San Rafael Valley, AZ ~~ Photo by Bill Haas

Sunday, January 22, 2012


...were worn by Karen Lutz, a through-hiker, when, in 1978, she hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, lovingly referred to as "The AT."  A "through-hiker" is someone who hikes the entire distance, from Georgia to Maine, in one season.  Ms. Lutz' fabulous feat took her 5-1/2 months to complete.

Boots made of lightweight fabric and leather last about 1,000 miles; the heavyweight full grain leather boots pictured here lasted 1,600 miles.   Since the entire AT is 2179 miles, I'm guessing Ms. Lutz had to break in TWO pairs of boots as part of her pre-trip planning!  I couldn't see the maker's name on this pair, but they sure look like the Dunhams I used to wear.  (No relation!!)

The AT is well marked and many times tied into local spur trails.  This one appeared on the Tennessee-North Carolina state line in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Appalachian Trail, a "Scenic Trail" part of the National Park system, was completed in 1937, passes through 14 states, and is meticulously maintained by 31 trail-maintaining hiking clubs throughout its length, thus making the AT the only volunteer-managed National Park.
Some parts of the AT are "improved" with steps, shelters, information kiosks and picnic tables that double as roadside picnic areas, like this one at Dick's Creek Gap, that also provides trailhead parking for day hikers. The trail signage is carved into rock and helps keep hikers oriented.
Other trail sections are more back-to-nature!

As part of her Masters Degree study, Ms. Lutz determined that through-hikers need from 4,000 to 6,000 calories per day. Just imagine the food planning necessary; imagine the fuel conservation necessary; just imagine the fitness training required!  

Today, Ms. Lutz is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  Her through-hiker boots were encased at a Blue Ridge Parkway museum honoring the Civilian Conservation Corps and other pioneers.