The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Supported Through Hike

In my last post I gave some reasons why I decided to do a supported through hike in 2016, with my wife following along and picking me up at the end of the day when possible. We calculate it might be possible about two-thirds of the time.
I had some good reasons.
Now the list of Benefits and Drawbacks. Even though SOS and Trail Mama are going with us (unless they come to their senses) I’m saying this in first person singular, because this is my take on it.

Benefit: I get to slack pack a lot, with no worries about the person holding my pack. Wives as a rule are pretty trustworthy.
Drawback: Somehow it’s not as badass if you don’t carry your weight every day. I just have to admit that Supported isn’t quite as macho as Unsupported.

Benefit: I get to sleep with my wife most nights.
Drawback: The only drawback here is probably for her.

Benefit: Staying off trail I’ll miss the crowded conditions in shelters and campsites resulting from the release of “A Walk In The Woods.”
Drawback: But not sleeping in shelters can result in less of a sense of community, sharing and/or whining about the day’s hike and weather with others.

Benefit: I get to shower most nights and wear clean clothes
Drawback: I will smell like a section/day hiker. After 15 years of section hiking, until I started reading this blog I never knew this was a thing. I not only won’t blend in with other Through Hikers, I’ll stand out! On the other hand, if I don’t shower, my wife may have something to say about the hiker funk. Since there will be overnights on the trail a third of time, there will be time to get funky.

Benefit: I get to eat better, with the support crew preparing meals. I’ll also eat healthier.
Drawback: OK, there is no drawback here

Benefit: It will be much easier to fulfill one of my goals, visit most of the 29 Pubs along the way.
Drawback: Definitely no drawback.

Benefit: I won’t have to hitch hike. My wife will pick me up. We can even give fellow hikers a shuttle lift.
Drawback: Hitching on the AT is part of the experience; I won’t get to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Benefit: I can flip flop for just a day if want to. I’ll get to see other through hikers as a temporary SOBO.
Drawback: Bit more awkward to answer “Did you go NOBO or SOBO?” and have to say “Mostly NOBO; but there were days when…..”

Benefit: I won’t have to shop for resupply; my resupply is in the car/RV.
Drawback: No drawback; I hate shopping.

Benefit: I have four options on footwear. I won’t have to choose for the whole hike. I can take them all and choose what is appropriate for the day.
Drawback: I can now buy a 5th option I’ve had my eye on.

Benefit: I won’t spend zero days doing chores like laundry. I can really rest.
Drawback: No drawback, although I haven’t mentioned to my wife that doing laundry is one of the “opportunities.”

Benefit: Our support crew can do trail magic all along the journey.
Drawback: This could cost a lot!


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