Many of you have noted that my book doesn’t mention hikes after the AT (https://www.amazon.com/Take-Path-Most-Resistance-Appalachian/dp/1941713718) and have asked for recommendations of walks I’ve done and liked.
After 1973, I decided to avoid the AT for decades, thinking that I’d had my share of a scarce resource and that there were plenty of other paths to be followed. But I found that I could never make myself swear off Maine and Katahdin—and that Grayson Highlands has always been too tempting a place to use to lure new hikers out onto the trail (relatively easy walking, spectacular views, and all those ponies!). Lately, I’ve given up on my avoidance pledge and jump at any chance to walk the AT again.
A natural choice for AT veterans has to be Vermont’s Long Trail. But if you’ve done the AT section in the south, don’t get smug. The northern long trail is like one long Mahoosuc Notch; you have to struggle for almost every inch (here’s my Backpacker article on the LT: https://www.backpacker.com/stories/america-s-worst-trail-a-love-story).
And finally, you can’t beat the Alps. If you ever get a chance to try the Walkers’ Haute Route from Chamonix, France, to the Matterhorn, jump at it https://www.chamonix.net/english/summer-activities/trekking/haute-route). And the Tour du Mt. Blanc is the only walking experience I’ve ever had that rivals the AT (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_du_Mont_Blanc).
If you can afford it, REI offers great guided trips for both of these. They’re expensive (I couldn’t afford them until I was in my 50’s), and their groups tend toward the older end of the scale (they’re the folks who have the money). But a guided trip takes all the hassle out of planning (in three languages) and gives you an built-in tramily of fellow hikers, all of which have been great in my experience. If you can’t afford the guided trip though, look for a cheap flight to Geneva and just go. The trails are well marked, and relatively cheap places to stay are easy to find with a little advance planning. But read up on the trails first; these are large mountains and even folks who know what they are doing can get themselves into trouble if they wander off into the wrong weather.
Next for me? I’m headed off to Machu Picchu in February.