Five Things That Did Not Work: Appalachian Trail 2018
I had 130 days to try out gear, routines, eating habits, sleeping set-ups, etc. This list talks about the top five things that did not work for me on the trail, a follow-up post to the five things that worked.
I started the trail using a gravity filtration system. Initially I loved it and thought it was the best, but I think that love turned out to be misunderstood stubbornness. It took me a few minutes longer just because I had to get out all the pieces (bag, hose, filter, second pipe, second bag). It was cumbersome and ended up not lasting much longer than the first month. For the PCT 2019, I will be using the Sawyer Micro Squeeze, which I am stoked about.
Pacing: Trying to Keep Up with Other People
Some days you feel fierce AF and could run the whole trail. Other days you want to take a break at every viewpoint and relax. It was really challenging for me to stay humble and true to what my mind/body wanted in the moment. When I would try to keep up with other people, it would sometimes lead to injury, anxiety, or frustration. It is hard to fall behind, especially when you are having great conversations with the people you’re hiking with or when you just want some company. Just try your best to be mindful and know when to push yourself versus hike your own hike.
Trendy Gear: Zero Drop Shoes
I really wanted to be able to rock zero drops. All of the hikers were talking about them and I wear Converse shoes day-to-day, so I figured that if they worked for everyone else, they would probably work for me, too. I quickly learned that they did not provide enough support for my feet. My feet were in serious pain a few weeks into trail so I decided to switch over to the shoes I used before thru-hiking.
I had a pair of Keen Targhee Vent Low Hiking shoes sent to me in Pearisburg and my feet were instantly happier. In Rutland, I had my third pair of shoes sent to me, but unfortunately my feet grew (again) and they did not fit. So I caught the local bus to the only outdoor store around and bought my third and final pair of shoes, the Salomon XA Pro 3D. These were perfect for me and I plan to use them for the PCT.
I’ve mentioned in my previous post, six tips for thru-hiking, that I started with too much gear. I wore my favorite pair of prAna pants the first day, but after that, they
stayed in my pack until I sent them home. I hiked from April 24 to Aug. 31 and did not see any snow. Some people I know who started only a week before me had snow, so this note is situationally dependent. For me, though, it only took a few minutes to warm up. Plus, I had my sleep pants if I really needed a barrier for my legs.
This was another piece of gear that everyone was talking about so I figured I needed them. I enjoyed them for the first month or so until they broke. Then it was either buy a new pair or hike without them. Since I was around some people who didn’t wear them and I had developed my own opinions from experience, I figured I would give hiking without them a try. Verdict—it was totally fine. A few pebbles or twigs here and there and a few quick breaks to empty my shoes out, but overall I was just as happy without them.
Honorable Mention: Sleeping Pads with High Noise Rating
OK, I know noise rating is not a real thing but it should be. I loved my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping pad. It was so comfortable and it held up for the most part for the
entire trail. But holy moly, was it loud. Every time I moved the slightest bit, it was as if someone was crinkling wrapping paper over the loudspeaker. Beyond it being personally annoying, I always felt badly for those around me who were trying to sleep. Actually, it was kind of funny—the crew I was with got in sync and whenever one Therm-a-Rest(er) would move, the rest of us would use that as an opportunity to adjust, too. I am still looking for a sleeping pad for the PCT. Any suggestions?
These are the things that did not work for me on trail and your experience may be totally different. Did any of my top five make your top five? Have anything to add? Share your thoughts with me below.
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