151. Prepare Yourself.
No unfortunately we are not taking shots of a crappy rum…I’m talking about how long I have left to prepare.
Countdown to the Start: 151 days.
I have exactly 151 days until I get on a train from Milwaukee, WI to Gainesville, GA. 151 days to get myself in tip-top shape. One hundred fifty one days to come up with another $6500 in cash while still paying car insurance, student loans, grocery bills, oh my god…..I need to prepare!
If you came up to me and told me I was going to get a pack of puppies for life in 151 days, it would be an agonizing idea to comprehend. That is a REALLY long time away, I can’t wait 151 days to get the puppies; I need them NOW! As I go through my checklist of to dos before the AT, 151 days is nothing, zip, nada, zilch. It’s just not enough time. I give myself some leniency and tell myself that I’m already ahead of the pack, and it will all work out. My anxiety reappears, “but will you? You got winded at Devils lake last week…and you forgot Hunter has his annual coming up, meaning $350 plus another $250 in heart guard and tick prevention for the year. Crap, that wasn’t in my budget.
What I’m doing to prepare (or at least, the plan…)
I have some lofty goals for myself to get ‘in shape’ for the AT. Katie’s list includes: physically, emotionally, financially, and gear.
Physically (There is never enough time spent on this)
Hiking, both weighted and non weighted. The goal is to get used to the pack and carrying the weight in a pack without a frame is a totally different ballgame then my Osprey I’ve used for years. Two to four times a week I go to my local state park for easy 5-6 mile days. Once a week I head somewhere to get some elevation gains and amp my distance to 6-10 miles. The past two days, I went up to northern Wisconsin to hike Timms Hill on an out an back and camp over night. Timms Hill is the highest natural point in the state of WI and it was beautiful. I get winded sometimes and have days that I snooze 12 times and sleep in until 9 or 10am on my off morning instead of going and hiking…
Nutrition and Diet (the least fun of them all)
Nutritionally, I am working hard to cut processed foods out of my diet in order to ‘reset’ my system, loose a few pounds (don’t want that extra weight on my knees), and frankly, try to get rid of the cravings for crap food all the time so that oatmeal is not unknown to my cravings on trail. Although lofty, I’m aiming for my body to crave good, simple foods that I can find at resupply. I live in Wisconsin though, so keeping moderation in mind, I throw in about one old fashioned every two weeks. Oh, and a health dose of burgers and cheesecurds because, well, protein and calcium…right?!
Hormones (AHHHH, it’s safe to read, don’t worry)
Lastly, regulating my hormones. I just recently got an IUD to try and get control of my menstrual cycle before the trail, and yesterday, I personally removed it. TMI? Well, it’s real and a lot of women are going through this getting ready for the trail. I removed it to try and let my body reset without hormones so I will be regular come March 1. I’ll be going back to using the diva cup on trail since it’s the lightest option, least waste and cleanest in my experience!
Emotionally (I believe that 70% of this hike will be emotional perseverance)
Trying to stay on top of everything else, taking days off (I work 3 jobs, but more surrounding that later), getting adequate sleep. I spend time with family for all the time I’ll miss next year. I take days off from AT planning all together to give myself space to prepare.
When I have days that I question why I’m doing this, I go back to my list of reasons on why I am going to hike the Appalachian. I’m working through personal issues and being very honest with myself about things I have yet to work on. I have control issues, lack confidence, am working through accepting myself (aren’t we all?).
I’ve been reading some for this as well. I’m sticking to the cliche list for now. I figure that’s what makes most sense and I feel like a giddy 7 year old before her birthday anyways. I’ve finished Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk in the Woods’, and am currently on ‘AWOL’. I still have to read ‘Becoming Odyssa’, ‘Appalachian Trials’, and the AT guide book. Maybe it’s cliche for a reason and maybe I’ll walk away with an idealistic of my journey being one that could be a novel. At this point, whatever, I keep telling myself it’s good for me during my preparations!
My plan is to leave for the AT with $6000 for the trail. That doesn’t include bills that keep getting paid while I’m gone; dog food, student loans (will they ever end?), cell phone, car insurance (only storage insurance, but it’s required I’m told), and credit card payments.
I left my job to prepare while doing something less taxing physically and emotionally. I creatively manage two serving jobs and one a large outdoor retailer in the gear department. All of this in order to save the money needed to make this journey happen. When I sit down at the end of the day (they are long since 4 days a week, I work doubles) I am sometimes floored that I will spend 11,000 of the course of six months to walk. TO WALK!?! There is so much more to it than walking, I remember moments later.
I’m working hard to reach that goal. I’m at $3,500 now for the AT. I will be heading to NYC from Thanksgiving to Christmas to sell Christmas Trees in East Harlem for a cash gig that will bring me a good chunk of change for next year! I’ve been getting creative to make the money in time, and I know it will be worth it!
I think this could be a whole post, but I’ll touch briefly on this. As a gear junkie, I have a lot of camping/backpacking gear but over the past 6 months and in the next 5 months, I will continue to dial in and prepare my gear. I am working hard to get a great weight to durability/quality ratio for all three seasons I’ll see. I also know that if I get too attached to any gear, I’ll be disappointed because no matter how many dry runs I do, I’ll likely end up swapping out gear once I’m on trail for more than a few days.
I’ll get back to gear in my next post.
Well, as of tomorrow, I will have 5 months until I get on that train and no matter how many times I start stressing out over how prepared I will actually be when I get on trail, I have to remember to focus on today and enjoy my days now and not just focus on next year. So while I enjoy today, I will continue planning because that is who I am as a person. Next year when shit hits the fan on trail for the first time, I’ll look back and wonder what I should have done differently. In the end, nothing will be perfect and there will be good and bad days on trail. That’s just life. But here’s to planning…and maybe a shot of crappy rum for when nothing goes right.
Until next time,
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Like yourself, I too am going to hike the AT in March. This will be the last of what I call ” The Bucket List Trifecta”
The first was to peddle a bicycle around the complete perimeter of the US, 16,000 miles.Did that 2 years ago.
The second was to paddle a canoe 2500 miles down the entire Mississippi River. Just completed that six weeks ago.I am 60 years old.
Next the AT. Just like you, I’m working a bunch of jobs to save for my next adventure.I’m not rich or anywhere close to retiring. The only concern I have after finishing the AT is, what’s next? Guess I’ll have 2200 miles to thing about it.
Hope to see you on the trail! My trail name is Nanook.
See you on the trail! Starting on March, from Wisconsin, too!