T-Minus 138 Days…How to Avoid Going Crazy While Waiting
I don’t know about you, but I’m going crazy watching the days tick by toward my departure date for my thru-hike. Some days I just sit in my gear room (yes, I have a gear room and a very understanding wife) and look at everything. I lie awake at night and go over my gear list to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything (I’m sure there will be at least one thing left behind when I’m dropped off at Springer). Here are a few of the things you can do to keep yourself busy while counting down the days.
Become One With Your Gear
This may sound strange at first, but hear me out. You want to know each and every piece of your gear inside and out. The time to learn about your cook system is not at dinner time after a hard day of hiking when the only thing you can think of is eating and sleeping. Take each piece of gear out and play with it. Pack it, unpack it, re-pack it, go into a dark closet and repeat the process. Like I said, know your gear inside and out.
Become One With Your Food
Cook your trail food a couple of times. Find out what works and what doesn’t. By doing this, I found out that in order to make my version of the Ramen Bomb I had to use 2.5 cups of water or the mashed potatoes were too sticky and dry. I’m glad I discovered this at home where I didn’t have to rely on the failed meal to sustain me. Experiment with different types of food and take what you like to eat, but remember, weight is your enemy.
Become One With Your Shelter
I know it seems like common sense to know how to set up your shelter before you go hiking, but you need to take it to the next level. Not only do you have to know how to set up your shelter, you also have to know how to set it up in the dark, during a torrential down pour of rain, during a wind storm, and when you are dead tired from hiking all day. I’ll be using a tarp for my shelter (along with my hammock), and I’ve probably set it up at least 20 times already. I’ll set it up at least 50 more times before I leave. If a storm is in the forecast, plan on heading outside to set up your shelter in it. It’s better to work the bugs out at home where you can dry your gear and yourself, than it would be out on the trail where you might be in the rain for days on end.
Become One With your Sleep System
Make sure to spend some time in your sleeping bag on top of your pad in your shelter. On my thru-hike, I’ll be using a hammock and suspension system that I made myself. My suspension system also includes a top quilt and an under quilt. While I haven’t spent a night in it yet, I plan to do that very soon. I’ve taken many naps in my hammock, and it’s more comfortable than my bed. Remember that your sleep system is going to be where you will be laying your head down to rest for 4 to 6 months, so you want to make sure it’s right.
Become One With Your Pack
Your pack is going to be part of you for the duration of your trip so you’d better get up close and personal with it. By the time you pass that first white blaze, you will have packed and unpacked your pack at least a 100 times (or you should have). Make sure your pack fits and is adjusted properly. I wear my pack on all the day hikes I take, and although I probably look foolish to other day hikers, I don’t even realize I’m wearing it most of the time because I’m so used to it. It’s adjusted just right.
As I sit here and write this, I’m only 138 days from the start of my thru-hike. It feels like forever until I leave, but I’m also having those “oh crap” only 138 days until I start the adventure of a lifetime.
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