I received my Appalachian Trail books the other day. Only 11 more weeks to go before I start my journey; getting pretty excited.
The first one is the Appalachian Trail Data Book, 2014. I would have ordered the 2015 version but it wasn’t available on Amazon. This book only cost $7 and is exactly what I expected it to be – tables and tables of data, listing the major points along the trail. There’s 87 pages in the book, 73 of which are filled with tables of data. The other pages give history of the book, list websites, and describe how to read the tables with examples.
Each table lists the region it’s in, the miles both to and from the next major section, the facilities available at that point, as well as the map and book it coordinates to (assuming you by the detailed book for each section – I didn’t). The data points listed include all the shelters and campsites along the trail. It also points out the towns near the trail, which towns have a post office, and what other features the town has, such has lodging, groceries, or restaurants. The only thing I don’t like is that the book lists the data from North to South, instead of the more commonly took South to North route. All-in-all, it’s a nice, compact book with the essential data to know how far you need to go each day and what to expect along the way.
The Appalachian Trail: Thru-Hikers Companion, 2013, is a little bit thicker at 275 pages. Again, the 2015 version wasn’t available on Amazon and the 2014 version was for some reason listed at $90. This book only cost me $12 and gives you a ton more information than the Data Book does. Not only does it list the important points from South to North (instead of North to South), but it gives more detail as to what is located in each place; such as what towns have an outfitter, doctor, fuel, laundry, hostels, internet, and showers. It also included maps for many of the towns so you know where stuff is located.
Each trail section is broken down and details are given as to when each shelter was built, how many it sleeps, who maintains it, etc. There are many other helpful tips, to include what permits you might want to get in advance. This book is what I would recommend as the ideal book to take on the trail, as it includes everything the first book does and a lot more. For the extra $5 in cost, it’s definitely worth it.