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  1. #1
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    Default Necessary Preparations

    Hi, decided I'm going to thruhike next year. Was curious how much preparation is necessary. On the one hand, I see a lot of people who seem to get a lot of enjoyment about it and that have exhaustively researched every subject under the sun about it. On the other, I've seen some stories about how someone decided they were going to hike the trail with no experience, then three weeks later were on the trail and went straight through. So I know it's possible on either end of the spectrum, but am curious how much preparation should go into a prudent thru-hike. I'm a pretty easy-going person and want to buy more into the advice that I see of just needing to plan enough for your first resupply, and figure it out from there. But want to make sure I'm not being dumb haha.

    Thanks for the general advice, and will probably bother with more questions as the time approaches!

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Athos19 View Post
    Hi, decided I'm going to thruhike next year. Was curious how much preparation is necessary. On the one hand, I see a lot of people who seem to get a lot of enjoyment about it and that have exhaustively researched every subject under the sun about it. On the other, I've seen some stories about how someone decided they were going to hike the trail with no experience, then three weeks later were on the trail and went straight through. So I know it's possible on either end of the spectrum, but am curious how much preparation should go into a prudent thru-hike. I'm a pretty easy-going person and want to buy more into the advice that I see of just needing to plan enough for your first resupply, and figure it out from there. But want to make sure I'm not being dumb haha.

    Thanks for the general advice, and will probably bother with more questions as the time approaches!
    I've seen the whole range of prepared to unprepared hiker this year. My best answer to you is to do what you need to do. Have your necessities and be flexible. You may not believe me, but it is the mental readiness and NOT the physical preparidness that you should consider. Just do your best and you will have done your best. Kickatree

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by kickatree View Post
    I've seen the whole range of prepared to unprepared hiker this year. My best answer to you is to do what you need to do. Have your necessities and be flexible. You may not believe me, but it is the mental readiness and NOT the physical preparidness that you should consider. Just do your best and you will have done your best. Kickatree

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
    I also realized that you won't die at all if you don't eat for a day or three. That took some stress away from my hiking experience.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

  4. #4

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    Read AWOL on the Appalachian Trail. And this Site. Get four days worth of food,Guthook and or Awol guide,and a gob of money. That should cover it.

  5. #5
    Registered User Mulungu's Avatar
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    Every hike I have done, including two long section hikes on the AT have a life of their own. While it is fun to plan and exciting to spend hours in outdoor stores talking about gear, the proof is in the hike.

    The reality is is within the first week, you know what you are going to keep, you know what is going home and that carefull plan of daily mileage is forgotten. Then you just loose yourselve in the experience of walking the trail.

    So plan and enjoy the planning process, but know that you will have to be flexible to continue hiking. Finishing the trail is mental. Physically if you can hike for a week you can hike to Kathadin.
    The At leaves you breathless and gives you stories to tell. Scatterlings of Africa on a long walk to freedom

  6. #6

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    Get a copy of Appalachian Trials. Excellent book on the most important prep, the mental part.

  7. #7
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    Planning every step of the way is pretty futile. There are too many variables, especially weather which can really mess up a schedule. Or injuries.

    Show up on Springer Mountain with 3-4 days worth of food, plenty of money, a trail guide and wing it from there. However, if your new to camping and backpacking, making gear choices is what you need to concentrate on.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
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    Default Necessary Preparations

    ^Agreed, spend your time on the gear research and acquisition. Take your time, buy and try, then whittle it down to what you NEED. Then figure out what you'd like to eat, then buy and try on a weekend trip or two or three or.........you get it. Familiarize yourself with the "getting off-trail, resupply, getting-back-on-trail" system. After that, all you gotta do is walk! And that's the fun part!

  9. #9

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    Do what you enjoy, and works for you. Some people like the process of planning more than the hike. Some claim to be more adventurous and just go, but in reality they planned a whole lot. Some are so very experienced, they just gather their things and go. Some rush off ill prepared in every way.

    I like to plan, and planned the hell out of my hike, only to get on the trail and toss those detailed plans out the window, and just wing it. Which is typical me, I like to have plans, even if only as a backup. It's a coping strategy for my anxiousness.

  10. #10
    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    Your best bet is to talk to someone who has had a successful thru hike. I have discovered that many folks who give advise on line don’t have the proper experience to give good advise.
    Grampie-N->2001

  11. #11

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    I’ve found many online are afraid of the unknown and need everything worked out to the enth degree...take a chance, see what life throws your way.

  12. #12
    Garlic
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    Physical conditioning will probably be the best thing you can do in the months before the hike.

    I don't believe in the "hike yourself into shape" mentality. I met a lot of people doing that, and they weren't having as much fun as I was.

    It's definitely okay to "wing" the logistics. There's no need for most to mail food, and you can start doing that from larger towns later on if you like. There are stores along the way, and there are online retailers, and you can buy things you might have forgotten to pack.

  13. #13
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    My advice is to do practice hikes of several days each. That'll get you prepared.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

    .

