Please Wish Me Luck!

Here is my quintessential, pre-hike gear and final preparation post, which I imagine is a true rite of passage for all blogging thru-hikers (or wannabe thru-hikers like myself).

Here we go…

This past week was my first week of “(f)unemployment” and last week of time to panic and scramble and tie-up all of the loose ends before I hit the trail. This consisted of many, many to-do lists and only 2 1/2 meltdowns (gold star for me!)

So satisfying to cross things off of the never-ending “Things Before I Go List”

The more I accomplished, the more I remembered things I had forgotten entirely, all while time rudely refused to slow down. I made the four-hour drive from my house in Pittsburgh, PA to my parents’ house in Maryland with a car full of backpacking gear, my three guinea pigs, and my dog. Upon arrival, I quickly set up a basecamp, which is a fancier way of saying I laid out my shit all over my parents’ house. (My parents have been so gracious through this whole thru-hike planning process, so this is the first of many appreciation shout-outs. Thanks, mom and dad!).

Groceries for daaays

I then got to work simultaneously cooking five different meals to round-out my dehydrating efforts. I took the great advice left in the comments of my previous post, and I’m hoping this round of meals will rehydrate better than my first attempt.

Coconut curry, chicken kapama and lemon chicken with capers

I’m gonna need more ziploc baggies – stat!

Next was to bag and organize all of the meals I had dehydrated as well as the snacks and other pre-packaged foods I bought to start with and to put into resupply boxes. I spent a lot of time debating how I wanted to handle resupplies, and I opted for a hybrid approach. I have a couple medications that I take daily and because I am not going to carry 6 full months of each, I will need to have at least a monthly box sent to me along the way.

My mom, dad, and me surrounded by the chaos I brought to their family room

In a Treeline Review webinar I attended a few weeks ago on resupply strategies, one thing that the panelists all agreed upon unanimously was the importance of having a *reliable* point person back home. (They even repeated reliable multiple times for extra emphasis). And in the context of a topic where everyone has their own staunch opinion, it’s a pretty big deal that this was universally agreed upon. I knew immediately for me that person would be my mom. Since I first told her and my dad last summer I was planning this trip, she has gone down a deep rabbit hole of research. Reading extensively about a topic that is important to me is my mom’s love language. For a woman who has never been on a backpacking trip in her life, I think she now knows more than any beginner hiker. This habit of hers used to bug me when I was younger because it inevitably leads to a bombardment of questions. But much to my chagrin she is often thinking about things I hadn’t thought of (and definitely needed to). It is a part of her that I’ve grown to appreciate more and more as I’ve gotten older. She just wants to be involved and loves to learn as much as she can about what I love. All that to say, that I’m lucky to have her in my corner, and I sure as hell know those boxes are going to go where they need to go when they need to go.

Every journey begins with a single step (and a 10-hour family road trip).

After the flurry of opening, sorting, repackaging, and containering food and supplies, we loaded up the family minivan. My brother and sister both made the trip to join for my send off as well as my boyfriend. I’m so grateful for these wonderful human beings willing to travel 600+ miles, just to watch me walk into the woods. Although it’s obviously been much more than that – emotional support, errand runners, pit crew, and absolute cheerleaders.

Had to stop at a Buc-ee’s for the first time along the way

I mean c’mon, loved ones that are willing to drive three-plus hours round trip to get me to an REI for a last-minute gear run – absolute gems. I now declare the following shout-outs:

  • To my dad for encouraging me to always do the thing that scares me and for tolerating terrible internet reception during tax season
  • To my mom for her unwavering support and willingness to allow me to bounce things off of her even when she doesn’t know what I’m talking about
  • To my sister for flying down from Boston while in the midst of training for a half Iron Man and constantly reminding me that I’m a bad ass
  • To my brother for generally being a good sport when I razz on him and constantly being comedic relief
  • To CJ for taking custody of my plants for six months and keeping me calm when I start to spiral about all of the things that still need to get done

Thank you. I love you. You all rock. 🤘

Oh Gear.

Damn, Dema. We thought this was going to be a gear post! Not a mushy appreciation post. Look. So did I until I started writing. OK?!

Gear is important, but I’m finding the things that will help me get through this adventure are far less tangible than a nifty tent or a handheld air pump (although both are things I’m exceptionally excited about).

If you don’t take a gear pic, did you even really attempt a thru-hike?

While I have been meticulously gathering my gear from the day, I decided to attempt a thru-hike, I hadn’t yet tried to fully pack my backpack yet. I think it was one of those things where I knew it was really important so of course I procrastinated on it… classic.

Luckily though, I was in pretty good shape and felt world’s better once I made my first pass of loading my pack. After a bit of refinement, I landed on the list that you see at the bottom of this post. We’ll see how I fare as I get going, but I had a target base weight of 15 lbs, so I’m pretty satisfied with where I landed.

I mean the saying is “Hike your own hike”, isn’t it?

As the hours left for me to daydream about a thru-hike quickly slip away and the time to actually attempt a thru-hike approaches at a terrifying speed, I’m feeling more ready than ever. Look – I’m sure there are things I forgot. I’m sure there are things that will break. I’m sure there will be plenty of things that will go wrong. But I’m also sure that I’ve got what I need, and with a little bit of trail magic along the way, I’m as prepared as I could be to go from Georgia to Maine.

Katahdin, here I come.

Or one could say gear goes nothing…

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Comments 8

  • Rob : Apr 3rd

    Good luck, Sheldon! Take care of your person!

  • Kanga : Apr 4th

    Go Dema!!!

  • Kit Ketchum : Apr 4th

    Hi Dema, I am in awe of this adventure you’re beginning! Good luck to you.

  • Bluewhale : Apr 4th

    Good luck to you and your octopus!

  • Rob Roy : Apr 4th

    Be deliberate yet spontaneous, cautious yet carefree, serious yet crazy. Long distance hiking is a journey. Pace yourself to prevent injury, know that the mental challenge is at least as hard as the physical and sometimes way more so, be prepared and know your limits though I bet that you’ll increase them. But good golly, have fun! Go Dema!

  • Stephanie : Apr 6th

    Hello Dema,

    What an awesome experience! I appreciate the opportunity to follow your journey and am sending my best wishes!


    PS – I previously worked with your dad and I know your mom.

  • Henderson Sammy : Apr 9th

    I’m so excited for you, and envious i know it will be a life changing experience be careful listen to your knees

  • Mai Fang : Apr 10th

    Hey Dema, I still can’t believe how quickly this is all happening. Love your post and lol about your stuffy. Thanks for taking all of us on this journey with you! Be safe out there and you so rock it!!!


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