Shake Those Pre-Trail Jitters and Get Out Here!!

A week before I left for The Trail, I couldn’t get my heart to slow down for anything as I was so busy wrapping up my previous life and mentally and physically preparing for the next 5ish months.

I had so stinkin much to do. I worked up until 2 days before we left, sold my car (phew!), saw as many friends and family members as possible, and began questioning exactly what I was getting myself into.

But then I left. The chores were done. I started walking. And I’m happier and even more confident than I started.

I’m writing this on Day 4 of the trail. We are taking advantage of Mountain Crossings free camping despite the rain. We had truly amazing Trail Magic today.


My ankles and feet are sore, but my heart is happy for another day of walking tomorrow.

To all of you hikers who will begin in a few short days or weeks: breathe. You’re going to love it.

Before you go…

1. PLEASE, give yourself a shakedown. Weigh your bag and pack sensibly. I’ve already met someone in jeans with a back up pair in his 75 lb pack. I’m dead serious.

Sean and I weighing our bags at Amicalola Falls State Park. Mine weighed in at 28 lbs and his at 31 inc food and 1 L water. Full list here.

Sean and I weighing our bags at Amicalola Falls State Park. Mine weighed in at 28 lbs and his at 31 inc food and 1 L water each. 

2. Don’t grab 15 little extras on the way out the door. I know it’s tempting to second guess that short gear list and pack extra this’s and that’s. If you really forgot something, you’ll be able to pick it up along the way. You’ll realize quickly that you don’t need much!

3. Seriously consider trekking poles. They are worth the investment to save your knees and add extra stability. We already convinced 2 Sticks to buy a pair at Mountain Crossing. They are a serious game changer and have already saved me from a fall…or two.

4. Make sure your bag fits properly. Sadly, I need to replace mine already. It’s too big!! Save yourself time and money and get properly fitted. I guessed incorrectly. Don’t make my mistake!!

5. Don’t bring too much food! It seems like everyone (myself included) had way too much food starting out. Don’t weigh yourself down!!

You’re here. Now what?

1. Start walking! “Hike your own hike” Take your time and don’t be pressured by other hiker’s paces.

2. Take it a day at a time. Hell, take it a step at a time. I LOVE my AWOL Guide and reference it about 6 times a day. No need to plan all 5ish months out before you leave. Let The AT play itself out.

We have a relationship <3

We have a relationship <3

3. There’s no shame in taking a Zero Day, a “Nero”, or staying in a hotel to get out of freezing rain. Again, hike your own hike. Don’t feel any guilt in resting or just getting some comfort when you need it.

4. Trail Magic is real and incredible. We’ve been spoiled, you will be too. And it will make your freakin day!!

Some Magic from the Legendary Angel, Miss Janet. (She says hi, Badger!!!)

Some Magic from the Legendary Angel, Miss Janet.      (She says hi, Badger!!!)

5. Don’t get wrapped up in “doing miles.” The long mile days will come. Treat the first few weeks as conditioning ie 8-10 miles per day. Let your body adjust!

6. Eat. And eat often! It was a learning curve for me, but keeping my calorie count up made my days so much better. Rule of thumb: eat on the first sign of hunger or, even better, before you get hungry!!

All time favorite snack with my all time favourite cat!

All time favorite snack with my all time favorite cat!

7. Check hiker boxes. Everyone was shaking down at Mountain Crossings and all the leftovers were I’m the hiker boxes. There was everything in there. Check them first before you buy!!


8. Enjoy!!! Don’t forget what you’re doing or why you’re here. It’s beautiful out here. Stop sometimes and take it all in. It’s a gift!

Stunning view from Preacher's Rock.

Stunning view from Preacher’s Rock.

See? You’re fine. You’re going to love it! See you soon!!!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 3

  • imin2w8s : Mar 30th

    Thanks for these tips!! Pinned this to my AT Pinterest board to help me plan for my future thru-hike!

  • Cameron Hall : Mar 8th

    Awesome write up! Hope to see you out there, PCT 2016!!!


What Do You Think?