What kind of camera did you use?

I used an Olympus Stylus Zoom (35mm-70mm) point and click. It is light weight, has a timer, is weather resistant and tough. It was rained on and even dropped onto rock. It lasted the whole 2000 miles with nothing more than a crack in the lens cover and a replacement battery. All in all I was very pleased with the camera.

What kind of film did you use?

I always used 200 speed Fuji or Kodak, whichever was cheaper that day.

How did you get your trail name?

When I first started hiking in Georgia I was out of shape and an extremely slow hiker. Going up a hill I would often find myself resting at each blaze! Well due to this I came up with the 'original' trail name of Trail Snail. I really thought it was clever ... rhyming and all. A few days later a friend of mine was looking though a shelter register and he looked up at me and said ... "Did you know there is another Trail Snail about two weeks ahead of you?" I was devastated upon hearing this news. My trail name was neither clever nor original. A thru hiker from a previous year then told me "Don't worry about it, there are several Trail Snails every year!" This failed to cheer me up. After thinking about it I decided that it wasn't really a problem since I will never catch someone 2 weeks ahead of me - so I kept the name.

A few weeks went by and even at my speed I was gaining on the other Trail Snail. I told my friends that if I ever caught the other Trail Snail I would change my name. I jokingly told them I would probably change it to "The Hiker Formally Known As Trail Snail" - yet another original and clever name! More time passed and about the middle of the Smoky Mountains I finally caught up to the first Trail Snail. It turned out to be a woman who was hiking with her husband. The husband, upon hearing that I was using the same trail name as his wife, became hostile toward me. He told me that his wife had the name first, it was not right for me to use the same name and that I should change mine. After a feeble attempt at defending myself I decided it wasn't really worth the wasted breath so I walked away. I did change my trail name, though after the encounter with her husband I was tempted to keep it. I decided on "Snail-No-More" for my new trail name since my original idea was too long to write and "THFKATS" just made no sense. Everybody just continued calling me Snail for short and I lived happily ever after.

The original Trail Snail and her husband got off the trail a few days after I met them. I later met the husband again in Maine where he lived and provided a shuttle service for hikers. He seemed pleasant enough on my second encounter so I came to the conclusion that the stress of having to leave the trail probably contributed to our first, rather negative, meeting.

I would like to hike the AT someday, where can I get more information?

There are two _really_ good sources of information on the Web:
Kathy Bilton's Appalachian Trail Home Page at http://www.fred.net/kathy/at.html
Dan "Wingfoot" Bruce's Appalachian Trailplace at http://www.traceplace.com/

How much weight did you lose?

I started the trail at (gasp!) 235 pounds. When I completed the trail I was 55 pounds lighter at 180 pounds. I gained 10 pounds the first week off the trail and have maintained my weight since then between 185 and 190 pounds. I am very happy at this weight!

What was your favorite dehydrated food (if any)?

I did not use dehydrated food though if I ever do it again I will. My primary dinners were Lipton Rice or Noodles, Hamburger or Tuna Helper (Without hamburger, tuna, milk, or butter), and Mac & Cheese. I bought some freeze- dried foods for the trip most of which I still have. I found the 2 person portions was not enough food and was way overpriced. I will not buy freeze dried meals again!

What was your scarcest moment?

Probably during a lightning storm I encountered in the Smoky Mountains. The storm hit while I was on a ridge and it was right over top of me. The storm was intense enough and scared me enough to force me down off the ridge into a low clump of trees to wait it out. I was in several storms during my hike but this was the only time I really felt in danger from one.

What was your favorite inspirational point?

This would have to be the summit of Katahdin ... that was an emotional high I will never forget. The final steps toward the sign are etched in my memory in slow motion. Ten years of desire and six months of hiking lead up to that final moment when my dream was realized ... as I said I will never forget it!

What was the time and trip expense?

The trip took just over 6 months. I took another month off to re-adjust to the real world after the trip. I spent about $1500 on equipment, $3000 on food/beer/fun, and several thousand more keeping my bills paid back home. To hike the AT does not require this much cash, it was simply my decision to do it comfortably. I also could have done the trail in less time but I saw no point in rushing it.

What things that you initially bought did you get rid of?

Mostly a whole lot of little things. Some of the heavier items would be most of my first aid kit, my water filter (Replaced with Polar Pure) and extra clothes.

What was the weight of the pack on the average?

I started with a 55 pound pack that was trimmed down to the "absolute minimum". After a week I found stuff to send home, after another week I found more, etc. My average weight was probably 30-40 summer, 35-45 spring/fall with food, fuel, & water.

What was your most useful item?

I would have to say it was a tie between my credit card, my pack, and my boots! :-)

Did you change your eating habits once you got off the trail?

I am trying to eat more healthy and exercise. Though it is hard to change my eating habits with my Grandmother feeding me!

Do you plan to do the trail again?

When I first got home I thought - heck no - you see I loved the trail but there is so much more out there to experience, there are so many more trails to hike. Now that a little time has passed I still feel the same way about doing other things but I now believe that I will hike the AT again ... someday ... it will be hard to keep me from it. There is no other trail with such a close and active community both on and off the trail. I will hike other trails for the experience but I will come back to the AT for the people. In the mean time there is always trail magic, trail maintenance, Trail Days, and the AT Net community to keep the memories alive for me! As for hiking ... I'll be doing the John Muir trail this summer. (Watch for pictures!)
Snail-No-More is Kevin A. Hoffman
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