Appalachian Trail

3 Reasons Why I Love Backpacking (And You Should Too)

why i love backpacking

Warning: the following post uses the f-word (fuck, not filibuster) 15 times.  If you’re looking for some wholesome reading, you’re fuck out of luck.  Make that 16.

Most people in this country don’t backpack, and quite frankly, that’s a good thing.  Backpacking is rewarding in large part because of this fact- it’s where you go to get away from the masses.  Add to this some beautiful scenery and a dash of exercise, and you’ve listed all the reasons why someone might enjoy this combination sport / hobby / lifestyle.  Right?


The reasons to love backpacking are nearly limitless.  The below offers just a few of my favorite.

1) Better habits

When you wake up in the morning, what’s your first motion?

If you’re anywhere near as big a piece of shit as me, it’s toward your phone.

Instagram.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Email.  Maybe twice, because when it comes to mindlessly consuming media, you can’t be too diligent.

It’s a bad habit. I’m aware of it, but since these neurons fire so consistently in this pattern, it’s nearly-impossible to break.

A healthy routine would consist of a couple minutes of silence to slowly and consciously enter into the day.  Perhaps a couple of yoga exercises.  Maybe some meditation.

But no, before the lights flicker on in my brain, I’m balls deep in email and Tweets.  This sets the tone for the ADHD circus of self-inflicted distractions that can (and regularly do) dominate my day.

Backpacking doesn’t present me the option to be this piece of shit.  Getting lost in the mountains has a way of grabbing me by the shoulders, bitch slapping me and saying, “here and now, asshole.  Here.  And.  Now.”  After only a couple of days, the circus in my brain dies and peace fills its void.

If you’re currently battling a cerebral circus, go backpacking.

2) Better humans

This really could be broken down into two separate reasons: 1) your cool-as-fuck friends and 2) the cool-as-fuck strangers.

Your cool-as-fuck friends

The first hurdle when it comes to backpacking also happens to be the biggest, and that is trying to convince someone why the fuck they would want to go backpacking.  On paper- beer, music, pizza, movies, parties, etc. seems like a much more enticing way to allocate free time.

Saying, “yeah, but, we can go into the mountains, and just be,” is a surefire way to lose friends.  Unless of course, your friends are cool-as-fuck.  Then they already know that backpacking is like a party without all the unsavory byproducts.

After a weekend of partying, you battle a three day hangover that leaves you capable of little more than consuming the latest American Idol ripoff in the fetal position on the couch.

After a weekend in the mountains, you’re refreshed, inexplicably chipper, and inspired to start engaging in more activities that don’t actively hemorrhage your soul.

Backpacking is bliss and those who will join you on this endeavor are by definition cool-as-fuck.  Do not take these friends for granted.

The cool-as-fuck strangers

And when you’re backpacking through a more popular area, like the Appalachian Trail, it’s all but guaranteed that you’re going to run into cool-as-fuck-new-people.  This is a self-selected group of humans who understand that stripping your life down to 25 lbs + 6 oz of whisky is really stellar way to pass time.  Chances are, these people have stories to tell.  They’ve been places.  They’ve seen shit.  You are privileged to share a campfire, shelter, or flask with these folks.

These strangers could be 20-something nomads who work odd jobs and don’t yet know their next destination.  They could be a family of four who lives in the ‘burbs in a two story house with a white picket fence and a yellow lab named Bella.  You will run into the full spectrum of people when backpacking and they have almost nothing in common EXCEPT that they’re all cool-as-fuck.  Backpackers come in all shapes and sizes, but only one flavor: cool-as…okay you get it.

And to clarify: they’re not cool-as-fuck because they’re backpacking.  They’re backpacking because they’re cool-as-fuck.  

In other words, if you want to visit a place where the only cream of the crop play, go backpacking.

3) Better perspective

The rat race has a way of imposing a false sense of importance to events that really aren’t important. We let our thoughts meander from one obligation to the next, bouncing around like a pinball on the board of stress.  We get so caught up in our own theater, that we forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe. – Joe Rogan

The bigger picture is that perception is reality.

Sure, you could be weighed down by your seemingly endless student loan payments or credit card debt.  Yeah, your boss is an idiot and the forecast for your job is a dead end.  That’s one way to perceive your situation.

