A:My name is Derek Tusing or Snackbar (if you’re classy). I will be attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and documenting the experience through photography and video.
Q: This isn't your first thru-hike: What made you want to return to the trail for another go-round?
A:This is my 4th thru-hike. I completed the southern section of the PCT in 2017, followed by the full CT that same year, 1,600 miles of the CDT in 2020 and a full thru of the GET in 2021. I’m a glutton for punishment. I love doing hard things and have always found joy in the backcountry. Community and friendships are a huge reason that I continue to choose thru-hiking.
Q: What do you seek outdoors—is it the scenery, the peace and quiet, or is it community? What is the reason you’ve built your life around being outdoors?
A:A lot of what I seek is personal growth, self love and celebrating who I am and what I can accomplish. I feel the community of thru-hiking allows us to be our weird, wild, wonderful selves and I feel at home on trail.
Q: What did you struggle with most on your first thru-hike? How are you hoping to overcome that this time around?
A:I honestly think poor eating habits and too much partying. I wasn’t really recovering on my zero days. I’ve cut out a lot of candy and caffeine from my trail diet and also upgraded my sleep system (wink, wink) so I expect my body to be able to handle the ups and downs of this thru-hike a lot better.
Q: Best food combo you've cooked up on trail? And the worst?
A:I’m one of those wacko stove-less types so I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve cooked it up. But one of my meals that people think is weird (that I love) is Buffalo flavored tuna in a wrap with peanut butter and cheddar cheese. I swear it’s top notch dinning.
Q: What are you most looking forward to on the AT?
A:The community and of course Trails Days!
Q: Talk about the gear you've chosen to bring with you—have you had any personal experiences or preferences that influenced your choices?
A:My gear is quite a bit different than years past. I’m back to using a tent. Got tired of bugs and spiders sharing my quilt with me under a tarp. I’m using an inflatable mattress for the the first time in years. This is again related to aiming for better rest and recovery. And my backpack is handmade from Neighborhood Packs because I love to support small businesses and creativity.
Q: Any parting thoughts as you get ready to set out on trail?
A:“Never put twinkies on your pizza” - Heavyweights Applies all too well to hiker hunger.
Heading into the Presidentials and finishing off The Whites began with an incredible climb up The Webster Cliff Trail. Our weather window was perfect and the views in The Presidentials were spectacular.There is an excellent amount of trail systems throughout this section with lots of different route options. I’ll for sure need to hike in New Hampshire again.
A few days later we reached the 1800 mile mark. Heading into the White Mountains for our first 4,000 footer of the state. The climb up to Mt Moosilauke was grueling and we got our first taste of what it was going to be like hiking in the true north.