The Epic Adventure
Most people haven’t heard of the Eastern Continental Trail. We are going to start at the southern terminus which is the Southernmost point buoy in Key West and hike north to Belle Isle in Canada. The trail is roughly 5400 miles and takes around a year to hike. We are making our first thru hike attempt of the ECT and third attempt to finish the AT.
A Matter of Perspective
The first challenge of preparing for a long distance hike is the mental aspect. I felt the best way to prepare for our first thru hike attempt of the A.T. was to walk to my dad’s house.
We live in Florida and my dad lived a 150 miles north of us along the same coast. The kids were very familiar with the 2.5 hr drive to go see grandpa. We started from our house, walked down to the A1A walking along the beach when we could. I call this “urban hiking.”
Our first journey was a wonderful experience. We made the trip in 15 days with 2 zero days. The point of doing this was to see how the kids would react to the idea of getting up and walking every day. This gave all of us a mental idea of what it means to cover long distances by foot versus car.
Fast Forward to 2015
I now view our first two attempts at conquering the AT. as an expansion of the mental map we started building with that first walk to grandpa’s house.
The kids want to hike the AT, they know what they are getting into. So the first major goal is to make it to Springer Mt. Hiking Florida is just the warm up! They don’t view hiking 1400 miles to get there as impossible but as just one more step to get to the goal. Truly hiking is about putting one foot in front of the other.
The other mental aspect to prepare for is the lifestyle of a long distance backpacker. I tell my children that we are like exchange students, immersing ourselves in a different way of life. If the only thing we focused on was the fact that we have 5400 miles to get to our goal. We probably wouldn’t even try. It’s everything between here and there that makes it satisfying and worthwhile.
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