Another is to appreciate that you have access to clean drinking water.  You live in a world with iPhones and Chipotle.  For fuck’s sake you’re probably reading this on a device that’s worth more than the gross annual income of an entire family in Liberia.

Backpacking has a way of bringing this bigger picture back into focus.  A few days stripped of the clutter and all you’re left with is a pristine landscape, a cocktail of endorphins, and an innate understanding that life is good.

Go backpacking.

Lead image:

Ian Mangiardi of The Dusty Camel on His PCT Documentary, As It Happens

Next to cat farts, Ian Mangiardi is the most commonly used phrase on this website.  That is because Ian was the Good Badger’s Appalachian Trail Mr. Miyagi.  He outlined my gear list, calmed my nerves, and set my expectations.  Although it’s too speculative to say that I would or wouldn’t have finished without his guidance, it’s a scientific fact to discern that without him, the initial struggle would have been far greater.  My goal with writing Appalachian Trials was to offer aspiring hikers this same competitive advantage, so to speak.  The actual original title for the book was: “Ian’s Thoughts, Zach’s Words, Offensively Yellow Cover”.

Last year, Ian, along with his partner-in-crime Andy Laub (the other half of The Dusty Camel), thru-hiked the PCT – a mere two years after tackling the Appalachian Trail.  Along the way, the duo hauled filming equipment in order to document their 2,663 mile trek from Mexico to Canada.  The result is their recently premiered Pacific Crest Trail documentary, As It Happens.  If I had to summarize in three words, the film is a Naturegasm Dramastorm through Adventureville.  Peep the trailer below (the movie isn’t available to the public yet, but I will be the first to shout-out the good news when it is).

I caught up with the man, the myth, the Miyagi to learn more about the documentary, his beard, and how the AT and PCT compare.

Who is the star of As it Happens: You and Andy Laub, or the PCT?  What was the inspiration for as it happens?

It really isn’t about the PCT. I don’t think we even mention the trail (a mix of political mumbo jumbo, and not giving support to an organization that didn’t support us) so it really is about us traveling through America, seeing its beauty and friendly faces.

How do the PCT and AT compare to one another?

The PCT and AT are like comparing apples and organs. The community around the AT is what makes it spectacular. The terrain is mundane and can get monotonous, and is way more difficult on a whole as the AT brings you up and over every peak; you end up traveling more vertical miles a day on the AT. The PCT is less known, so people rarely know what you are doing. People think you are bums or vagrants, but the beauty of the trail is much more profound. The trail winds itself through some of the tallest mountains in the country which makes the grade much less difficult. Instead of going up and over every peak, you’re wrapping around them. Even at 10,000 feet, the trail seems much more enjoyable — physically. The remote nature of the PCT is what gives its appeal, where the thousands of people surrounding the AT gives its own appeal. It’s hard to compare the two as they both equally are important in my life. They are not competing trails, but instead, contrasting trails. Where one falls short, the other excels and vice-versa.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you and Andy thru hike the PCT on the snowiest year on record?  Tell us about that experience. Did that translate to more snow hiking, zeros, or both?

Yes. Yes we did. The Sierras had over 700 inches of snow that year, and most of it was still there in June. We were five feet higher in any given point than we should have been. The snow made it difficult to navigate, and much more tiring. In wooded areas where there were trees, the areas where sun got through the trees would melt the snow, but there were still areas where the snow was kept in the shade, creating never-ending mounds of snow which we had to ascend and descend every 10 steps. Even though the mounds were only 3 or 4 feet high, going up and down them would take it out of you. Even more dangerous than the snow, however, was the snow melt. The Sierras saw 14 people die that year due to snow melt — twice as much as the usual. We just had to keep pushing ourselves through the snow. Most people skipped the Sierras that year, or went around it to go back once the snow was melted. Not us; we persevered.

If ever there was a theme to, I hope it to be a never ending barrage of kicks to the poop-maker to encourage dream chasing, adventure, and passion pursuit whenever possible (spoiler alert: it’s almost always possible).  In lieu of your most recent thru-hike and now documentary release, what words of wisdom would you like to espouse to the good readers of this site (not the bad ones, they’re on timeout)?

There is one simple motto which sums it all up: just do it. Excuses will be made, reasons will get in the way, life will inevitably put up a fight. When it comes to doing the things you dream about, it won’t come easily. You have to push, perceive and put your life on the line (both physically, mentally, and emotionally). The only way to achieve greatness is to fail ten times before. The only way to fail is to do. My one piece of advice is this; if you have a dream, reach for it, push yourself, and never let it go.

