Welcome to our little project on Platinum-Blazing. Every spring, thousands of individuals head for Springer Mountain in Georgia, throw on a 30-pound backpack and start walking North hoping to finish at Mt. Katahdin in Maine before Baxter State Park closes the summit trail in October. In 2018 we were part of the 5,000 or so individuals who attempted what is known as a “thru-hike” – an attempt to walk all 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail in a 12-month period.
Some hike southbound from Maine, others start at various spots and “flip-flop,” from top to bottom to end back where they started. However, like us, nearly 90 percent of attempted thru-hikers travel northbound. Historically, only one out of four who start the hike will finish, and those who do are forever changed for it. It is a difficult endeavor to carry everything you need on your back, sleeping outdoors, surviving the elements, and dealing with the everyday trials of walking nonstop … all without the everyday comforts of home you have grown accustomed to!
We both thru-hiked northbound (or NOBO) beginning in early 2018, a hiking season now known for its brutal winter in the south, record mid-Atlantic rainfall in the spring, and unusual New England summer heat. We both enjoyed getting off-trail to indulge in a few of the special opportunities available between Georgia to Maine – great ice cream, fine dining, premium lodging, etc. Recognizing that no hiker is going to be able to take advantage of every opportunity, we thought a guide to these special experiences and opportunities could help future thru-hikers make better decisions on how to add a bit of upscale comfort to their hike. We hope you will use this guide both planning your adventure as well as for reference during the trip. It is intended to not to replace, but to supplement your use of a guidebook (Thru-Hiker Companion, AWOL’s AT Guide) or mobile app (Guthook) for every day hike support.
The gathering, collating and presentation of opinions about what is premium, or “platinum” is far from scientific or objective. We recognize that selecting the “best of” is always somewhat subjective – everyone has opinions, and not everyone will share ours. However, if you agree with our line of thinking, we believe you can look forward to and enjoy our selections. We know there will be places you feel passionately should be on one of our lists, and others that should be removed. As this guide will change year to year, we encourage you to contact us with your reviews, nominations, discoveries and more.
This guide is an effort for us to give back to the community that gave so much to us. In hopes that the Appalachian Trail and all of its wonderful supporters continue to be available to those who come after us, a portion of the proceeds from every book sold will be donated directly to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Lastly, our apologies to AT southbound hikers but since starting a thru-hike from Springer Mountain still is the overwhelming choice by thru-hikers . . . our lists are geographically ordered as such. When making reference to a mile # as a way to help locate a restaurant, hostel, etc. we use the marker with reference to miles from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain.
– Sharkbait & RTK