In 1948, Earl Shaffer hiked from Mt. Oglethorpe in Georgia (the Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus at that time) to Mount Katahdin in Maine, making him the first person to hike the trail’s entire length. He did it with no expert advice, no previous footsteps to follow, or fancy mile-by-mile guidebooks to help him. At the time, experts believed that a hike of the entire Trail was impossible. So, in 1965, he thru-hiked it again as a southbounder, starting in Maine and ending at the new and present southern terminus, Georgia’s Springer Mountain. Good ol’ Earl’s “Advice for Long Distance Hikers on the Appalachian Trail, circa 1950” includes the following:

  • Framepack–Mountain troop or similar, with large pocket removed.
  • Poncho–serves as raincoat, parka, groundcloth, shelter cloth, etc.
  • Rainhat–indispensable because of variable weather.
  • Sheath knife–small size. Pocket knife as auxiliary.
  • Small axe–necessary for maintaining campfire in rainy weather.
  • Compass, waterproof matchsafe, snakebite kit-just in case.
  • Cook kit–Mountain troop or similar (two nested kettles and frypan)
  • Sleeping bag–blanket type (April-October), down or kapok in winter.
  • Extra set of clothing–for added warmth, rather than heavy underwear, and as a dry change after a rainy day. (Perhaps like the Penfield kit above?)
  • Socks–(heavy) reinforced wool or spun nylon.
  • Canteen–flat, one quart, slung to side of pack.
  • First aid kit–include foot powder such as quinsana, insect repellent.
  • Headnet, flashlight, plastic food bags.


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2 Responses to EARL SHAFFER

  1. The Outage November 22, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Dig it. But what’s the relationship between Shaffer and the Penfield duds pictured here?


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