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  1. #1

    Default Seven Tips for a Successful Thru-hike

    Seven Tips for a Successful Expedition

    After traveling over 5,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail and Mississippi River, I've found seven thing that help to make for a sucessful expedition. Success means different things to different people, so throw out whatever doesn't work for you.

    1. Take less stuff: Before you leave, split your gear into three piles - Essential (sleeping bag, toothbrush), Might Want (camp chair, extra towel), and Nice To Have (radio, expresso mug). Get rid of the last two piles—you’ll never miss them. Less gear means less to buy, less to carry, less to keep dry, and less to repair.

    2. Schedule: Make a schedule at home, then burn it as soon as you start your trip. Those things never work anyway and just cause more stress. Better yet, don't have a firm ending date at all. Who knows, you might end up on a sailboat in Bali. Weirder things have happened.

    3. Money: Estimate how much you'll need, then take double that amount. Make sure to put some funds aside to live on when you return.

    4. Re-entry: Take some time when you're done to reflect on the journey. Jumping into the rat race too soon is a good way to forget those lessons you've worked so hard to get.

    5. Raingear and duct tape: don't leave the driveway without them.

    6. Sense of humor: Pack plenty. Resupply often.

    7. Go with the flow: Something's going to mess up. It's just going to happen. How you deal with it is up to you. (I need to remember this one more.)

    That's about all there is to it. Now go get outside.


    Selected excerpt from the book Source to Sea:A Journey down the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers.
    Release date: 2006
    Copyright: 2006

  2. #2
    kicking around ideas for the next adventure 1Pint's Avatar
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    Thanks for the Cliff's Notes version that captures everything. Maybe that's what I should post in my office next to the AT map.
    "It's not just a daydream if you decide to make it your life." Train

  3. #3

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    Very good list. But i'd trade no. 4 for this one: Know before you take that first step that you are going to make it. (or if you don't know, you won't make it)
    I especially like 1,and 2

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    Formerly thickredhair Gaiter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Swank View Post
    1. Take less stuff: Before you leave, split your gear into three piles - Essential (sleeping bag, toothbrush), Might Want (camp chair, extra towel), and Nice To Have (radio, expresso mug). Get rid of the last two piles—you’ll never miss them. Less gear means less to buy, less to carry, less to keep dry, and less to repair.
    I don't know if i completely agree w/ this one, i like the three piles thing. definitly get rid of the 'might want' pile. but have one or two things from your 'nice to have' pile, its the little things that make you happy when your hiking for a long time, and sometimes having that little thing that makes life a tiny bit easier really helps (expresso mug not included in that comment)

    also i would add an 8th rule

    8) HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE!!!! This rule can't be said enough, don't go any faster than your body and mind can handle, it doesn't matter that john doe can hike 20 mile days. My rule of thumb is to keep my legs moving at a steady pace, but adjust my stride to how far my legs can move my weight w/o hurting, so if i have to take baby steps to get up a mountain then i will take baby steps to get up a mountain. Find your own rule of thumb and be willing to change it for yourself and no one else.

    also fiddlehead i like your rule goes along w/ the quote 'a thousand mile journey begins with one step'
    Gaiter
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    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Successful Thru

    Another one:
    Have enough time to complete your adventure. Folks who start a thru and have to be finished by a specific date are comming to the plate with one strike on them already.
    Grampie-N->2001

  6. #6

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    I agree with that Grampie. We were sort of under the gun on the Mississippi trip and I had that constantly on my mind in the beginning stages. I did the same thing on the AT, only it was more related to money issues.

    Good point about deciding before the trip if you're going to finish. I always stress that in my slideshows, and think there's alot of validity in that. There's nothing wrong with 'I'm going to get as far as I get", but I don't think that that helps to actually complete the AT. Granted, sometimes that goal can be a burden as well. I've seen dozens of miserable hikers that would probably be better served by getting off the trail and going to the beach for a month.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thickredhair View Post
    also fiddlehead i like your rule goes along w/ the quote 'a thousand mile journey begins with one step'
    When I read that bit of motivation I am often reminded of this site:

    http://www.despair.com/ambition.html

    Tom

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    Formerly thickredhair Gaiter's Avatar
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    lol, thats great!!
    Gaiter
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    Registered User dsg's Avatar
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    thanks. it's all helpful. going to start in march, tell everyone i'll be back in august, but really know, that don't know when. am closing my business, and will open it up when i damn well please when i get back. been working 32 years and i'm sick of it anyway. todays my first day on this site.

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    I like your attitude.

