Personal And Canine Thru-Hike Planning

What kind of commitment is thru-hiking? How hikers plan ahead to ease the transition from living among everyday life to living in the so-called green tunnel?

Mental Preparation

Hiking for an extended period of time puts a strain on your body, yes. But what some fail to initially recognize is the mental marathon it can be. Yes, there are those people who thrive on disassociation from society but for most that’s not the case. Many people haven’t experienced an elongated separation from loved ones, and that can be extremely trying. Without that support system and immediate ability to communicate, life can become exponentially more difficult, if not downright depressing. That’s why I believe it’s important to read up on trail stories, and to really grasp what you’re about to commit to. No one enjoys half-assing something; don’t quit just because you think you can’t keep going. Embrace the suck, put one foot in front of another and get walkin’. Sadly there isn’t much mental prep you can give to your dog. That is unless you’re the dog whisperer, I guess. But do be prepared to play it by your dog’s needs. Know that you will have to carry extra for your canine companion, but hopefully you gladly do it out of love. Otherwise, why do it at all?

Financial Preparation

One thing people fail to acknowledge is how much hiking for four to seven months can cost. A thru-hike can cost anywhere from $2,000 to more than $6,000. Hikers have to understand that the cost depends solely on them. Things along the way that might enhance your experience may have you ending your trek early due to financial disaster. By saving on overpriced motels, hotels, and steering clear of excess beer  intake, anyone can plan to finish without having to worry about monetary problems.

Gear: Human And Doggo

In terms of human gear, first you have to determine what kind of hiker you want to be. Personally, I am trying to be as lightweight as possible with my own equipment because I will have to account for the extra weight due to my pup. Weight is obviously compounding so every ounce counts in the name of lightweight (to a degree). That being said, I’m not cutting out any of the standard thru-hiking gear, but simply researching and finding the lightest and most durable edition I can find.

Now onto the important stuff, the dogs needs. Things I and my dog will be bringing for my dog:

  • Doggy daypack: For obvious reasons of carrying food and other such necessities. The rule of thumb my vet told me is that your dog can carry a pound for every 5 pounds. My dog weighs 50 pounds, so she can carry a maximum of 10 pounds.

(Shown below is my dog, Bella)

  • Dog booties: When the trail gets rough or your pups pads are starting to look a little worn.
  • Reflective vest: Dark dog, hunting seasons, strangers, it’s just a good idea to have your dog be seen at all times.
  • First aid kit: Pray it’s never needed, but who am I kidding. Shit happens.
  • Nail file: Prevents tent and equipment ripping from sharp nails.
  • Waist leash: Allows you to be hands free.
  • Flea and tick meds: Of paramount importance as ticks and Lyme disease are rampant.
  • Water and food bowls: I chose collapsible, some choose fabric; really doesn’t matter as long as you have them.
  • Immunization records: I’ve been asked before about rabies vaccinations for my dog, so at the very least I always bring her rabies tags with me when I hike
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