In total, which is harder? AT vs. PCT. “They’re different” will not be counted as an answer. (Clearly you were dealt a crazy difficult hand for each. The hiking Gods like watching you and Andy suffer.)

Yes, the gods like dumping snow on us and watching us shiver and quiver. The AT was the highest snow year for the south in the midst of the hike, and the PCT was the highest snow year EVER for the Sierras. The AT is actually more difficult physically and mentally but the PCT is more difficult logistically. Since the AT goes over every single little peak in its way, its physically more strenuous, and since the terrain is similar throughout the trail — its mentally challenging due to the monotony. The PCT varies in terrain DRASTICALLY throughout it’s miles. From the desert to high mountains, and everything in between. However, the difficulties on the PCT are logistically. It is in the middle of nowhere, and difficult to find rides into towns so far away. The community around the AT make it much more enjoyable at times, and the PCT has a very small community which doesn’t help with rides getting into town (people think your bums, and know nothing of the trail!). So while the trails are DIFFERENT (ha!) they both have their hardships and beauty.

Will the PCT ever match the AT in terms of popularity?

No. The PCT is in some of the most remote lands of the country and the towns which are closest to the trail can reach up to 30 miles away. The AT swivels through tons of towns which rely on the hikers for their economy. This means people all around the trail know who hikers are, what their doing, and offer help. This brings more people to the trail since it can get to be a party at times. Community drives popularity, and vice versa. The PCT lacks both in the grand scheme of things — which makes it sought after by experienced hikers looking for a less populated trail and experience.

When traversing an ice covered, steeply sloped mountain, where one slip translated to impeding death, did the thought, “what the fuck am I doing?” ever cross through your mind?

What the FUCKING FUCKITY FUCK FUCK went through my mind often. Why am I doing this also crossed my mind many times. Through all the blisters, broken gear, broken spirits — it was hard to find reasons at all times to be out on the trail. One night after our Mt. Whitney climb, I realized why I do these journeys: to experience a moment most will never know.

Scenario: Go back in time and allow the negative thoughts and excuses to persuade you out of doing the AT + PCT. How is your life different? How are you different?

Myself and my life are no where near what it is today. The AT inspired me to better myself and turn me into the person I am today, and the PCT gave me the drive to excel my career and ambitions forward. Essentially the AT straightened the arrow, and the PCT shot it that arrow far. It’s impossible to think where I would be without these trails, but I can say with confidence I would not be who I am today.

The cinematography is bananas good (on the motion-picture-fruit scale, that’s the highest score). Did you have any film training prior to embarking on the trail?

While the doc was partially shot by myself, it is primarily shot by Andy. He is a videographer and has worked at major channels from Discovery to TLC. Andy is really the brains behind the doc, where I am the brains behind the expedition. This pairing allows us to capture some spectacular shots in some spectacular lands.

How heavy was the camera + electronic gear? How heavy was your pack in total? How much did it slow you down – not only in terms of weight, but capturing footage?

It didn’t slow us down at all! Part of my responsibility was to create our gear lists. Depending on areas, our base pack weight (excluding water and food) was anywhere from 13-30 pounds. The camera equipment and electronics combined only weighed about 10 pounds, so between the two of us was nothing. I did my research to ensure all of our equipment was as light as possible to make up for the additional weight of our electronics, and it worked beautifully. The way we carried the camera was with a holster style pack that was clipped on to our hip straps. The Camera was only a quick zip away to capture a shot in the moment and while on the move. This ensure we could move quickly and shoot quickly.

Did you name your beard? If not, please do so now.

Our beards weren’t named, but we had trail names for our trail names in part from our long beards, and in part for the screws in our head coming loose. I was Sheriff Dusty, and Andy was Camel the Viking. I always had the King Tut style beard (long under the chin but short on the sides), so if it had a name it — Kind Tut would be his name!

You hit an emotional low while hiking through Oregon. Do you think you would’ve finished without knowing that a documentary was on the line? If not, what got you through the most challenging days?

As we often said on the AT — we are locked in a prison with the key in our hands. If the doc wasn’t on the line, we would have persevered regardless. The lows we felt were drastically outweighed by the highs, especially once completed. No matter how bad we felt, or how much we wanted to go home, the thought of quitting was never an option or even crossed the mind. The thought of going home, and the thought of getting off trail were frequent fliers through our minds, but we always knew we would be on it until Canada.

