Dan aka Obvioustroll on here is from the NY area and hiked it after graduation.
Talk to him about it hell tell you all you need to know
I live in Colorado, but it is a life goal of mine to go out and hike it one day.
I think it'd be a great way to experience a true piece of America.
Im from east Tennessee, I've done most of the AT through GA TN and NC. The parts I've done are pretty sick. I think the really tough stuff is up north though. Im assumming if your really going to do this you'll do all the research. I think its 2100 miles? something like that. Just read up all you can, plan for people to drop you supplies here and there if you can. Buy yourself some books on the trail, theres plenty out there. I would see in the papers once or twice a year back home about a 70 something person doing the whole trail, pretty gnar. Theres was a kid from the local college that attempted to set the record for the quickest trip, I think he ended up being the 3 or 4th fastest.
Also read an article by some dude that retired and spends all his free time maintining as much of the trail near him as he can. Cant remember his name but he spent alot of time on the trail. He said the main danger isnt bears or whatever, its TICKS. Lime disease. I fucking hate those bastards.
Anyways, good luck if you really go for it. It would be an amazing experience.
I thru-hiked the AT in 2009. I would strongly recommend it - fantastic experience. As far as tips, here are a few basics:
Internal frame pack - 55l (Larger is heavier, smaller won't hold enough, 55l is perfect)
Trail runners not boots (This is a must. Boots are heavy, slow you down, and are completely unncecessary)
Trekking Poles (Speed you up dramatically, huge stability help, make things so much easier. Strongly recommend Gossamer Gear, although I used Leki Super Makalus)
I did not do any mail drops, and was just fine. It adds to the adventure resupplying on your own along the way. Get the current year guidebook that lists trail mileage, town locations, town info, etc. You will want some form of shelter, and I would recommend a tarp tent. You will be able to stay in shelters a lot, but should have your own if necessary. I actually got rid of mine in Damascus, but I paid for it at times and was uncomfortable a bit. You will want a very small stove, such as the Optimus Crux Lite. Also a small titanium pot.
Do not get stuck doing what "everyone" else is doing. This is your hike, hike how you want to. Many will get caught up in spending lots of time in towns, while others will choose to continually do big miles. No one can tell you what is right for you. You will "fit in" with a crowd and get sucked into their cycle, but remember that the crowd ahead of you will have equally interesting people. I enjoyed going faster than most and meeting far more people. If you stay with a group and get stuck in a bubble, you are definitely limiting yourself. Is this bad? No, of course not.
The people who constantly tell you to "slow down and enjoy it" are simply making excuses for themselves. What they see at two miles per hour looks absolutely no different at three miles per hour. If you hike five miles per day or thirty miles per day, you will see the same things. Remember, you are walking. We are not talking the difference between driving 35 and driving 75.
The trail really doesn't require planning. I heard about the AT three weeks before I went and did it. I knew nothing about it, had done no significant long distance backpacking, and simply decided it was something I wanted to do. You will learn whatever you do not know along the way.
Listen to your body. You will eat more than you ever thought possible. If your body hurts, do fewer miles per day. If your body feels great and you want to push it, go for it. I did some big miles, including a 210 mile week. Sometimes it just feels good to see what your body can do. There will be so many experiences, so many people, and so much to see. You will look back on it as a positive forever.