)\(which is now five books long) but the first place to check is White Blaze. This is the ultimate go to website for hikers of all kinds, day hikers, section, hikers, thru-hikers, east coast hikers, midwest hikers, west coast hikers. And there's tons of information on it for AT thru-hikers by other long distance hikers. You can become a member of the site as a hiker, support person for a hiker, trail maintainer, trail angel, AT-related business owner and more. I'd advise anyone involved with the AT to join.
I've used it for many reasons and the daily posts cover a variety of issues from pre-hike reviews and experiences with gear, to daily issues of concern for hikers, such as availability of water, bear sightings, changes in the trail due to weather, weather warnings, finding lost hikers and dogs. I know Loner has gone to White Blaze for advice a number of times, before he left for the trail and while actually on the trail.
As a family member and support person, I check it almost everyday.
I'll pass along info I think Jeff needs such as the recent bear sighting on Mt. Stratton, where they don't usually have bears and this one was strong enough to tear part of a door off of one of the park's buildings while it was looking for food. Unfortunately, Jeff got my email after he'd climbed Mt. Stratton, but I wasn't sure exactly where he was at the time. At least twice a month, I'll pass along news I find on White Blaze and couldn't find easily anywhere else.
They have a section where you can write a profile, post a journal entry, learn from other pages, post on a forum, post photos and so much more. I could not stay sane during Loner's hike without White Blaze.
One of the things I've discovered that has helped me enjoy Loner's journey, instead of worry all the time, is their list of best movies on the AT. I'd seen 2,000 Miles to Maine with Loner at Christmas before he left, but discovered Trek and the brilliant National Geographic piece on the Appalachain Trail after he left. I haven't seen the Southbounders yet or any of the indi films made by Squatch but hopefully I'll get them in the future. Another film I loved which is not about the AT is The Way, starring Martin Sheen and directed and featuring his son, Emillio Estevez. This movie was filmed in Spain of the El Camino and is a highly emotional journey of this 500 miler Pilgrimage. I may have written a little about it before but will try and do a proper review later. Each of these movies offer very different views of the Appalachian trail or long distance hiking. The people and hiker-focused 2,000 Miles to Maine is funny, was a little scary for me the first time and candid. I've just recently found the National Geo documentary: Appalachian Trail, which I loved. Wow, it totally changed my viewpoint of the trail from the ground and especially from within the trees. While it does follow to four or five hikers on various sections, the focus is on the grand natural ecosystem which is the trail, punching it up with stunning and mind-blowing aerial shots not seen in any other films. These shots vividly put the trail in such a different perspective - hikers and viewers will come to see what an amazing trip they've taken once they see the magnificence of the ridge lines and peaks they trudged and climbed and the astonishing amount of wilderness they've witnessed. Shots of some of the solo hikers on mountain tops makes one see how very small they are in comparison with the task they've undertaken. Until you see these shots no hiker or viewer can really grasp what the 2,000 milers have accomplished.
Trek follows four hikers whose intent is to stay together through the trail, it's an up close and personal approach, but also shows some of the really important parts of the trail for those who will be hiking it and how these four guys managed on a daily level of getting up and hiking. Also some of the difficulties hikers can face even in town. They are a good group of guys to follow and get to know, and we face some of the hardships they have to deal with.