127 Days and Counting!!!

Less than four and a half months! I have never had something take up so much of my time and energy. My feelings are a combination of being ready to head NOBO tomorrow and “how in the world do I get everything accomplished that I feel like I should before April 1st?” This is what’s on my plate for the time being.

Things to do before April 1st

Start lead climbing at the gym where I climb. Not hiking related, I know, but it is something that I have wanted to do for a while. If I don’t do it before I leave it will be almost 2016 before I can. It should be an easy one to check off of the list.

Another 200 miles of backpacking. I really want to have 3000 miles under my feet by the time I am finished with the AT. With what I have done so far, the time I have between now and departure, and the AT itself, I should be there!

Anything new! It could be something outdoor related, a craft (alcohol stoves have been my current free time activity as of the past couple of weeks), or just some experiences that will be memorable before I become nomadic for a little bit.

Thru Hiking the Appalachian Trail

The experience! All of it. New people and a new place each day and even all of the interactions with other hikers between now and April. After thru hiking the BMT this year (Check it out if you haven’t! Incredible 300 mile back country trail that is supposed to feel like the AT in the early years. BMTA) I know what lies ahead when it comes to social interactions and everyday experiences and that has me more excited than anything. Thru hiking is really one of the most fun things I have ever done in my entire life (even if it was only 300 miles!).

I feel like thru hiking the AT is still part of the first few chapters in my outdoor career. I want to do it all! River guide, spelunking (still haven’t heard a valid point to not call it caving. anyone? anyone?), ice climbing, mountaineering, be a part of a search and rescue team for some years, ski off of a giant cliff into a base jump. Whatever! What’s awesome is that backpacking experience is necessary for all of those things.

Saying see you later to Georgia for a little while (with a bittersweet smile of course!) I’ve been here my whole life and it wasn’t until 4 or 5 years ago that I really started to appreciate this state. I was always interested in other places which I am not mad at because it gave me the travel bug. I feel like in the past 3-4 years I have seen more of Georgia than most folks that have lived here for decades. Just in the past two months I was lucky enough to backpack over 100 miles in 7 different places all around our mountains. Now I feel the timing is just right to start exploring new places. The trail will be my hike out of the Southeast for the time being.

Things that I still need for the trail

With the departure still being 4 months away and still many more backpacking trips to do between now and then, my gear list will not be finalized until the a month or so before the trip. Reason being that things like my current shoes will be worn out by then and will need to be replaced closer to the big hike.

New socks. I’d like to hit the trail with some fresh ones. Haven’t decided if I should by a few extra pair to keep with someone to ship to me when new ones are needed or if I should just buy new socks along the way. Any thoughts? This also goes for any other kind of gear that will need to be replaced from wear and tear (Platypus bags, dry sacks, etc.).

Just clothes in general. I’d like to hit the trail in some fresh newer threads. All of my clothes for backpacking have been worn a good bit. Maybe a comfortable outfit also to keep in a bounce box. I read a post where someone mentioned having a totally different, comfortable, good looking outfit for when in towns for a couple of days. Just a thought..

A pack. Now that kinda seems like and important one right? Yep. My plan is to start with my Osprey Aether 60L. Awesome pack. I have had it for years and it has never malfunctioned, torn, had a loose thread, nada. I’d like to use this pack until Trail Days where I will look into getting a smaller pack. If anything I have a few around the house that will suffice if I don’t pick up a bag there. I’ll definitely want to go smaller in the warmer months. Realistically, the 60L is too big. I can already fit my winter setup comfortably in the pack. For the time being the bag feels great while hiking and saving that couple hundred dollars for now is cool with me.

Last, a water filter setup that uses gravity to filter the water. I went on a trip recently with a new friend and he was using a 6L Nalgene container that he attached his Sawyer Squeeze water filter which he fitted a piece of tubing onto. It filled my 1L bottle in right around a minute with no pumping necessary. I’ll be hiking with the guys that have been my hiking partners for a long time now and we feel like that is great for community filtering. I’ve been pumping, squeezing, bleaching, aquamiraing (Yes, the action of using Aquamira) for years and seeing how little effort it took my buddy sold me instantly on his system.

After all of this will I be ready?

Maybe or maybe not. It doesn’t really matter in the end! The trail provides as well as trains you along the way. A buddy told me on his hike in 2007 his pack was 39 lbs. and that was in the lightweight range. No matter what I will be better off than that! I could leave tomorrow with all of the stuff I already own and I’d be fine. Many folks hike it with less and do great. All that I know is come April 1st I’ll wake up early, hop in the car, stop by Chick-Fil-A for a biscuit (backpacking tradition of ours), and head north to the mountains. Only this time, I won’t be finding my way back to the car a few days later, I won’t be thinking of the bed waiting for me at home (this is partly because come April 1st I will be houseless. Yikes!), and I won’t be certain what the next day will bring other than lots of hiking, interactions with awesome, beautiful people, and hopefully some trail magic!

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