Friday, September 16, 2016

LD-04: Resupplies


You can't carry 150 days of food with you during your long distance hike. Therefore you have to resupply along the way. Fortunately, the A.T. is a really good place to hike if you want to resupply often. You can't go more than a few days without entering a town or crossing a road that leads to town. Stick out your thumb or arrange for a shuttle and you are on your way to the Other World, to bathe, wash clothes and resupply.
The role of food on an LD-hike
Food is fuel. Your body becomes a raging metabolic engine that will require constant shoveling in of food/fuel to keep it going. There will be times, when anything will do. If it has calories, it is toast. Sometime actual toast. You will need a lot of calories made up of protein, carbohydrates and fat, glorious fat. They say that Hiking is the best diet ever. You can eat whatever you want in very large quantities and still lose weight. Men more so than women, but most people drop weight out there. Food can help control that.
Food rules for Long Distance Hikers
Rule number one of Food Club. Don't talk about Food Club. Naw, JK. Every hiker knows that besides gear, food is one of our favorite things to talk about. To dream about. To fantasize about. It seems like each hiker gets a food stuck in their head and they don't rest until they have located and consumed said food. It could be pizza, (that's mine), or ice cream. A lot of times it is fresh fruit and vegetables or just about any meal that you don't have to prepare yourself.

So some rules you might follow is to try and be mindful of what you're stuffing into your pie hole. Calories are of utmost importance, but so are vitamins, fat and protein. You should try to find a balance. It most likely won't be a perfect food pyramid, but variety is the key. I will have a nice big salad at a Pizza Hut, before snarfing down a pizza slice or eight. Balance, see.
Decide on a resupply strategy
I call my resupply strategy, "Living off the land". In a 21st Century sense though.  By living off the land, I mean that I will get my food as I go along.  Resupplying at whatever store I find close to the trail and finding what I need to fill my food bag, with only a lighter wallet the main requirement.  

Real living off the land takes special tools and lots of time.  This way, doesn't require more than money and your feet (or thumb) to get you there.  The time spent doing this is much less than traditional hunting and gathering.  That's not to say that I won't harvest edibles as I come upon them,  I will be an opportunistic forager.  

Some of the other strategies are to food prep and mail drop to various post offices, hostels and other places along the trail.  This can be a lot of work up front, with possible rewards down the road.  It has its pros and cons like any other method.  
Grocery store resupplies
This will be my usual resupply method.  It could be small local grocery store, a Walmart or Dollar General.  Any place that sells a variety of food.  A convenience store is also a valid option to get food and sundries, but usually at a higher price.  Let your hunter instinct take over to find the best offerings at each place you go.  Buying fresh food to prepare and eat while in town is also a good way to get the calories and nutrients you need while resupplying.  

Living off the land has its own downsides.  Some of the places you pass through or near can be a little "rural", with limited resupply options.  Your only source could be a convenience store next to the road the trail crosses.  You might not be able to be picky or stick to a serious grocery list if all you have to buy are honeybuns and chips.  Maybe some slim Jims or beef jerky.  But that can work, if you are flexible.  Remain open to new tastes and combinations.  I think you can get darn creative if you use your imagination. 
Mail drops
This is a valid way to plan, prepare and set up your resupplies, but it just isn't my cup of tea for now.  I really don't want to spend all that time buying, drying and packaging food that I might not want to even lay eyes on a few weeks or months down the trail.  I don't know what my tastes will be, but I believe they will most likely be different from weeks or months ago.  Also, I think the shipping costs erase any cost savings you created by buying in bulk or at a discount store.  Some people have had someone actually deliver the resupply boxes on their way back home after dropping off the hiker at Springer (or wherever), but that won't be our reality for our hike.  Right now we plan on using our miles to fly down to GA, so having a driver drop off won't happen.  Also, you have to have someone responsible at home to mail the later drops to where you need them.  I'm too lazy to do all of this.  

