The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, is a footpath in the eastern United States for outdoor enthusiasts, extending about 2140 miles from Maine to Georgia, along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains. The trail passes through 14 states and is maintained by 34 different trail maintenance organizations. It is the longest marked, continuous footpath in the world, at some points reaching elevations of more than 6000 feet. Wooden signposts and white paint marks on rocks and trees are placed along the trail. Construction of the Appalachian Trail was begun in 1922 near Bear Mountain, New York. By 1937 the footpath, extended from Mount Katahdin, in Maine, to Mount Oglethorpe, in Georgia, and was ready for use. Later, (after 1937) the trail officially ended at Springer Mountain, 10 miles northeast of Mount Oglethorpe. In 1968 the Appalachian Trail became part of the National Park System and was officially renamed the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. To hike the Appalachian Trail, it is suggested to shop around for a good pair of hiking boots, a tent, and a sturdy backpack. Hiking the distance mentioned above obviously requires excellent footwear, and a light pack. Figure in fatigue and you need a comfortable tent to sleep in at night. Good boots are “solid” on the bottom, so that you cant feel rocks or stones through the soles. If you can press in the bottom of the sole with your thumb, the soles are probably too soft to give your foot proper protection. The top of the boot should be stiff to hold the ankle in place and provide it with good support. While it’s possible to treat non-waterproof fabric boots with liquid silicone, it generally doesn’t waterproof the boot enough to be useful. Stick with leather boots that can be treated with Sno-seal, beeswax solution, or other waterproofing solutions. Feet change over time, as do shoes. Wearing a pair of shoes and/or hiking boots changes the shape of the shoe to fit your foot. Eventually though, the reshaping causes the shoe to rub places on the foot, causing blisters. All boots are made on different “lasts”. The last is the “form” the boot is built around at the factory. The size and shape of these lasts, even between identical sizes of boots, can vary greatly. For instance, some boots are built around a European last which is typically narrow in the front, compared to American feet, which are not. Also, some brands are narrower all over, or shorter in sole length, such as Nike. A boot that fits well will not slip in the heel area, and provide your toes with plenty of room in the front. Hiking boots are generally sized a little longer than your standard street shoe. Bring along, or wear the socks you intend to wear on your trip. it is recommended that beginners wear two pair. Ideally, the socks should be synthetic or wool. A tent is nothing more than a shelter you carry to protect you from the elements. The decision concerning what tent you buy should be based on the kind of elements you want to protect yourself from. For instance, if you intend to hike the Appalachian Trail in the summer, you don’t need to carry a tent designed to withstand high winds and heavy snow. However, if you intend to head into the Rockies in the winter, you may want something more than a plastic tube tent. A good shelter at a minimum will keep you dry and comfortable in rainy weather and keep the bugs out during the summer . If you hike solely during the summer months, then virtually any moderate quality tent will do. If you plan to hike through more than one season, you might consider a shelter that has a bit more comfort and room inside for rainy spring or fall days when dressing inside the tent in the morning, or spending the evening inside before bed, is preferable. Also snow loading, access, and high winds are a consideration, and more care must be taken in choosing a shelter to protect you from the harsher winter months. A summer tent is a simple, A-frame style nylon tent with a waterproof fly and mosquito netting. A waterproof fly is a urethane-coated nylon sheet that hangs over the tent body. A three season tent may be a stronger A- frame design or a dome style tent. The goal is to provide a more rigid shelter capable of withstanding wind and possibly light snow loading. A four-season tent is designed to withstand harsh winter conditions, wind, and significant snowfall. These tents are always all-nylon, with no upper body netting. These designs typically have less netting than other tent designs and can be warmer in the summer. Because four-season tents are sometimes made from heavier tent and pole material, they can also weigh more. The shape of a tent and it’s pole configuration can greatly affect how your shelter performs in the backcountry. Good quality backpacking tents will have 10 to 12 stitches per inch, and a waterproof bottom. Other considerations for a good tent are and equipment vestibule for storing things you want out of the elements but not in the tent. As far as tent maintenance goes, be sure to dry it thoroughly upon returning home, even if it never rained. Dew and dampness from the ground can wreak havoc on a tent with mildew. An external frame pack is a design where the frame is fully exposed on the outside of the pack, and the pack itself is attached to the sides of the frame using straps, aluminum pins, or other methods. The most commonly used frame material aluminum, due to it’s light weight. External frame packs typically have two main compartments, a number of outside pockets, and an open space below the pack where a sleeping bag can be lashed to the frame. An internal frame pack is a design where the frame is contained inside the pack. The “frame” is nothing more than two aluminum, plastic or fiberglass, stays that run vertically from the top to the bottom of the pack. They provide the primary means of support for the shoulder straps and hip belt, and the basic structure to hang the pack from.