boots would you throw the other one down a ravine out of frustration or is that movie with Reece Witherspoon a complete load of horse shit?

pieonthetrail7 karma

Its a good movie and maybe represents her experience on the trail.... But not mine :)

Leaionxd7 karma

Hey there! Thanks for the AMA! It is very awesome of you to do this. I am planning an AT trip myself with my girlfriend. My question is about gear. I hear that most people have to buy replacement boots and what not while they are hiking. Did you have to buy replacement gear at all? If so, what did you replace and what was the ultimate cost of all the gear you did replace?

pieonthetrail9 karma

Your welcome, my pleasure.

Well most people use lightweight trail running shoes on the trail, I went through 4 pairs on the trip, each pair costing around 100 dollars. I was pretty lucky otherwise and didn't have to replace much, mainly just clothing.

I think its really important to research gear thoroughly and make good investments when choosing your gear.

Connect with me above on my youtube page and blog, there's lots of information on there. If I can help with anything else, please feel free to contact me

FreakAss7 karma

Have you seen the movie a walk in the woods with Robert Redford and nick nolte?

pieonthetrail10 karma

I Haven't yet. I read the Bill Bryson book which inspired the movie when I was a kid. Im really intrigued to see how Hollywood portrays the book and also how the trail is in reality. Did you see it? Any good?

FreakAss6 karma

I did see it. It was really good it shows both the hard and good parts of the trail. I enjoyed it but idk if someone who experienced the real thing will enjoy it as much as I did I mean it inspired me

pieonthetrail6 karma

That's good to hear. Do you have aspirations to do a Thru Hike? I'd recommend it to anyone.

It's definitely going to be interesting to see how realistic it is

thefuturisteditor5 karma

I've read the book, and the movie is quite faithful with good casting and humor.

pieonthetrail5 karma

Glad to hear it, will definitely be checking it out

syndus7 karma

paper or plastic?

pieonthetrail18 karma

PAPER - you can burn it


I'm currently planning a thru for this coming season, and and interested in doing a flip flop (starting in the middle, hiking north, going back to WV and going to springer ) what are your thoughts on this and do you think it would logistically be easier?

pieonthetrail17 karma

Hey good for you! I was hiking with a number of people that were flip flopping. I cant see how it would logistically that much easier to be honest, maybe you can dodge some of the worst weather that way. However the biggest drawback I can see is the community side. We had a number of flip floppers summit katahdin with us but for them it was only halfway done. They then need to go back to the middle and start hiking alone or with a whole new group of people, the people out on the trail is really what keeps you going and i dont think id want to do it personally. By all means though go thru hike, its an amazing time

theripped5 karma

I am trying to get more and more into backpacking. What are your favorite gear items you feel are essential?

pieonthetrail9 karma

Good for you. Hmm well the essentials are exactly that, essential. My favourite non essential piece of gear was my Kindle Paperwhite, so nice to have a good book to read after a long days hiking. My favourite piece of essential gear was probably my sleeping bag made by Enlightened Equipment. For more info on the gear I used, checkout the video below and the rest of the stuff on my youtube page.


nhwoodsblues5 karma

What was your favorite stretch of the trail and why?

pieonthetrail4 karma

The White Mountains in New Hampshire were my favourite for sure. They were just breathtaking, epic views and extreme terrain. It was also the most difficult part of the trail in my opinion but oh so worth it. I cant wait to return

lookslikessloth3 karma

Did you hike with a weapon? Some pretty scary shit has gone down on the stretch of the AT in my area(psycho killers, belligerent rednecks). My main worry on an adventure like this would be encountering someone who meant me harm.

pieonthetrail3 karma

Nope, I had a small pocket knife that only ever cut cheese. I believe the AT to be a very safe place overall, much safer than the average city

HauntedCemetery3 karma

Hello Pie! I'm very pleased you're doing this ama. I thru hiked the kekekabic, border route and superior trails back to back in Northern Minnesota this summer over the course of 5 weeks. One of my favorite things about the experience was the community.

Would you talk a bit more about hiker culture on the AT?

Any sage advice for one who plans on taking 6 months to hike it in the next couple years?

pieonthetrail4 karma

Hmm im from the Uk and the only knowledge I have of that area is from Shugemery's awesome channel on youtube, looks like a beautiful area.

The community on the trail is huge, if it wasn't for the awesome people I would have never made it. At the start you have so many eager people all setting out on this grand adventure, unfortunately a lot of these people don't realise what they've got themselves into and are in over their heads. Also at the start people are partying hard (myself included), people spend too much money too quickly and are forced off the trail. In the middle people start to spread out and really form their "trail families". At the end of it all you know most people that are around you on the trail and the odds are if their still out there they're pretty awesome people and you get along like a house on fire. The community is by far the biggest thing i miss from the trail.

My advice is to really do your planning and preparation and just go do it! Also check out my blog and youtube pages above to get some more info

Good luck to you

bach37strad3 karma

What preparations did you make? What did you carry with you?

pieonthetrail4 karma

Many. I hiked a lot with a full backpack before leaving and did yoga etc to get my body in shape. I read every book i could find on the subject and read blogs and looked at youtube. I went on training hikes nearby to test out gear and experiment. Here's some more information on my preparations https://pieonthetrail.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/physical-preparations-for-the-at/

And A video of the gear i used


21cam173 karma

Congratulations! I know someone who just completed it recently, his tail name was kiwi I believe! Any chance you ran into him?

pieonthetrail5 karma

Thanks! Well I believe there were two people called Kiwi hiking this year, one was from New Zealand whom i met, he was an awesome guy. Didnt meet the other one though.

EffusiveLife2 karma

What was your trail name?

pieonthetrail2 karma

PIE is my trail name

zeecok1 karma

Did you see the Hatfields or the McCoys?

pieonthetrail3 karma

Can't say I did. We all go by trail names out there and real names are rarely shared. Any idea of their trail names?

upinflamezzz1 karma

Did you run into Robert Redford and Nick Nolte on your hike?

pieonthetrail1 karma

Nope cant say I did, might go see them in the cinema though

Iamaredditlady1 karma

I recently learned of the PCT and discovered that the Canadian portion begins only 45 minutes from where I live. I was raring to go but discovered that my dog would most likely die along the way due to the desert expanse, so that's on the back burner for now.

Do you feel it would be the same on the Appalachian Trail? Aside from those creatures from The Descent eating us obviously...

pieonthetrail1 karma

Not sure about dogs on the PCT. On the AT there were many dogs thru hiking, however very few dogs (and their owners) finished their hikes. I think taking a dog on the trail is a very serious decision, is the dog in shape? Is that breed suited to that kind of activity? Etc. I think thru hiking with a dog could be a great experience but it could also be a terrible hinderance, also dogs don't get to CHOOSE to hike, that means the owner has to be sensible. The descent is creepy, glad i didn't watch that before heading out on the trail

damitjanet21 karma

Have you ever seen a grown man naked?

pieonthetrail5 karma

Too many times

HarMar0 karma

What was your trail name?

pieonthetrail1 karma

My Trail name is PIE

Sourmixinmargarita0 karma

What took you so long?

pieonthetrail1 karma

I was having fun! My main goal was to just finish the hike and have fun. I think that people who rushed the trail as quickly as possible probably missed out on a lot.

eloy0612-5 karma

That's it??

pieonthetrail3 karma