Then The Hail Came
George Steffanos' 1983 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike
My name is George Steffanos, and I live in Waterbury, Connecticut. A long time ago I took a long walk. Along the way I wrote a great many words about that journey.
The Appalachian Trail is a continuous footpath which winds for more than 2,000 miles along the Appalachian chain in the eastern United States from the summit of Springer Mountain in the Blue Ridge of northeast Georgia to the summit of Baxter Peak on Mount Katahdin, deep in the evergreen forests of north-central Maine.
On May 3, 1983, I started walking north from Springer. Along the way, I kept a very detailed hikers journal, which formed the basis for Then the Hail Came, a book about the adventure. Over the years, I have received some very kind feedback from readers on the draft, which I posted on my personal website for several years. The story is now available for purchase on Amazon, just follow the link above. You are welcome to view a sample chapter, the link to which is also available above. Any intelligent comments or advice are welcome.
I'm planning on using this site as sort of an adjunct to the book. I've scanned hundreds of my old AT slides and posted them with short text blurbs connecting them to their parts of the story. These pages have become a visual journal of the hike. I believe this to be one of the oldest thru-hikes on the Internet to be documented in photos and words to this extent. Working with analog non-geotagged images was a marathon compared to opening my digital photos from more recent trips and looking at the handy little Google Map that Google Photos generates from the metadata.
3/4/23: I am celebrating the 40th anniversary of my hike this year with more daily posts on social media (including 40 years ago today posts May 2 - Oct 3). Hopefully I will begin a sequel Appalachian Trail hike and book within the next two years, if I can get all my ducks in a row for it. It should be an interesting contrast. I was 24 when I made the original hike.
1/26/23: I have finished with an update of this entire section. I have added a number of slides that I skipped the first time because they needed a lot of clean-up and further cleaned up the pics I had already posted.
I want to post answers to common questions like why I wrote so many words during the hike. Some people think I added a lot afterwards, but I actually had to do a lot of cutting to make the story readable.
Free Audio Book Available (Sort Of)
Steve Adams hosts a great podcast on the Hiking Radio Network called Mighty Blue On The Appalachian Trail: The Ultimate Mid-Life Crisis. Each week he interviews great guests and then finishes the episode with a chapter from the latest hiking book that he’s reading. Starting with Episode #321, the May 5, 2022 episode, he plans to read my entire long-winded epic a chapter at a time. Reading his fascinating bio blurb towards the bottom of this page, he might just be crazy enough to do it. For Episode #321, he's easing into this Herculean task with the book's Prologue.
My Favorite Websites
My friend Alan Strackeljahn's Appalachian Trail journals from 1983. You can also read about Gonzo (Alan) in Chapters 8 and 9 of my story. You can find his book, "Evolution of a Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Adventure" here.
A great podcast for hikers. Join Steve Adams as he welcomes a range of terrific guests to his show each week.
After the main interview, Steve often has another conversation, normally with a hiker on trail, then finishes the episode with a chapter from the latest hiking book that he’s reading. Along the way, we all seem to laugh a lot!!
One of the great resources for AT hikers when I started online in the 90s. Still a lot of good relevant info.
One of the best baseball blogs, especially for NY Mets fans. My brother Mike's blog.