View Full Version : Section Hike to Prepare

02-06-2014, 10:09
Anyone planning a thru hike taken the time to do a warm-up section hike to make sure all your gear, navigation and ideas will work for the big hike? This weekend I took a three day trip from Port Clinton too.... well PA 183. Here are some things I learned.

Know where you are going. I wanted to go Northbound got dropped off at the wrong trail head and ended up going Southbound,

Take it easy. I did only four miles the first day and was exhausted. Set up camp and woke up in a snow bank.

Pack light. I wanted to make it hard on myself so I carried a full six liter drom of water. By the second day my dongus was frozen and there where so many springs and streams I only carried about one liter at a time after that.... soooo much lighter.

Remember mother nature. it snowed about eight inches on my trip and then changed to freezing rain. I needed better gloves. I needed a coat with pockets.I needed more pairs of socks. I'm glad I took a sleeping bag liner. You may have plans for light weight this and so many miles that... mother nature don't care.

The little things. Have snacks on the outside of your pack (duH!) Your pack cover wont fit if you have your sleeping pad on the outside of your pack. For christsakes hang up your pack at the shelter. You can hear the mice eating your gorp but your to cold to get out of your sleeping bag.... big mistake.

Anyone else learn anything new this week?

02-06-2014, 15:49
All very good lessons. Glad you are learning them now :)

For an early start, I would carry my waterproof overmitts from Mountain Laurel or from Zpacks. They are very light and help keep my fleece gloves from getting soaked in the very common 36-and-raining scenario on the trail in late winter.

If I ever get to thru, due to the academic schedule it'll be a SOBO starting in June. At my age and level of fitness, my plan is to start June 1st in Damascus and hike south for a couple of weeks to get my trail legs, then head up to Maine for the actual hike. That way I start in moderately good condition. I stole this idea from some folks I met a couple of years ago in Georgia in March, who were hiking for a few weeks on the AT before heading west to thru-hike the PCT.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk (http://tapatalk.com/m?id=1)

Edit - corrected solo to SOBO. DYAC.

Odd Man Out
02-06-2014, 16:11
I'm planning on a section hike this summer - not to prepare for a thru - I just have a week. But it will be a "shakedown" hike to checkout gear as I have started from scratch with all new stuff and it's been a very long time since I've been out for a week at a time. I'm wrestling with the fact that there are a lot of uncertainties, such as no clue as to how many miles/day I will be able to do, which then makes it hard to plan how many days of food to carry. This will be in the summer, not winter, but that too will require some experimenting with water/wardrobe/schedules/etc... I'll probably carry a bit more than I "should", but that would be on purpose so I could try out different options (long pants vs short pants, cooked breakfast vs cold breakfast, sleep with food bag vs hang food bag, etc...). Have agonized much over what is the "right" answer for each variable and have come to terms with the fact that there is not necessarily one "right" answer. There may be an optimal solution for me, but only practice will let me work that out. If I go out with the mindset that I already know what will be best, I may not be in a position to make those adjustments. It should be fun, but I am planning on making this an experimental/learning hike, which will make it a bit of a different experience.

02-06-2014, 19:24
I'm going SOBO - did the hundred mile wilderness last summer, about the same time as I am starting this year - learned a lot.

In December I did a 5 day trip in the Smokies, at about the same time I will be finishing my SOBO hike. Learned a lot on that trip too.

So yes, I think a shakedown hike or two or three is a great idea.


tf bear
02-06-2014, 21:07
Go for several shakedown hikes. Every time you go you learn something very important about either your gear or yourself. When you get home review your notes and look at what you carried to make sure everything that was in your pack was something you really couldn't live without. I personally love maps and navigation. Google has the AT on the map and you can plan out where you want to get on and off the trail. Also how to get there. The more you look and plan out your trip the smoother it will become. Besides if your not hiking, planing to hike is the next best thing!

rock steady
02-06-2014, 22:24
'I personally love maps & navegation' Me too! I'm rock steady, NOBO 2015.I'd love to have maps but they seem expensive. Been thinking of the ATC set but hooo-boy that is a chucka change! What do you suggest? Thanks

02-06-2014, 23:02
Everything you went through is called experience. Keep it up. Better to learn now than when you are thru hiking.

02-07-2014, 00:27
Personally I think it is very necessary to do a section hike before attempting a thru. Last summer I sectioned the 100 mile wilderness in Maine. I made about a 1000 mistakes along the way and picked the minds of passing thru-hikers for all the advice I could get. I was very grateful for the experience and it essentially solidified my desire to attempt a thru hike. At the end of the hike, I came out of the woods blistered, chaffed, mosquito bitten, dehydrated, etc and I still wanted to go on. Thats the litmus test for a thru hike in my opinion.