The scene where you catch a trout flyfishing is really badass. That’s not a question, yet still very important.

Badass, and delicious. Those trout were not only beautiful — but tasty! It was a much needed mental pickup. Sometimes you can get lost in the grind of hiking and forget to take your time and smell the flowers, and catch a fish. Taking those moments really allows you to appreciate where you are and what you’re doing.

andy laub's hair

Sorry to everyone that just got impregnated

Andy’s hair is magical. Also not a question, but still needs to be said. Please comment.

Its a beast. An unruly, untamable beast. He washed it maybe a dozen times in six months… maybe.

What’s next?

As mentioned before, the PCT gave me the drive to excel my career forward. I am starting two companies in LA which are and will be outdoor related. I will continue to manage expeditions and work to get people outdoors, and I look forward to the future. There is a saying in the long distance backpacking work when talking about the AT; “you either do one trail, or three…” we’ve done two. The third, the Continental Divide Trail, will not be far away.

Want even more? Zach and Steve interview Andy on their latest podcast.  Listen here.  Also, I have a new podcast.  We’ll talk about it more later.  I’m going to sleep now.  Dibs on little spoon.

One Year Later

Last Wednesday, August 22, marked my one year anniversary of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. 

In it of itself, that is maybe worthy of a Facebook status.  This post is dedicated to reflecting on where my life, or more accurately, my mindset, has since gone.

I’m Back

When Michael Jordan made this proclamation in 1995, it was without question the two sweetest words any Chicago Bulls fan could possibly hear (and equally as bitter for the other 29 teams – suck it Karl Malone/Patrick Ewing/Reggie Miller/Shawn Kemp).

When I say I’m back, I mean it in the – holy fuck what kind of routine have I fallen into – sort of way.  When I say I’m back, I mean I’m back to working 60+ hour weeks.  I’m back to living in my inbox.  I’m back to sweating the bullshit – the same person who actively acknowledged that everything is the bullshit.

I knew I wanted to write this post – although I hadn’t a clue about which direction to take it (disclosure: that’s my usual formula).  Just before I sat down to open up the faucet of thoughts, my earbuds (which were attached to my iPhone) snagged onto my belt and subsequently yanked my phone onto my bedroom’s hardwood floor and smashed the screen into 100 pieces.  This was after a full day of mundane, administrative tasks and thankless chores (commonly referred to as “headaches”).  Needless to say, if there was a face within arm’s reach, it would have been punched.  The shattered iFriend coupled with the carousel of task oriented thoughts began pushing my internal PSI near the “WE’LL DO IT LIVE” meltdown zone.

It then occurred to me, if you were to take a Polaroid of the August 22, 2012 Zach Davis and contrast it to the 2011 version, it’s clear that much has changed, and I’m not just referring to the majestic fire beard.  The serene, unshakable, and eternally optimistic Badger has been replaced with his easily annoyed twin.

The trail hasn’t bestowed me with the gift of unconditional and unwavering joy.  But it has offered me a worthy consolation: perspective.

When confronted with a challenging day, the pre-trail Good Badger believed that life’s events were out to get him, or at the very least, were unfolding unfavorably.  Like magnets, bad events would seem to attract one another until I was a moving manifestation of Murphy’s Law.  The mental radio was playing 40 stations at once, gradually building into a cacophony of angry static.  And that angry static was the medium through which life was observed.

Today the angry static still has a way of finding this radio, but unlike before, I’ve located the “off” switch.  I’ve learned that life isn’t the DJ; I’m the one laying down the tracks.  And the only way to change the song is to stop singing along, but instead listen objectively.  The space between the radio and the radiohead is the happy medium.

To un-radio-metaphor the above: life doesn’t cause your unhappiness, you do.  My iPhone shattered and immediately my internal monolog responded with, “FFFUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKK WHY FUCK SHIT FUCK NO SHIT NO FUCK WHY”.  After the mini-internal tantrum, however, I was able to remind myself, that 1) it’s not my health (other than perhaps a slight myocardial infarction) 2) it’s not the health of a loved one, and 3) I HAVE AN IPHONE TO BREAK.  The screen on my pocket laptop is now a little harder to read.  They’re called White People Problems because they’re not real problems.  Nobody should feel bad about my smashed iPhone display, myself included.

