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 Β – 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.

But then…

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’ πŸ™‚

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:Β 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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Comments 4

  • Sandra Moore : Mar 14th

    Hi KC: Great post. I feel the same way about fb that you do. Moderation but at this time in my life, I am “deactivated” and love it. I do miss posting with my family that I just met two years ago. They live in the Charleston, WV region.

    I was all prepared to do the hike beginning in Harpers Ferry last February 28th, hike for 4-5 days and then have friends pick me up and transport me back to Amtrak so I could get back to Montana. Well, life happens! Since I have some rare and also regular heart diseases, my husband was not happy about the hike from the beginning. He was grumpy and didn’t even want to take a look at what I was taking with me. He was really just afraid of me being alone on the AT with this”not so great” heart of mine

    Bottom Line: ONE DAY…YES, ONE DAY before I was set to leave, his demeanor showed me and he FINALLY talked to me about him not wanting me to go, even though I had the approval of my Docs in Utah.

    YEP…I felt totally defeated and returned my ticket, gave that money to my husband, lost a lot of Amtrak points, and he went on his way to his beautiful SLC Annual Guys Only Ski Trip. To say I was disappointed with myself and my inability to stand up to my husband, and do what I have DREAMED of for 20 years, is just a whisper. NEVER AGAIN!!!!!

    I was so prepared, had walked a 60-mile breast cancer walk 5 months before, trained daily with long mileage, had all of my gear (though not what some others recommended), packed and ready to leave the morning that my husband left for his trip. I AM SO MAD AT ME! Though, I will keep on training and walking and be hiking more this year with a full pack, so I can hopefully do the AT one of these days!

    I have decided that if I am still alive and IF the Docs okay it, I am DEFINITELY doing a flip-flop next year OR maybe later on this year!!! I am in good shape and can be in great hiking shape in a short amount of time.

    I’m not a “real” hiker but more of a long distance walker, though I do live in Montana with hills, and bigger hills, flats, mountains, rain, snow & sunshine, and Bears. So, I wish you well and know that you will have a great time, some tough days and nights, BUT YOU WILL MAKE IT JUST FINE!! I will KEEP GOOD THOUGHTS in my mind while sending you Great “Qi” when I do my daily Qi-Gong.

    ***If you enjoy yourself and want to do another flip-flop, let me know as I am interested. Maybe my husband won’t be so insecure if I have another person to hike with***. The reality is that my heart does what IT wants to and when IT wants to, regardless of what I am doing at the time. Exercise does not influence the outcome with my heart. THAT IS A GOOD THING! Anyway, I have a wonderful pacemaker-defib and it has worked since I was a young-un in my 30’s.

    From one strong, powerful, determined “hiker” to another…I hope to see you out there on the trail one day OR please know that you are always welcome to come out to Montana, stay with us here and then we can hike some of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT)…a tough one but I m always a positive, upbeat dreamer. I’d love to have someone to hike with. We have lots of room and can drive my Subaru to the trailhead or my husband would even take us and pick us up wherever we wanted. Just EMAIL ME and let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to follow yours and others posts on the AT while I mourn my loss of courage and work on pumping it up again!


    • ~KC : Mar 14th

      Hi Sandra and thank you for such a nice (long) comment πŸ™‚

      I feel the pain and resentment in your story. I don’t know what to say to make you feel any better except keep doing what you do to prepare yourself for your hike – you might surprise yourself at any moment and say, “forget HIS fears, I’m going to live MY life!”, get that ticket and get going on your dream. (I will confess here, the fact that he manipulated you from taking your 5 day ‘vacation’ so he could go on HIS seems very, very selfish and unloving – but that’s just my opinion based on the snippet of information you’ve revealed)

      I stopped “living” in fear *it’s not really ‘living’ is it? * years ago and I don’t allow the fear of others to effect me – I push it away, it’s the way people keep others down in the dark with them – fear of living, fear of other people, fear, fear, fear…we are surrounded by it and it’s not rational. Bad things happed to people everyday; driving on the roads, at work, a store parking lot, at home…this doesn’t justify NOT doing something because “something might happen” – well, no sh*t something might happen, you might enjoy yourself, you might make new friends, you might become stronger and more independent, you might increase your own self-reliance, you might even learn something ~ that being afraid is nothing to be afraid of!

      Keep your dream alive
      ~ and keep in touch and maybe we will see about that CDT trip πŸ˜‰

    • Mariah : May 10th

      Hi Sandra! If you are looking for someone to thru hike with (or at least start with) I am heading out March 2017 going NOBO OR July 2017 going SOBO

  • Melody Nichols : Mar 14th

    Hello KC

    I am also Flip Flopping this year. My friend from Denmark and I (California) plan on starting March 24ish. We were starting from Harpers Ferry but were told that all of the other Flip Floppers wouldn’t be starting till mid April and if we start too yearly we will hit Mudd in Vermont. So we decided to back it up to Rockfish Gap and hike the Shenendoahs which should put us in time to hike with the others and attend the Flip Flop Festival. You are welcome to join us if you would like. You mentioned you were middle aged; I am 62 and my friend is 56. I am an avid hiker but had knee surgery in Nov so that is why we are doing a flip. Let me know if you interested.



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