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  1. #1
    Registered User jbhh's Avatar
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    Cool What I'm Doing Differently My Second Time Around

    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

  2. #2
    AT - 2013 PCT - 2014
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    Hi Friday,

    Diddo and I stayed with you in Hanover. We finished and are in GA for a little bit. Sorry to hear you are off trail but I hope you are enjoying your new adventures.

  3. #3
    Registered User jbhh's Avatar
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    Zippy!! Hope y'all are doing great and that the rest of your hike went well. Yeah it was too bad I had to come off, but I'll be doing it right-ways next year, northbound like you smart folk. Take care!

  4. #4
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    Hello jbhh from a fellow Knoxvillian!! I remember reading in another thread or two that people who quit the trail quietly slink away and never come back to WhiteBlaze to tell about their experiences. But you did! Good for you!

    Lots of good stuff in your list above. I'm just a weekender myself, so I can always learn something new. Good luck on your second attempt.

  5. #5
    AT - 2013 PCT - 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbhh View Post
    Zippy!! Hope y'all are doing great and that the rest of your hike went well. Yeah it was too bad I had to come off, but I'll be doing it right-ways next year, northbound like you smart folk. Take care!
    We had a great hike and a picture perfect summit day on Katahdin. Enjoy becoming a NOBO

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbhh View Post

    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.
    Well done! It's not easy to hike that far. And bravo for heading back for a second round.

    Great information too. I want to expand on two of them.

    Training: If you can, learn to walk without effort. I'm a slow learner, it took over 1300 miles for me to fully get it. Small, quick, efficient, effortless steps will help ensure that you don't get injured and have plenty of energy to spare. The more control I have over my legs the quicker is my turnover rate. This means short strides and light touches which does require muscle use but reduces impact and wear and tear on the body. In terms of calories I tend to think that it would require more, except that I always seem to require less. A lot of that probably has to do with the quick touches: with a sufficiently fast and well timed turnover there is no momentum loss on each step. Think of the difference when you're hiking below your typical speed - it actually takes more work than hiking at your normal speed because there is a lot of stopping and starting. Each step is a pause.

    I have found that hiking a few times per week with this in mind is all I need to prepare me for long backpacking days. Of course I backpack this way too.

    Often overlooked is core training. A strong core will help immensely in keeping a good posture and using your body without wearing it down. Your pack will feel lighter too because it sits in the right place. (My posture tip is to never lean from the waist and where possible, stay perpendicular to the trail surface.)

    Feet: absolutely walk barefoot! It's a great tip not only to toughen the soles of the feet but also to toughen the ankles. If you can, walk barefoot on trails. Just don't slide down any rocks while barefoot - that hurts! Please don't ask me how I know that.
    Merry 2012 AT blog
    "Not all those who wander are lost."

  7. #7

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    Hey Friday, for the most part good advice. Best of luck next time around.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbhh View Post

    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).


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


    -Friday
    Hey Friday,

    Thanks a lot for posting this. That was awesome of you. Can you expand on what advice you ended up following from your thru hiking friend/s?

  9. #9
    Registered User hobbs's Avatar
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    Good luck Next time friday.Iam sure you'll go al the way..
    My love for life is quit simple .i get uo in the moring and then i go to bed at night. What I do inbween is to occupy my time. Cary Grant

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    Good advice Friday. Especially on the Neoaire Xlite and Aqua Mira. Don't be too hard on yourself, you learned some good lessons and you have plenty of time to get ready for next spring. IT Band stretching is a must for any hikers. Still plenty of time this year and the best hiking weather of the year will soon be with us this fall, you can get back out on the trail and do some more training hikes.

  11. #11
    Registered User jbhh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Autummyst View Post

    Can you expand on what advice you ended up following from your thru hiking friend/s?
    My friend Jon (Choo Choo, 2012 sobo) gave me most of my advice, any advice I didn't follow was because an outfitter shop employee told me different.

    Keep in mind lots of this advice is SOBO specific

    1. Don't use water pumps, use aquamira. I got this heavy bulky water pump for no reason. You spend 15 minutes pumping up your water instead of dipping your bottles or bladders down in 1 minute and waiting 15. It was frustrating, especially when it broke at mile 68 in the 100 mile wilderness. If you absolutely must use a pump, use the sawyer squeeze bags, I did like those.

    2. Wear trailrunners. (Explanation above)
    3. Don't do mail drops because you'll get sick of the food you send yourself, your eating habits and desires will change.
    ** I didn't do mail drops and instead went to the store in towns every 4 days, but the thing is, aside from a few things I basically was buying the exact same stuff every time. Mail drops are probably safe to do, but going to the store is better.
    4. No need for rainpants. You're going to get soaked anyway, and you'll never wear them. A good pair of Nike running shorts will treat you bet.

