To-Dos and a Partner?

With only 94 days until I begin my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, it’s time for an update of my to-do list and some big news on the homefront!



Many, if not all, thru-hikers do what is known as a shakedown hike. Simply put, this is a time(s) for a hiker to test all of their gear on a trail in a ‘real life’ scenario. I have not completed one of theseyet and with winter finally upon us, it appears I will be shakedowning in some cold weather.

Get in Shape

The only way to truly get in shape for the AT is to… hike the AT. There are countless views on how you should be preparing your body for all of the physical abuse it will endure over the course of 2,100+ miles, but none of them involve sitting on a couch reading articles about how to best prepare yourself.

After completing the Chicago Marathon in 2012, I set out to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time, but much to my dismay, my knees were against any such efforts and my Boston hunt ended in the second week of training. Ever since,I have battled knee pain whenever I attempt to run. Realizing this was most definitely a hinderance to completing a thru-hike, I have sought the expertise of a family favorite physical therapist. He has told me, “if your muscles are balanced and are aligned straight, you don’t need to do any prep because they will exert so much less effort”. Come March 3rd, I will be able to tell you whether the exercises he has given me were helpful.

Stop Worrying about Gear

When we are young, our parents tell us that there will always be someone better than you (or at least mine did). This isn’t to say that you are unimportant or not special, instead, I think it is meant to teach us humility and acceptance.

This same concept can be applied to gear. There will always be someone with a lighter base weight, a better sleeping bag, a cooler backpack, and a lighter tent (insert the word lighter or better and you get the idea). Now that I have all of my gear, I have found different pieces of gear that all seem better and are more light weight than what I have. Repeatedly I am telling myself, “Jared you bought that because it was what you wanted, it’s okay. Remember there will always be something lighter, better and even more light. It’s not the gear that gets you to Katahdin it’s the person wearing the gear.”

Prepare Myself Mentally

Zach Davis (aka. The Badger) writes that the part of the human body and soul that will take the biggest beating on the trail is not the physical, but the mental and emotional part of a person. How does one prepare emotionally for a hike lasting 4-5 months you ask? I honestly don’t know, but for me its involved a lot of prayer. I pray that God would prepare my body, heart and mind for everything that I am going to experience. I also pray that my time on the trail would not merely be used as a ‘personal retreat’, but that it would serve a bigger purpose. Most of all, I pray for guidance that one foot would go in front of the other and my heart would be led to love and serve all I encounter.


After much consideration, my brother has decided that he is going to join me on the trail for the summer. After he finishes his semester, he will meet me along the trail and ideally, we will finish the trail before he goes back to school.  I cannot express how excited I am about this, but I will save that for a future post all about what I think hiking with my brother will be like.

Until Next Time – Hike in Peace

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Comments 4

  • James Scott : Nov 30th

    Great stuff, man! Some awesome encouragement to some of us still periodically fretting, especially over the “better gear” much appreciated read!

    • Jared Townley : Dec 1st

      My pleasure! It’s been something that I have been thinking a lot about, especially with my brother looking to get all of his gear now! With 90+ days before we start, I think it’s more important we focus on other more important stuff!

  • Kimmy Morris : Dec 1st

    I love this post! I too acquired a partner “late” in the thru hike planning stages. And, like you, we both have stressed out better gear, lighter gear, etc. It is always great to hear the reminder than it is not that gear that is going to take you the distance. Hope to see you out there!

  • Karla : Dec 1st

    Soooo true! Thank you! Heading out in March as well so hope to see you guys on the trail!


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