4 Lessons I’ve Learned to Prepare for a Successful Thru-Hike that’ll Help you too!

1.  Hey girl…where are you going with that suitcase?

I had a good laugh last night with a dear friend I had met on the trail about the size of my pack when we had first met.  I kid you not, I was seriously carrying a 4th grader on my back.  He said “Your pack had to have been 60 lb.”  Throughout my 300 mile section I ended up sending home nearly 15 lb. worth of useless crapola and learned how to properly resupply.  The first couple days of hiking were miserable.  I remember having to stop nearly every half mile to take my pack off because it was so heavy.  Keep your base weight well below 30 lb. and you’ll be golden.

Some items that I sent home:

  • Sorry Bill Bryson, but your book is too damn heavy.  BTW, thanks for writing about bear attacks and 100 different ways you can die on the trail in the first chapter.  (I happened to read that while stealth camping, alone, in the dark, alone, in the dark, stealth camping….)
  • Compact mirror had to go.  It wasn’t even light.  You learn pretty quickly that it doesn’t matter what you look like and I ended up feeling pretty silly bringing it in the first place.  Also- your trail friends will have no problem telling you that you have a boogie hangin’ out or that your face looks like you were in a boxing match (shoutout to all that sodium in those tiny ramen noodle seasoning packets!….jerks)
  • Matches, compass, solar blanket thing, giant first aid kit- Basically all the “survival” items that are completely unnecessary on the AT.
  • My giant tactical Ka bar knife.  That was totally overkill.  I also looked like Tomb Raider with a knife on my hip belt that hung halfway to my knee.
  • Items that I had bought in town & cards from friends & family that I received- I definitely didn’t want any of that stuff to get damaged or wet (and didn’t want to carry the extra weight) so sending it all home was a safe bet.
  • If you suffer from a vision impairment like myself then you have to think about bringing glasses, contact solution..blah blah.  I sent all of that home and ended up (sleeping in my contacts) then threw them away after a while.  So basically, I went from carrying my entire eye ball kit to just 3 pairs of disposable lenses.

2.  Bouncy Box.

This is genius I tell you.  A bounce box is a box you mail to yourself and continue to forward to each town that you plan on staying in.  Items that you keep in your bouncy box are items you aren’t carrying in your pack on a daily basis. LIGHTER PACK = HAPPY BRAVEHEART

Items that I’m going to throw in my bouncy box:

  • Town Clothes-  It isn’t completely necessary to have town clothes but it sure would be nice to wear something CLEAN and COMFORTABLE and DIFFERENT while you’re exploring a town or grabbing a beer with friends on a zero day.  I washed my hiking clothes in rivers/streams and all I really did was just (temporarily) mask the stink with Dr. Bronner’s.
  • Extra Toiletries- This is self explanatory.  Items that you don’t want to carry but would like to utilize from time to time or stock your base supply from… deodorant, tampons, disposable contact lenses,shampoo, a razor, oh my!
  • Ipad or small laptop.  Now, I’m still debating this but since I’ll be blogging on the trail it would be nice to pick up my personal computer and type freely versus pecking at my phone (I hate that).  Also, I’d be able to upload all pictures/videos while on the trail (only because I don’t use that cloud thing).  There are some risks of course when putting high value items in a package that’s going to be in transit quite often.  Insuring it is always a great idea.

3.  Trail Tunes.

I made the dire mistake of not updating my phone with music before heading out on my adventure.  There are only so many times one can listen to “Wild Side” by Motely Crue and “Change” by Van Halen.  I would have done anything to put on new music when K-BAR was singing “Cat Scratch Fever”….OVER…and OVER…. and OVER… and OVER.   (I almost murdered him, he’ll tell you)

Examples of some Trail Tunes I’ll be jamming to on my Thru-hike:

  • “Piss”- Pantera.  Did I shock you?  I’m not going to apologize for being a Pantera fan.  Their music makes me want to lift heavy things and just be a badass.                                                                                    (Fact: they make me hike faster too)
  • “Voodoo Child”- Hendrix.  Okay, now this song always gives me music chills.  One of my absolute favorites.
  • “Sunshine”- Alice in Chains.  I am a grunge queen.  Alice in Chains is one of my all time favorite bands. No offense to their new singer…but kinda..
  • “Trampled Under Foot”- Led Zeppelin.  This is my jammy jam.  It always puts me in a good mood and makes me want to dance!!
  • Anything by Tool.  Yeah, a lot of their music is slower but they have tons of epic “build-up” songs.  Great for climbing mountains I say.

4.  Don’t Fear New Gear!

Get your butt on the trail, in your backyard, in your neighbors yard… and test your gear!! Don’t just assume that because it had a 5 star review from Joe Shmuckatelli that it’s going to work for YOU. (My Navy family will giggle at the reference).  You have to realize that this gear will be used on a DAILY basis and needs to hold up to your needs/likes.  Discover if you need to replace items or if you can modify them yourself!

Here’s a superb example:

  • Stove-  I brought with me the Solo Wood Burning Stove.  Now although this was super neat and other hikers were really interested in my cook system…it was a pain in the ARSE (yes, ARSE).  I didn’t have to carry fuel but I’d have to use sticks.  Just for clarification, sticks that are not wet.  It’s not in my nature to be very patient and I get hangry especially after hiking for 8 hours straight.  So, I found myself packing out wood chips that were stored in a container by the privy because they burned so well and started fires easily…. then someone thought it was funny to joke with me and say “You know those wood chips are recycled from the privy…you’re cooking with POOP CHIPS.”  I was going to toss my cookies…ahhh I was so gullible.

I hope some of this either helped or at least made ya smile 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Lead image courtesy of: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/smartertravel/10-cures-for-the-chronic_b_4059578.html 

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Tommy : Feb 5th

    Braveheart!!

    I was thinking about you the other day, but only had Beth, Braveheart, and AT to search with. Thank you google!

    Hit me up about your travels!

    Tommy

    Reply

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