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  1. #1
    Registered User foodbag's Avatar
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    Default Overthinking it - there comes a time to just "be"

    As I grow older, and (in my opinion) wiser, I have come to the conclusion that our modern society provides us with too much information and too many options, not only for backpacking/long-distance hiking, but in just about every area. One only has to visit Amazon or REI to see evidence of too many choices, and Google? Fugedaboutit! I just Googled "too many choices" and came up with 1,210,000 results in .64 seconds.

    Maybe I'm just tired, but I am done with studying everything to the Nth degree; I am done with surfing 10,000 different choices for water bottles; I am tired of the "noise" of my possessions (downsizing furiously for the last couple of years); and I am just about done with our noisy Western way of life.

    I've decided to just live my life, and play it as it comes to me: More leaping, less overplanning, more risk taking, and less angst....

    Going hiking on the AT in 18 months, following my retirement from the work force. Gonna throw a few things in my pack and jump the back fence....
    Long-distance aspirations with short-distance feet.... :jump

  2. #2
    Registered User Old Hiker's Avatar
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    All due respect:

    Planning IMO should be an integral part of an experience as this. It will help ease the more difficult parts and will allow some peace of mind as to what you are going to do.

    I found myself REALLY OCD about planning when I got about 1/2 way up the Trail and re-supply points got further apart and I was slowing down.

    By all means, try not to over plan, but still, plans come in helpful.

    Planning should also take into consideration what your level of experience may be with WHATEVER you want to try.
    Old Hiker
    AT Hike 2012 - 497 Miles of 2184
    AT Thru Hiker - 29 FEB - 03 OCT 2016 2189.1 miles
    Just because my teeth are showing, does NOT mean I'm smiling.
    Hányszor lennél inkább máshol?

  3. #3
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    Less is more.

    Sent from my SM-J737V using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    As I read this I can relate. Its exhausting. This choice or that, "am I going to make the wrong choice?".

    I learned in southern PA something very important.
    IF you have plan A and B to pick from? I was always rewarded with B, the "unknown" option. Example: I can either stay at this shelter OR push on another 7 miles into town. Choice? Plan B go to town. Reward? Meeting some new people and experiencing some new places. I know what Option A would have brought, setting my tent up and scrolling on the iphone.

    That southern PA trip I chose 3 option B's and didnt regret a single one.

    Furthermore,
    When taking a 2 week trip no days I choose to do zero planning other than airplane tickets and a general ending point based on what I can do in daily miles and 1 zero per week. All the rest will fall into place as the weeks go on. I use to create excel sheets and color codes and daily miles and it all turned to Bull**** the first day on the trail.

    Good for you for stepping out for the box, I hope I can further do so before I become wiser.

  5. #5
    illabelle's Avatar
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    Planning is good.
    When I plan a section hike, especially one far away from home, I need to know in detail how we're getting from airport to trail, how we're getting fuel/food, and approximately where we need to be each night in order to finish the section and catch our flight home. Screwing up the planning sets a person up for frustration and unexpected costs.

    Over-planning can be bad, particularly if it results in fatigue and paralysis.
    I need to know how many meals to pack. I don't need a spreadsheet with nutritional analysis of each item.
    I need to know whether water will be abundant or scarce. I need to know if the terrain is steep or flat, and what the camping restrictions are, if any.

    But mostly I just need to see the trees, breathe the air, and feel the dirt under my feet.

    We become servants to our possessions. Good for you, foodbag, for recognizing that and seeking your freedom.

  6. #6
    Registered User Red Sky's Avatar
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    Hey, I hear you, especially the part about our western culture and a life over-filled with distractions. I will say that I enjoy the planning part of a section hike. I'm working full time managing a business, and I have relatively short windows of opportunity to actually get out there and walk. But when I can't walk, I can think about it and make plans, which helps satisfy the urge to hike, at least for a while. I plan the meals, what equipment I'm carrying, check the weather. I will say that whatever my plan is the moment I step onto the trail, it has usually changed after the first few hours. But, I totally understand your desire to just head out and see what happens.

  7. #7
    Registered User foodbag's Avatar
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    Good comments from everyone so far. As far as AT planning goes, on my first thru-hike attempt I went minimalist on the planning, deliberately, and it worked out pretty well, and this was in the infancy of the cell phone era. I wanted a bit of uncertainty built in. I used Wingfoot's guidebook and did not do mail drops. Come 18 months from now I think I may go about it the same way.

