If you're going to take a month to thru-hike the Long Trail, you probably want something to show for it, right? The Green Mountain Club offers an official End to End Certification for hikers who have made it all the way from Massachusetts to Canada on the trail.
To qualify for End to End Certification, you need to fill out an application, keep a trail journal and pare it down to ten pages when you finish your hike. Green Mountain Club is looking for descriptions of your journey, not just a list of where you were and when. They read each journal that's submitted, so have fun with it! Did you see a black bear? What was it like crossing the treeline into the arctic tundra? They want to hear about the vistas you saw and the animals and people you met along the way.
End to End Certification comes with a free one-year membership to Green Mountain Club, and they send you some swag and publish your name and address in their summer newsletter [source: Green Mountain Club]. They've certified over 3,100 hikers so far, and the Vermont Historical Society archives every single one.
Hiking from end to end has its share of challenges. The southern end of the Long Trail is also part of the Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking trail in the U.S. [source: Hiking the Smokys]. It's a busy path that's not too rugged. After that first 100 miles (161 kilometers) or so, the topography starts changing as climbs get steeper and you begin hitting some of the higher peaks along the way [source: Restless Adventurer]. Along the way you'll trek through wilderness, forests, tundras, and majestic mountaintop views.
One of the trickier parts for thru-hikers is sorting out transportation: how will you get from your home to the trailhead, and how will you get back home when you finish your end-to-end hike?