~*~ Preparation ~*~
ďIt took me about 25 yearsĒ
Well, it didnít actually take me 25 years to plan. Lord knows there have been people who have taken 25 hours. I have been dreaming about this for a very long time, so it feels like I have been preparing for it my entire life. I have a lot of people ask what Iíve done or am doing to get ready so I thought I would share my obsessive behavior with anyone thatís interested. There is no right or wrong way to plan a thru-hike. You must simply dive in and do what works best for you. With 3 weeks left until I leave, I can tell you one thing: all of the planning and obsessing Iíve done has gotten me to where I feel like I havenít done a thing. Once you are on the Trail, it doesnít matter anymore. It might be easier to just go hike rather than try and plan everything. (Disclaimer: planning future hikes keeps me sane when Iím not out getting any trail). I like the planning part. A lot. Iím already half planning my next hike, and Iím not even on the A.T. yet.
I make lists for everything. EVERYTHING, I say. So without further ado, I present you with my List Fest.
Tentative Itinerary - includes daily mileage,
averages, and elevation gain/loss. You will note that I did the initial itinerary
based on shelter to shelter hiking for the most part. I understand that I will
not follow this completely, but itís a good basis for knowing roughly where I
may be. I did not factor in ďzero daysĒ because we are planning to take those
on an as needed basis (with the exception of Trail Days in
~ Backpacking Links - I spent a lot of time online, reading forums, reading other thru-hikersí trail journals, asking questions and purchasing needed supplies. I most certainly looked at every single one of these links at least once over the past 11 months. The internet is an invaluable tool for planning a hike and you are able to find the most current information from the best sources (other hikers!). People are very willing to share their experiences and offer advice when you need it. I look forward to being able to mentor other hikers at some point.
~ Weighing Gear Ė One evening and a scale made this possible. Every little thing was placed on the scale and weighed so I could figure out my average base weight. This chart shows all of gear, cold and warm weather gear and formulas have been changed to calculate our starting base weights. They are not exact, mind you, but they are close enough for our satisfaction. Truth be told, we arenít gram counters and could care less about the weight but we were curious Ė and happy with the outcome. Bonus!
†~ Maps & Books Ė Oh, I pour over maps and guidebooks like there is no tomorrow. I am obsessed with maps, even when I know exactly where I am and where Iím going. I will pull out a map at every little break and just study it for no reason other than I want to see where I am. I love topos and knowing how much climbing or descending I will be doing. Despite ďknowing whatís coming upĒ, I am continually surprised by the terrain and the views. I think Iíve read every resource available on the A.T. and will probably do so long after I hike. These are a few of the books that I became particularly obsessed with. We are just taking maps, no guidebooks. The guidebooks will be left with my mother so she can obsess over them.
~ Trail Journals Ė By far, one of the best sources of information on thru-hiking, no matter what trail you want to tackle. This is a site where hikers can record their journals and the rest of us can read them. Itís important to not only read journals of those that have completed the trail, but also those who have gotten off the trail as well. Itís a learning experience in itself. You can find gear lists and reviews to see what worked for people and what didnít. There is mail drop information, mileage, and fun stories. If you do nothing else to plan, read some of these. You wonít regret it.