30 Day Countdown to the Appalachian Trail

When I first decided to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail over a year ago, it seemed like an eternity away. At the time that was a good thing. I needed to prepare in every way possible. Now, with only 30 days until I hit the approach trail to Springer Mountain, it is finally starting to sink in. Come early February, I will be taking on the greatest challenge of my life. Keep reading to see what the next month will consist of for me!

Physical Training

I would not classify myself as an athlete or an overly fit person. There have definitely been phases in my life where I’ve been all about fitness, but not as of recent. Getting in shape and building stamina is not crucial, but I know it will be very helpful. I am trying to do all I can now to help make the first few weeks of “getting my trail legs” a little smoother. Here’s what I have been and will continue doing to physically prepare for my AT thru-hike:

  • Hike 5-10 miles a few times per week with my gear-filled pack.
  • Take 2-3 classes at Orangetheory Fitness, which is a one hour, full-body, group workout.
  • Since I live in Florida where there is little to no elevation, I focus on doing inclines on the treadmill whenever possible.

Mental Preparation

Being mentally ready to take on a feat like thru-hiking the AT is so important. This is something I’ve been focusing on for the past year and it is safe to say I feel ready. If you are wanting to mentally prepare but are not sure where to start, I definitely recommend reading Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis. This was my starting point and it gave me some great insight as to what lies ahead for me. In addition to reading and doing TONS of research, here are some other ways I’ve been preparing in this final stretch:

  • Shakedowns- The best way to understand how you will feel on the trail is to put yourself in the same settings. Get out and spend several days using your gear and hiking daily. Don’t just hike when it’s nice and sunny. Get out there when it’s raining. Get out there when it’s cold. Just get out there!
  • Take the time to read up or watch videos of some past successful thru-hikers. Feedback from someone who has already done what you are about to do can be the most beneficial trail information you hear.
  • Consider what might be my breaking points on the trail. I think it’s important to know what could put me over the edge and understand how I can overcome these obstacles if it happens.

Tie Up Loose Ends

In order to leave my normal life behind for six months, there are a few final things I need to take care of. I was working two full-time jobs up until a week ago in order to save up for the trail. Now, I am only at one and will be finishing up my employment in the next two weeks. This short time between now and the trail will be for me to finalize anything that needs to be done. Here are some of the things I am currently or will be taking care of in the next 30 days leading up to the trail:

  • Set up autopay on any bills that I can, and make a plan to ensure I can pay the rest as I go.
  • Cancel/freeze any unnecessary subscriptions. If you won’t need it on the trail, why pay for it?
  • Arrange long term care for my fur babies. Unfortunately, my two pups will be staying at different homes while I am hiking the AT, but they will both be in great hands! I made sure to get a seven month supply of food and flea medications for them.
  • Make tough final gear decisions. I personally am on the fence with the shoes I’ve chosen as well as deciding between some of the hiking clothes I have recently purchased. I’ll be really putting these items to the test to be sure I pick the best gear for me.

Take it One Day at a Time

With all the last-minute tasks and final preparation, I know these 30 days will fly by. I am just so ready to be out there that it’s hard to remember that I still need to be present in what I have going on until it’s time to hit the trail. Here’s to hoping everything goes smoothly until departure day!

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Comments 5

  • pearwood : Jan 11th

    Your physical and mental prep sound close to mine.
    It’s time to add a 10-pound dumbbell to my pack. 🙂

  • Orville Story- Thinker : Jan 13th

    I am now inside that 30 day window myself. I am also blogging for The Trek. I start on the 12th. Maybe we will cross paths at some point. I look forward to you’re articles, this one nailed it.

    • Nadia Fenay : Jan 23rd

      Hey there! Thanks for the kind words. I do also hope to see you out there. Happy hiking!

  • Alyssa Chrisman : Jan 22nd

    Hi Nadia! I also use OrangeTheory as hiking training and focus on the inclines on the treadmills as well (I live in Central Ohio, which is a little hillier than Florida but not much in my area). I’ve noticed my heart rate improving over time so I think that is great. Someone warned me that although the treadmill inclines are helpful, they won’t prepare you for downhills which work a completely different set of muscles so maybe you can look into exercises for that as well. I also have been wearing my mask during OTF workouts (it’s not required at my studio), which I think in addition to keeping me COVID-safe gives a little boost in cardio training maybe?

    Also, my mom works at USF!

    Good luck with your training– I’m excited to follow your journey.

    • Nadia Fenay : Jan 23rd

      Hey Alyssa! What a great suggestion to incorporate downhill training! I’m definitely going to look into that. Nice to know there’s another OTFer out there haha! And maybe I’ll cross paths with your mom when I get back ☺️.


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