The Appalachian Trail (AT) was first conceived by Benton Mackayve in 1921 and completed in 1937. The concept was to create a continuous footpath along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. Today, the trail is the longest continuous footpath (no other forms of traffic) in the world. The trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and passes through a total of 14 states, reaches the peak of the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi, for a total of 2,191 miles.
At the end of his life, Mackaye had whittled down the purpose of the trail to three things:
to see what you see
Northbound hikers (NOBO) begin at Springer Mountain in Georgia. The northern terminus of the trail is in Baxter State Park, Maine at the top of Mount Katahdin.
The journey takes anywhere from 5-7 months, with NOBO hikers starting to hike between March 1 - April 15. Along the way, water sources, trail shelters (3 sides wooden structures) and trail towns provide places for rest, hydration, resupply and perhaps a shower.
How often a hiker stops to take a zero day (no hiking), usually in town, is up to them. The mantra I hold closest for my journey is 'hike your own hike'. The trail is there, and available to each hiker, however he or she chooses to use it.