The AT series: Coffee with Mark Perlin

Photo Feb 19-21The mere thought that I am not the only one who is hiking the Appalachian Trail cuts me a great deal of slack. Mark Perlin, a student from James Madison University, who is graduating in a week, took some time to geek out on everything AT with me yesterday.

Prior to meeting him, I knew that thru-hike and section-hike existed but I had never heard of something called ‘flip-flopping’; that is exactly what Mark is going to do. He has wanted to hike the trail since he graduated high school and wants to eventually get the triple crown in his bag.  How he would flip-flop is by starting midway in Virginia (Va) and going up North to Maine to return hitch-hiking back to Va. Then from Va he will go South to Georgia and repeat the process till he is back to Virginia for good. An optimistic and dreamy person that he is, he encouraged me for my journey and gave me some excellent new tips in terms of clothing and research resources for AT.

Mark’s tips on clothes, electronics and resources:


He is taking two pairs of tops, pants, underwear and socks. His clothes are obviously synthetic, since they dry quickest in rainy conditions. For underwear, he highly recommended the brand EX-OFFICIO. He loves it because of it’s high quality and durability. The sock brand that he went for is called DARN TOUGH.


He is taking a phone, an iPod and a power bank. It’s minimal electronics and his iPod has all the songs, books and podcasts that he needs. To record his journey, he is taking an empty journal.


Just like Chandler Thomas (my the other AT interviewee), Mark has bought Awol’s AT Guide, an all inclusive AT guide-book that 99% of the hikers refer to. He will carry it with him and tear off pages as he goes.

He also referred me to Erik the Black’s Blog and said that it has helped him a lot. He bought all of his gear online.

Mark is all set and ready to leave in mid May. I wish him luck on his journey!

To read more about why I want to hike the AT, click on this link.


Arushi Sachan




Why am I hiking The Appalachian Trail?

The nature is so powerful and it had always called me, as if it held my freedom in it’s palms and tempted me through each breath of my life to come and taste it – my own freedom called.

Photo Feb 25-7‘It’s a calling’ – Tom Kennedy

I get asked this question very often- why on earth did I decide to section-hike the Appalachian Trail for two months when everything is going just fine in my life and I’m in the middle of getting my undergraduate degree?

Well theres the catch – when is everything ever just fine?

Last November, my best friend (also my roommate) and I watched watched ‘WILD’, a Reese Witherspoon movie based on a true story of a woman who hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail in the US west coast after she lost her mother.

That was it. 

I mean it wasn’t. Yes, I was born and bought up in Dubai, but I never did fit in. Cities with glittery lights did touch me, but never as deep as the nature. The nature is so powerful and it had always called me, as if it held my freedom in it’s palms and tempted me through each breath of my life to come and taste it – my own freedom called.

Photo Feb 19-25
Being 20 and having traveled across the globe to come to the US and study amongst the most beautiful valleys that could every be – The Shenandoah, I realized that maybe after all, things do happen for a reason. Like Rumi once wisely said ‘What you seek is seeking you’. 

This isn’t the reason though; but what this is, is a path that might lead me to find out why I am here- my being.

So after watching Wild, this strong urge to hike the Appalachian Trail got triggered within my roommate and I. We made a pact to do it this year in the summer. We both were as serious and clueless at the same time as we could’ve possibly been. For me, the journey began then itself- November 2016. Since then, I have grown tremendously as a human being. The path of soul searching isn’t something you’d have to deter yourself from your present situation to go on, I have learnt- it is an ever-manifesting thought process that simply depends on how strongly you desire it.

I very passionately desire soul searching, and hence, I will be hiking the trail.

