The Shakedown Hike

Most thru-hikers go on at least one shakedown hike before setting out on trail. This means they pack all their gear and test everything out before they really get out there. This past weekend, I went on a little shakedown in Hoosier National Forest. Only a five-hour drive from Chicago, it gave me a better selection of terrain to test out my legs.

What I Learned

My feet don’t like the shoes I chose. Now, I’ve been wearing these shoes around home and walking on the trails near me. But the trails near me are almost all flat. Once I got into slightly more rugged terrain and hiked more than six miles at once, I realized my feet were not happy. I’m planning on getting a different pair of shoes from a brand I have worn for a while. Just another reminder to hike your own hike and not buy shoes just because they’re the most popular model.

My hammock straps are too short. My hammock system is great. Don’t get me wrong. I really love the weight and the tarp and the integrated big net, which I’ve never tried before. However, when the tarp is stretched tightly, the straps were barley long enough to hang my hammock and I wasn’t using large trees. I’m going to have to buy some webbing.

I love my Kula Cloth. It’s a well worth it upgrade from the yellow bandana. The waterproof side keeps your hand clean and the absorbent side dries you off after taking care of business. Bonus: it has silver integrated into the fabric that makes it antimicrobial and just way better than a bandana.

What’s Next

After this hike, I realized that I have two more things to really work on and conquer. The first is food and meal plans, which hasn’t happened yet due to pure laziness. The second is my fears. Fear is real and it is different than anxiety. I’ll be writing a longer post about my fears to give it the justice it deserves.

Overall, I feel like my gear is well dialed in and my pack weight is comfortable. It’s only forward from here!

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Comments 5

  • Jen Giles : Apr 10th

    I’m so glad I got to go on your shakedown hike with you! And your set up looked amazing!

    • Susan : Apr 11th

      ??? I’m so glad you were there to help me, nerd out about trees and knots with me, and to kick my butt in rummy.

  • Mike Joyce : Apr 10th

    Hey! I saw your comment about hammock straps. What length were yours and what are you going to use instead? I’m thinking about going with 8 foot straps, but I’m worried they might be too short. The other option is 15 foot which seems a bit excessive.

    • Susan : Apr 11th

      Psht, I don’t even know. You will be totally fine with 8 feet. The ones that came with the hammock were like…maybe 4 or 5 feet.

  • Aidan Tierney : Apr 10th

    Great way to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. I’ve been learning as I go and now will use your method on my next thru-hike (he says 100 miles into the first one)
    I’m sure you’ll be super prepped to smash your hike!


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