Fourteen Days and Counting: Time is Officially Flying!

Fourteen days and counting!

The day I thought would never come is now officially flying at me at warp speed, so ready or not, here I come, Appalachian Trail!

Even though I’m still checking things off lists, I actually feel pretty prepared in all the ways–physically, gear-wise and, fingers crossed, mentally.  Even though, with respect to gear, I know there is potentially no end to buying new, lighter, better stuff.

Toe socks!

Rain skirt!

Cuben fiber stuff sack for your pet rock!

I even thought about buying some Crocs in a weak moment, but regained my sanity just in time.

There’s no end to the gear refining until I say “the end” and the end of buying stuff passed sometime last week.  I’ve got everything I need, it’s all perfect and I will get to the end of my life without ever owning a pair of Crocs.


Can you spot the parrot? She’s not going.

To Do? Or Not To Do?

On to more pressing things, like my to do list for the next two weeks.  Besides those last few virtual trips to Amazon, here’s what I’ve been working on this week and last as part of my last minute preparation.

1.  AWOL!

I’ve been studying the AWOL Guide and making a plan for the first few days of my hike, strategizing daily mileage, resupply and, super important, where I’ll get to take my first shower (The Quarter Way Inn, Ceres, VA, Mile 554.1, if you must know.)


I’ve also been making up some freezer bag meals to send to myself along the way.  I made a list of eleven places where I’ll send my resupply boxes.

Some places made the list because of the limited resupply options in that town.

Some so I wouldn’t have to hitchhike.

Some just to break up long stretches of pasta sides and mashed potatoes with some real vegetables I dehydrated myself.


My husband can’t wait for this to disappear off the counter, I’m sure.


I’ve gathered up a few things for a bounce box–town clothes, essential oil refills, a giant bottle of Vitamin I.  Even though I don’t have a strategy for where I’ll be sending it, I’ll err towards the places that don’t require hitching and the places I’m excited to zero in.

Here’s what else is in my bounce box.


I wonder if that will be enough Advil?


I haven’t tackled this yet, but I do plan to get a couple of posts in via my phone so I don’t drain my battery trying to figure it out while I’m on the trail.

Or go to bed irritated because phone blogging is evil and out to get me.


I had a plan, a strategy for getting my body ready to hike.  It involved hiking and weight lifting and stretching and foam-rolling.  Now all I have are excuses for not sticking to my plan and two weeks to make up for lost time.


Thankfully it’s not as bad as it sounds.  I’m lucky.  I live in mountains.  So last week, I loaded up my pack got down to business.  I committed to near daily hiking, starting with eight-milers.


My pack, enjoying the view from Rich Knob on the Mountains to Sea Trail near Weaverville, NC.

That’s my new plan, and I’m sticking to it.  By the time I get on the trail, I’ll be able to handle ten to twelve mile days and I won’t have to start out as slowly as I’d anticipated when I worked through my first itinerary.

What I’ve had to sacrifice is weekly blog posts and trips to REI, but I’m good with that.  It’s worth it to see the mountains come alive with spring.  Stay tuned for recaps of my weekly training with lots of photos of cool things on the journey.


Squawroot is pushing up right now. Look for it at the base of oak trees.

Tweaking some things

What I’ve been able to tweak is my sock set up.  And hiking without carrying too much, if any, water (cameling up at the water sources along the way is new to me and I’m loving it, loving learning to trust that the trail will provide).

I’m also tweaking my trail food.  Here’s what I know:  I don’t like eating while I’m walking.  I love those chocolate mint Luna bars.  The individually wrapped Land O’Lakes cheddar cheese is Top 10!


My lunch isn’t always this orange.


Speaking of training, I’m combining one of those daily hikes with a night in the woods tonight.  I’m excited to test out my new quilt (Enlightened Equipment Revelation) and tent (ZPacks Altaplex).  Less excited about hanging a bear bag, but I do need all the practice I can get.


I met a woman at an unrelated workshop a couple of months ago.  Turns out, her husband had thru-hiked SOBO in 2015.  When I passed through the Atlanta area last week, they invited me over for dinner and a chat and what I got was a personal coaching session, dark beer, a place to sleep and good coffee in the morning.  Oh, yeah, and a slide show!

It. Was. Awesome!  And I’m so grateful to 1Step and Pine Cone for their generosity and for so many great tips (though we remain on opposite ends of the Crocs Love-Hate continuum.)

If you ever plan a thru hike, find someone who has been there and done it and is willing to let you pick their brain.  The ATC provides a list of people willing to talk to thru-hiker aspirants.  Don’t be shy! They want to share and to show you their slides and to relive the time they spent on the adventure of their lives.


I’m gonna have to switch to decaf as I try to get together one last time with friends and family before I go, because I’m going to 2-3 coffee shops a day to see everyone I’ll be homesick for while I’m out on the trail.

For that, I can totally do decaf.

What about you, Sunshine?  If you haven’t hit the trail, yet, what’s on your last minute To Do list?  I’m curious to know what has completely slipped my mind, so please leave a comment and tell me what I still need to do!

Meanwhile, here’s another thing I’ll be homesick for…


Poodle down!

P.S.  I love to connect.  Find me on Instagram or on Facebook or at my own website, Ruby Throat Journal, where you can pick up my how-to e-book full of delicious Freezer Bag Recipes or shoot me an email.

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