The moral of the story is that my greatest take away from the trail – that real happiness is a mindset, not a set of conditions – is occasionally forgotten.  I still get pulled into my own bullshit factory.  But unlike before, I now have the road-map to find my way out.  And although it may take a bit to discover that I’ve strayed, this GPS is shatter-proof.


Sidenote: I will be speaking at the REI in Charlotte, NC next week.  If you can, come say hello.

the Good Badger Live, Uncut, Unraveled, Uncensored, Unlocked, Uncle, Unnecessarily Long Title

Hey team,

I ran out of un’s.  If I missed any, feel free to throw them in the comment rectangle at the bottom of this weblog.


If you live in the Bay Area, you have the rare opportunity to see the Good Badger in front of a projector screen, taking you inside the mind of a thru-hiker, talking about running away from serial killers, and of course, showcasing the half-year evolution of a ManBeard.

Here are some relevant details:

When: Tuesday, August 7th; 7:00 – 8:30pm.  The talk is 60 minutes.  The Q&A is 30, or until someone forces me to go home.  I will warn you, I’m very strong.

Where:  REI – Saratoga. 400 El Paseo de Saratoga, San Jose, CA 95130.  They call it Saratoga’s REI.  The address is San Jose.  Your guess is as good as mine.

What:  This is the description REI is using:

“In March 2011, Zach Davis set out from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to hike the length of the Appalachian Trail-2,181 miles to Mount Katahdin, Maine; he’d never backpacked before. Tonight, Zach will share his perspectives on making a successful thru-hike, including highlights from his new book, “Appalachian Trials-A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail”. As Zach shows images of his journey northward through the spectacular wilderness lands of the East Coast states-Great Smoky Mountain and Shenandoah National Parks, White Mountain National Forest, and more, he’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of gearing up for an adventure of this magnitude, as well as the remarkable impact of the trail on the body and the spirit. If you register for this free presentation at, we will hold a seat for you until the scheduled start time. Seating may be available at the door, even if registration is closed.”

Here’s my description:  Do you want to know what it’s like to walk ~2,200 miles without actually having to doing it?  Ok, come to the talk.

Why: Because you’ll surely get your money’s worth.

Cost:  Free.

If you know someone who lives in the Bay Area who enjoys doing things, can you please pass this along?  Have them tell me you sent them, and I will give them an uncomfortable bear hug in front of everyone.

Also important, if you do plan on going, you must register for the event.  Not only does this get the planner person off my case, but it ensures that they save you a seat.  Win, win.


Also, I’ll be selling some copies of Appalachian Trials (at a discount), followed by my scribbling in your book upon request.

I think that’s all the relevant information.

Truly yours,


The Good Badger on Camping Gear TV

camping gear tv and the good badger

You’ve heard a lot about The Dusty Camel and Ian Mangiardi, both on this site and in Appalachian Trials.  Ian played a huge role in my thru-hike preparation, and ultimately, the book.  For this I am forever grateful.

But the catalyst to all of the AT goodwill began even before Ian took the reigns of Zach’s pre-trail therapist.  It was Josh Turner of Camping Gear TV who got the ball rolling, not only by putting me in touch with Ian, but also introducing me to many of the sponsors of his show (including Hi Tec, Eureka!, and Innate Gear).

The good folks of Camping Gear TV have dealt another bout of good fortune to the Good Badger (three goods, one sentence – the grammar equivalent of two girls, one cup.).  They decided to let me talk about living in the woods for a half year.  On video.  And they posted it.

If you’re into the outdoors in any capacity, I highly recommend subscribing to Camping Gear TV (either through RSS, Facebook, YouTube and/or Twitter accounts).  If REI and Santa made a superbaby, this superbaby would be Camping Gear TV.  In other words, they give you awesome camping equipment for freeGet some.

– Side Note of Awesomeness –

Guess which book recently got a positive endorsement from Tim Ferriss (read the comments), author of New York Times NUMBER 1 Best-Selling The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body?  Hint: I wrote it.  The cover is currently getting a slight makeover.

4 New Things in The Life of the Good Badger

4 new things in the life of the good badger

This website didn’t used to be about me.  Sure my name is in the URL.  And yeah, the “about me” page contains more info about me than any person should know.  But the content of the posts were always marketing best practices, technology tutorials, and how to get your cat on Oprah-types-of-insights.  The subject changed, but it was consistently not me.

