Two Weeks Before a Long Thru-Hike

I have been seeing hikers start the trail before me and my own turn to start is a mere day away. it makes me feel both giddy for the trail and shocked that the day is basically upon me. I feel ready, but I also know that I am soon to be living a very different lifestyle.

I have not thru-hiked before, so this will all be new to me. It brings a certain level of apprehension as I ask myself…

Did I pack enough?

Did I pack too much?

Will it be too expensive?

Will my body handle this?

Will I gain the respect back that I lost from my family and peers who think this is an irresponsible and dangerous decision?

How long will it take me to find a good enough paying job when I return?


But I also remember this…

Hiking helps my mental health. I am much less likely to feel down when I am on the trail, based on my experiences already.

This may be the best opportunity for me to try out this thru-hiking business.

For every person that calls my decision irresponsible and irrational, there are ten who are cheering me along.


As I get ready for this thrilling adventure, this is what is most on my mind:

Nurture relationships with friends and family.

I want to have relationships to turn to when I return from the trail. I do not want to burn my bridges, and I also do not want to feel separated or estranged. To try to mitigate this, I am making intentional time to spend with friends and family members as best I can. For some, it is a simple text, asking how they are doing and sharing that I am going to be on trail. For others, it involves a visit. More than that, it involves offering a listening ear when I might just want to talk peoples ears off about the trail. I want to make them feel heard, listen to their perspectives on why they may or may not agree that this trail life is a good call for me at this time of my life, and then be able to respond with grace and gratitude for their openness. Listening is key to understanding, and understanding is key to love.

Convince Myself that I Have Trained Enough

I could always do more training and more shakedowns, but there comes a time when I have done what I have the time to do without sacrificing other areas of my life right now. I don’t want to spend every weekend before trail away practicing when I could be spending that time with friends and family. I am already going to be away from them for so long and probably making them worried about how I am doing. The hikes I have done have helped me figure out what worked well and what I was missing. Whether you have done two overnights in the backcountry or forty-five, you are where you are and you are fine. You would not have set about doing this if you did not believe you could do it. That’s me convincing myself that I have prepared myself. You have permission to steal it.

At Lemons Squeeze in New York on the Appalachian Trail

Have a Rough Plan of Where I am Headed

Yes, I have planned out the hostels I want to stop at and where I want to resupply. Yes, I do know that hardly anything will go exactly according to plan. But I know that I want to have a rough plan so that I am familiar with the trail before I set out. I know where I can stop, and I know where I can get information about other options while I am on trail (FarOut, AWOL Guide). I do not think it was a waste of time going up the trail once already in my head because I have now read reviews of hostels, hikers’ opinions of favorite sections or most difficult sections, and where some of the best places to stop for a meal are. Yes, I would probably hear some of this along trail as well, but now I am already a leg up knowing a few places I want to hit or look forward to along the way. Oh, and it makes certain friends and family members feel a lot better having a rough plan. I will be in touch with them too as it changes.

Get my Off-Trail Life in Order

In the month before my hike, in addition to making a change to two of my big three in the final weeks, I have been working on paying my storage unit up front, making sure the plan for my cats’ care and my car is firm, doing my taxes, and tidying up loose ends like simply neatening my belongings. We all have different aspects of our off-trail lives to get in order, but it always must be done. The thru-hike will be most beneficial if we do not have to be worrying about these things mid-hike.

Concluding Thoughts

In two weeks, I will be setting off from Amicalola with everything I need on my back. I have prepared to the level that I have prepared. There is not much time to change that now. This is the season for tying together lose ends and enjoying the relationships and life that I will probably miss while I am out there. But I am exchanging it for something great; an experience that I will always remember and cherish forever. Ready or not, here I come!!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 4

  • Hale : Feb 7th

    Will be praying for you.

  • Tbone Jones : Feb 7th

    Best of luck in your endeavor, just remember you are not alone with people online and on the trail!!!

  • John Richter : Feb 8th

    You got this Bryan! I’ll one week behind you, we may meet. Good luck in your epic adventure!

  • jen l : Feb 10th

    So excited for you! Ready or not, here goes…


What Do You Think?