To all of my prospective thru-hiker and long distance hiking trail family getting ready for your incredible journey who are apprehensive and full of fear and doubts.
You are going to be just fine. I had my apprehension mixed with fear and excitement before my first thru-hike as well. I asked questions like – Will I be able to make it, will I even like it, will I die! 😮
It is attainable if you plan, prepare and take care of yourself mentally and physically.
Set it in your mind and heart that you ARE a thru-hiker and NOTHING will stop you from finishing your hike! 😀 Keep your eyes on the prize and have fun! 😀
It’s important to know what causes people to leave the trail so you can avoid their mistakes. (Knowledge is power!)
Here’s some things that will help you succeed in your incredible journey.
1. Stretching will be your salvation! Learn to do some basic stretches to limber up before you hike daily and hiking will be more pleasurable. You will be less prone to muscle tears and other injuries when you are more flexible and injuries are one of the main reason why people leave the trail.
2. Manage your money well. I believe that money is the #1 reason that people fail their thru-hikes. It’s way too easy to spend too many zeros in town on beer and fun. Many just spend all their money and run out. I spent about $100.00 per week on groceries at grocery stores to save money. $150-$200 per week is a livable budget with some fun and hostels built in. Keep a reserve for gear replacement such as footwear and any gear that breaks.
3. Diet is so critical in a successful thru-hike. Eat as healthy as possible on your hike. Make sure that you are getting a sufficient amount of…
- Healthy Fats
😀 When in town hit up the salad bars and binge on fresh fruit and vegetables. Your body will thank you. A Burger and beer are good as well occasionally so I’m not telling you to go without! 😀 That would just be hiking sacrilege! 😮
Also taking a multivitamin\mineral and a few other supplements including electrolytes and fish oil ( for inflammation ) are a good idea.
4. Be ready for the mental game! The mental aspect is so critical in thru-hiking that it cannot be overstated. Find your compelling reason for thru-hiking the A.T. and hang on to it for dear life. Whether you decide to Hike For Mental Health with Tom Kennedy or your own personal reason it will help you when you go through times when you are hurting, soaking wet and miserably cold. Find hikers who will encourage and support you while you act as their cheerleader as well.
Bring some entertainment! 😀
I carried an iPod 5th generation touch 32gb full of music, audio books and videos.
I used music to help motivate me up mountains, forget my loneliness pain and suffering.
Music helped lull me off to sleep at night and lifted my spirits.
I listened to audiobooks (You can borrow audiobooks from your local library and music as well) I loved listening to the classics and it was incredible to listen to The Last of the Mohicans while I hiked through the areas described where the book took place.
Videos were a welcome diversion as I had the whole seasons of Avatar the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra which I would usually watch as episode nightly before bed.
You can find engaging podcasts as well.
5. Pace yourself. Don’t try for big miles from the start. Do reasonable miles and slowly build up to higher mileage days.
Take a zero every 7-10 days to allow yourbody to rest and heal. Have fun and refresh yourself!
6. Set little and attainable goals and milestones to look forward to. Don’t look at the whole trail and despair! Remember how to eat an elephant? 😮
One bite at a time and the trail one day at a time! 😀
😀 You can and will do this and become a thru-hiker as well. I know you can do it and I believe in you! YOU WILL PERSEVE!!