10 Ways to Pass the Time Before Starting Your Thru-Hike

You’ve chosen a start date and dialed in your gear.  A few shakedowns are in the bag and you’ve planned the last handful of big “to-do’s”. You’re ready to go and nothing is standing in between you and your thru-hike!  Except for the FOUR MONTHS that you have to wait until you actually start.

This is currently where I’m at, at least.  But instead of sulking in the fact that I still have some time before my start date, I’m trying to remain positive and proactive.

Here are some things that I’ve found make passing the time before my thru-hike a little easier.

1. Go for a hike.

I know, totally crazy idea.  You do like to hike, right? I mean you’re fixing to do it for thousands of miles… so why not get out there for some day hikes?  Plus it’s an excuse to enjoy some nice spring weather before it gets super hot this summer.

Hiker enjoys cold beer on top of Blood Mountain, GA.

Day hikes are great because there’s more room in your pack for beer.

2. Take advantage of the extra time that you have to get into great shape.

It’s impossible to regret this one.  Even if you’re already in good shape, there’s always room for improvement.  Just be wary of over-training…definitely don’t want that.

3.  Plan a cool trip for before your thru-hike.

This can literally be anything!  I’m fortunate enough to have a month and a half off before heading to Maine, so what better time for a road trip to see my sister in San Diego?  And of course, I’ll be doing some cool hikes along the way (stay tuned).

4. Listen to podcasts about other thru-hikers’ experiences.

It’s good to daydream about your hike!  What better way to inspire those thoughts than to listen to some Backpacker Radio?  You might just learn a thing or two while you’re at it, I know I have.

5. Find other ways to get outdoors that don’t involve hiking.

Maybe this means picking up a new hobby or getting back into an old one.  I, for one, have been trail running more than ever just as a way to exercise and enjoy some trails in a different way.  I also just invested in some fly fishing gear and plan on getting out on the river soon!  A quick Google search might be able to help you find something that you’d enjoy while you’re waiting to start!

Chattanooga, TN trail ultramarathon.

Didn’t quite make it the full 50 miles…still an awesome race though!

6. Enjoy the luxuries that you might not have on trail a little bit more.

Laying on the couch, eating your favorite meal, sleeping in, binging your favorite shows on Netflix, playing with your dog, etc.  I’m trying to be more deliberate while enjoying these everyday luxuries and not take them for granted.  They will definitely be missed this summer!

7.  Learn a new set of skills.

Need to learn how to tie some knots that you might use on trail?  Or maybe you’re wanting to learn how to sew so you can fix up those inevitable gear issues.  Just head over to YouTube and start watching and you’ll be a subject matter expert in no time.

8.  Spend some extra time with family.

Most likely one of your biggest support systems for during your thru-hike, I know I’m looking forward to setting aside some extra time to spend with mine before this summer starts.  I can’t wait to keep them in the loop of how things are going while I’m out there!

9.  Do some last-minute research.

There will always be a couple things that need to be done or that slip through the cracks before tackling something of this scale.  For me, I still need to get my permit for Baxter/reserve a campsite at Katahdin Streams and book a stay at the AT Lodge for when I get up to Maine.  Plus, who knows what other loose ends I’ll have to tie up before June.

10.  Take an obligatory gear picture.

Just did this for my gear and it took me much longer than I care to admit.  But hey, it passed a little time!

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