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  1. #41
    Thru-hiker 2013 NoBo CarlZ993's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbhh View Post
    Hello all,

    "Friday" here, I'm about 3 weeks off of my sobo hike - started June 1st at Katahdin, skipped around the Whites, and made it to Manchester VT before injuring my IT Band - getting low on money and not feeling great about my prospects of finishing - I hopped off the trail and am back home now.

    I thought I would impart some knowledge and advice on to the new 2014ers out there, as I will be one of you hopefully starting early in March at Springer.

    These are the mistakes I made, and the solutions I found
    1. TEST YOUR SLEEPING GEAR - I started with a thermarest prolite 3/4 pad....terrible choice. I'm a stomach sleeper (I know it sucks whatever) and I didn't have a good night of sleep until mile 115 - when I switched out for a Big Agnes AirCore.

    Sleep makes ALL the difference on the trail, it was a fantastic switch. With that being said, if you can afford to get a NeoAir Xlite - do it. It's about half as heavy and it's great - I got one for free about 2 days before my injury.

    2. SHOES ARE IMPORTANT, WEAR TRAILRUNNERS

    If you hike in waterproof boots then you deserve every bit of trenchfoot discomfort you're going to get. I met a guy at the Eastern Mountain Sports in Manchester Center who made it all the way from Springer and talked to him about his boots - He was about to buy another pair of gortex whatever boots, I like to think I saved him. I got him to buy a pair of trailrunners and superfeet insoles. He emailed me the other day before he started the 100 mile wilderness and said how great the switch was (I am patting my own back).

    Especially up north, just wear trail runners. Your feet are going to get soaking wet every day and they'll dry out every night. Sometimes I missed the security of a boot, but then I realized how much I love having dry shoes and I forgot about it.

    3. Train. Train. Train. Train. Train.

    Do anything, I'm a firm believer that walking does not cut it, even if you add 15 pounds. Six to eight weeks before you get on the trail get into a heavy leg and back circuit, at the VERY LEAST this will help take the edge off early on in the trail. I hiked the Smokys two days a week for the months leading up to my hike, although not the last 6 weeks before, and it didn't help me at all. Legs are most important, if you can get a two month training session done with them you'll feel great on the trail.

    4. Feet. Feet. Feet. Feet.

    One thing you can do to avoid blisters, which one of my hiking partners did, was go and walk barefoot every night/day leading up to your hike...this is much easier in nice climates. But my friend walked his dog every night for 2 weeks barefoot before his hike and he never got a blister once, only walked him about a mile too. I was jealous, while crying.

    5. Listen to former hikers.

    Even if it's not me you're listening to, listen to thru hikers that finished. I got advice from one friend before I took off, I followed half of it right away and was following the rest 5 days later. Now if you have a crazy SUL friend who made his entire pack out of Tyvek......maybe take that with a grain of salt, but for the most part listen to thru hikers - they didn't get where they went by being dumb (most of them).

    6. If you use a pump filter you're stupid.

    Simple as that. Complete waste of your time. Especially when your brand new MSR Miniworks Filter breaks down at mile 60 of the 100 mile wilderness (I hate you MSR and your customer service is terrible). Use aquamira, or tablets, anything lightweight that you can keep moving and not have to sit and pump out of a murky puddle for 20 minutes.

    7. Bring a friend.

    This is my biggest regret. I hiked alone probably 90% of my hike and it sucked, it was boring, I didn't have music until I got to Hanover, it was pretty miserable. Getting to elevations was cool but it was way cooler when I could share it with someone. If you do bring a friend, bring one that you've already gotten in fights with, you will get sick of each other but it's way easier to get over when that ice is already broken. I'm in the midst of trying to convince a friend to go with me right now.

    8. Everyone says this, but HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE.

    The minute you think sticking with a group is more important than finishing the AT is when you need to stop hiking because you are out there for the wrong reasons. This isn't to stay to not try to stick with a group, especially if they push you in the wrong way, but I hiked with a group on a 25 mile day on my 6th day on the trail in Maine (any trail alums will tell you that is a bad idea). It basically gave me plantar fasciitis. Take it easy, especially if you're a sobo and are a noob to backpacking like I was. 10 mile days are awesome. They are the absolute best. Rolling into camp at 3-4 and just hanging out. I miss it.

    9. If you're a guy and you don't buy Exofficio Boxers then you must love pain.

    Seriously - the best. I don't know what girls do, my hiking partner was in a thong, so, whatever that means for comfort. To each their own, unless you're a guy, then you should listen to me.

    10. The worst topic of them all......Money

    I went out on the trail with $2000 initially, in the first month I spent roughly $200 on Hostels, $150 on Hotels, $175 on travel out of Maine and to Vermont (I flipflopped and backtracked), $200 on a new gear, $100 on shuttles (Maine sucks ), and etc. etc....I spent $1200 in a MONTH. That is TERRIBLE.
    My advice to you is you have absolutely no idea what expenses are going to come your way, be frugal on the dumb stuff, but I wouldn't advise going out on the trail with anything less than $4000 unless you are 100% confident in your gear and you've tested it and like it.

    This spring I plan to leave with about $4500 - you can do the trail with extreme comfort and absolutely no worry about money with that amount. I don't know how anyone could do the entire thing with $2000, the first month is going to be expensive no matter which direction you're hiking, it'll just be way more expensive in Maine because the hostels up there know they have you locked in.


