What Does My Day Look Like on the AT?
One of the things I love about backpacking is how every day has surprises. With that being said, there is a bit of a routine that I get into on longer backpacking trips. As a baseline, this is what my day looks like:
Anyone who knows me knows that I get up early. Being that the sun sets around 8 p.m., I get to sleep early and rise early on the trail. I keep my mornings simple so that I can get moving. First, I get changed into the clothes that I am going to wear for the day and then I put my puffy jacket on to stay warm while I break camp. After I am changed I organize my quilt, sleeping pad, clothes, electronics, and map. I pack these things in my pack, which sits in the vestibule of my tent. Next, I break down my tent. Every day this process gets faster. Being that I get up early, I usually do all of this under the light of my headlamp. The last thing I do before I leave is get my food bag; it’s hanging to keep it away from animals. I’ll throw a few bars in the hip pocket of my pack, eat a bar or bagel quickly, and then get moving.
This is the least predictable part of my day. One of the big components of my day is food. I need to make sure I eat enough food through the day so I usually stop at least twice to have something to eat. My first stop usually comes four to five miles into my day and I’ll take my pack off, sit on a rock (or anything that is seat-like), and have some food. At this point in the day I gauge how my body is feeling and have a better idea of how the day is going to unfold. Then, of course, I keep walking. My lunch break is a bit longer and I’ll try to find a viewpoint or shelter to have a solid place to sit down and eat. Because I am just starting the trail, my days are shorter and I’ll have lunch just a few miles from where I’m going to camp for the night. Before I roll into camp I check my guidebook to make sure that I’ll have water at camp. If I don’t, I’ll make sure I carry enough to make it through the night. Aside from making sure I have food and water, my day consists of, you guessed it, walking. Up and down all day. If I’m hiking with others we’ll chat a bit and if I’m hiking alone it’s just me and my thoughts.
When I get to camp I look for a place to pitch my tent. I lay my tent out, stake it into the ground, and make my bed (inflate my air pad and lay out my quilt). I’ll also throw everything that I need in my tent for the night inside so that when it’s time to sleep, I can just get inside. What I put in my tent: electronics, guidebook, water, and clothing bag. Next, I’ll get extra water if I need it and chat with other hikers who are at the campsite. I’ve been meeting up with a consistent group at camp from day to day and we’ll joke around and chat until it’s time to sleep. My appetite is big at the end of the day so dinner is very important. Cooking is easy and includes me boiling water, pouring my uncooked dinner into the water (usually some rice or pasta), and waiting. Once dinner is done it’s time to hang the bear bag. I’ll search for a nice branch and toss my rope over the top to hoist my bag up. By this time, the sun is usually low on the horizon and it’s almost time for bed. I make sure to journal every day and that usually happens just before I head to sleep. Then, 8:30 hits and it’s dark and time for bed. With my bag of extra clothes as my pillow, I get settled in my tent. After a long day of hiking, I have no trouble falling asleep.
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