And then I went on a hike. 

Although I tried to make the focus of my writing the trail’s culture, I started to leak into the posts.  I never liked the idea of writing about me, too many people do it, and, in my opinion, very few do it well.  I didn’t want to fall into that category.   But in order for a hiker’s journal to have any context, it’s important to get to know the hiker.

So, I opened up.  One thing led to another.  I finished the trail.  I wrote a book.  I made a lot of noise about said book.  And now here we are…

Normally, I wouldn’t find a post updating you on the status of my life worth writing, but I am also cognizant of the fact that there are now people who care about the Badger behind the screen.  I’ve received enough e-mails inquiring about a life update to make this theory seem less delusional.  Although, far be it from me to let delusion prevent action.

So if you don’t care about a Zach Davis State of the Union, now is the time to click the “x” box in the top right corner.


You’re still with me?  Good.  I always liked you best anyway.

Here’s what’s new in the world of the Good Badger.

1) I have a job

As it turns out, writing two blog posts a month isn’t enough to pay the bills (or even to buy the pen that signs the check).  So instead of living at home forever, I decided to go the route that doesn’t end in suicide and join the working world.

I have accepted a position as the Marketing Director for Tech Cocktail, an emerging technology media company.  In a nutshell, my job is to be me– for them.  Pretty sweet.

More specifically – I write.  I cover startups.  I organize events.  I create and manage digital projects.  I meet and interact with millionaires and poor people who will soon be millionaires.  I learn a lot.  I send a tremendous amount of e-mails.

At this point, you might be asking yourself…

Aren’t you falling straight back into the technology suckhole you were so desperately trying to escape?

Although the conditions are eerily similar to where I was before leaving for the trail (working remotely, no strict hours, many projects), I have learned my lesson.  I know now that in order to my job effectively I have to intentionally build in a fair amount of fuck around time into my week.  The reason I’ve been slow to post here, is because my free time has largely been spent on hikes, exploring, and being social.  Fool me once, Appalachian Trail thru-hike.  Fool me twice, shame on me. 

As to the technology issue, yes, I am surrounded by all things tech on all levels at all times.  I like technology, and judging by the amount of interactions we have on Facebook, so do you.  I’ve learned that technology is not the enemy; it’s only our usage of it that can be at fault.  When it’s time to Tech Cocktail (a new verb I’m experimenting with), I am in a vortex of Tweets, cloud-based collaborative platforms, software, and keystrokes.  When it’s time for Zach to recharge, he is in the mountains, he is with friends, or playing basketball.  His phone is no where to be found (unless you look in his middle console or bedroom – this is not an invitation to rob him). 

So far, it’s been good (healthy and sustainable).  Plus, I like my job.  I like the people I work with.  I believe in the company.  I was fortunate to have options, and I chose based upon the above characteristics.  But most importantly, as I already stated, I get to be me.

My position involves having a fairly visible online persona.   For most who too share this digital semi-spotlight, it’s important that they speak through their work mouth – which roughly translates to constant self-censorship.  I’ve never been good at that and I have stopped trying.  In other words, I can tweet the occasional hippo having a crazy explosive diarrhea fart, and not worry about losing my job.  That’s important.  Once you start compromising on hippo farts, it’s all over.

2)  I moved to San Francisco

I moved to San Francisco.  Because I work remotely, I can live anywhere (with wi-fi access, that is).  San Francisco was my top choice.  Why?  Yosemite, Sonoma, Napa, Big Sur, John Muir Woods, Tahoe, Pacific Ocean.  Oh and the city is pretty neat too.  If you live in the bay area and like to drink beer, we should coordinate.

3)  I will write another book

Someday.  I have already decided.  Probably not this week, or this year, but before long.  You made the entire process a lot of fun, and I’m already itching to make the next one better.  But for now, I am focusing on Tech Cocktail’ing and getting lost in the mountains when I can.  If you want to be the first to know when the next idea drops, the Good Badger e-mail club is for you.

4)  Thank you

That’s not new, or even a thing really, but still very important and true.  Your Amazon reviews have made the book launch a glowing success.  I am proud of the early reception of Appalachian Trials (the best Appalachian Trail book ever written by a Badger), and you are the reason for this being so.  I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heat.

That’s it.

