Chances are that if you or your family like to hike, you have already walked on part of the Appalachian Trail. Hikes can last anywhere from half a day to a multi-day backpacking trip. Then there are the thru-hikers: Hardy souls/soles who trek the trail’s entire length in one journey.

Here is a list of numbers that describe some aspect of the AT. Match each number to its description. Answers are below.











5 million

A. The strenuous work of hiking up and down every day while carrying a backpack really burns the calories. This figure is the average weight, in pounds, lost by thru-hikers. Some lose much more; others actually gain weight!

B. This is the estimated number of steps that the average thru-hiker takes from one end of the trail to the other.

C. This is the average number of days it takes to complete a thru-hike.

D. This is the number of days it took to do the fastest recorded thru-hike.

E. This is the age of the youngest hiker to have completed the trail so far.

F. This is the age of the oldest hiker to have completed the hike so far.

G. The entire trail is marked by 2x6-inch, white paint blazes. (Single blazes mean go straight; double blazes indicate a turn.) This is the estimated number of blazes on the trail.

H. The trail goes through 14 states. This is the number of states in the Bay watershed crossed by the trail.

I. This is the length of the trail in miles, give or take. (The actual length changes from year to year as portions are rerouted or altered.)

J. Climbing a rocky terrain takes its toll on both feet and footwear. This is the average number of shoes/boots that a thru-hike wears out.

K. This is the amount of ice cream, in gallons, that thru-hikers traditionally eat when they reach the halfway point on the trail.

ANSWERS: A-30; B-5 million; C-165; D-46.5; E-5; F-81; G-165,000; H-5; I-2,200; J-4–5; K-1/2

Kathleen Gaskell is the Bay Journal's copy and layout editor and author of the Chesapeake Challenge. Contact Kathleen at

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