7 Regrets I Don’t Have Before Beginning the AT
My husband and I just completed a two day shakedown hike three weeks before our AT departure date. Some of our gear worked smashingly and other things will be left behind.
1. I’m a woman and I pee standing up
After searching in three stores with my husband and dad we finally found it. A woman’s pee cup. That’s right, every time on the AT, I will not have to remove my heavy pack, peel down sweaty undergarments and squat on throbbing legs just to relieve myself of much needed hydration, and I don’t regret it.
One thing that will not be left behind is my precious little plastic pee cup. I will appreciate it multiple times a day for two thousand miles. *This is not a picture of me. You get the idea*
2. I chopped my hair off
As the sweat culminated at the base of my neck I couldn’t help be grateful there wasn’t anything else there but air. In a static clinging tent I was glad the hair trying to cling to my face wasn’t twice as long. I more than chopped my hair in half leaving just enough length to pull it back into a binder and I have no regrets. No combing, bunching, or braiding necessary.
3. I paid over $100 for a water filtration system
Last year my husband and I hiked the Smokies over a five day period. Everytime we came to a water source I had to squat down to a pipe or stream and hold my shaking hand under a little drip or trickle making sure the water went into the bottle opening then proceed to squeeze the water back through a filter to a bladder sometimes four times or more leaning on soar toes and arches just wanting to rest. This year we splurged to a 4L gravity filter system (Gravityworks) that filters 4L in 2 minutes while I do whatever the heck else I want. (I would pay $200)
4. I’m not wearing pants
I bought a skirt. Whether man or woman, more air down there is great. I didn’t have to think once about adjustments with multiple layers or irritation or overheating. It was great and I can adjust the length and because I bought a comfortable fabric and a bigger size it feels like I’m wearing the least possible for all that freedom of movement that’s needed. My skirt is from a store called Lucy with zippered and unzippered pockets on both sides which I also love. I do also have a pair of super thin loose Columbia shorts I found on clearance in Jerusalem that my mother-in-law bought me as another feel-like-I’m-wearing-the-least-possible option pictured below as I was testing both options out.
5. My love/hate of late is a stair machine
With a month left before we hit the trail, last week my husband and I joined a small local YMCA for $15 a piece. The only thing I find myself doing is the stair machine or box climbing. I’ve grown to embrace the burn of the upper thighs and the calves and glutes knowing it will be the new normal of my day on the trail. The first day on the machine I just put it up to the hardest resistance level and went to town. When we were out for those two days, going up hills felt right at home to me and less like foreign torture.
6. I splurged on my backpack and shoes
When out on the trail for just two days I kept thinking of things I could leave behind or change and never did I think about wanting to switch out my super comfy ultralight backpack (Osprey Exos 38) which I intentionally bought small so I would bring less stuff, or my strong but light shoes (Men’s Salomon X Ultra Mid Aero Hiking Boot).
I had debated between GTX and Aero hiking boots, but after listening to my husband’s admonitions I love how quickly the Aero’s dry out and how much ventilation they have. I could see the sunlight streaming through the sides when I took them off yet they feel as sturdy as leather with tons of base support. Just what I wanted in a hiking boot.
I can’t say enough about my Osprey. It’s everything I could ever need or want in a thru-hiking pack.
7. I’m hiking with my best friend
I know this isn’t optional for everyone but still very true for me. While out on the practice run figuring out our tent, packs, and sleep systems for the first time I couldn’t have been more happy about who I was getting to do all this with. I can’t think of anything I would want to do more than go on a walk with my husband for the next 150 days. Come rain, cold, or sunshine.
No regrets, just hiking.
You can watch vids of our hiking journey online here. Joel Wanders Youtube.
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