    Can't remember much else but that was just some of it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbhh View Post
    My friend Jon (Choo Choo, 2012 sobo) gave me most of my advice, any advice I didn't follow was because an outfitter shop employee told me different.

    Keep in mind lots of this advice is SOBO specific

    1. Don't use water pumps, use aquamira. I got this heavy bulky water pump for no reason. You spend 15 minutes pumping up your water instead of dipping your bottles or bladders down in 1 minute and waiting 15. It was frustrating, especially when it broke at mile 68 in the 100 mile wilderness. If you absolutely must use a pump, use the sawyer squeeze bags, I did like those.

    2. Wear trailrunners. (Explanation above)
    3. Don't do mail drops because you'll get sick of the food you send yourself, your eating habits and desires will change.
    ** I didn't do mail drops and instead went to the store in towns every 4 days, but the thing is, aside from a few things I basically was buying the exact same stuff every time. Mail drops are probably safe to do, but going to the store is better.
    4. No need for rainpants. You're going to get soaked anyway, and you'll never wear them. A good pair of Nike running shorts will treat you bet.

    Can't remember much else but that was just some of it.
    Thank you! My fiance and I have eagerly been taking notes and appreciate your feedback.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    Hello jbhh from a fellow Knoxvillian!! I remember reading in another thread or two that people who quit the trail quietly slink away and never come back to WhiteBlaze to tell about their experiences. But you did! Good for you!

    Lots of good stuff in your list above. I'm just a weekender myself, so I can always learn something new. Good luck on your second attempt.
    Second on these thanks for returning with your experiences.

    I don't know how severe your IT Band is injured but when it's calmed down, using a foam roller might help it. It helps me. I've been battling plantar fasciitis for about a year now myself. It starts to go away and I end up slacking off on the stretches then it starts back up so try to do those stretches very regularly. I've tried the night boot for it but like you I am stomach sleeper and it makes it difficult to sleep. Good luck.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
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    Registered User jbhh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    Second on these thanks for returning with your experiences.

    I don't know how severe your IT Band is injured but when it's calmed down, using a foam roller might help it. It helps me. I've been battling plantar fasciitis for about a year now myself.

    A foam roller has helped a ton in my recovery, I'm just now (25 days later) going down stairs very quickly again, I can tell my ankles, knees and feet are back to normal. I met a girl on the Long Trail outside Rutland who showed me some techniques using a hard nalgene bottle too. I'm sure I could have gotten back out on the trail this year, but just the culmination of running low on money and the injury - I couldn't just get off the trail for a week and wait.

    Plantar Fasciitis is an absolute killer, my first camp shoes (Which I also wore during my 2 days of traveling from Maine to Boston > NYC > Rutland) didn't help me at all, I eventually switched them out for just some $15 Nike Sandals which felt amazing in comparison. After the 100 mile wilderness I was doing Heat/Ice therapy on my feet for 2 days in Monson, it helped a bunch too.

  15. #15

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    If the Sandals work for you that's what is important. I bought a pair of Crocs that are suggested for PF. More for regular use as I wanted something to immediately put on in the morning if I wasn't putting on regular shoes. I still prefer the weight of my Waldies but I do take the Crocs instead. They've got the strap going for them if I need that as well.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
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    Registered User jbhh's Avatar
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    Crocs are awesome. I 100% recommend those. I just like sandals more.

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    If you're IT band has acted up, go see this guy- Dr John Dandelski http://sportandwellnesschiropractic.com/. He does a therapy called Active Release Therapy. I've been a runner and triathlete for many years and ART has put me back together on several occasions after ITBS flare ups. In the endurance sports world, ART is a well known and excellent treatment for ITBS. He's out in West Knox. Heal well and maybe I'll see ya out on the trail.

    J

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    Registered User jbhh's Avatar
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    Thanks fertilizer, it's healed up for now, but I learned a lot of good things I could have/should have done initially.

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    11. If you want to do maildrops and know how to dehydrate food, do it, I always met people who had done it and was jealous of their awesome and different food.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbhh View Post
    4. No need for rainpants. You're going to get soaked anyway, and you'll never wear them. A good pair of Nike running shorts will treat you bet.
    I'm curious about this one. I just got back from doing Mt. Washington this weekend and I got caught in a nice horizontal rainstorm just below the summit. My rain jacket held up nicely but my lack of rain pants/skirt caused my nylon pants to cling to my legs in record time. I was damn cold from that alone and decided it was time I invested in some sort of protection below the waist.

    Wouldn't it be worth it alone due to the fact that it would at least prolong the time period from dry to absolutely soaked? It seriously killed my mental mood watching my pants get drenched in less than a minute during that storm.

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