Beginner Skills

A Veteran Thru-Hiker's Best Advice

Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime with the most popular columns from thru-hiker Liz "Snorkel" Thomas.

Starting a 2,000-plus-mile journey can be daunting. Luckily, you have some help: Liz “Snorkel” Thomas, a Triple Crowner, teacher, and former speed record holder for the Appalachian Trail. This month, Liz is returning to answer your biggest questions about life on long trails. To celebrate, we’ve collected seven of her most popular columns; check back soon for new advice and answers.

What’s the Biggest Mistake Beginners Make?

Gallatin National Forest

Master the shakedown for a smoother trek. Read the full story.

What’s the Triple Crown of Hiking?

Pacific Crest Trail
Bureau of Land Management/Bob Wick

Ticking these three prestigious trails off your list is worth the time—but it’ll take a lot of it. Read the full story.

What Are The Best Long Trails I Can Do Over a Vacation?

Loren Kerns

Reality check: Not everyone can quit their jobs to hike the PCT. But if you have a week or two of vacation, you can complete one of these. Read the full story.

How Much Does a Thru-Hike Cost?


Sure, you’d like to take half a year off to hike a long trail. But how do you pay for it? Our resident thru-hiker answers. Read the full story.

Should I Hike in Boots or Trail Runners?

trail runner in snow

Going lighter can be easier on your feet—but it comes at a cost. Read the full story.

What Are the Heaviest Gear Mistakes That New Thru-Hikers Make?

Pacific Crest Trail in the Santa Rosa Mountains
Bob Wick/BLM

Bringing the wrong kind of clothes or food is a quick ticket to a hefty pack—but don’t go too far. Read the full story.

What Should I Eat on a Long Trail?

mac and cheese

There’s calorie density, nutritional profile, and bulk to consider. But when it comes to packing food for a thru-hike, one thing will always hold true: it has to taste good enough to eat. Read the full story.

Dreaming of a thru-hike of your own? Get started with AIM Adventure U’s Thru-Hiking 101 course, taught by Liz.