Pre-Appalachian Trail Shakedown Breakdown
Thirteen days is all that separates Miguel and me from the Appalachian Trail. The window to make any changes or adjustments before we go is closing quickly. We have done a lot of overnight camping and a lot of sporadic hiking, but have yet to put it all together. This past weekend was our last chance for a full shakedown and we jumped at it. Here’s a look into our shakedown weekend. A shakedown breakdown, if you will.
Annutteliga Hammock Primitive Campgrounds
I chose Annutteliga Hammock because it was one of the closest primitive sites to us, only a little over an hour outside of St. Pete. Primitive campsites are ideal for a long-distance hike shakedown because it will really resemble what it will be like out on the trail. There are no restroom or shower facilities, no water, no trash cans… you get the picture. It was a hike in, hike out trailhead and there were no designated campsites. You just find a place that suits you! We were lucky enough to have the whole place to ourselves.
For the first small chunk of the Appalachian Trail, our goal is to complete around 8 miles per day. With that in mind, that was our daily mileage goal while at Annutteliga Hammock. The very first day, however, we got there late in the evening so we actually only logged about 2 miles. Day 2 and day 3 consisted of 8 miles and on our final day, we did 6 miles then promptly found our way to the nearest taco truck.
By the second day, we were already feeling it. Our legs were jello and our backs were tired. That being said, we pushed on and completed what we set out to do. Throwing in the towel is not an option for us on the trail. It will definitely be tough in the beginning as our bodies adjust to what is to be our new norm. I know as long as I can make it through the initial conditioning, I’ll make it to Mount Katahdin.
With all of Annutteliga Hammock to ourselves, the campsite possibilities were endless. It really was a beautiful place and we switched up where we set up camp twice. We practiced cooking, setting up camp, and especially hanging bear bags. This was my first attempt at a bear bag hang and it was successful each night. We were even fortunate enough to have to pack up camp on a rainy morning, really giving us a taste of what the Appalachian Trail will surely have in store for us. The only bummer is that there was no fresh water we could use to practice filtering so whenever we needed water, we hiked back to the car, filled up, then kept it moving.
We practiced Leave No Trace behaviors at all times which will continue when we hit the trail as well. It is extremely important to familiarize yourself with these guidelines prior to leaving. Yes, we even drank the water we used to clean our bowls and pot. As you can see below, Miguel and I are trying to add some hiker humor to the TikTok community.
Adjustments I Will Make
The whole point of a shakedown is to test gear and find any changes or adjustments that need to be made. We were able to identify some things that I could change, purchase, or leave behind to make my upcoming trip more seamless.
- I will promptly be switching out the athletic leggings I was planning to take for some REI brand hiking pants. I originally planned to just do leggings because they are comfortable and all of the women’s hiking pants I’ve tried didn’t fit me right. I’ve decided to actually give the men’s fit a try because I am all about comfort and practicality, not looking cute.
- BRING ENOUGH TP! When we went to Walmart to resupply for our shakedown, I bought the prepackaged “hiker toilet paper” not really knowing how many uses I could get out of it. By the end of the 3rd day, I was completely out and had to steal Miguel’s roll. I know it will be important for me to make sure I bring enough between resupply’s on the AT.
- I learned first hand that it is important to pack your food sack in order of what you’ll be eating next to save on time. After having to unpack all of our food on day 2, we made sure at each dinner that the following day’s breakfast and lunch were right on top for easy access.
Overall, our shakedown was a success. We learned a lot and had a great time just getting the hell away from all the nonsense. I feel more ready than ever and honestly, February 9th can’t get here soon enough!
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