Final Prep: Q and A
Well, it’s all happening over here! In the last 24 hours we have finished up with our jobs, packed up our belongings, and left our home town. We’re now entering a period of waiting before we head on the trail. While waiting, we’re going to see some friends and hangout with parents; but we also have some time on our hands. I need to write a blog again to use that time constructively- otherwise I may just stare at my backpack and scream into a pillow for 5 days.
Every person that I speak to about the trail has pretty much the same few questions about the trail. I appreciate every person taking an interest, but if I have to tell one more person that I’m not carrying 6 months of food on my back then I might just spontaneously combust. So I went to Instagram and asked what questions people wanted answering. Unfortunately, not one of my friends took it seriously. So rather than answering ‘Why are you such a dumdum?’, I’m going to answer the questions I get asked the most in person. It’ll also be fun to look back at this after the trail, when I know more and can see how much of a dum dum I am right now.
Q1. Will you be sleeping in a tent every night??
Depends on how social we’re feeling.
Yes we will be carrying a tent with us the whole time. We’re taking the Big Agnes Copperspur UL3 with us; it allows us a little more room and has a lovely awning so we can cook while still in bed. However, the AT is a special trail because it has wooden shelters built every 5-15 miles along it. If you need a visual on it, I recently bought a fantastic book that has information on every single shelter. Some people will try to stay in those every night if possible. However, we’re starting our journey in the bubble (the popular time to start) so shelters may be full, or we may be sick of people.
Some people also try to ‘Platinum Blaze’ the AT. Which is the practice of enjoying the finer things on the AT. Whether it be meals, shuttles or accommodations; nothing is off limits in the pursuit of luxury. So those people can stay in hostels/ hotels every couple nights! After consulting with my financial planner (Britta) about my platinum plans she advised me to ‘dream on’.
Q2. How will you get food?
The AT is one of the most connected trails is the world. It crosses a road on average every 10 miles, and sometimes goes straight through town. This means that we can regularly shuttle or walk into town to resupply every 4/5 days. Food is pretty heavy anyway, so the shorter time in between resupplies the better. Luckily, neither of us have dietary requirements so we can just inhale whatever food is around.
Q3. What food will you eat?
Absolutely everything. For real. I imagine convenience is key, so whatever a general store has in stock. Our calorie aim for the day could get north of 4000 so whatever has a great weight to calorie ratio. Youtube has some wonderful videos with ideas for backpacking food that are light and full of calories. Our personal favourite at the moment is tortilla wrap with a Knorr rice packet and pepperoni thrown in. On the other hand, we can’t stop to cook for every meal, so I imagine eating protein/energy bars will make up a large portion of our diet….. and also poptarts. Lots of poptarts.
Q4. Are you scared of bears?
Oh yeah. Definitely. But they’re definitely scared of me too. We plan to have proper bear etiquette such as: hanging a bear bag, not sleeping with your food and cooking away from the tent. Hopefully, with all those put in place, we should keep our bear interactions to a minimum. Plus, we’re surrounded by eastern black bears, which are described as ‘massive trash racoons’ because of tendencies to dumpster dive and look for unguarded food. Come to think of it, I would be pretty terrified of a massive racoon.
Some even bigger problems come in smaller packages. Leave some food in your tent for a mouse to chew through, boom, your tent could be useless. Critters can get into all sorts of situations and can be a lot more sneaky than big clumsy bears.
Q5. Are you going off grid?
Gosh no, I love internet drama too much. How could I leave meme culture behind? We will still have our phones, and still have good internet access when we hit trail towns too. So don’t be afraid to send a message; might take me a couple days to get to it, but still worth it! We are also carrying a Zoleo satellite communicator in order to stay in contact with people in an SOS situation. It leaves a breadcrumb map of our movements so close friends can track us.
Q6. Are you taking a weapon?
I’m a lover, not a fighter. Britta on the other hand, jeesh, don’t get on the wrong side of her! She calls her fists ‘thunder’ and ‘lightning’, you hear one coming before the other!
Q7. How far are you going to hike each day?
We’re going to start off smaller than usual. When hiking previously, we’ve pushed out 20 mile days which I thought we could start with. Britta’s much more intelligent PT brain has decided to start with smaller miles in order avoid injury. So we will probably start with 8-10 miles to start off with, then climb up to 20 and up.
Previous hikers have said you can build up your mileage above 20/30 miles through the states until you hit the White Mountains of New Hampshire. They humble you all the way back down to 8 miles a day because of the terrain.
Q7. Why are you a dumdum?
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