Lessons Learned Hiking the
Appalachian Trail

August 13, 2016 at Drupal Camp Asheville
October 22, 2016 at Drupal Camp Atlanta
November 5, 2016 at Drupal Camp Chattanooga

Jim Smith

  • Oak Ridge, Tenn.
  • Oak Ridge National Lab
  • Started using Drupal in 2005
  • Drupal user #16880
  • Trail Name: Gravity

2,189.8 miles

Appalachian Trail map

Springer Mountain, Georgia

April 3, 2017

Mt. Katahdin, Maine

Oct. 4, 2017

> White blaze


  • Hikers carry all of their possessions on their back
  • Developers have all the comforts of home and office
  • Hikers rarely shower
  • Developers regularly shower
  • ...unless they work from home


  • Trail Names / User Names
  • Unique jargon, expressions and traditions
  • Free and Open Access

More Similarities

  • A close-knit community bound by a shared experience and commitment
  • Managed and maintained by volunteers
  • Supported by governments, businesses and non-profits
  • Offer many challenges and rewards

Seven Lessons

Lesson 1

  • Carry only what you fear.

Lesson 2

  • If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.

Lesson 3

  • Maine isn’t going to walk to you.

Lesson 4

  • No pain, no rain, no Maine.
  • Pain is mandatory. Misery is optional.
  • Embrace the suck.

Lesson 5

  • Embrace the community.
  • We are all invested in each other's success.
  • Experiences are better when they're shared.

Lesson 6

  • Hike your own hike.
  • Leave no trace.

Lesson 7

  • If you have an ambition, make it your dream.
  • If you have a dream, make it your passion.
  • If you have a passion, make it your commitment.
  • If you have a commitment, make it happen.

    Thru-hikers never die,

    they just smell that way.