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.

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*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