Over 50, Overweight, Overloaded. AT, Here I Come
I spent years in the infantry carrying way too much weight for far too many miles in terrible terrain. I intend to be more aware during this trek with what’s out there, rather than how far I have gone, when will I be done, or what happens next. I’m anxious to get on the trail and start walking… slowly… very slowly… toward Maine. I want to see what’s there, be in the moment, and thoroughly enjoy every minute I’m on the trail. I’m lucky; I understand that. I haven’t had to put my life on hold to accomplish this significant goal. After retiring early, I have been traveling and enjoying life for years now. I don’t have a schedule, or a job, or school to get back to, or any reason to rush this experience.
My Target Speed – Turtle
My current plan, which changes with alarming frequency, has me starting in Amicalola Falls State Park on March 10 and taking about 200 days to finish the 2,192 miles of the Appalachian Trail and the 8.5 miles of the Approach Trail, ending somewhere at the end of September. That figure includes 16 built-in zero days (days that I don’t hike any miles, usually spent in a hotel) and an average of just less than 11 miles per day. I plan to take four zero days in the first month, three in the second and third months, and two in each of the last three months. During these zero days is when I’ll catch up on rest, laundry, blogging, and long-term resupply. I am going intentionally slow to help me adjust to this enormous undertaking while allowing me plenty of opportunities to either go slower or faster as needed or to take more zero days if those are warranted.
I Will Succeed
As you may have garnered from the title, I’m older, not in the best shape, and am carrying a slightly heavier pack. I’m trying to give myself the best possible chance of success by going very slowly the first six or seven weeks. I’ll be averaging well under ten miles per day during that period, and gradually ramping up the trail miles, sort of, as I develop my trail legs and stamina. I say “sort of” because if I stick to my plan, I’ll never average more than 11ish miles per day. I’m only looking at a handful of 20-mile days during the entire trek. I’ll follow this post with a modified gear list post detailing what I’m carrying.
Currently, and this is somewhat fluid also, my base weight, pre-food and water, is right at 30 pounds. I know, that’s a lot, three times what many of you will carry and double what most of you will bring. Some of that weight is by choice, with a plan to shed as needed that I’ll discuss further in a moment, and some of that weight is just due to budgetary constraints. I’m hiking with the gear I have, not the gear I’d like to have (that sounds like a good title for my gear list post).
Changing My Way of Thinking Is Hard
My pack is years old and heavy. I upgraded my tent and sleeping system. Not recently. but more so than my backpack, to the best that I could afford. The rest of the weight is my fears, I suppose. I spent most of my life with redundancy being hammered into my way of thinking and ingrained into my DNA. If one is good, then four is better… and ten is probably best. Shedding that mentality is proving to be harder than I ever thought it would be. When I started planning in earnest for this adventure my very rough base weight was 61 pounds. I was stressing about how to reduce that weight and considered everything in my pack something I thought I needed. I mostly had two of everything, and often more than that, of everything.
Coffee Is Life
Currently, the only redundant item I have in my pack is a fuel canister. Because the thought of running out of fuel unexpectedly and not being able to make coffee is frankly a deal breaker for me.
How Will I Shed Unnecessary Weight?
My plan for dropping weight as I go is a simple one. It’s the same plan I use when deciding whether to keep something in my home or trash it. It goes something like this –
If I haven’t touched that thing (whatever “that thing” is, except first aid kit) in one week, I probably don’t need it. It will be on the short list of things that will go away soon. I’ll give myself an amount of time to come up with a reason why I need it. If no excuse can be found to keep the said piece of kit, it goes. Either to be mailed home, left in a hiker box, or simply discarded at the next bin.
Hopefully, this will fairly quickly help me shed unnecessary weight and begin to rethink what I need and what I’m merely carrying for no other reason than I’m afraid not to take it.
That’s it for this post. I hope that you’ll join me again as I post my gear list and continue to document my journey.
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