If doing something like this interest you, you can probably find plenty of YouTube videos and blog entries about how they did it.  Google that shit.  
Bounce boxes
Something else to consider is the Bounce Box. This is a box of stuff that you might not need right now, but may later. Extra batteries and zip-locs. Packaging tape and labels. Something you bought in bulk and didn't need all of. It can also be gear that you don't need right now, but will in a couple of weeks. Whatever you need to send down the trail so you don't have to carry it.

There are pros and cons to this just like everything else. You want to make sure that you do eventually need and use what you are sending down the trail. If you just keep sending it, the postage will eventually erase any savings you had when you bought that whole case of Ramen. An advantage is knowing for sure that you will be able to gather those fresh batteries or your favorite baby wipes you bounced when you roll into town.

So, try it out. If you find that you are still buying the stuff you are bouncing, maybe you can eliminate this from your trek. Just pick it up one last time and either use, hiker box or send home whatever is in there. Then hike on. We will probably use a Bounce Box at least some of the time during our trek.

Using friends and family
There's nothing like receiving a care package in the mail. Full of a lot of "just what you need" and usually a surprise thing or two. If it's ever too much to carry, you can always share with your tramily or pass it on in a hiker box. The one thing you will want your friends and family to know is that they need to let you know when they send something and to where they sent it. You may not have the post office on your daily todo list or maybe you aren't even planning on going into that town.

I knew a girl who was hiking on a budget and had asked her friends and family to send her resupply boxes with a week's worth of food, that they donated to her hike. It seemed to work for her.

However you use your support system of family and friends, always let them know where you are and when you hope to arrive at certain convenient resupply places.
The hybrid resupply spectrum
There is definitely no rule that you must pick one way to resupply and stick with it exclusively. You can have a couple of mail drops (particularly at places that are historically sub-par for resupply) and also do a lot of living off the land. Having a few care packages will always boost your morale and lighten the financial load of resupply.

There are now a couple of new businesses where you can go online and basically do a resupply. You pick your food and other consumables, tell them where to send it and voila, there it is waiting for you at the post office, hostel or other pickup point. It is quite effortless and the prices seem to be in step with your local Walmart or Dollar General.
Resupplying is an important reality of a long distance hike. Finding what works for you (and adjusting it along the way if you need to) will make your hike more enjoyable and successful. Never limit your options. Try them all and find what works best for you.

EarthTone and LoGear
LD-01 - LD-02 - LD-03 - LD-04 - LD-05 - LD-06 - LD-07 - LD-08

Saturday, September 10, 2016

LD-03: Route Planning

Route Planning

I'm a planner.  A list maker.  Long before I step onto a trail, I have to check it out.  Research my route.  Learn everything I can from my resources.  I like to have a Plan.  That plan usually gets altered during the course of its execution, but I also plan for that.  I like flexibility, but I also like to have an outline, with goals and milestones.  Nowhere are those two terms more literal, than on the trail.  
Think about permits
A lot of trails have permits just to get on them.  Out West that seems to be more so.  On the A.T. there are a few places that require a permit as you pass through.  One you have to pay for, the rest you don't, but all are required.  

Going South to North, the first place you need a permit is for the Smokies.  It costs $20 and is good for eight days once you enter the GSMNP.  You can purchase it 30 days in advance.  When you go to the website to register, you will pick the AT Thru-Hiker option.  The rules are simple and are clearly explained during the permitting process.  A lot of people whine about having to pay to hike the trail, but it is what it is and not paying can lead to a nice fine.  Just pay it.  If you hike even at a moderate pace, you can purchase the permit just before hitting the trail.  There are also places where you can register and print your permit while hiking, namely at the N.O.C. and at Fontana Lodge.  

The next place that requires a permit (heading North) is in Shenandoah National Park.  These are free and can be acquired at a kiosk as you enter the park.  Just fill it out and take along your part of it.  

The last place to need a permit will be at Baxter State Park up in Maine.  It too is free although you do have to pay to camp at the Birches site or Katahdin Stream Campground. The permits can be acquired in person in Millinocket or Abol Bridge outside the park and at Katahdin Stream Campground within the park.  