    Welcome to Whiteblaze!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsg View Post
    todays my first day on this site.


    Lots of great info and wonderful people here!


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    Starting north Mar 19th how NECESSARY is a stove?
    Thanks, Sandalwood

  13. #13

    Default Stoves

    Stoves aren't an absolute necessity, but I'd strongly encourage you to at least carry one for awhile till you're comfortable with the no-cook thing. You can go to Walmart and pick up a complete out for about $10. Pick up a Grease Pot and buy a can of cat food in an aluminium can to make a stove with. Go to the auto section and by a bottle of HEET in the yellow bottle (denatured alcohol). Make a windscreen from some aluminum foil from home. Boom-instant cook set.

    Carry that set at least till you get through the Smokies if not beyond. Try the no-cook thing to see how you like it, but carry a lipton meal or 3 as a backup. You might find that you really like to be able to heat up some liquid without making a fire.

    At the very least, carry the cookpot, but you really better have your firebuilding mojo in gear. That's a cold, wet time of year to not carry a stove.

    There's a ton of info on alcohol stoves in the Homemade gear section. You can make a minimal setup for next to nothing if all you want to do is heat a couple of cups of water at a time.

  14. #14

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    We tried going stoveless in New Mexico this year. It didn't work for us. The food was heavier and got really boring, very quickly. When we could, we went back to cooking dinner, and were both much happier. It works for some people, but not everyone.

  15. #15

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    Yeah - the stoveless thing isn't for me either except for some weekend trips here and there. For me, the hassle of coming up with things I don't get sick of is getting harder and harder, and I can't afford to limit my options any more than necessary.

  16. #16
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxNcathy View Post
    Starting north Mar 19th how NECESSARY is a stove?
    Thanks, Sandalwood
    ==================================

    There's NO substitute for a warm meal on a cold night. I left Springer on 3/19 (2001 with my wife) and 3/29 on my own thru in 2003 and despite the weather changes from year to year ...you're gonna have some cold nights (and even some cool/cold days). After a full day of walking and then setting up camp, your body needs some quality rest and a good warm meal goes a long way toward getting a good nights sleep and staying warm.

    Sure ...you can go it without a stove. But the benefit of a good warm meal outweighs the cost in ounces of carrying a stove.

    But, like someone else said, you can always experiment by carrying one for a while and then leaving it behind.

    Just my $ .02

    'Slogger
    Last edited by Footslogger; 12-07-2006 at 13:31.
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

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    Thank You so much for your insights.Sandalwood

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    Default The Human Element

    How did y'all cope with spending that much time in your own company? Had you been in that sort of situation for over a week before your thruhike?

    If you had a designated companion, what were the rules, spoken or unspoken, that you used to get along smoothly? What plans did you have for what you'd do if your companion got hurt or bailed?

    If you got some uninvited companions, how did that work out? Did it matter whether they were same-gender or not, or just whether they were roughly in the right range of volume?

    Any insights would be appreciated.

  19. #19
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    [quote=Brrrb Oregon;281685]How did y'all cope with spending that much time in your own company? Had you been in that sort of situation for over a week before your thruhike?

    For me it was a blessing to get quiet with myself and follow a single thought in my mind for hours. That said, if you are a sociable person you will at times miss contact and conversation with others. There are enough hikers out there to quench that thirst.

    If you had a designated companion, what were the rules, spoken or unspoken, that you used to get along smoothly? What plans did you have for what you'd do if your companion got hurt or bailed?

    I did not start with any designated companions but later in my hike I became part of a group of 4 who got along and stayed together (somewhat). There were no rules or outspoken agreements in terms of how we would hike. We never found a need to form any plans in advance in terms of bailing. There were a number of times when one or more of us just didn't feel like hiking that day and stated that out loud. Generally the group hiked on without them ...understanding that the "unspoken" hope was that the hiker would eventually catch up.

    If you got some uninvited companions, how did that work out? Did it matter whether they were same-gender or not, or just whether they were roughly in the right range of volume?

    There were several instances (generally at night in camp) where other hikers would arrive and "join in", so to speak. That was never really a problem since it was obvious by our behavior and conversation that we were hiking in a group. If it ever seemed like it was going to be an issue we just hung back and allowed the other hikers to get a head start OR we got up early and boggied.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    Very good list. But i'd trade no. 4 for this one: Know before you take that first step that you are going to make it. (or if you don't know, you won't make it)
    I especially like 1,and 2
    Yeah, #4 is after the hike, not a tip for a successful hike and should be last if included at all.

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