I have been doing a lot physically and mentally to prepare myself for it and I will keep writing about it as I go, for it is the journey that I am focusing on and not the destination.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

*All the pictures in this post are original and subject to claimed but not legal copyrights. The camera  used to capture these pictures is Canon EOS 50D. For more information, contact me via email or leave your comments in the section below. Please feel free to provide feedback or just share your thoughts!  🙂


Arushi Sachan



Top 5 Useful Tips To Prepare For The AT

Photo Mar 16

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting Chandler Thomas, A 23 year old broker who who left his job to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine – An extraordinary step in an ordinary life. Lucky for me, I met him just in time, before he set off to leave from Virginia to Georgia this Saturday.

What? The AT? To which he smirked, having earned and saved enough to sustain himself for two years. He must indeed be a great salesperson.

When did it come to him? At the mere age of 16, when he watched ‘Into The Wild’, an Emile Hirsch movie that dazzled so many, and he became just another fan who failed to resist buying the novel, which deeply inspired him to make this trip. He lived all these years since, actively dreaming about hiking the AT at least once a month- No surprise that he has manifested his passionate thought finally.

So what were his five KILLER TIPS to help us prepare for the AT? Or for that matter, any long duration hike?

  1. RESEARCHScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 10.29.25 PM

Do your research few months ahead of your hike. It is a good place to start as it helps you organize your thoughts. Watch YouTube videos, watch vlogs and read as much as you can. Chandler’s recommendations:


  1. COMMUNITYPhoto Feb 25-6

You are not the only one who has made the brave decision to sacrifice your 9-5 life to be able to hike the trail. Connect with the AT hiking community through different platforms and get to know them. Chandler’s recommendations:

  • AT Reddit
  • Internet connectivity: Social Media platforms and YouTube following


  1. FOODScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 10.30.52 PM

The most important question for me- how do you deal with food on long hikes? Chandler seems to have it all figured out with sufficient food for the first five days until he could buy the next bunch. He says it depends on whether you like warm food or you are okay with cold; that is the deciding factor to whether you’d need a portable stove or not. But keep in mind that the stove increases the overall weight- so only buy it if necessary.

He packed a lot of chocolates, candies, tinned food, tortillas and Nutella. He also suggested to have them available at hands length somewhere on the sides of your backpack where you could easily grab them on the go without having to stop, wait and eat.


  1. GEARPhoto Mar 11-13

It is of vital importance that the gear is of good quality (i.e. durability factor) and it fits you well. Hence, Chandler asks us to buy all the gear at once toward the end, since it can be expensive.

So how do we plan our gear? The BIG THREE, he said:


A great resource to have the entire set up at the bare minimum weight is Erik the Black’s Ultralight Backpacking Gear List (2016). It’s best to stay between 40 lbs to 60 lbs. A few things to keep in mind are the temperature you’ll you be hiking in, and personal preferences. But at any cost, be prepared to stay protected from the heavy rains as they are unavoidable in the AT no matter what time of the year you decide to hike. It’s viable to get a pair of crocs and a net to protect yourself from insects. Remember to get something to keep you busy– a couple of journals or a go pro; music helps a lot.

The two equipment companies that Chandler recommends are:


  1. TRAININGimg_6515

Training for the AT is a two-step process: Physical and Mental. You can train physically by going on regular weekend hikes with heavy backpacks or simply walk miles in a row on side-walks to find out your all-day-pace. This will increase your stamina considerably. The primary focus should be your legs as the backpack’s heavy weight can cause knee problems potentially as you hike for miles in a row.

Mental strength can be increased in doses. It is good to keep going when you are the least motivated- that is the real test of your mental strength. A little discipline and avoiding a lot of social media indulgence can go a long way. Positivity is the key, though.

Talking to Chandler was very insightful as I not only gained access to these great resources, but also made an awesome friend that I might potentially meet through my section-hike this summer. I am excited to walk for days in a row in a bare-minimum-survival mode and develop a relationship with mother nature as I go. Watch out for more about my preparations for the trail as I blog about it bi-weekly under the new website category: ‘The Appalachian Trail’.

Follow Chandler and his adventures on instagram: WE THE WAYFARERS


Arushi Sachan