10 totally normal things you do when you’ve decided to thru-hike

*Depending on your definition of “normal,” of course.

  1. While you’re driving down the road and you see another vehicle with some sort of hiking or trail-related bumper sticker, you frantically wave to the driver and mouth “Let’s be best friends,” or something slightly less creepy like, “Meet me at the trailhead.”
  2. You stand in the rain with your brand new rain gear on to see just how waterproof it really is. When your neighbor drives by and asks if you’re locked out of your house, you reply with some sort of inspirational quote like, “Life is about learning to dance in the rain,” only you’re not dancing, so it doesn’t seem like you really mean it.
  3. While doing responsible things like going to the dentist prior to leaving for your hike, you find out you have a cavity and your first thought isn’t, “Oh, my poor tooth,” but instead, “Wait, how much will this filling weigh?”
  4. You start doing your errands in a weighted vest to get used to the weight of your backpack. Luckily, it’s winter, so you can hide the vest under your down jacket. What you can’t hide, though, is the fact that you now look like you’ve gained a few pounds and you’re moving a bit slower than normal.
  5. If you drop food on the floor while you’re eating, you shrug and say, “Hey, I probably won’t mind this in a few months,” so you pick it up and eat it without a second thought. Just building the old immune system, right?
  6. You set up your new tent in the backyard to test it out, and when your significant other comes home and asks “What did I do?” you have to reassure him that no, you’re not angry, and despite the warm bed inside, tonight you just need to embrace the 22 square feet that will be your home for the next six months.
  7. You clear your browsing history frequently at work because in no way can your boss find out you have spent an inordinate amount of time researching the stink factor of merino wool versus poly blends.
  8. Every light colored rectangle you see throughout the day makes you do a double take. “Is that a white blaze?” you exclaim, which makes no sense, because you’re miles away from the Trail.
  9. You find yourself wandering down the snack aisle at the grocery store more and more, wondering if anyone will notice if you drag a scale in next time so you can weigh the different items to determine what food has the best weight-to-calorie ratio. Later, you’ll be devastated to learn it isn’t Poptarts.
  10. Every now and then, you catch yourself wondering if you’ve gone crazy: “Am I really going to quit my job and hike 2,189 miles?” You answer yourself with a resounding yes, if this is what going crazy feels like, so be it. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Okay, let’s hear it: what crazy things have you done since deciding to hike the A.T.?

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Comments 19

  • Kate : Feb 12th

    I stopped washing my hair over a year ago. Seriously. I just rinse it about once a week and it seems to like it.

    Reply
    • Anne Baker : Feb 13th

      I am dying to get to that point, haha! I’ve always thought I wash my hair way too frequently, but my hair does get gross after about 2 days. I guess I’ll get past that in a few months! 🙂

      Reply
  • Erin : Feb 12th

    I’ve started training on the elliptical with my fully loaded pack. I’m sure this doesn’t look silly at all. . . That and setting up and taking down my tent in the living room cause there’s 2 feet of snow outside. Totally, totally normal.

    Reply
    • Anne Baker : Feb 13th

      I hear you! It’s good to know I’m not alone! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Erin!

      Reply
  • Chris G. : Feb 13th

    Spoiler alert for 2 its only water proof to a point at least for my fancy north face jacket which ill be leaving at home for frog togs. But on the bright side I have heard, I think from Zach Davis’s book that the water proof versions dry out quicker so win.

    Reply
    • Pocahontas : Feb 16th

      Have the north face on standby to be mailed to u!! Everyone’s frog togs last year got torn up pretty quickly

      Reply
    • Katelyn : May 17th

      My Frogg Toggs totally busted after one use.

      Reply
  • Hiking With Hendrix : Feb 15th

    Hilarious post! I can’t wait tor follow along and read more!

    Reply
    • Anne Baker : Feb 25th

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Reply
  • nikita : Feb 16th

    To add to #4, my weighted vest looks like a bullet-proof vest! I power walk at the park looking like a cop dressed in neon lycra. 🙂

    Reply
    • Anne Baker : Feb 25th

      Hahaha, yes! Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Reply
  • Monica sweeney : Feb 18th

    Thanks for the laugh. It all sounds normal to me. I am sure my neighbors think I am crazy for standing in the rain with all my gear and walking around the yard. Just to see how well my new rain gear works.

    Reply
    • Anne Baker : Feb 25th

      Thanks for reading, Monica! Happy hiking!

      Reply
  • Stephen (Maximus) : Feb 24th

    By the end of my thru-hike I was night hiking and cowboy camping all the time. Just threw my pack down and caught a few winks beside the Trail. Record going without a shower was two weeks. I can’t believe how accustomed I had become living in the mountains. I too get excited when I see another vehicle with Trail stickers. I beep my horn and yell, HYOH! I too quit my job for this crazy life..lol

    Reply
    • Anne Baker : Feb 25th

      I love it! I’m glad you know what I’m talking about. The crazy life is the best life! Happy hiking, Stephen!

      Reply
  • Christopher Klemetson : Feb 25th

    I’m starting from Springer next Friday and I’m still 2nd guessing my cook system.lol Also, I decided just 2 days which sleep system I’m starting with. I was torn between my Western Mountaineering 10° versalite 1lb 14 oz. & neoair xtherm max pad 1lb vs zpacks 20° bag 1lb & neoair original pad 12oz. I have decided to start with the WM bag & xtherm pad till it definitely stays warm. I have tested the Zpacks bag here in Ky and I think the 20° rating is overly optimistic. It feels more like a 30° bag at best. Also, I have decided to exclude a few extra base layers since I’m carrying the heavier bag.

    Reply
    • Anne Baker : Feb 25th

      Best of luck to you! It sounds like you’ve put so much thought into your decisions. You’re going to be fine. Maybe I’ll see you out there!

      Reply
  • Lil' Santa : Mar 16th

    You size up every grocery store and market as being a good or bad place to resupply. For me the worst resupplies were in Harper’s Ferry because all they have is a 7/11. That week I mainly ate candy, chips, and pb. Best resupplies are towns with a grocery store in walking distance. I liked the specialty products at the outfitter in Hot Springs.

    Reply
  • Michele : May 17th

    Cavity? Filling??? Who needs that tooth anyway?!?! There’s a few oz. lost! I can’t wait for my knee to heal and my youngest to be self sufficient so I can do my Thur hike. My bf and I are anxiously awaiting our turn!

    Reply

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