    Beyond making sure of my water sources and resupply duration, the rest will be smelling the roses. I'm endeavoring to do the same in the other aspects of living as well.
    Long-distance aspirations with short-distance feet.... :jump

  8. #8

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    In the old days (1970s) we used a road map and hitched to the AT---and continued to use the road map as a rough guide to town hitches for food. Few worried about staying on the actual trail cuz it had . . . uh . . . white blazes every couple hundred feet. Overly anal types bought those old AT trail guide books published for each section of the trail---with pertinent foldable maps. Like this---

    2a91ed5136956420d5a21f34daa8864d.jpg

    Or this---
    https://www.atmuseum.org/uploads/5/5...leagefacts.pdf

    Nowadays with a library of information at our fingertips on the Interwad there's a tendency to overthink and over analyze everything. I can see the need for places like the Bob Marshall wilderness or the Cohutta wilderness but for the AT???

  9. #9
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Something to be said for not knowing too much in advance,

    Some years ago I landed in Egypt without a clue that they had so many huge pyramids, all within a taxi ride of Cairo. The three everyone learns about in grade school were great, but “discovering” others while there was beyond cool. Felt like Howard Carter (sort of). My ignorance actually made for a better experience, I think.

    That said, I do wish I had learned more about the history and natural history along the Trail before I hiked. I think my hike would have been richer if I spent some time on that.

    There is just so much you walk through and by that isn’t touched upon on YouTube or Journals, that can be completely missed without doing some reading in advance. With so much time to ponder and appreciate things as you walk, that could be a real loss.

  10. #10

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    Just going to the supermarket presents you with too many choices.

    But I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Having too many choices is a bit better then having no choice.

    When presented with a lot of choices, the problem is making the correct choice. Making the correct choice comes from experience and research.

    Making random gear decisions rarely works out well. Mostly it boils down to "what kind of weather will I expect?", "What do I need to deal with that weather?" and finally "How much weight am I willing to carry?".
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  11. #11
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    What confuses most is that there isn't really a correct choice. There is practically an infinite combinations of gear that will work for any particular hike. Pack your crap and get out there. The OP has it figured out.
    Lonehiker

  12. #12
    illabelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    In the old days (1970s) we used a road map and hitched to the AT---and continued to use the road map as a rough guide to town hitches for food. Few worried about staying on the actual trail cuz it had . . . uh . . . white blazes every couple hundred feet. Overly anal types bought those old AT trail guide books published for each section of the trail---with pertinent foldable maps. Like this---

    2a91ed5136956420d5a21f34daa8864d.jpg

    Or this---
    https://www.atmuseum.org/uploads/5/5...leagefacts.pdf

    Nowadays with a library of information at our fingertips on the Interwad there's a tendency to overthink and over analyze everything. I can see the need for places like the Bob Marshall wilderness or the Cohutta wilderness but for the AT???
    Somebody gave me one of those old AT guides. Kinda interesting. Not sure I have much use for it. Anybody wants it, give me a shout.

  13. #13
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    I remember being presented with too many choices in Frankfurt, Germany one evening. I have to agree with the OP's post. Sums up how I feel at times. A little planning sure, you do have to throw something in the pack. I wonder what Muir carried in his?
    "Whoever said nothing is impossible has never tried to nail jelly to a tree." John Candy

  14. #14

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    Heck yeah, add-in quantum mechanics and you can choose A, B, or A+B, it's just too much. and if that darn Higgs field hadn't frozen we wouldn't even be here. I wonder if a Higgs particle is ultra-light?

  15. #15

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    "It's a typical situation in these typical times Too many choices" DMB
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  16. #16
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    https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schw...adox_of_choice One of my favorite Ted talks.


    https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/s...2&action=click
    This Ted talk I could relate to. I almost cried soft spoken pig tailed Heather relating the courage to choose her own destiny, over coming a multitude of real life and personal challenges, thought out and executed fairly well IMHO. Maybe you will too. Consider it for your AT hike. Consider where Heather came from and what can be experienced when one applies themselves.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/too-...siness-2012-12

  17. #17

    Default

    When you get to feeling that way it is because you are trying to make choices without sufficient experience. For example, you can read all day long about different sleeping bags, but you won’t know what YOU need until you try sleeping in the weather conditions you need the bag for.

    Go to do some short trips. You’ll find out rapidly what works and what needs adjusting.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    When you get to feeling that way it is because you are trying to make choices without sufficient experience. For example, you can read all day long about different sleeping bags, but you won’t know what YOU need until you try sleeping in the weather conditions you need the bag for.
    Go to do some short trips. You’ll find out rapidly what works and what needs adjusting.
    Or start sleeping in the backyard or on the porch/deck tonight.

  19. #19
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    I suppose imho all of the above are right on. I tend to be a planner but not because I am uptight about anything, simply because I love staring at maps for hours, optimizing my equipment, etc.... I have friends that start packing and planning the evening before we start a hike. If your enjoying your hiking your doing it right I guess.
    SC Ed
    -- My greatest adventure can be tomorrow!

  20. #20

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    Chance favors the prepared mind.

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