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampie View Post
    Your best bet is to talk to someone who has had a successful thru hike. I have discovered that many folks who give advise on line donít have the proper experience to give good advise.
    How true is that!!!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  15. #15
    Registered User jjozgrunt's Avatar
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    I think the best preparation is to get a little bit fit, so you enjoy the walk and don't suffer while "you are getting fit". I arrived this year from OZ and stayed a day in Atlanta to get food etc and then a shuttle to Springer the next day. That was the extent of my planning. On a bit of a yoyo the first few days with 7.4, 17.1, 7.2, 11.5, and 17.7 mpd in the first 6 days (there was a zero). I would not have planned that, it's just how it worked out. In the 5 days before I was injured south of Erwin I was doing 20.8, 20.8, 14.4, 25.4, 17.8 mpd. I was feeling great but I would not have planned those long miles. Just let it happen, the only box I sent myself was to Fontana Dam from Hiawassee, because everyone was saying the resupply was not good. Starting again on the 6th Apr from Sams Gap and will be coming with no prep again. Don't plan on only staying at shelters, you again limit yourself, there were a surprising number of used campsites along the way and if you can read a map efficiently it's quite easy to pick out probable locations. I only stayed at one shelter site other than in the Smokies, but then I camped alone on numerous occasions and they were some of the best nights, sitting watching the sunset and then the stars appear without a lot of noise and yelling, fire blazing with beer and other things being passed around. Perfect it's why I bushwalk.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

  16. #16
    Registered User SoaknWet's Avatar
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    Amen to that, my unknown brother! That's why I prefer winter hiking. No people and No bugs.

  17. #17

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    What should be an pretty obvious point is before you get on the trail try out and get familiar with the operation every piece of equipment prior to the event in real world conditions. Pick a rainy stretch, set up the tent in the rain, sleep out overnight, cook breakfast. Take down the campsite. Sounds obvious but you will have leg up on many folks.

  18. #18
    Registered User Fireplug's Avatar
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    Just get lightweight gear. Try to keep your BPW under 18 lbs. I was at 13.5 this year and next year I'm hoping to drop a pound. Always try and carry a extra day's food, I did and it paid off, we got stuck in a shelter in the smokies this year from a blizzard. We had up to two feet of snow. Planning is fun but don't plan on where your going to be each day before you start. This is 80% mental and 20% physical. Just HYOH

  19. #19

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    Start walking ten hours a day, incorporate some steps or bleachers with a nap sack filled with water bottles, you’ll be fine.

  20. #20
    Registered User Which Way's Avatar
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    I've been planning for the past 2 months. While I'm admittedly an "over planner", I am pleased with my progress so far. My wife and I are hiking together, so my decisions and planning will be slightly different than yours. The first thing I did was order 12 books and the DVD "A Walk In The Woods". I knew while stressing over planning, a good comedy DVD would make things better.

    The books: while most of what I read can be found on youtube videos, and this site, there are a few that I think are invaluable. AWOL on the Appalachian trail by David Miller, and How To Hike the Appalachian Trail by Chris Cage. These are educational and encouraging. The NOBO A.T. Guide by David Miller is another must. While I'm not doing any logistic planning at this stage in my planning, I glance at it occasionally to see how far apart shelters and water are, elevation gains on certain parts, and just getting comfortable with it so that I can use it better when I need it. I also used it reading along with David and Chris's books so I could "follow" them along the trail. Other books you may find helpful, but not necessary, are "Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Planner," How To Hike the AT , The Nitty Gritty Details by Michelle Ray, The Ultimate Hikers gear Guide by Andrew S. (not as helpful as others), and the Ultralight Backpackin Tips by Mike Cleelland. What I wouldn't order again is the AT Data Book.

    My wife and I are health conscious, so we are dehydrating food to carry with us and ordered several books on this. You probably want need these. On a side note, if anyone wants the best dehydrator, i suggest the Excalibur.

    My planning has turned stress into excitement now that I'm a little more educated. I have watched hundreds of hours of youtube video's and spent a lot of time on this site. Reading comments of equipment on various sites like REI is a must. Since we travel in an RV, I have also had the opportunity to visit many different outfitters. This helps, although a lot of sale people only push what they have been told to push. It helps to go after you are educated, and know about what you want to get, but are deciding between a few different items. I like to touch and feel stuff before I pull the trigger with my card. Outfitters will help you out more if they know you are a thru-hiker, so pull the the "thru-hiker" card every chance you get. I guess it's because they know we talk more often, and to more people than day/or section hikers.

    And as others have stated, nothing replaces experience. That is what I lack, and why I read so much. On equipment, it just took me forever to decide on everything. I took a lot of time researching packs, shelters, pads and quilts/bags. I'm still researching! I know that when I get on the trail I will still make changes, but I want be making near the changes that I read and hear of a lot of hikers making.

    Last note. As a medical professional, RN, I have never treated anyone of a injury caused by too much research and planning.

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