2005 Appalachian Trail thru-hike: 15 rolls of film

It’s weird to remember a time when hikers (or anyone, really) used film cameras and pay phones.  But apparently that’s what Amber and I did on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2005.
We started on June 28, 2005 in Maine and finished five months later in Georgia, becoming “thru-hikers”!

Wanna hike along with us?!

We used this camera and 50 and 100 speed film.



In 2005, we set out to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, a 2,150 mile American long distance hiking trail, extending from Georgia to Maine. Because Amber graduated in the summer (a year early for her…I spent like 7 years in college), we started in June and finished on Thanksgiving Day, hiking from Maine to Georgia.  Traditionally, prospective thru-hikers start in Georgia in the spring and finish by October in Maine.

I suppose we weren’t traditional hikers.


We shot 15 rolls of old school film, sending them home for my mom to have developed.  In this blog series, you are gonna see the trail just as she did. 11 years later.  I am going to make a NEW post with NEW (well, year 2005…) photos from the trail on the same dates that the film was actually processed by the store and given back to my mom:

7/11- 2 rolls of film, the rest of this post uses only the early photos from this roll- AT 2005, Rolls 1 and 2: 100 Mile Wilderness

7/20- 1 roll- AT 2005, Roll 3: Southern Maine

8/4- 2 rolls- AT 2005 Rolls 4-5: Maine and the White Mountains

8/29- 1 roll- AT 2005, Roll 6: Through MA, CT, and NY

9/18- 1 roll- AT 2005, Roll 7: Up to the Half Gallon Challenge!

9/20- 1 roll- AT 2005, Roll 8: The Missing Vermont Photos

9/29- 1 roll- AT 2005, Roll 9: Into Virginia

10/7- 2 rolls- AT 2005, Rolls 10&11: Tennessee

10/13- 1 roll- AT 2005, Roll 12: More Virginia

10/22- 1 roll- AT 2005, Roll 13: Southern Virginia

11/19- 1 roll- AT 2005, Roll 14: Through the Smoky Mountains

11/25- END OF HIKE roll! (film developed later, but I’m publishing on 11/25)- AT 2005, Roll 15: This is the End

In 2013, Amber and I made a Facebook album of 26 highlight photos and shared them among family and friends.  During our hike in 2005, my dad sent an email to friends and family while we hiked with some highlight photos.

I haven’t looked at these photos in MANY MANY years and an album of this size and scope has never (ever) been made.

I’m kind of excited!


Florida kids leaving a cousin’s wedding in Chicago for a hike starting in Maine! June, 2005.

Amber and I met in college and started dating in 2003. I immediately fell in love with her.  She wanted to join me in fulfilling my  high school dream (see previous blog) and I don’t know what I’d do without her.  Certainly not finish the trail.

13 years later (2016), Amber is still my love and life partner and the mother of our beautiful daughters!

We got married 2 years after we we finished the trail.


Hard at work packing the last re-supply boxes before flying to Chicago. Jacksonville, FL. June 2005.

We organized “maildrops” of food, maps, guidebook sections, and vitamins.  My mom ran “basecamp” and sent our stuff to post offices near the trail (ATTENTION: Hold for AT Hikers Ryan and Amber) according to our planned itinerary.

We also called home from pay phones about 2-3 times/month.

As the summer progressed to fall and winter in the South, we got some warmer clothing mailed to us.  At the very beginning of the hike, when we hung our packs at the ranger station at Baxter State Park, Maine (after having taken out food and water), I think they weighed around 16 and 17 pounds for Amber and I.

For what it’s worth, I think my gear list for a present-day solo southbound Appalachian Trail hike would be very similar to LIGHTER gear I use now in Southeast Appalachia.


As soon as I set foot on the Appalachian Trail in high school around 1998, I knew I wanted to hike every single step of it.  I think this was a a challenge that both of us welcomed.

Leaving Millinocket, Maine for a shuttle ride to Baxter State Park, to begin the AT! June 2005.

Thank y’all so much for reading and looking!  Next blog post takes us through the beginning of the Appalachian Trail and Maine’s 100 mile wilderness!  Wow!  We get to summit the mighty Katahdin!

See y’all on July 11, 2016 (7/11/16) for more photos!! Mark your calendar!

Update 6/29/16: Apparently, I can notify y’all of new blog posts automatically if you want.  If you go to the “3 dots” in the upper righthand corner, you should see “Follow Blog Via Email.” Thanks!

Our first moose sighting and BEST moose photo we took (I think…we’ll see as we go through the film!) was taken by jumping out of our shuttle car in Baxter State Park and running to the pond’s edge. June 2005.



11 thoughts on “2005 Appalachian Trail thru-hike: 15 rolls of film

  1. Pingback: AT 2005, Rolls 1 and 2: 100 Mile Wilderness – Ryan M. Ignatius

  2. Pingback: Summer Fun and Future Projects – Ryan M. Ignatius

  3. Pingback: AT 2005, Roll 6: Through MA, CT, and NY – Ryan M. Ignatius

  4. Pingback: AT 2005, Roll 8: The Missing Vermont Photos – Ryan M. Ignatius

  5. Pingback: AT 2005, Roll 11: More Virginia – Ryan M. Ignatius

  6. Pingback: This Beautiful Country: my 90 mile/3.2 day traverse of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park along the Benton MacKaye Trail – Ryan M. Ignatius

  7. Pingback: AT 2005, Roll 15: This is the End – Ryan M. Ignatius

  8. Pingback: The Rank Stranger: another Appalachian Trail Standing Indian Loop – Ryan M. Ignatius

  9. Pingback: Into the Ultralight – Ryan M. Ignatius

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