The AT Lead-up: Shakedowns, Saving Money, and Slaying Trolls

The lead-up to my Appalachian Trail departure is getting real, folks.   There’s less than three months to go until my date with destiny at Amicalola on March 10.  There’s a part of me that wants this to speed up faster than a pizza delivery boy hustling for a tip, but another part wants everything to slow down so that I can appreciate the lead-up process more. All of my gear has been accrued, so the exciting part is over (exciting,  but CRAZY EXPENSIVE. Seriously, I don’t even put that much money into my vehicle!). Without further ado,  here are a few trail related things that will pass my time over the next 80+ days:

Shakedown Hikes

You know all of that debt-inducing hiking gear that I just mentioned?  Now’s the time to put it to use…the time to make sure it earns it’s keep on the dusty trail.  I sure wouldn’t be a happy camper (literally and figuratively) finding out that I just wasted $200 on a piece of equipment that is junk before even making it out of Georgia.  Shakedowns during your lead-up period are also a great way to see how your body responds to carrying the equivalent of a tiny person on your back for hours at a time. It’s a blessing to know what achy muscles to tone up after a 10 mile hike close to home rather than figuring it out after starting a 2,200 mile Odyssey.  Baby fat, be afraid. I’m coming for you.

Saving Money

This, admittingly, has proven a very tough thing for me in my life.  I just like being able to go experience fun things, costs be damned.  That mindset had to change quickly. Haha.  Everything here on out is about saving moola. By all accounts, a thru hiker must have between $3,000-$5,000 saved to comfortably reach Katahdin.  Some do it with less, going full on Bataan Death March to Maine. Others spend upward of $10,000 to live as cozy as one can be while trudging that many miles. Personally, I should have just under $3,500 saved for the trip and am comfortable with that amount.  I’ve gotten quite used to living with less the last few years and already avoid towns/public settings as much as I can. That shouldn’t change out there, especially with my adoration of Mother Nature.

Reading Others’ AT Experiences

This is where my lead-up experience has been very interesting.  I love reading articles, blogs, Facebook forums, etc. to try to learn as many tricks and gather as much advice about Appalachian Trail thru hikes as I can.  Much of the information is redundant, but any chance to add to my ‘mental toolbox’ is well worth it in my opinion.  But I must warn anyone looking to use Facebook as their main educational tool on the AT: DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!  There are so many ways to accomplish your journey and so many conflicting viewpoints on the thru hike subject.  It’s very easy to let these other people put doubt in your mind…just don’t give them that power. When it comes to fortifying your knowledge on the internet, just grab and go.  Don’t give the trolls your time or they will suck the lifeblood out of you.

Hopefully some of you fellow thru hikers (current and future) can gain some insight from this blog entry.  The lead-up to a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail can be both nerve-wracking and self-finding.  I think the main thing is to just take it all in and enjoy the process.  It’s a once in a lifetime journey for the majority of us.  Just don’t forget to keep those dang trolls under their bridge!

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Comments 4

  • Sandra : Dec 16th

    Excellent writing, Jon. You are so right in what you say. I love fb for being social and for some “credible” info re: the AT, but , “Do Not Feed the Trolls” is a great line of thinking and very helpful. Thanks.

    • Jon Goff : Dec 17th

      Thanks for being so supportive, Sandra!

  • JEREMY : Dec 17th

    Enjoy the build up the AT is a once in the lifetime experience. Good article with some Appalachian Trail tips. Wish I was going…..again.

    • Jon Goff : Dec 17th

      Thanks for the kind words, Jeremy!


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