One other thing, not really a permit, but a voluntary registration.  Registering your hike with the ATC is a fairly new thing.  It started two years ago and the number of people registering has increased each year.  It helps ATC gather data and gives you (and the other hikers) an idea of what to expect at the various starting places as far as potential crowds. 
Decide when you'll start
When do you start this long journey?  There are different reasons for each and every date.  Some dates you will want to avoid as they are a popular time to start (popular means hikers everywhere)  Some of the popular days are March 1st, March 15th, March 21st (or first day of Spring), April 1st and maybe April 15th.  

There are super early starters and some (like LoGear and me) will be starting on the "late" side of the calendar for our Nobo hike.  We choose April 26th, mainly that was when we finish our last obligation to the Other World.  Watching our grandoggy while our daughter and her new husband go on their honeymoon.  

Also, we want to experience a Springer start in Spring, along with the crowds, but behind them.  We know that leaving this late in April might put us at risk of not making Katahdin by Oct 15th, but in my plans, it is possible.  As I said in my "Why", reaching Katahdin is a secondary goal, but still a goal nonetheless.

Other times to start if you are a South Bounder would be late May or early June.  Some even start near the beginning of July.  This is because Katahdin doesn't open until the snows have melted and the ground has dried some.

Flip floppers can start anywhere between March through July depending on where they start and which way they go.  There are many possibilities with a Flip Flop.

So deciding when to start relies on when you are available and what style of hike you will be hiking.  
Plan your hard-stop end date
It's great to have an open ended end date, but for most of us, the Other World will start to shout out at you with increasing volume. A job is available (or needed). Your children need you to come out of the woods for awhile. School is starting and this gap year is over. Or grad school need to get done. There are a plethora of reasons.

Figure out what is the latest you can keep hiking, barring emergencies, funds shortages or other unplanned events. That is your hard-stop date. I have seen those date move with some hikers, so it isn't written in stone. Just scratched in the dirt. If you are flexible, you have that date to strive for, but know that it can slide to the right as circumstances dictate.

I guess we have a soft-stop date of about October 15th, but being soft, we can adjust that whenever we want, forwards or back.
Decide where you'll start
You need to get on the trail somewhere. What is your desire? Do you want to join the Hiker Culture quickly, with lots of others hiking along with you? Flowing back and forth and leap frogging each other like salmon swimming up stream. Then starting on Springer Mountain in the Spring is where you start.

Do you want some solitude and immediate physical challenges? Then take the North to South route. Climbing Katahdin to start the task, moving through Maine and New Hampshire, the most physically challenging states the trail traverses.

Flip Floppers can start just about anywhere they desire, but some popular places are Harpers Ferry,WV, in PA near the halfway point and Damascus, VA.

We choose to do the traditional Nobo hike, starting in Georgia and heading North as far as Pamola allows us. We are starting a little later in the season to get behind the larger bubbles that start earlier.

One final "where" decision is to do or not do the Approach Trail that runs from Amicalola Falls State Park to the southern terminus of the A.T. at Springer Mountain. Millions of hours and words have been argued about the pros and cons of doing this 8.8 mile lead in to the A.T., so I won't go into this too much. LoGear and I have done it once and it was a good hike. We still haven't decided if we will do it again.

I usually advise to do it to anyone who is trying to decide. It is a good warm up, gives you an idea of what the Georgia mountains are like and as I like to joke, we need to cull the herd somewhere. We might as well start at the beginning. There have been quite a few people who got to Big Stamp parking lot after doing the Approach and hitched a ride off the mountain, getting themselves back to the Other World after deciding that a long distance hike isn't their cup of tea. Do or Do Not. The choice is yours.

Getting to and from the trailhead
How will you get there? Planes, trains, busses and automobiles are the most used. The A.T. Guide gives lots of information on how to get to the trailhead. In the South, you can fly into Atlanta, take the MARTA up North of the city and then have a shuttle pick you up and take you to the trailhead or to a Hostel. You can take a train or bus to Gainesville, GA and shuttle from there. You can rent a car, drive to Atlanta or Gainesville and shuttle from there. Someone can drop you off. There are so many choices.

