5 Ways to Prepare to Hike the AT While Living in the Flattest Place on Earth, aka Oklahoma

(A not-entirely-serious and possibly entirely sarcastic non-comprehensive list)

1. Take your fully loaded pack to the gym and get on that Stairmaster or a treadmill with an incline.

Sure, you’ll get lots of funny stares from everyone at the gym, but you’ll be in better shape than all of them after you hike over 2,000 miles, so screw ‘em.

2. Find the tallest building you can.

Preferably the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City; it’s the tallest in the state at 850 feet. Climb all of the stairs in the building 6 times, and boom! You’ve summited Katahdin.

3.Spend a few nights outside in January or February.

If you can survive the miserable cold and the winds sweeping down the plains, then you are officially winter camping certified!

4. Attend a home football game at the University of Oklahoma dressed entirely in University of Texas gear.

Your experience there will be way scarier than any bear or rattlesnake you could possibly encounter and when you reach the trail, you will be fearless.

5. Go somewhere else (read: better).

Don’t get me wrong, Oklahoma is my home and I love it with all of my heart, but as far as options for hiking and backpacking go, let’s just say they…don’t. Take an extra day off from work and head east to Arkansas or west to Colorado for a plethora of better options.

In all honesty, my preparation involves walking a few miles a day no matter what the weather is.  While the flat streets of Norman, Oklahoma are about the exact opposite of what I’m going to be doing on the trail, my tolerance to the weather has always been what’s concerned me most about this trip.  Going outside for awhile no matter how angry the Oklahoma skies are is the best way for me to toughen up before March.  And I think it’s working!  Long story short, you are never going to be able to fully prepare yourself for what you’re going to encounter on the trail and you just have to work with what you’ve got. So get out there!

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