How to Plan a Long Distance Backpacking Trip with a Long Distance Partner

She lives in Alaska.

I live in Connecticut.

The last time Mamie and I saw each other was in August and we won’t see each other until two weeks before we set out at the end of March.

There’s 2,095 miles between us and there will be 2,168.1 miles behind us by the end of this summer.

With time zones, work schedules and the craziness of life, I’m pretty damn proud of how we’ve managed to get things together as we prep for the AT. If you and your hiking partner are going long distance, here’s what’s working for us.

1) Share a Google Drive Folder

We’ve got everything in there. Gear list, food inventory, self reflections, mail drop spreadsheets, the letter draft we sent to potential sponsors, a draft menu and what we want in our bounce box and med kit.

In my Gmail, I also have labels for the types of emails we send to each other (sponsor related, receipts, etc.) Because I like to organize things and seeing rainbows in my inbox.

2) Write One Letter

Mamie drafted a letter to send to our potential sponsors. It’s direct, polite and thoughtful. She made it easy for both of us to research companies, plug in some details, send off our requests for support.

I made a list of who we asked, who replied, and what they offered and then made another spreadsheet to track who we made good on our end of the agreement with so far.

3) Buy for Two

We both subscribe to a million food and gear shops via email, Facebook and Instagram. When there’s a deal we check in with each other, “Should we buy this? How many? This is vegetarian AND lactose free!” and we make the purchase.

We’re both saving our email receipts so we can settle up in person.

4) Divide and Conquer

I made the draft of our mail drop locations, she took on the menu. When we felt like those were in a good place, we asked the other to take a look and confirm.

5) Split Chef Duties

Mamie has a dehydrator, I don’t. She’s been drying food for months and will pack it up in her suitcase. We both experiment with recipes at home and I add the ones that work to our stockpile at my house.

Since she’s also traveling on a plane, anything we order gets sent to my house to save us shipping costs and room in her suitcase.

6) Get on the Same Page

We both have a copy of AWOL’s guide and I’ve scanned pages from the Appalachian Trail Thru Hike Planner for both of us to look at. This makes it much easier to understand what the other is talking about, which will ultimately make our lives more streamlined.

We’ll see what else we learn as March approaches!

Best of luck to other long distance hiking pals!


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