Stay good,


Appalachian Trials Has A New Home

appalachian trials dot com

Hi team,

I just wanted to let you know that Badger’s Appalachian Trail book has its own website.   If you’re so inclined, check it out, let me know what you think, maybe get a book or seven (one for Snow White and six of her dwarfs- Dopey doesn’t get one until he cleans his act up), maybe “like” the page, maybe tweet it, or Google plus it.  Or maybe do none of that.  That’s up to you.  I’m just giving you options.

The new Appalachian Trials website was designed and developed by Adam Nutting of Hiking the Trail.  You should check out Adam’s site because he gives you free gear.

Also, as a little bit of a change in procedure- this website will slowly be transitioning away from all things Appalachian Trail.  There is now a dedicated Appalachian Trials blog that will be taking over that role in due time.  It’s still a bit rough right now, but I promise you, it will eventually be awesome.  And let this be a warning to 2012 thru-hikers, pay attention to this blog over the course of the next couple of weeks.  Just trust me, k?

the Good Badger will return to its regular scheduled programming, which roughly translates to whatever is on my mind for the day.  I may still chat about the AT, but I may also try to get you to move to San Diego.  You just can’t be sure.

Also a little update with the status of the book:

You guys are amazing.  We already have 10 reviews.  That really, truly means a lot to me (as you likely already know).  If you have read the book and wouldn’t mind taking 89 seconds out of your day to share your thoughts with Amazon, that would bring a smile to my face.  Also, I’m hopeful Amazon will soon link the print and e-book page so all reviews feed into one.  ARE YOU LISTENING AMAZON!?!

That’s all we have for now.

Bear hugs,


Appalachian Trials- Available in Print!

Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis


Five words:

Appalachian Trials, Available in PRINT

“Sorry, I couldn’t hear you, can you say that again please?”

Sure.  I said…


Sorry it sounded like there was golden joy sauce pouring directly into my ear cavity.  Maybe you can say that one more time?”

Appalachian Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail, as of today, February 8, 2012 is available in print.

Here’s a short video on why you might enjoy reading it.

Read the first chapter for free

To make good on my promise, for those who purchased both the Kindle version, as well as the print version by February 15, 2012, I will send you a signed copy of the book, on the (Good) Badger.  E-mail me both of your receipts at, and I will dedicate your book in any way you like (I’m a pretty good artist.  And when I say good, I mean laughably bad.  I’m the Nickleback of artists.  But some people like Nickleback.  Those who don’t, can at least laugh at them.  That’s the equivalent of my artistic ability.)

For those who may have noticed, the Amazon sell page isn’t completely filled out yet.  Apparently that takes a few days (Amazon’s doing, not mine).  Eventually, all of you fine folks who left wonderful reviews for the e-book version (by the way, THANK YOU), will show up on this page as well.  Again, you are doing me a huge favor by doing this.  I’m sincerely truly, truly grateful for all the wonderful words you guys have left thus far.   To be clear, I would never ask you to leave a dishonest review.  Appalachian Trials only wants to earn your 5-star review.

I’ve consumed a lot of coffee so I’m going to continue to ramble. Feel free to jump ship to the Appalachian Trail book page whenever you want.

So some of you may be wondering why the reviews matter so much?

Honesty = Best policy.

Aside from being a heavy ranking factor in Amazon’s search algorithm, it’s what fellow Amazon shoppers use as their gauge for making a purchase.  I will paint out each of the following scenarios for you:

Scenario 1 – Only a few reviews:  Badger gets few reviews on his book revealing a mixed opinion on quality.  Some think it’s garbage.  Some think it’s compost (which is only slightly better than garbage).  Appalachian Trials dies in its tracks.  Zach’s aspirations to become a word writer on published paper dies along with it.  He’s forced into the only other career path available to him (eye brow model: see intro picture).

Zach has many great years flexing his forehead muscles on the catwalk and on prominent billboards, but his true passion for life, expressing the insanity that lies behind the eyebrows, never gets fulfilled.  He grows bitter and recklessly decids to spend all of his eyebrow wealth on purchasing the first HondaCopter (Honda’s first car/helicopter hybrid).  Because Zach is impatient, he arrogantly believes he can fly his HondaCopter without formal training.  Turns out he can.  Right into a tree.  Zach survives, but must spend the next half year in a hospital bed.  The nurse brings him some reading material to help pass the time.  It’s the latest New York Times Best Seller –  Pacific Unrest – A Psychological guide to hiking the PCT.