Figure out what works for you. What you can afford and how much time and effort you want to dedicate to getting there. We have a lot of miles on our credit card, so we will most likely fly down for free. Not a bad way to start, but it will still cost a pretty penny to get from Atlanta to the trailhead.

Getting home from the other trailhead can be done the same ways. There are shuttles that you can take out of the Park, then a bus that will take you to Bangor or Portland where you can fly home or rent a car. Having loved ones come up to finish the hike with you is also a great way to catch a ride home.

Using your guide, local help and the Internet will always help you find a way home if you have to leave somewhere in the middle of your trek. In today's technological society, it isn't hard to make arrangements or communicate with those that can help move you along.
Roughing out your itinerary
It will be impossible to plan where you will be every day of a hike, when it extends over months, but it is a good idea to do some calculations, based on knowns and possibles.

I have roughed out an itinerary about three or four times so far. I keep looking at it a different way, making adjustments and creating another viewpoint as things come to mind. I started by just selecting goals throughout the length of the trail. My next goal will always be the only important one while we hike. I won't think too much of the goal after that, or the one after that. The final goal will be so far away as to be non-existent for now.

I came up with about 28 goals based on places and towns that the trail go to or near. Next, I determined different average mileages to calculate the mileage. I start us off at 10 Miles Per Day (MPD), then move to 12, 15 and 18. Coming back down to 15 and 12 near the Northern part of the trail, due to its difficulty. I could then place the goals along the trail near their mileposts and figure out on a possible end date.

After doing that, I went through AWOLs resupply spreadsheets, taking his three different average MPD sheets and creating a hybrid of my own that matched my changing averages.

The two come out about 4 days different, which is a very acceptable margin of error that any political poll would be proud to boast.

It is fun to compare the two. The first is rough. The second blends some possible reality as to possible resupply points and helps plan how extensive each resupply will be.

Of course, once we are into our hike a month or so, it will be funny to look at what I "thought" we would do, and what we actually do.
I plan on planning from now, until the day before we head out. I like to plan, to replan, to plan again. It keeps my mind busy. It helps me familiarize myself with my guidebook and the things that are in it. I don't think you can plan enough, but knowing that you will need to be very flexible will keep your head from exploding. As a natural troubleshooter, I am pretty good at changing and updating plans. Usually I can do it in stride, on the fly, but sometimes I need to sit down, get the guidebook out and figure out where do we go from here? I look forward to the challenge.

EarthTone and LoGear
LD-01 - LD-02 - LD-03 - LD-04 - LD-05 - LD-06 - LD-07 - LD-08

Monday, September 5, 2016

Practice Hikes Alone and With Friends

...and how I do my log entries.

So I need to get out on the trail every once and awhile.  Most of the times, I take a quick day hike, over the mountains, on the A.T. and on unblazed trails.  I like to explore the area.  I had promised a few volunteers that I would plan a short trip on the A.T. in the area near the Museum.  My first planned trip had to be cancelled due to my Spring back issues, but I finally got it rescheduled for late August.  Ten days before the trip, I found myself up in PA with some free time in between appointments, so I decided to take a scouting trip.  I wanted to test my back and check the water sources for the upcoming trip.  I also wanted to get a pack on my back and my feet on the trail.

Here are my log entries (with photos added) that I recorded in my paper notebook and on my phone during the trips.  I have posted these on our Hike Facebook Page (Adventures of EarthTone and LoGear), but didn't post either until I was back within Wi-Fi coverage.  There's not too much signal out on South Mountain, but I wanted to practice my logging and try different things.  

I have been doing my logs like this for awhile.  I think I saw a similar format described and attributed to Earl Shaffer and it looked like it had the information I liked to collect, so I adopted it for my own use.  I changed a couple things and added a few others.

First there is the 1 through 8 entries.  Basic data like date, day, weather, temp, start and stop times, mileage, where I stop and any events that struck my fancy along the way that I would like to remember later.