    I hope my advice helps, really, please ask any questions here, I'm not a true thru hiker but I gained a lot of knowledge from my 36 days out there. I'm also crazy out of shape so if anyone has questions regarding what it's like to be fat and hike the trail I'll tell you all about how ****ing awesome it is to see 20 pounds lost on the scale in 10 days.

    If anyone has any gear questions I can post my gear list in here too.


    -Friday
    Nice info overall. The delivery was a little harsh at times. But, I concur w/ most of it.

    I've hiked a lot (4 countries outside US; lots of hiking out West; finished NoBo hike this year in 152 days). Here's my take:

    1. Test sleeping gear - Sure. Test all other gear as well. I hiked 700 miles w/ a guy who had never previously backpacked before doing the AT. He successfully completed the AT. But, he added & subtracted stuff from his kit during the hike. Have it dialed in before you start. I used the NeoAir X-lite. Really liked it. I was warm on top of it when it was in the teens.

    2. Shoes - Trail runners. Worked for me. No GoreTex. I don't think those who wear GoreTex footwear 'deserve' trenchfoot. They may get it; they may not. In truly wet conditions, shoes & socks never dry. You're putting on wet socks & shoes everyday. I know. I did it a lot. It sucked.

    3. Train - Concur. More pack time; strength training; aerobic training; etc.

    4. Feet - Walk barefoot to toughen your feet? Never tried it. I have 'tender' feet but I rarely get blisters. Only got one on the entire AT hike. One blister when I hiked the JMT. Usually, I don't get any.

    5. Listen to thru-hikers - I did. A friend's daughter thru-hiked last year. Questioned her ad nauseum about what worked & what didn't. Read a lot on Whiteblaze & other sites. Took a lot of it with a grain of salt, tho. There is a lot of 'my way is the best' attitude out there. As they say, there is more than one road to Dublin.

    6. Filter = stupid - I used AquaMira. Ease and lightweight were the reason. Others used filters. Some had problems with their filters. Some didn't. Personal preference here. After watching people using the Sawyer Squeeze, I think I'll be adding this to my wish list for Santa Clause this year. The 2 oz version.

    7. Bring a Friend - I didn't. I found a friend. Many of them. I'd hook up with them for a while. I wasn't married to them. So, we sometimes parted (on good terms). Sometimes, we re-united. I think it is harder to hook up w/ others on Sobo. Much smaller pool of people. I know the friend I hiked w/ for 700 miles (NY to Monson) was indispensable for my successful completion. Unfortunately, he injured his foot in Monson & had to zero for 4 days to recover. We didn't summit together. Bummer. I already had my ticket bought. Couldn't change it.

    8. HYOH - This is what I did. With the friends I was hiking with, I'd sometimes talk the others into doing something I wanted to do. Sometimes, I was talked into something they wanted to do. Sometimes, we parted ways for a while.

    9. Ex Officio Boxers - No personal knowledge. I used running shorts as underwear underneath my REI convertible hiking pants. I've been doing this for almost 20 years. Rarely have had any problems.

    10. Money - I was fairly frugal down south. Spent more up north. Had enough money set aside to live the life of luxury if I wanted to do so. It was nice not worrying about money. Be a life-long saver. Eventually, you won't worry about money. But your frugal ways will keep you from being too extravagant.

  2. #42

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this up, it is very very helpful to me. I would love to know what gear you are bringing for 2014.
    ~Valley Girl~
    Northbound 2/28/14

    http://valleygirl2014.wordpress.com

  3. #43
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    You can get all your question answered, automatically calculate routes, mileages and elevation changes and print out itineraries with trail names and the text of the White Mountain Guide at the White Mountain Guide On-line:

    http://www.wmgonline.org

    Each trip can then be printed off or saved as a PDF. There is a small fee, but it is worth it.

  4. #44
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    Ignore the above reply - I replied to the wrong thread!

  5. #45
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    Friday,
    If you don't mind me asking what weight did you start at and what did you end at? I'm 5'9" and weigh 260lb. Been thinking about doing a thru hike in March. Maybe I'm crazy but any input would be awesome.

  6. #46
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    I'll add my two cents. Everybody is different. Get advice from someone like you. If you are a short $ recent graduate you will have different desires and needs than a 65 year old. I have done a lot of backpacking and I have really never trained very much, if at all. My legs have always been in hiking shape because I hike a lot. And hiking does get you in shape. I start every trek with a pretty good gut. Gear choices are just that; choices. I choose trail runners because they are light but they need to be replaced fairly frequently. Maybe 500-600 miles. The hardest part about a long hike is just getting up everyday and hiking. It's also the best part.
    Everything is in Walking Distance

  7. #47
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    Some good tips & reminder in here - thanks for posting this.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by attroll View Post
    I'm sure it's me (pesky newbs), but when I click on this, it brings me to the article, but all I see is the title and first "intro" sentence, - can't find anything beyond that. What am I doing wrong? Sounds like a good article for us c/o 2014's to read. Thx!

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by M C View Post
    I'm sure it's me (pesky newbs), but when I click on this, it brings me to the article, but all I see is the title and first "intro" sentence, - can't find anything beyond that. What am I doing wrong? Sounds like a good article for us c/o 2014's to read. Thx!
    No box on the left side with green titles? That's where the data is found. Good luck.
    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?

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