Top 5 Things To Do (before leaving to start a thru-hike)
The day is almost here and I’m starting to feel that last-minute panic. You know, that gut-sinking feeling of, “Oh shit, this is about to get real.” I lay in bed at night reviewing my gear, planning my resupplies, and worrying about throwing a bear bag. But ready or not this dream that I have been conjuring up is about to happen.
That being said here is a list of the top 5 things I did to prepare for my AT thru-hike.
1. Practice setting up your tent.
Putting together a tent seems pretty easy. You put the poles together, slide them into the tent, stake down all the things, and voila you have a tent! Right? Yeaaaa not really. All tents are different. Single wall, double wall, vestibules, freestanding, semi freestanding, blah, blah, blah. It can be a little overwhelming. But whatever type of tent you have, get it out, read the directions and do some practice runs setting it up and taking it down.
2. Do a dry run of your gear.
Now that you’re 100% on your tent situation, you should now do a dry run to test out the rest of your gear to see how you like it and see if there is anything you need to change. It would be ideal to be able to do a full dry run backpacking trip but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that. So instead I decided to sleep in my mother’s backyard for 4 nights. : ) One of my main concerns about my trip was the worry that I would be miserably cold. But by testing out my gear in January, I was able to have faith in knowing that I had purchased suitable gear for the cold nights I knew were ahead.
3. Learn to hang a bear bag.
I don’t know if any of you guys are like me but I had some real concerns about this hanging of the bear bag situation. You can choose to carry a bear canister but I had decided on the lighter option of hanging my food 20+ feet up in the air every night. Oh sigh.
I knew there would potentially be bear boxes and cables at most of the shelters throughout Georgia, but Georgia is only 1 state out of 14 and I needed to feel confident that if I happened to be stuck somewhere without those options that I would know how to hang my food on my own. So I did what all of you reading this should do. I went to YouTube and watched a video on it.
And then I practiced.
So go find a video on the PCT method and get your practice in now before you’re in the middle of the woods and stressing out.
4. Pack and then re-pack.
Let me just say that packing everything you need to survive for the next 6 months into one backpack is very difficult. You’re going to pack and then unpack and then pack again and then unpack again, and the cycle continues until your mind explodes. Just kidding, but there IS an actual skill to packing a backpacking backpack.
Lay everything out on the floor, group like items together, figure out how things fit best, and know your pack through and through.
Then just stand back and marvel at the beauty that is your home and life for the next 6 months.
And last but not least
5. Get on the road!
That sounds so simple and corny I know but you’re going to be feeling so many emotions. From excitement to sadness and most likely a little scared. That’s alright. A friend of mine gave me this very simple yet resounding bit of advice the other day, “If you’re out there and feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t worry you’re already doing it.”
You’re already doing it! You’re on your way to Maine!
Also for everyone following along on my journey north I will be doing trail updates every 70-100 miles.
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