30 Days, 30 Lessons Learned

“Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.” ― Terry Pratchett.

This is a quick post for 30 lessons I’ve learned from my first 30 days on trail. Some of these are probably “no-brainers” to seasoned thru hikers. Seeing as this is my first thru hike, I figured I’d share what I’ve learned. Please feel free to add, disagree, provide more insight or just downright agree. Enjoy!

  1. Weather can be your best friend or your immortal enemy. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer
  2. You miss 100% of the summits you don’t take
  3. What goes down, must go up. What goes up, must go down. To get into town, you must climb down. To get out of town, you must climb up. Suck it up, buttercup.
  4. Stop chafing right away, or else it becomes a self-licking ice cream cone
  5. Your footbox doubles as a dryer and you can use clothes to shore up warmth
  6. For food consumption follow this rule: 1oz to 100cal; otherwise it’s too much weight
  7. If you have food left over going into town, you’re either carrying too much or not eating enough
  8. Speaking of eating…aim to get 2kcal a day while on trail and 10kcal when in town (courtesy of Lucky @atchostel)
  9. If there’s something in your pack you haven’t touched in 5x days, chuck it…minus first aid stuff obviously (courtesy of Lumberjack)
  10. Hiker boxes double as resupply points, ALWAYS look through them
  11. Your stove DOES NOT double as a fire starter (courtesy of @frodo_on_the_at)
  12. Pace on climbs is essential, you can ruin your whole day if you blow it out on an early climb (courtesy of ridge runner Studmuffin)
  13. Don’t drink only electrolyte water, it can do more harm than good
  14. Sleep with electronics and your filter on cold nights. They will thank you
  15. ALWAYS eat a salad when in town
  16. Staying in town is fun, but can drain your hiker budget faster than a leaky bathtub
  17. If you can afford the weight, bring some playing cards for when you get stuck in a shelter due to weather
  18. Take time to socialize at camp because it can uplift your mood and spirits (courtesy of @lauraevelynashley)
  19. Flexibility applies to more than just muscles, tendons, and joints; it’s essential to your plan as well
  20. If it looks like an easy downhill on FarOut, it’s not. If it looks like a hard uphill, it’s harder
  21. Speaking of FarOut; when in doubt, check FarOut
  22. If you’re comfortable with it, share contact info; getting separated happens a lot
  23. Take glucosamine and a multivitamin daily
  24. No brainer-If it’s sunny, use sunscreen
  25. Stretch and roll out your feet daily/nightly
  26. Camel slurping at water sources is an easy way to cut weight; comes with risk of not passing a water source
  27. Most all water sources in the Smokey’s are only at shelters. Unless it’s a downpour
  28. When grabbing resupply from hostels ALWAYS check expiration dates. Not naming specifics, but it rhymes with Banding Stair…
  29. If your Ursack freezes to a tree, use hot water instead of cutting it off (I learned this one the hard way in the Smokey’s)
  30. Best way I’ve found so far to increase mileage: 20% rule. Up your mileage by 20% and see how you feel. Not your hiking mileage, the TOTAL miles you walk. You will walk an additional +~3mi over your hiking mileage daily due to getting water, going to the privy, setting up camp, etc. A 15mi day easily turns into a 18-19mi day when you’re done. Go off that figure to increase 20%

That’s all for today folks! Working on my next post now so it won’t be as long between this one. Wishing all the hikers out there great views, great climbs, and great times.



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Comments 4

  • Steven Hise aka Yosemite Sam : Mar 23rd

    Stephen – enjoy your useful information posts….I’ll throw a suggestion for your Trail name in the hat: “General”. 23 years with a helmet – you deserve the promotion!

    I’d be interested in how (or if) you manage mileage with respect to resupply, overnights in towns, weather, how much wildcat camping you are doing and the need for muscle recovery. It seems that staying at or near shelters every night could limit (or extend) mileage below or above what a thru-hiker would like to accomplish on a daily basis.

    Looks like there has been some tough weather – any lessons learned?

    Yosemite Sam, departing 02.22.2024

    • Stephen : Mar 29th

      Thanks! I’m thinking of doing a poll for my trail name. Non have fit so far.

      All good points. Stealth camping seems the easiest way to stay on track. The only area which pigeon holes you with certain mileage was the Smokey’s because you HAVE to stay at/around the shelters. I’ve found my sweet spot is 16-18mi a day with a nearo into a zero every 5th/6th day. If I don’t take a zero in that range, I make sure to have a few nearos in there. Hopefully that provides some more fidelity. Thanks for following along!

  • Nicole Moates : Mar 23rd

    If we’re taking trail name suggestions…. ShermansMarchNorth

    • Stephen : Mar 29th

      Love it!


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