The Strong-Willed Survive
Lying in bed trying to fall asleep at night, the questions race through my head over and over again. Will I make it to Katahdin? Do I have all the right gear? Will my family be OK without me? How crazy is this?
Closing in on my final month before departure, I find myself scrambling to make sure I am “prepared” to hit the trail. As much as I can “prepare” nothing truly gets you ready for a thru-hike of over 2,000 miles. Countless early mornings at the gym on the stair stepper are no match for the ups and downs of the trail. You can jump off the stair stepper whenever you get tired and its over, but the same is not true for climbing endless mountains.
I tell myself over and over again that this is real, my dream is happening. However, I am not sure that it will really hit me until I step foot on the approach trail the morning of March 16th. I received confirmation that one of my best friends from the trail last year will be joining me for my start, and I am beyond excited for take off.
Acquiring the Perfect Gear
Dozens and dozens of gear options exist for each gear item. Getting the “right” gear is really an art form of its own. No matter how many recommendations you get from your hiking friends, or amount of hours you spend researching, it all comes down to personal preference and what will work best for you. Trial and error is really key I have found. Testing out your gear and determining what you do and do not like is very important before hitting the trail.
I have put in the many hours spent browsing the options online. After all, gear is a very large financial investment. I am almost finished ordering all my gear. I am now working on selecting the perfect pair of trail runners. Personally, I aim to travel as light as I can. However, being warm is very crucial so my pack will definitely be heavier in the colder months starting off. I await the arrival of my new Tarp-tent which I am super stoked for. I need to practice set ups so I don’t look like an idiot on the trail.
Hikers By The Numbers
The trail is expected to be nothing less than absolutely packed this year. I personally know about five or six other people attempting a NOBO thru hike. These large numbers of hikers may be for several reasons. Recently the movie ‘A Walk In the Woods’ came out, based off the best selling Bill Bryson novel. Although it was not a very wide viewed film, it definitely drew increased attention to the trail.
When planning my hike, I had to decide if I wanted to start with the crowds going NOBO in March from Georgia. There are both pros and cons to this. I expect the shelters in the south to be absolutely packed but personally I love the social experience of meeting tons of other hikers. I hope to turn this into a positive and serve as a reporter back to the ATC on the real statistics of how many hikers are out on the trail. While all thru-hikers are encouraged to register through the ATC Thru-Hiker registration, unfortunately not all do. So if you are reading this and planning to thru-hike this year, make sure you register! It helps the ATC prepare for the impact that so many hikers will have on the trail. Help keep the trail an incredible experience for all hikers and follow leave no trace practices of course!
Will Power and Determination Will Get You Thru
So what keeps one going when its cold, raining and miserable out on the trail? Many think the trail is a test of both your mental strength and physical strength and it is, but more than just that. The trail is a real test of will power, how bad do you want your dream to come true? The trail is a true test of ones determination.
There will be countless discouraging moments out there but keeping the end goal in sight is key. The goal may vary for different hikers of course. For me, I am determined to make it as far as I possibly can on the trail, hopefully to summit the great Mount Katahdin. The fire is burning within me to do this and I again thank the amazing people at the ATC for lighting the spark!
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