Start date is near! How I spent some of my final pre-hike days

It’s hard to believe, but my planned thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail is just days away! The process of closing up multiple aspects of my pre-hike life has been arduous. I won’t bore you with mundane details about work, house, and finances.  Here are a few interesting things I did with an eye towards optimizing my trail experience.

For the Mind

In a few days I’ll start forging a closer kinship with plants, animals and the earth than I’ve ever experienced. But what did I know about these new brethren-to-be? Over the last few months I’ve taken some time to read up in this area:

  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
  • Origin Story by David Christian

Two fascinating books to read before a thru-hike!

The Hidden Life of Trees revealed an entire world of forest activity and synergy to me. I feel I’ll be entering the woods with a much keener and appreciative eye. Who knew that trees network and care for each other?

Likewise, Origin Story’s beautifully crafted first hundred pages about the creation of universe and earth gave me incredible perspective. Our entire human history is a blip in time compared to plants, insects and fungi. These long time earth inhabitants will be all around me on the trail.  Hopefully the insects will keep their greetings in check!

For the Body

OK, lest I come off looking unfit with my upcoming comments, let me just state that:

  • I’ve continued my regular AT prep fitness routine all the way through this point.
  • I kept my legs strong with a fairly active ski season, including a trip to Kirkwood in California.
  • To regain some muscle memory I hiked an AT section in Connecticut with a 30+ pound pack about a week ago.

So I stayed in good shape. But I am also quite concerned about my disengagement from great beer on the trail. So I took time to get my fill of excellent New England IPAs before my departure!

And here I have to give thanks for many opportunities to do so:

  • Personal invites to share great beer (thanks Mike, Rob, and Marc)
  • A group gathering of my former co-workers at a favorite tavern (with Fiddlehead IPA on tap!)
  • A family holiday gathering with ample Tree House, Trillium and other great craft beer!

I’m kind of wary that I’m headed to beer Mars. You know — a destination that sounds really cool but is actually bone dry and hauntingly frightening? Ah, we’ll see what local brews the trail will lead me to. The prospect of a great beer in town will certainly keep my legs churning. If I find something really great you’ll hear about it here. And if you’re interested in following all my trail beer discoveries, connect with me on Untappd (my username = Eddy_Topper).

I also made a run to the food store for at least a four day supply for my pack. This is a snapshot of my initial trail food:

(Ramen, oatmeal and peanut butter not shown)

For the Spirit

I recognize I’ll need gobs of mental toughness to finish my thru-hike. For a bit of inspiration I watched “The Last Dance” on Netflix over the last month. Michael Jordan displays an otherworldly level of determination, toughness, and grit in willing the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles. It was an awesome reminder that you can overcome any roadblocks on your life journey with focus. One of my takeaways is the way MJ made all of his teammates better on the way. I can only hope to work similar magic for others on the trail.

Looking to “Be Like Mike” out there on the AT!

And I must mention that the most powerful pre-hike spirit boost has come from many of you, my blog readers. I’ve felt blessed that so many of you have taken the time since November to read and appreciate my words. Beyond that, you’ve reached out to me and shared your excitement and support for my trip. What a priceless gift!

As I embark on my first days in the woods, it’s special to have relatives, neighbors, work colleagues, my church family, and a wide group of friends backing me. Let’s go do this!


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

  • Ed Walsh : Apr 21st

    Scott… I’ve been following your posts with interest for several months. You have an inspirational writing style and back story. Looking forward to following along on your AT adventure. We’re similarly aged. I would love to walk that path in ’23 or ’24. I’m sure I’ll learn alot through you. One difference… lagers outshine IPA’s. Go gett’em!

  • Eric Salerno : Apr 21st

    Thinking of you as you start your journey today. At least it looks like you’re off to a dry start! Good luck from all of us that are looking forward to your updates.

  • Pauline Ray : Apr 28th

    Today I had a quiet day to just sit and read your entire journey so far, start to finish. I’ve signed up for email notifications as you post along the way. To say I’m impressed is not enough….I’m enthralled, I’m curious, and really eager to read about what comes next. In life before children, know as BC, Jim and I hiked in the White Mountains, he more than me. When I had to work weekend shifts at the hospital, he’d hike with co-workers. One trip that stands out is one that started at 8 AM after I’d worked all night, thinking I’d sleep in the car on the way to the trail. Nope. After 6 hours with 30 lbs on my back and a steep incline ahead, I felt I couldn’t take another step. Jim carried my pack for the last mile so I could just walk unencumbered! The next morning, my Tang turned to slushy ice in my cup, but I was ready and excited for the day to begin!

    As you hike, I’ll be reading your posts and remembering more of those moments we had back BC. Jim had many more hiking adventures with Scouts and we haven’t backpacked overnight together in 15 years, but your words help me relive our times on the trails. Thanks for that.

    I do hope you’ll consider writing a book about your experience. You have a wonderful writing style which kept me engrossed and looking forward to more. Bill Bryson look out! The post about your Dad brought me to tears and I’m so glad his spirit will accompany you on your journey. Wishing you God speed, sunny skies, no close bear encounters, and a treasure chest full of amazing memories!


What Do You Think?