“Adult” is a 5-Letter Word: Don’t Neglect These Things Before Your Hike

Preparing for a thru hike can be lots of fun, but it’s not all shakedown hikes and candy bar taste tests.  There’s just a lot of stuff to do.  Some of it is fun, some of it is boring and tedious.  Like it or not, it’s gotta get done.  And nobody’s gonna do it for you.

Is there a word for the thru-hiker equivalent of “adulting”?

There should be.  I’m doing a lot of it right now.  It feels good to be getting this stuff out of the way this early, especially since it means I’ll get to spend more time with friends in the weeks before I leave for the PCT.  Plus, it will be much easier to deal with the inevitable “Oh SHIT!! I totally forgot about _______” moment moments as my start date approaches.  It might be more glamorous to “prepare” by studying Instagram feeds and message boards (not to mention a certain thru hiker blog), but the adulting is probably more important and it still has to get done.  What am I talking about?

1. Do your taxes!

Should I even have to tell you this??!?!  Duh.  I’m sure I’m not alone in expecting some money back, which is a great way to treat yourself with that special piece of gear you’ve been thinking about.  Treat yo’ self.  For me, I’m planning to use my “annual bonus” on an ice ax (probably this one if you must know) and some new wool baselayers.  And socks!  And hopefully there will be some left over to chip away at my credit card.  Meh, that’s probably wishful thinking.

2. Read through your health insurance plan.

Boring.  Makes my brain hurt.  But its full of important things to know.  If you get sick or hurt, you better know what your treatment options are.  If you decide you need more or different coverage for your hike, there’s still time to get it!  Obviously though, the best way to prevent the need to use your insurance during your hike is to start healthy!

3. Go to the doctor.

I just scheduled my physical today.  Its about five weeks before I leave, which gives me time to schedule any follow-ups needed.  You might even need to get some shots (SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS!).  But still close enough to launch that any tests performed will give me a pretty accurate picture of what shape I’ll be in for my first steps.  To drive home the importance of a pre-hike doctor visit, here’s a story from 2013 when I was preparing for the Appalachian Trail.

I went in for a physical, again about 5 weeks before my start date.  I also got blood tests.  There was nothing shocking in the results, but the doctor was surprised by how low my potassium level was.  I scheduled another blood test for the next week.  Potassium was normal, no threat of my kidneys failing!  How’s that for peace of mind?  So in the end, nothing was wrong, but had I saved the appointment to the last minute I might not have had time for the follow up test.
(Of course, I got a really bad-ass stomach virus the week after that.  Prolifically disgusting stuff for nearly 72 hours.  Losing 3lbs in 3 days with three weeks to go is not a pleasant experience.  So much for “you’re in perfect health.”)

And, hey! Don’t forget about the Dentist!

4. Get your permits, Get your tickets.

Full disclosure: I’ve done neither of these things yet.  You know why?  It’s scary and hard.  I’ve even notified my job that I’ll be leaving already, but actually buying my ticket to Seattle (Amtrak, duh) and applying for my official start date are big, SCUURRRY steps.  Then everything becomes Official.    Plus, I’m still watching current snowfalls and long-term forecasts to make sure that I’m still comfortable with my June 17th (UNofficial) start in Washington.


Adulting aside, I’ve been having lots of fun with my prep.  Last week I organized my maps and guidebook pages into their appropriate gallon ziplocks. (Thanks, Yogi and Halfmile!!)  I love maps, so this is a big deal for me.

Canada to Mexico in 28 Ziplocks

Canada to Mexico in 28 Ziplocks. And yes, that is the Nat Geo map of the PCT hanging next to my bed.

I’ve been going for walks around the city; a far cry from the PCT, but I’m at least trying to ease through the cycling-to-walking-muscles transition somewhat.  On a sunny and warm walk last weekend (see this post’s cover photo), I saw two coyotes strolling through a city park in broad daylight!

Today I took some time to make V2 of my windscreen after the V1 prototype underwent one too many modifications.  I don’t do much DIY gear, but I totally get the pleasure of making something that you will rely on daily for a good portion of the year.  Now I need to get around to making the new stove!


I still have plenty of adulting to do.  I need to find a place to store all of my shit (and a bunch of bikes) while I’m gone.  It would be pretty cool to have an idea of where I’m going to live when I come back to Minneapolis.  The cardboard boxes won’t pack, label, and ship themselves.  Damn, my ID is going to expire while I’m gone.  The list goes on…

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Comments 2

  • Kate G : Feb 16th

    I am in that same stage of prep (except for the AT) Taxes done and I think I’ll be using the refund for a bear canister (I have a shoulder injury which was going to make hanging my bear bag a real pain, plus the AT started recommending them). Just had a doctor’s appointment this week and got my Tetanus shot booster plus a prescription for preventative antibiotics in case I find an attached tick. Dentist is in a couple of weeks. Woo? I don’t think I can really figure out my insurance until after my last day at my job, unfortunately.

  • Terry z : Nov 13th

    Hi bro, love your post. I too love maps, it’s my thing when I go hiking, I’m not into gps or other moder options. Where did you get the maps that are covering your bed, please send me the info so I too can be “map prepared “ for my pct adventure in a few years.
    Thanks you,
    Terry Z


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