William Wells thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2014. We asked him a few questions so he could share his Trail wisdom and knowledge!
What are your greatest outdoor achievements? Thru-hikes? Jobs?
My greatest outdoor achievement as of now is thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2014. Words couldn’t describe the feeling of finishing something that I had worked so far hard for. That achievement lead to my job at Alabama Outdoors, my guiding job down in Guatemala on one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and now I’m on my way to the Triple Crown of hiking.
What was the most difficult part/aspect to thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail?
The most difficult part of thru-hiking is the mental aspect hands down. Don’t get me wrong; the physical aspect was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Everyday I was hungry and in pain, but it was totally worth it. I would consider it 30% physical and 70% mental. You have to fight the urge to be away from your friends and family, living with what you can carry on your back in some extreme conditions. If you let in the idea of going home, it will build and take over your mind. You have to fight it with everything in you!
Why did you thru-hike?
Being a backpacker from the east coast, the AT was always a big dream. It was just a matter of when I would have the chance. That chance happened my senior year of college. I saved my last 4 credits to graduate for my independent studies (pretty much an internship). I somehow convinced my advisor that I would learn more from thru-hiking the AT than I would interning somewhere. I was absolutely correct!
Favorite AT meal?
I have the worst trail diet out there so the answer to my favorite trail meal is easy. RAMEN! I eat it off the trail so eating it on the trail is no problem. Almost every night, my dinner would be 2 packs of ramen and a sleeve of Oreos for desert. I’m actually starting to crave it now…
My favorite in town meal on the AT was at this Irish pub inside the Long Trail Inn. There is a whole backstory on this that would take a lot of time to tell but here is the short version. I lost my wallet on Mt. Greylock, so I didn’t have a way to buy food at my next resupply. Some fellow hikers pitched in a little money to help buy the minimal amount of food to make me to the next resupply where I had a new debit card shipped. And I mean minimal. The food didn’t last near as long as expected, so I ran out. After a day of no food, I made it to The Long Trail Inn where I had my dad call in with my new debit card information for them to pretty much start a tab.
Just imagine how hungry you would be after going a little more than a day without food. Now double that because you are averaging 25 miles a day so you are building up a huge appetite. Now double that because you have been doing that for months on end now and are already losing the battle of taking in as many calories as you are burning. Ya. I ordered a hamburger and fries with a large salad with an ice-cold coke to drink. Half way through, I asked the bartender for the same thing again. All this in the first half of the Portugal vs Germany match in the 2014 World Cup.
Top 3 pieces of gear you used on the Trail?
1. The number one piece of gear on the AT was AWOL’s AT guide book. This book has it all. If another hiker tells you otherwise, then you can’t trust them. It’s like how the sayings go; you can’t trust a clean hike and you cant trust a hiker that doesn’t love AWOL.
2. My Western Mountaineering HighLite sleeping bag. Light, warm and super compressible!
3. My ULA Circuit . This bag lasted the whole trail without a single hole in it. And it is a sick purple color!
You have hiked the Appalachian Trail and still have a thirst for more. What’s next for William Wells?
My buddy, Bennett Fisher, and I are planning on leaving for the PCT this upcoming May. After that I will have my eyes set on the CDT and the TA in New Zealand. I’m sure there will be plenty of smaller trips along the way.