After that is the log area where I expand on the day's happenings and try to recap the day.  The last section are a few idea I have picked up from other hikers along the way or thought of myself.  Simply stated they are Flora, Fauna, Sound, Smell, View of the Day (VOD), High and Hope.  Thinking about things to add as entries for each of these keeps me looking around and enjoying my time out there.  

The first four are pretty easy.  What kind of interesting vegetation did you see?  Did you see any animals, bugs or other critters?  Was there a particular sound that drew your attention and made you take note?  Any smells that wafted through your nostrils that left an impression?  I have funs filling in these little fields as the day passes.

After that there is the View of the Day (VOD), which doesn't have to be a Vista.  Looking at a small bug sitting in the forest under a log can easily qualify as a VOD.  Pretty much anything can.  

The last two I heard about from a Class of 2015 Hiker who I met in an EMS in Annapolis.  She mentioned that her and her tramily would gather together at the end of each hiking day and discuss the day.  The would each take a turn telling about their High Point of the day and there Hope for the future.  I thought it cute enough to try out, so it is now a part of my log.  I'm not sure how comfortable I will be discussing this with other hikers, but who knows. I do it for me.  

So here are my logs.  The first hike was on August 14th and 15th.  Yes, I use a Shire Calendar to record my dates.  Just one of those weird things I like to do.  I came across a way to create a working Shire Calendar from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings World about a decade or two ago and I still like to play with it.  I will probably explain more about it in a later post.  

Log 1

Did a practice hike to scout next week's hike, test the back, check the water sources and to get a trail fix. Check, check and check.

Day 1
1. Date: Wedmath 23rd
2. Day: Hevensday
3. Morning temp: 85+ at 1400 when started
4. Weather: Hot sunny. Rain in evening
5. Time start: 1400
6. Time stop and miles: 10 1853
7. End point: Birch Run shelter
8. Events: deer, Pam


Larry dropped me off in Caledonia parking lot. Headed up the hill. Was tough, but felt good. Met Jim at Quarry Gap. More uphill after that, then pretty level up on the flat. Dropped down to Milesburn cabin and got more water. Met Pam who was in Museum a couple weeks ago and I had given her some directions. Talked a bit then headed back up to the flat. Nice easy hike to Birch Run. Was checking out a potential campsite and it got real dark as a storm blew over the flat. It was surreal. It only lasted 10 minutes and no rain fell. Saw 5 deer including a doe and two youngins. One bleated to its mom before darting across the trail. One sobo hiker here at shelter. Ate dinner at table while it sprinkled. Will head over to the tarp soon. A good day. Back feels good, but I'm still soaking wet from sweat.
Flora: huckleberries
Huckleberries at the powerline.  Ready to be eaten
Fauna: 5 deer
Mama Doe and her young'ins

Sound: bleat of fawn
Smell: sulfur smell of Birch Run water
View of the Day (VOD): powerline view
Powerline view
High: bleat of fawn asking mother what to do.
Hope: a dry night in the tarp and cool morning.

Day 2
1. Date: Wedmath 24th
2. Day: Seasday
3. Morning temp: 70
4. Weather: Nice
5. Time start: 0701
6. Time stop and miles: 1140 9.8
7. End point: PGFSP
8. Events: SOBOs, feet soak
Log: Up before 6. Made coffee and talked a bit. On the trail at 7. Nice easy hike to the end. Stopped at Toms Run to snack and get water. Soaked feet in creek at last bridge. Went straight to store and got ice cream and bacon cheeseburger.
Flora: mushrooms

Fauna: rabbit, butterfly

Sound: whiporwill in am. Cicadas
Smell: perfumy, flowery smell
VOD: mushroom
High: feet soak

Hope: tomorrow goes well
Hike over, back to work.
Our next hike was on August 24th, 25th and 26th.  From my almost ten people who were interested in hiking, a few of them had to drop out for various reasons and four of us were dropped off by Howard at Caledonia to make our way to Birch Run.  Me, Lisa (LoGear), Jen (Wander Woman) and Carolyn (Freckles).  Nan (Drag'n Fly) and Howard would meet us at Birch Run and Drag'n Fly would continue with us to our next stop.

