Friday Five: Five Eureka Moments from My AT Prep

In a nod to Austin Kleon, of Share Your Work fame, here is a list of five things I’ve gleaned from my own AT research that seemed worth sharing this week.

1.  Exchange cameras with your hiking partner when you go through Mahoosic Notch.  

Seriously, don’t you want pictures of yourself going through the trail’s funnest jungle gym of a mile?

2.  Help them help you. 

Make resupply easier for your home team.  

Before you go, pack each day’s food in one-gallon ziploc bags and store them in freezer.   Gather a cache of flat rate boxes, labels, sharpies and your list of mail drop addresses.  Then your spouse (or your mom) can take out as many ziplocs as you want sent, pop them in the box and send them off to your next resupply point.  Easy peasy.

(Thanks to Judy Gross of Lightheart Gear for this suggestion and more in this blog post.)


An app for calculating your pack weight.  Someone shared this in the Women’s Appalachian Trail facebook group, then linked to her list on LighterPack.  From there, she got a virtual shakedown from the group. Priceless.

4.  For the ladiesP-Style.  Google it.

5.  Hiking the AT is NOT your job!

I took an AT prep course last fall where the teacher, who shall remain nameless, exhorted us to treat the AT like we would treat a job.  As in, get up, go to work, put in your time each day, two 15 minute coffee breaks, half hour for lunch, camp chores in the evening, sleep, repeat to Katahdin.

What’s fun about that?  Isn’t this about escaping the grind of everyday life that has not lived up to its promise?

Well, I’m all for escaping that particular grind.  The grind sucks the soul right out of me.

So when Homemade Wanderlust shared this tip in her post-hike video, Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Hiked The Appalachian Trail, accompanied by pictures of mid-day hacky-sack playoffs, PBR breakfasts and general goofing off on a “work” day, it floored me.

I’ve got a lot of reprogramming to do.  A lot of beliefs to change around working hard (at the expense of fun), sleeping late, not drinking beer for breakfast.

I’m in this to finish and I realize a certain amount of hiking must take place each day for a thru-hike to succeed.  But I refuse to let anyone try to tell me to treat this like a job.

Hiking the AT is NOT my job.

It’s my chance to rattle the cage enough so that the cage opens and I’m free to do what nourishes me (and my soul), not what keeps me in my proverbial place.

So what about you, Sunshine?  Do you have any tips that are worth sharing this week for the class of 2017 thru hikers?  Leave a comment and let us know your “Eureka!” moments from your trail preparations.


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