Appalachian Trail Indulgence
Appalachian Trail Indulgence

thru-hikers revel in opportunities to stop in Trail towns — not just for a shower, laundry, and resupply, but also to splurge on lodging, meals, or other special experiences and opportunities near the Trail.

Many long-distance hikers enjoy the simplicity of a basic camp meal and sleeping bag surrounded by nature — but those same hikers sometimes find a wonderful balance in taking a brief break to enjoy the culture and cozy hospitality of nearby Trail communities.

Thru-hiker Bruce “RTK” Mattson and Michael “Sharkbait” Neiman offer up their recommendations for finding creature comforts and downright gourmet meals along the Trail. The two — who met before their 2018 thru-hikes through each other’s blogs — put their heads together to publish Platinum Blazing the Appalachian Trail: “How to Thru-Hike in 5 3-Star Luxury, a 150-page hard-copy or downloadable guide to comfy beds and soft sheets, hearty homecooked meals, yoga classes, massages, theater, concerts, and other great cultural events in towns and communities along the A.T.

While “RTK” and “Sharkbait” envisioned this book for long-distance hikers, as a guide of indulgences that can soothe a weary hiker’s soul and honor the challenge of hiking one of the longest continuous footpaths in the world, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy finds this book to be generous in spotlighting exceptional, unique and charming places to experience the A.T. and helpful to all types of hikers and travelers.

Bruce and Michael on the Trail during their thru-hikes
Bruce and Michael on the Trail during their thru-hikes
Platinum-Blazing the Appalachian Trail Book Cover

Bruce Matson dreamed about attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail more than 40 years ago. In the summer of 1974, he attended a presentation by Warren Doyle, who had not only backpacked from Springer Mountain to Katahdin. Having done some hiking and backpacking at the time, Bruce was completely captivated by the presentation and decided, “I’m going to do that someday.”

After guiding canoe trips in the north Maine Woods for two summers and summitting Katahdin several times, Bruce turned his attention to law school, marriage, and family – all the while holding on to his dream of completing a thru-hike. In 2018, he made good on his personal aspiration.

As part of his hike, Bruce generously donated more than $100,000 to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) through the “Returning to Katahdin Challenge” — one of the largest individual donations to ATC to date. In addition to co-authoring Platinum Blazing the Appalachian Trail, Bruce is also the author of The Race Before Us: A Journey of Running & Faith and The Road to Find Out: A Modern Pilgrim and the Camino de Santiago.

Bruce “RTK” Mattson and Michael “Sharkbait” Neiman are donating all net proceeds from their book to the ATC. The book is available at the Ultimate A.T. Store and Amazon*

Some tips from the authors on splurging along the A.T.

Reserve a cozy private cabin in the woods at the Misty Mountain Inn at Neels Gap in Blairsville, Georgia

Attend a theatrical play onsite while enjoying the exceptional accommodations at Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania

Enjoy an elegant dinner — with local and seasonal options like roasted half duck flambé or wild mushroom ravioli — and private room at the Fife ‘n Drum Inn of Kent, Connecticut

Order an a la carte steak dinner when the restaurant has an all-you-can-eat buffet, like at Daniel’s Restaurant in Hiawassee, Georgia

Schedule a natural hot springs whirlpool appointment in Hot Springs, North Carolina

Get a full body massage at the Woods Hole Hostel in Pearisburg, Virginia

Slackpack (hike unencumbered by a full backpack) from Hot Springs, North Carolina to Damascus, Virginia while enjoying private accommodations at Cantarroso Farm each night

Rent out the Airstream private trailer at the Hikers Inn in Damascus, Virginia

Schedule an Uber to pick you up at the Dover Oak and take you to the train Station Inn at Pawling, New York — where you can travel directly into New York City

Take a guided fly-fishing excursion during a day off the Trail in North Woodstock, New Hampshire

Enjoy an invigorating whitewater rafting trip down the Kennebec River outside Caratunk, Maine

*Personalized or signed copies are available from the authors at [email protected]