Scenario 2 – Lots of happy reviews:  Zach makes a modest living talking about HondaCopters and making lots of awesome new friends in the process.  The end.

It’s up to you.

But in all sincerity.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for everything thus far.  You don’t have to do anything, I’m already indefinitely grateful for all of the support I’ve gotten.  You guys have made this an insanely fun journey.  Without you, I would be a paralyzed eyebrow model.

Thank you.

Also, I would like to give special thanks to the following people.  Without you, this book would either not exist or exist in a much shittier fashion.

Co-Editor: Michele Weiner-Davis

Some may refer to you as the best-selling author of Divorce Busting, I of course, refer to you as “mom.”  Although we often did not see eye-to-eye on this process, you refused to quit on me- even when I was an intolerable ass (see: often).  Thank you.  I love you.

Co-Editor: B. Hanson MacDonald

B- to put it bluntly, you are fucking amazing.  Not only did you make this book a much, much, much, much more polished version than the one I handed you, but your consistently kind feedback and passion for this project fed right back onto me.  You deserve so much credit in this.  Thank you!!!

Cover Design: Paula Murphy

Paula, flat out, you’re a genius.  You too had to put up with my volatile mind-changing antics, but in the end, the finished product is one that makes me very proud.  I hope you feel the same.  For those looking for some highly professional and creative design work, PLEASE check out:

Website Design (coming soon): Adam Nutting

Although you haven’t seen it yet, we have a new website for the book coming out very shortly.  It was designed by Founder of Hiking the Trail, Adam Nutting.  Adam gets shit done.  Adam is a great support.  Adam is a great guy.  Thank you for everything thus far Adam!  (side note: more big news coming out of the new site – stay posted!)

Contributors: Ian Mangiardi, Aubby Duggan, and Miss Janet Henley

Ian- I’m done talking about you.  The only name that exists in the book more than my own, is yours.  I kid.  You are a living manifestation of benevolence.  Without your help, it is quite likely I would have joined the 70% of hikers who fall short of Katadhin.  Without your help this book wouldn’t be possible.  Thank you.  (Side note: check out Ian’s site The Dusty Camel.  He has an amazing PCT documentary coming out later this year – I got a sneak peak.)

Aubby (Cayenne) Duggan – Your story adds an emotional layer to this book that would otherwise be missing, but even aside from that, I am truly glad our paths crossed on the trail.  I am very proud of you for sticking to your goal.  You are a badass and a kind soul.  Thank you.

Miss Janet – It is spirits like you that make the AT the surreal experience that it is.  Aside from the wonderful words of wisdom you offer in this book, the countless others that you help along the AT makes you a trail angel in every sense of the word.  Thank you.

By clicking here, I acknowledge that I will be linked to the greatest Appalachian Trail book ever written. 

Last note, this book is written for:

  1. Aspiring thru-hikers
  2. Those on the fence about hiking the AT
  3. Those who want to know what goes on inside of the head of an AT-thru-hiker
  4. Those following loved ones on the trail.
  5. Those looking for inspiration to accomplish a major accomplishment in their life

Although the book will make you laugh (I hope), it is by no means a comedy.  It is also not a “Zach Davis hikes the Appalachian Trail“, although there are stories about my hike.  The most accurate description is the book’s subtitle: A Psyschological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail.  If you’ve enjoyed this website, you will enjoy the book, but I wanted to be clear about our expectations here.

I am fielding suggestions for the next book 🙂

Good chat.



Appalachian Trials Available On Kindle!

Appalachian Trials: "Hi, I wrote a book"

After months of writing, editing, formatting, fighting with myself and others (mostly myself), and designing, the day has finally arrived….

Appalachian Trials is here!!!

Assuming “here” means “available in e-book form”

So the print version is still a little ways away (days, not weeks), but the Kindle Version of Appalachian Trials is up & active:


Reasons to buy the Kindle (e-book) Version Read more

Ryan Mogan, The Proud Owner of Appalachian Trials’ Last Page

Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner!

So about a week ago, we ran a promotion auctioning off the last page of my upcoming book, Appalachian Trials.  The highest bidder won the right to input their name on the last page of the book.

With a high bid of $203.50, Ryan Mogan is our winner! Read more