Reorganizing My Pack on My Last Shakedown

I finished my final shakedown hike this week.  I hiked a stretch of the North-South Trail in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.  The weather was beautiful, and I had the trail mostly to myself.  This last hike has changed my mind on the importance of organization.

This Is Why We Do Shakedowns

The point of this last shakedown was to ensure I had the gear I wanted, where I wanted, organized in a manner that made sense.  What I learned was that while I had the kit that I needed, the way I had it organized made no sense at all.  The lesson for me here was a simple one; just because the way I packed at home before hitting the trail made sense, that in no way meant my pack was trail ready.

Pack Organization Is Key to Efficiency

Every time I needed anything out of my pack, it seemed like I had to unpack everything to get what I needed when I needed it.  For lunch, a snack, my thermal base layer, anytime I needed anything out of my pack, nothing was where I wanted it to be, which was easily accessible.

The More You Train, or do a Task, the Easier It Is to Repeat

Because of this, I changed my hike plan to include a lot more stops.  I stopped frequently and played out scenarios to see how I would need to change the layout of my pack.  On one stop I pretended that it was raining and evaluated my kit, how it was laid out, and how it would tolerate the rain.  I stopped to pull out my tent again simulating rainfall, and I discovered that my placement was terrible in my pack.  At lunch, how I had my food storage and stove was not good and would need to be altered.  Another stop had me evaluating how quickly I could get to my first aid kit in the event I needed it; also not good.

Organization, Organization, Organization…

In short, I needed to take a hard look at my organization and do better.  So I stopped early the first day and set about rearranging my whole pack.  I had to change everything, from wet weather gear, to cold weather gear, tent, food shelter, stove, even where I kept the toilet paper; it all needed arranging differently and better.

Rinse and Repeat

The next day was mainly a repeat of the first day.  I stopped frequently, looking at different scenarios to check organization and to fine tune where things were.  By the end of this day, I felt right about my organization and why things were where they were.

You Know What They Say About Assume

The takeaway for me here, and it was a bit humbling, honestly, was that no matter how much time I have traipsed around forests in the Army, it is not the same as a self-sustained thru-hike.  The way you pack is different.  What you pack is different.  The gear you choose, and why, is different from what my experience is.

I have a new respect for the trail, and preparations for the trail, than I did before.  What I thought was going to be merely a longer march through the woods, isn’t. It is, in every way, different.  I’m excited to start, to embrace those differences; to see where this trail takes me, besides just north.

I hope that you’ll join me again as I continue to document my journey.  Next up for me, I’ll be on the trail, starting at Amicalola Falls State Park on Sunday morning.

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Comments 6

  • Susan Dotson : Mar 8th

    Love the blog! Will be keeping up with it. What a fun adventure!

    • Mike Page : Mar 8th

      Thanks, Susan! This is going to be an adventure.

  • Mike "Threespeed" Brown : Mar 8th

    Hey Mike, looking forward to following along in my head and on my screen!

  • Kimberly Rose : Mar 9th

    Hi Mike my friend Susan sent me your blog I am doing one weekend per month on the Turtle trail … nothing as grand as your adventure so hoping to pick up some pointers as you continue your journey … thanks for taking us along with you

    • Mike Page : Mar 9th


      Thanks! Good luck with your hiking too


  • Nicholas : Mar 11th

    Mike – would love to hear more about your LBL trip – I’m headed to do the North end of the North-South trail in two weeks and I’m interested in trail condition, water resupply, and where you hiked.


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