Ever since the movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir about her backpacking experience through the Pacific Crest Trail, hitchhiking has become more popular among adventure seekers and nature-lovers alike.
I’m not a big fan of movies made from memoirs, but Wild had a story to tell and the director didn’t disappoint. I also thought Reese Witherspoon’s performance was commendable.
If you saw the movie and were motivated to partake in a long-distance trek of your own, this article offers three picturesque locations in the US that are perfect for your trek.
Traveling to the US
Lately, there has been some furore around the world over President Trump’s decision to place a temporary ban on some countries perceived to be high risk for terrorist activities. Although the ban was held for a while, a Federal Judge recently overturned the executive order. This means that if you are a citizen of any of the affected countries, or travelling en-route to the US, you won’t be turned back at the airport, so long as you have a valid visa.
In addition, people travelling to the US from the Visa Waiver countries still need to get ESTA approval before they can proceed with their trip. An ESTA is a permit issued by the United States Customs and Border Patrol to nationals of these countries. Without one, visitors could be delayed at the airport.
Choosing your hitch hiking location
Hitch-hiking isn’t as easy as it looks and hikers are advised to apply extreme caution and adopt all safety measures. From what you wear to medicines and insurance, there’s a lot to consider before embarking on a hiking trail. For more information on safety procedures visit this post.
- The John Muir Trail in California, 210 miles
Meandering through the tall mountain ranges from the national park (Yosemite) to the peak of Mount Whitney, the John Muir Trail is a trek fit for experienced hikers. Never attempt a trail on your own. Ensure that you have an experienced companion with you. All through his life, John Muir was a passionate advocate for the conservation of wild places, and his walk trails through the crest of some of nature’s most attractive vistas.
The trek can be completed in three weeks, and most hikers prefer to travel north to south in late summer. The only shelter along the trek is the hut named after John Muir on top of Muir Pass– almost half-way along the journey. It is therefore essential to go prepared- a tent is a must-have!
- Continental Divide Trail; New Mexico through Colorado, to Montana, 3,100 miles
If the John Muir Trail, which is 210 miles, is for experienced hikers, you can only imagine what the Continental Divide Trail with 3,100 miles entails. Finishing this trek should earn you a hall of fame recognition and a PhD in long distance hikes. A significant part of the route covers remote and rough crest of the Rocky Mountains. The water on the west of the divide empties into the Pacific, while the east side water flows into the Atlantic.
The trail extends from New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. An average trek should take any hitch-hiker six months to complete, with risk of snow and summer lightning. The best way to enjoy the CDT is to go as a trek party. As a bonus, the highpoint of the trek is Bob Marshall’s Wilderness in Montana.
- Appalachian Trail: Covers 14 states from Georgia to Main, 2,185 miles
The Appalachian Trail may not be the longest or the oldest trail there is, but it is certainly considered to be the grandpa of all trails, partly because it is the most user-friendly. It runs through and close to several towns, covering many roads, so planning your trek isn’t as complicated as the Continental Divide Trail.
There are many trail establishments such as hostels, shuttles, restaurants and more along the way- so it makes for a comfortable experience for any inexperienced hiker. Traversing the hike is easy too. With milestones and white blazes marking the whole trail via paintings on trees, fence posts and bridge pylons, it is quite easy to trace your way.
Finally, it would be unfair to write this post without mentioning the Pacific Crest Trail in California, the one Cheryl Strayed walked, and the inspiration of the movie, Wild. At 2,663 miles, it’s a monumental journey that will leave you a changed person upon completion.
Remember, always practice “safety first” before and during any trail you embark on. Ensure you go with an experienced group too. Good luck!