Thru-Hike Prep Timeline

I’m leaving for the trail soon. How the heck did two years of planning come down to a matter of days? I thought I’d share a timeline of what I did and when to give aspiring thru-hikers some planning ideas. This is not a prescription, but rather something to get your gears turning.

Two years ahead

Started reading, researching, and planning shorter hikes. Bought a few little things I thought I might use. 

Started putting aside money from every paycheck to help cover my on-trail expenses as well as expenses back at home since I won’t be contributing to the household budget for six months.

Added some things to my wish list.

Tackled some day hikes while on vacation.

McAfee Knob was an awesome day hike. We night-hiked, attempting to arrive before sunrise.

One year ahead

Bought a tent and a backpack, as well as a pair of Salomon trail runners and North Face boots. Added more things to my wish list. Started hiking local state parks and national forests. Tackled more day hikes while on vacation.

Six months ahead

Did the shakedown hike. Decided on gear I could do without and what I needed—which I added to my wish list. I received some of that for birthday and Christmas.

Drying those wet sock liners during my shakedown hike.

Six weeks ahead

Updated will, Power of Attorney and Living Will.

Made sure my husband knew what bills might be coming and signed a few checks.

Cancelled magazine subscriptions.

Two weeks ahead

Laid out my resupply boxes.

Visited the dentist (no cavities!).

Added family to the Life 360 app. Statistics say that 70% of the trail has cell service. My family should be able to see where I am most of the time, and definitely when I’m in hostels and towns.

Completed federal, state, and local taxes.

Deleted apps from my phone that were basically useless and just taking up space (goodbye, Among Us). Added the Peak Finder app.

Sealed the seams on my Big Agnes tent’s rain fly.

I set up the tent in the living room and sealed all of the rain fly seams. No drips for me!

Days ahead

Pack, unpack, and repack my backpack. Then do it all again as I second-guess myself. Do I really need that? Should I take that? Ounces make pounds and pounds make frowns.

Freak out with unabated excitement.


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