December 12th marked THREE months out for the start of my thru hike. Worse than Santa ever dreamed of being, I am making my list & quadruple checking it. So what do I have left to do or get?
In lieu of resupplying in every town I made a hodge podge of two lists for my drop boxes: Awol’s 12 mile a day plan & the list for worst places to resupply conventionally. For instance I heard “Monson has nothing!” and I don’t even remember where. I ended up with 10 official mail drops on my list & 2 to possibly swap winter & summer gear, if needed.
The main reason for doing drop boxes is that, as much as I love a good junk food binge, I am mostly saving the junk for town stops. My choices for on trail snacking are leaning toward the more healthy, sustainable, and energy providing options. Currently on my list are Exo Protein Bars, Health Warrior Chia bars, Picky Bars (seriously-eat the Smooth Caffeinator bar! HOLY CAFFEINATED GOODNESS!) & Raw Revolution’s Glo bars.
I also love coffee and NEED a caffeine fix, so that will be shooting out in boxes, as well. Without it, even the bears wouldn’t want to hang around!
I’ll also be sending protein powder and chia seeds in my drops because I’m not a fan of fish. There’s only so much packet chicken one can eat! And finally flax seed for fiber and coconut oil for fat and energy boosts. Hooray superfoods!
Shake Down Hike
Roughly planned for the day after Christmas, my partner and I will take to the mountains to test out gear that we have yet to use. My last gear trying session was in June & my last cool weather shake down was in October of 2014, it’s safe to say that this is very important and very needed. My hiking & camping in cold weather is very limited, seeing as how Alabama doesn’t really have winter. I’m anxious to try out my 20 degree quilt from Helium Hiking Equipment. Please be as warm & cozy as you are light!
Obviously this will be one of the last things my partner & I do before leaving. If registering with the ATC recently wasn’t a reality check, this sure will be!
Obviously, after a shake down involving the use of new things picked up between now & June, there may be a few gear changes. Things I will be trying for the first time,along with my quilt, include: Klymit’s Inertia X-Frame sleeping pad & Yaktrax (if it’s seriously cold and icy).
The things I have not picked up yet (looking at you Santa!) include: a puffy, warm as toast, weatherproof jacket (I’m eyeballing REI’s RevelCloud but am open to suggestions on jackets anyone may think are better) and my bivy. I’m also considering new trekking poles (Leki Shasta) and a different cooking mechanism (MSR Pocket Rocket) but I will see how my current set-up works for me.
I lost my 2014 AT guide & impatiently ordered a newer 2015 one. The next day, as is always my luck, pre-orders started for good ole David Miller’s 2016 guide. I wanted to scream at my inpatience (and at my never ending ability to lose literally everything except my head). So a 2016 guide is still on my list, as is the AT passport. I am all about keepsakes with meaning and that is one thing I can’t pass up for the memories it will hold.
Walking The Fence
Lastly, I am still walking the middle line between taking a few things or not. Namely, technology. I’d like to disconnect as much as possible but I also want to be able to document my hike. Do I stick to using my phone for pictures or take my camera? Do I take my tablet for blogging (and netflix! Being honest.) in town? Should I drag along my Ipod that has been collecting dust for literally way too long? Small choices here & I am sure I will have decided once March rolls around.
In the end, I realize that I am much more prepared than I thought I would be by now. I’m always late because I always think I have more time than I actually do. This time that is not the case. This is all starting to feel extremely real and I’m excited and feeling settled. The last few things I have are relatively small undertakings in comparison to a year and a half ago when planning and gear lists felt so overwhelming. The pieces of the puzzle are snapping in place as March gets closer! What’s next on your list or are you all set to go?
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