The “push” of social media
It’s mid March and I am still preparing for my hike. My plans are (were?) to depart from Harpers Ferry April 13th and head north – NoBo. My plans were also to just work with what I already have for clothes and equipment with a few exceptions. I’m a pretty independent person and I usually do what I want by myself so – getting back on the social network, Facebook, (for the blogging purposes but I’m not sure now why that was necessary) was a step I had been avoiding.
The up and down of social media:
My off-the-cuff (which means without much deep thought) opinion of social media is that is has contributed (greatly) to our cultural quick-to-take-offense-and-react-without-all-the-facts social hostility. Before someone thinks that I must not like social media because of the above comment and that I didn’t participate on FB before now, to underscore my point, the thought would be wrong. I’m of the “everything in moderation” philosophy.
My point here is that I was pretty comfortable with my ‘plans’ and my equipment/clothes until I got involved in discussions about said items. Then I started to second guess what I had and what I might do; this isn’t a bad thing it’s just added expenses, added pressure and added mental fatigue – which also isn’t a bad thing either because maybe I needed to really look at what I have and what I was doing.
How social media influences decisions:
My clothes in which I’ve always hiked The Whites include: a wicking layer (EMS) top, usually long sleeves in winter; a low-pile fleece vest; and a Marmot for wind (I wouldn’t call it a ‘rain jacket’). I also used my Gortex bib pants (so that was an extra layer on my torso) over a thin pair of leggings. I also usually carried a heavier fleece pullover which, depending on summit weather or descending, I’d wear instead of the vest. A heavy insulate fleece gloves which always ultimately made my hands sweat and a lighter glove liner for backup. I “hike hot” so the long-sleeved wicking top and vest was plenty until I stopped or summited and then descend. So — I thought I’d just use the same minus the heavy fleece pullover on my thru-hike.
I got involved in conversations regarding gear and clothes and I was prompted to re-evaluate my decisions. So here’s the update (yes, this is more boring stuff from me): I ordered ExOfficio underwear (x2: sport brief and sport ‘boyshorts’ to try them both) and I am pleased about that decision. When ExOfficio was recommended, I looked them up and all they had was these STUPID tiny bikini panties for women (they had real comfortable looking ‘shorts’ underwear for men though!) and I thought, what the fuck?! Seriously? But a few days later I looked harder and found the above so now I have ‘proper hiker underwear’ 🙂
Then I ordered, what is referred to as, a “puffy“, mine being a (Lagoon Blue – makes me happy) “men’s down light hooded jacket” from My Trail Company. I expect that the men’s, they didn’t have women’s left, will fit my long arms and torso better plus, I expect it to be better made as most ‘man’ things are. This is the insulation layer Zach refers to in his list. I’m trying to be an apt pupil by heading advice from those who’ve gone before me.
Once I start spending money on cool new stuff I just keep going. I do console myself (because I don’t like spending money – especially when I feel that it’s not necessary) with the knowledge that I can return anything if, just prior to hitting the trail, I decide I don’t want it – so onward to DirtyGirlsGaitors. I’ve never worn gators hiking except in winter but I’ve heard that these are “a must” to protect feet from trail-nature getting into boots/shoes. I chose a color that I think will show up ticks more easily than all the fabulous other options that, normally, I’d love to have – plus, getting into the whole mode of outfitting myself – I wanted them to “go” as well as possible with my (new) Merrill Moab FST in teal.
Those purchases were all online, which is very convenient. Then I looked over Zach’s list; after getting the insulation layer, I tried to find a “base” and a “mid-layer” but it’s so ‘late in the season’ now that, although the sale items are great, the selection is less. I got a light-weight zip-up fleece (without hood) at LLBean (sale) and for my camp clothes; Polartec Power Wool Hybrid (long-johns, I’d call them) top and bottoms (sale). Because I feel too naked with just the bottoms, I got a pair of mesh shorts to wear over them (walmart) but I may opt to just wear some rain pants over them at camp – a suggestion on social media which I prefer to the mesh shorts. While in line at LLBean, I also snagged the last pair of Polartec (light-weight) gloves with ‘grip’ pad on the hand (sale).
While at Walmart (for the intention of getting a ThermaRest, which I did) I got a burgundy long-sleeve wicking top (sale).
If utilized appropriately, social media is a great asset:
The other option relayed to me on FB is starting out after the Flip-Flop festival weekend. I had thought of that but I opted to get started sooner because I can barely stand the wait and I also thought I’d avoid a frenzied throng of hikers hitting the trail (which is one of the reason I decided to flip/flop in the first place). A couple of previous thru-hikers stated that they’d started with the festival group and found it to be a real asset. First the group, I was assured, will be no where near as huge as the Springer group and that it’s nice to have a bubble to start with for socialization and support. I found this idea appealing so I just may change my start date but I’m holding off on ‘alerting’ ATC about it until I’m sure. The vision of starting my thru-hike with a small group does sound more fun than the solitary hike I’d planned.
Summary: I consulted and got quick responses to my queries on FB – some of them while I was right there in the store. Most times the answers were almost unanimous which makes decisions easier. Result: I got a bunch of new stuff, good stuff that was recommended (and some not but the idea was there) that I may not have otherwise invested in if I’d not reached out to others, strangers, who join online hiking communities to support and inform.
It’s a good feeling to be a part of a sub-community even if I never do meet in person the people that have helped me start my journey. The idea of keeping in-touch with people on the trail is almost like hiking right along with them; we are still sharing what will be a very memorable time.
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