Looking at my pictures, the only other hiker I took a picture of was LoGear.  I guess I need to work on that.  More people pictures.  Once again the weather was pretty good.  A little warm, but not too bad.

Log 2

We finally got out there for a quick three day hike from Caledonia to Pine Grove Furnace. Four of us started, then we were joined by a fifth, with two visitors bringing magic. It was great getting all the good advice from the veterans and working with our gear to continuously see what works and what doesn't
Here are my logs from the three day, 19.8 mile hile.

Day 1
1. Date: Halimath 3rd
2. Day: Starsday (1)
3. Morning temp: 77 @ 1230
4. Weather: Sunny, warm, nice
5. Time start: 1230
6. Time stop and miles: 1728, 10 miles
7. End point: Birch Run Shelter
8. Events: Jen fall

Log: Arrived just before Noon and Howard shuttled us down to Caledonia. On the trail at 1230. Stopped at Quarry Gap to eat lunch. Stopped to eat huckleberries at power line. Rested and got water at Milesburn Cabin. Arrived at shelter to find Howard. He brought beers. Nan walked in from Ship Rd. Had dinner and nice talk. Both Lisa and I had headaches. Hers wouldn't go away. Headed to hammock about 2045.

Flora: Rhododendron tunnel
Fauna: black spotted salamander. 

Sound: pleated wp
Smell: sobo hiker
View of the Day (Vod): almost one to west before Milesburn.
High: Beers
Hope: A good hike tomorrow
Our hammocks
Howard had shelter to himself
Girl's Camp
Bear pole with a nest in the middle

Day 2
1. Date: Halimath 4th
2. Day: Sunsday (2)
3. Morning temp: 70
4. Weather: Sunny, warm, nice
5. Time start: 0905
6. Time stop and miles: 1212, 6.2 miles
7. End point: Toms Run Shelter
8. Events: tired hill climbers

Log: Took our time getting started today. Made a fire to burn trash. Headed up the hill, said bye to Howard at Ship Rd. Hike went quick today. Saw a couple hikers going south. Two girls who looked like an REI ad and two guys with one looking like he was about to die and he had a lot of hill still to climb.
Just crossed Shippensburg Rd
Flora: roses at a memorial site
Fauna: ant train near shelter about 50 feet long.
Sound: whippoorwill
Smell: ben gay smell near forest mower
Vod: toms run creek
High: Michele's visit and more beers
Hope: good night's sleep

Day 3
1. Date: Halimath 5th
2. Day: Moonsday (3)
3. Morning temp: 70s
4. Weather: clear, warm
5. Time start: 0842
6. Time stop and miles: 1010, 3.6
7. End point: Pine Grove Furnace
8. Events: Rattlesnake

Log: Up at 0545 or so. Tinkered about as the dawn arrived. Packed up and hit the trail. Took blue blaze sunset trail then dynamite shed trail. I walked past a rattler and Lisa saw it. Got pics and video. Got back to park quickly and had a nice lunch.
I very nice hike.

Flora: Fern waiving in it's own personal breeze. Gourd growing by the road.

Fauna: Rattlesnake! Goldenrod spider
My first rattler in three years of searching.  Spotted by LoGear

Goldenrod Crab Spider hitched a ride down to the store
Sound: The snake's rattle blending in with the cicadas
Smell: skunk
Vod: A coiled rattler, shaking his tail.
High: Rattlesnake!
Hope: To get out there again soon.

EarthTone and LoGear

Thursday, September 1, 2016

LD-02: Making it Real

Making It Real

You have taken that plunge and refined your dream into a plan. You have a tentative date of when you will start and you know how far you hope to go. It is time to make a plan, an outline. Something that at least loosely shows that you know which way you are going and that you have a vague idea of how long it will take. This is really fun to do. It makes you excited and scared at the same time. It makes it more real. It gets you on your way to the trail.
The importance of planning
There is a saying, that no battleplan ever survives contact with the enemy. Although I don't consider the Trail my enemy, this mindset has a lot of meaning to me. I always make a plan. I just also know that the plan will evolve and change as events happen. Flexibility is the key.

