Staying Present Whilst Planning My Thru

Fun fact: I’m a planner.

I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, and how it’s gonna go down. However, it’s not super healthy to be obsessed with the future all the time. You stop appreciating the little things that happen daily. But, when you’re planning a thru-hike, you can find yourself obsessing over a possible ounce in your pack four months from now. It requires a lot of thought and detail that can become a black hole if you’re not careful.

I found that out firsthand. I made a spreadsheet on my computer to go through all the gear numbers and I made another to look at mileage stats. Soon enough, I turned on my computer after work and burned three hours of my day looking at gear, forums, and videos from previous hikers.

Not Cool

To remedy this, I’m setting smaller goals for myself. It helps to keep things attainable and enjoyable in the short term.

Here’s what I’m doing to keep myself present while planning for my big adventure.

Short Hikes

You need to test out your awesome new gear somehow. Now that I’ve accumulated 85% of the gear I’ll be bringing on trail, I’m able to pack it up and take it on shorter hikes. It sometimes feels ridiculous having my full 50 liter pack on a ten-mile-long trail in Delaware. The highest point in the entire state is only 447.85 feet above sea level, for goodness sakes. But, whenever I go out I get a little thrill from using my gear (that I’m high key obsessed with and can’t wait to write about).

Backyard Camping

I work almost every day so it’s hard for me to get away for any extended backpacking trips. So, I backyard camp to test out my sleep system. It’s a little silly, and my mom thinks I’m crazy, but it breaks up a monotonous week. Your first time setting up your tent should not be the first night you’re on trail. I’ve tried out at least five different tents to see what works best for me. No shame!


There are so many fun things to do at REI. I love popping in to check out all the fun stuff and talk gear to their overly friendly employees. “Yes, Joyce, it’s my third time here this week. No, I don’t need help.” Local branches also host awesome little seminars/classes on topics like thru-hiking, orienteering, and basic survival/first aid. I highly recommend the first aid one. Last, but certainly not least, garage sales! I swear by REI garage sales. Because of their ridiculously lenient return policy, REI has a crap load of used gear that they get rid of semi-quarterly for insanely awesome discounts. My most recent garage sale jackpot was a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite (retail price $169.95) for only $36! *internally screaming*

Job Searching

We all know what this grind looks like so I won’t bore you with the details of this journey. I set an attainable goal of submitting five applications a week. Even though I’ll be thru-hiking in the spring, it’s important and responsible of me to keep looking for jobs. Who knows when I’ll find the perfect one for me?

The Present… Is a Present…

Since making my short-term goals, I’ve been happier and more present.

I’m not impatiently waiting for the day I leave and I’m not obsessing over what stove I get.

I’m enjoying the process.

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