Miracle on Hiker Trash Street: How Christmas saved my thru hike.
‘Twas the night of Christmas when all through my house, kiddie toys were assembled and my grandpa, passed out.
The gifts were all opened, not a single wrapper in tact.
I got a new tent, sleeping bag and a $300 backpack.
It was a hiker trash miracle.
(I’m sure a Miracle on 24th reference would’ve done well here, but f’ it. I haven’t seen it. This cliche ‘Twas the Night B 4’ rip off will do.)
Flashback to a month earlier. Multiple tabs lined the address bar of my laptop, REI.com, backcountry.com, amazon.com, etcetera. The price match hunt was on, and the buyer’s remorse anxiety, set in. I was too gun shy to pull the trigger on Black Friday sales. If I buy this expensive piece of gear, will I survive until my next payday? Can I buy all this gear on my own and save enough in time to even go on my hike? How will I buy anyone Christmas presents? Struggles on struggles. My thru-hiking hopes were dwindling.
Christmas can seal the deal for an aspiring thru hiker with lofty, expensive goals, or it can break it. If Aunt Peggy knows about your trip and wants to ball out by getting you some sick gear cause you haven’t seen her in awhile, let her. That could really put you ahead of your budget. Just make sure she knows the difference between down and synthetic or she keeps the receipt. Also, tell Uncle Bob exactly what it is you want. Being surprised with a gift is overrated unless you’re like six or younger.
My family did a great job for me this Christmas, rekindling my dream of hiking to Maine (shoutout to the creator of this, Backpacker’s Holiday Gift Guide: $200 and up.) I went from barely being able to survive an overnight, car camping trip to having almost enough gear to hike over 2,000 miles. I’m a living testimony that rags to riches is possible for hiker trash too (in my case, if you have generous family members.)
Before I got my Big Three for Christmas, I was uncommitted and unsure of my hike’s status. Now that I’ve got them, I’m all in. My family is invested. I’m invested. Shit got real, fast. I was itching to set up camp that day, even if it meant doing it in the shared lawn of my apartment complex.
Per my lease agreement, and to avoid further grievances from neighbors, that didn’t happen. I waited for my first shakedown hike on the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama, the first overnight backpacking experience of my life, (blog post coming soon) to field test my fresh gear.
I’m truly grateful and fortunate to have family members who are willing to invest in my dreams, no matter how outlandish they may be. Now that, my friends, is a hiker trash miracle. Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good hike.
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