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  1. #1
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    Default Minimal Planning?

    HI, Planning a 2013 thru and was wondering what level of planning is truly necessary. I have researched gear extensively and feel like I'm in good shape there. However, the logistics of the trail seem overwhelming trying to plan out. Is it possible to just use a good guide book and wing it? I already have decided that I don't intend any prearranged mail drops with exception of swapping out warm/cold gear. What might be some things that I may want to have planned ahead of time if any?

  2. #2

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    not that overwhelming, as LW says its just walking. where you need to plan ahead is thru the smokies , and then thru the Whites and Maine.

  3. #3

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    Yeah there isn't a whole lot of planning needed. Have some experience with your gear, show up at Springer Mountain with 4 days worth of food and head North. Use the guidebook to figure out how far you will go each day and plan food/resupply accordingly.

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    i would like to add, though that overplanning is part of the fun!

  5. #5
    Registered User q-tip's Avatar
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    I train extensively (lost 42 lbs. so far), researched gear to the max (spent $900 for lighter stuff), test everything in the field before I set out--and review maps in detail for water sources and distances between towns for resupply. 1,000 mi on the AT in 2010 taught me being over prepared is worth it. it is too late once on the trail, and for me it is the CT (500 mi) this summer the wrong gear or not fit enough could be a disaster....

  6. #6
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    For some hikers, planning is part of the fun. As long as you realize that the plan gets tossed out the window as soon as you hit the trail....

    But yeah, you can take 4 days of food and one of the guidebooks and just start walking. It would help a lot if you do some weekend hikes with your gear ahead of time, especially in colder weather, but plenty of people have spent their first ever night in a tent on Springer Mountain in March.
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

  7. #7
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    most of my planning involved taking care of stuff at home, like bills, yardwork, mail, etc. since I live alone. I set up my bills to pay online, wrote checks for my yardman dated every two weeks (he didn't use them all in the drought), and I had my mail forwarded to my Mom.

    As far as trail prep, I tore apart the AT Guide, started with maps for GA and the corresponding guide pages, then mailed myself maps and pages along the way. You can only mail ahead about a month or so, so you need someone who can do that. Get the pages and maps ready, put them in envelopes, address and stamp them, with the approx date to mail each.

    Read as much as you can to get yourself psyched. I devoured trailjournals. Walk a lot. Then you are ready. Just remember that miles in the mountains are not the same as miles at home.

  8. #8

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    Get the databook. Its about 5 bucks and really all you need. Before you leave a town make sure you have enough supplies to get you to the next one with a little bit extra as a buffer. That is all the planning that is required if you have all of your equipment...if you have the wrong equipment, you will only have to carry it for 30 miles before you reach a full service outfitter that can set you straight. A thruhike is just a series of 3 to 7 day hiking trips done back to back. If you can throw your pack in the car and stop by the store on the way to the trail for a weekend trip then you will do fine.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by rwaeger View Post
    the logistics of the trail seem overwhelming trying to plan out.
    I have to laugh, because I too am finding the logistics of the trail overwhelming, and I'm only doing 2 weeks this June...can't even decide where to section hike

  10. #10

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    That's why i love internet..it gives us free valuable information.


  11. #11
    jersey joe jersey joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerboy57 View Post
    i would like to add, though that overplanning is part of the fun!
    I
    I'm the same way, I love to overplan. Everyone isn't like us though. Some people thrive on just figuring it out as they go along and can make that work for them.
    I would guess that planning helps improve your chance of succeeding but as many have said, you don't need to plan ahead, you can figure it out as you go along.

    Something else to consider is how quickly plans/intentions change once you are out there. You could be saving yourself a lot of time by not formulating a plan that goes out the window on the second day.

  12. #12
    Registered User oldbear's Avatar
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    For me the mental part is going to be the hardest part
    I can't stand swarms of bugs
    I find the very real prospect of having to hike in rain for days on end to be depressing as all H
    To that end I make a habit of doing 20-30 mile bike rides in rain whenever possible .
    All the other aspects of this hike are doable w/o any overkill planning on my part

  13. #13
    jersey joe jersey joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldbear View Post
    For me the mental part is going to be the hardest part
    The mental part is the hardest part for most people.

  14. #14
    Registered User d.o.c's Avatar
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    i planed a week long hike that turned into a thru hike.. if you got the gear and a lil food it really is just walking at that point play it as it comes i did and it worked for me ..

  15. #15
    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    There is no need to,"over plan." Take care of things at home before you leave. That will be one big consern out of the way. Read all you can about the trail. Buy a guide book of your choise. Have enough time alloted, at least 6months. , have enough money to enjoy some creture comforts along the way. Walk all you can bearfoot before you start. Most of all, hike your own hike. Happy trails to you, enjoy the experience of a life time.
    Grampie-N->2001

  16. #16
    Registered User Sacchoromyces's Avatar
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    Isn't the walk itself the real reason? Too much forethought can muddy the waters. Figure out your bed, kitchen, and clothes. The rest irons itself out. A through is a process, not a destination.

  17. #17
    Registered User SassyWindsor's Avatar
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    Default Planning depends on the Hike at Hand.

    A couple of examples of planning: Putting together mail drops and having a team/person responsible in sending. Have fall-back plans if the shipments need to be altered. Have accurate hike companion to be used, I usually keep an outline with me at all times, but have detailed ones shipped in mail drops as needed. I never start a long trip with untried gear and I always have several hundred miles on a pair of boots prior to starting. I would always keep another pair of broken-in boots ready to be mail dropped. Experience really helps when it comes to the planning and actually getting started. Take lots and lots of time planning at first. If you make a future of hiking, things will get much easier and you will be able to anticipate requirements for a successful hike much better. Never travel so light that you have to bum needed items/food from another hiker. Nor, so heavy that you end up leaving things on the trail or shipping back home the excess.

  18. #18
    AT 4,000 miler, LT Blissful's Avatar
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    Most plans are thrown out the window. As long as you have a start date (which helps with your gear ideas), gear, money, idea of your resupply, things at home, family and job are ok, you are cleared by an MD and you are mentally ready (as best you can be, that is) you are set to go.



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  19. #19
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    I think what is most helpful about the detailed planning process, is not the plan itself (you are certain to deviate) , but the fact that you are gathering information and knowledge, and considering contingencies. Then, once on the trail, you are more prepared to make up a new plan when the need arises, as it surely will.

  20. #20
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    Planning an AT hike can be as little as 4 days food & go from there. Plan on some mail drops for maps/data book or do a bounce box. The first long distance hike can be intimidating. Read some journals. I recently was typing out my PCT Journal. I stopped at a restaraunt on Pine to Palms Highway for water & a meal. Talked with a guy on local rescue crew. Said we needed crampons & ice axes & snowshoes for next section. Total BS. The AT is much more forgiving. AlthoughI can plan a long distance hike in a matter of hours I still love researching it for days/week/months. Looking for side trails & sites to se on & close to trail. Just looking at maps! Kinda gets me on the trail in my mind when I am stuck in the non-hiking world.

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