Some of the things you need to decide is where where you start? How will get to that trailhead? When will you meet some of the milestones that every long distance hike has. My next article will delve into these questions, but suffice it to say, having a plan (no matter how vague) has real value.

I have made a list of goals and milestones along the trail. I can look at it and based on the potential average mileage I hope to be doing as we move along the trail and get an idea of when we should be where. I don't plan on it matching up with reality exactly, but will know if I am ahead or behind the general, vague schedule. Making a general plan also helps with planning your resupplies. AWOL has some great spreadsheets on where you can resupply and how many days you will need for each resupply based on what your average daily mileage will be. Seeing the possibilities in front of you while you plan really helps when reality meets the plan and you need to find a place to get more food. I love planning.
Physical fitness
They say that the best way to "train" for hiking is to put a weighted pack on your back and go walk in the woods. I'm a faithful follower of this outlook, but it never hurts to build up a little cardio strength along with making sure your core, and ankles are at a strength that will help you carry your load and move along the trail. If you can, put on a pack with some weight in it and walk in the woods near your home. You can also walk a treadmill or stepper in the gym. I have put my pack on and jumped on a treadmill before. I enjoy the looks I get from the other patrons.

If you are a runner, keep doing that. Light lifting can't hurt and strengthening your core will make carrying that extra weight on your shoulders and hips easier to handle.

No matter what you do, take the time to let your body get used to hiking every day, all day with weight on your back. Don't plan on (or try) doing 20 mile days out of the get-go. Start off slow and work your way up. It's perfectly ok to have some short days at the beginning, where you can spend some extra time in camp making sure you can put up your shelter effortlessly in every weather condition.
Calculate your budget
Running out of money is one of the main reasons a hiker doesn't complete the whole long distance hike they have planned. There are number of reasons for running out of money. Perhaps you didn't save enough before you ventured forth as an unemployed walker. Maybe you spent too much time (and money) in town. Those towns can suck you in and spin you around, all the while you cash is spilling out of your pockets and improving their economy. Avoiding this situation is key to making your funds last longer.

Conventional wisdom has said that you need about $2 per mile. Some can do it with less, some need a lot more. So having at least 4 to 5K in the bank or your mattress should be a starting point.

I have determined that when you spend your money on the trail, it will fall into one of these categories. Transportation, Resupply (food and consumables), Restaurants, Alcohol, Lodging, Laundry, Gear, Postage and shipping and Misc. If you are careful in how much you spend on each of these areas and you keep good records of where your money is going, you can make adjustments like, not staying in town as much or opting for a Hostel instead of a Hotel at the next town. Spending recklessly will only send you home early if your funds aren't stable.

So gather your funds and determine if you have enough to head out. Lisa and I are lucky that we will still have an inflow of funds in the form of my military retirement, so we won't be risking dire straits. We will still have household things to pay for, but hopefully our hiking life will be a little bit cheaper than our other world home life as we are both quitting jobs to do this hike. Time will tell.
Set the home front to autopilot
No one hikes alone. Well, very few do. Having someone back in the other world, helping you with your hike is pretty important. Almost essential.

So, we won't be selling a home or putting all of our stuff in storage. We will just quit our gym memberships, make sure the cars are up to date and ready to sit awhile and hand the household chores over to the Daughter. Brandi, aka Home Base. She will have the responsibility of watching the house and making sure the plants or the pets don't kick off. She will also have to handle a few things that I won't be able to do using my phone or a library computer and I have been preparing her for that task for a couple months already.

Today's technology goes a long way in being able to maintain things in the other world while you hike in the real world. But it won't cut the grass or buy the groceries. I think it will be a fun challenger for all of us.
As we do all these things, the dream becomes real. As the day draws closer, all your preparations will pay off and before you know it, you are breathing the air on Springer Mountain (or somewhere else), with a full pack on your back and feet ready to roam. (or at least to follow some blazes)

EarthTone and LoGear
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