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1,000 Miles In: Appalachian Trail Hikers Are Lighter, 'Loving It'

Since April, Maine Public has been following Danny Moody of Winthrop, Maine, and Dan Giguere of Manchester, Maine, as they hike the Appalachian Trail.

As of this week, Danny, Dan, and Dan's dog Daisy have walked about 1,100 miles. Daisy is taking a break for a few days, as Dan passes through the difficult Pennsylvania portion of the trail.

Dan and Danny have separated for a few days, but Maine Public Radio's Nora Flaherty checked in with Danny from the trail's halfway point, near Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Nora Flaherty: So far, what's been the most difficult part of this?

Danny Moody: The biggest challenge so far I'd probably say is just the humidity of Virginia. The last couple days we've been hiking, it's been like 90, and then on top of that you have the humidity, so it feels more like 105. And then you have to make sure you have a water supply, so you're carrying more water, so you've got more weight, so it's been making the days harder. But luckily we're out of Virginia, on to Pennsylvania, where it's rocky, but I can already tell the nights are a little bit cooler, the days aren't as humid, so it's been nice.

Nora Flaherty: You're at the halfway mark now - how will you do the second half differently?

Danny Moody: We plan on doing the second half faster than we did the first half, just because that first month of being out on the trail you're basically getting your trail legs under you, getting into shape, and at this point your body is just tuned to walk up and down mountains. So doing more miles a day, more consistently we can hopefully get through this second half a lot faster.

Nora Flaherty: What about the pack weight? You told me you've dropped 20 lbs. off the pack, from 50 lbs. to 30?

Danny Moody: When I was packing for the first time, I was like, "This is the absolute minimum I need, there's nothing extra here." And then you get out here and you're carrying it around, and you're like, "Nope, I'm not carrying that around anymore, I'm going to get rid of that." And then you start sending stuff home, And then you really get to your base weight, and that's what you really need.

Nora Flaherty: Walking all day, every day for months really has to change you. How different do you look?

Danny Moody: It's funny, I was at a gas station, and we were leaving the town, so typically you'll buy a beer that you can pack out and that's what you have to look forward to at dinner that day. So I was trying to buy a beer, and I handed the woman my ID, and she questioned it. That was me two months ago - and at that point I realized I must look different.

Nora Flaherty: Are you guys confident you're going to finish?

Danny Moody: I'm very confident. Mentally I'm loving it, every second, as long as it's not raining and crappy weather. I think Lieutenant (Dan Giguere's trail name – Danny is Bubba) feels the same. So as far as mentally, I think we're all good. Physically, if something happens, that's beyond our control. But I think that's the only thing that could keep us from completing the trail at this point.

Nora Flaherty: When you do get back, what will you do differently?

Danny Moody: When I go home I just don't plan on needing as many things. Coming out here, it's kind of made me excited to see how much cheaper my life will be now that I've lived out here out of a backpack, compared to when I was living at home and had a gas station nearby, and food delivery, and just things like being able to get water.


Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.