“Leg Work” – Preparing for Our Thru Hikes

Springtime is finally upon us!  While many people on this site are feeding their Springer Fever by reading about others on their AT thru hike, for me it means getting the final plans laid down for the summer of smaller thru hikes NoKey and I are doing.  We are down to the final six weeks before the hikes begin and anyone who has done any kind of backpacking trip knows you’ll be counting down the days until your departure!

Right now I’m in the final two weeks at my job.  During the entire month of April, I’ll be dehydrating meals and going over our Benton MacKaye guidebook, as well as ordering the two maps we’ll need for this hike.  While the BMT runs in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, it’s not as well blazed as it’s big brother the Appalachian Trail.  Since it’s only on two maps and the guidebook isn’t too thick, we’ll carry these three items on trail with us.  I’m planning for us to survive on mail drops and I’m looking forward to all the prep work involved in cooking and planning our own meals.

As for our gear, we don’t really need to make any changes at all!  We’ll be carrying most of the gear we carried on our Appalachian Trail thru hike in 2012, with replacements already having been made for our worn out gear.  This aspect of the hike prep is what I consider to be most important.  Since we’ve both already used all this gear before, we’ll be completely familiar with everything in our packs and know how to use it.  If you buy new gear and don’t have a clue how to use it, you’re basically carrying dead weight!  I’ll do a “what is in our packs” post soon!

While initially we decided to do four thru hikes, I’ve recently decided to cut one of them out, the Northville-Placid Trail, due to the fact that it quite frankly didn’t sound like it’d be any fun.  The trail is only 134 miles long and in low-laying land in the Adirondack Mountains.  From nearly every trip report I’ve read in the past year and, given the nasty winter we had in NY, this trail is muddy, poorly maintained, and filled with mosquitos and black flies during the time of year we’d be hiking. We did a 3-day trip similar to this last year and on the third day we were DONE dealing with it. The idea of doing this for nearly two weeks wasn’t really very appealing so we cut it out.

So far, we have an early May departure date for the Benton MacKaye Trail, with the Finger Lakes Trail and the Long Trail following in the summer months.  We’re hoping to miss the huge bubble of NoBo’s on the AT while doing our Long Trail hike, but at the same time we’re looking forward to meeting some of the class of 2015 (and maybe an Appalachian Trials blogger!) while we’re out there.

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