View Full Version : Planned Routes vs. "winging it"

11-03-2005, 14:33
We are planning out are route to thru hike the AT, attempting to minimize the chance of Sunday P.O. pickups, etc. Have other thru-hikers who have done this route planning been able to stick to it or is it impossible to do so?

Lone Wolf
11-03-2005, 14:44
Any itinerary you have will probably go out the window after the first week. Loosely plan. Don't stress. You'll see.

Gray Blazer
11-03-2005, 14:47
Any itinerary you have will probably go out the window after the first week. Loosely plan. Don't stress. You'll see.

Well said.

11-03-2005, 15:21
I planned very carefully and was keeping on track until medical problems set in. You must know yourself, how far you can go no matter the conditions, and be diciplined to stay on track. Having said that, Lone Wolf is very right - once you are out there your schedule will probably go out the window - if I had stayed out longer, mine certainly would have! There are too many variables to consider (extra town visit, need for an extra day off, rain/snow/heat slowing you down, just to name a few) from your warm and cozy home.

11-03-2005, 16:09
I think a reasonable amount of planning is:
-knowing where you'd prefer to pick up food, whether it be by shopping or delivery
-having a rough idea of how long you will need between each resupply
-deciding which gear you'll want to start with, and which gear you'll mail ahead to where [if any]

I wouldn't worry about specific dates or resupply loads until you're actually out there. Lone Wolf's advice is just about perfect: "Don't stress. You'll see." I love that.

shades of blue
11-03-2005, 16:52
Something else to consider is to have mail drops sent to hostels or outfitters. Sometimes P.O's are the best answer...but often you can avoid post offices all together. Also, the hours of hostels and outfitters aren't on the same schedule as gov't services.

11-03-2005, 17:56
Making a rough plan, as Whistler posted is worth it. But by all means keep it flexible. For numerous reasons, once out there, you may want to go faster or slower than you planned. Or go into different towns and hostels.

11-03-2005, 18:21
Anyone who is so concerned about developing a plan needs to take the time to create one...their thought patterns just don't work that way (I'm in that camp). Peaks and Whistler are on target; put together a viable plan, and then have enough sense to adjust as you go along. Even for week-long section hikes my plan changes, influenced by the weather, how long it takes to get in and out of town, how I'm feeling, etc. For a long distance (multi-month) hike, start out slow to avoid tendonitis and joint pain that could push you off the trail. You will find that it's quite pleasant being able to stop at an attractive campsite or push on into town for the night. Anyone who might need to find you can only use your itinerary as a starting point anyway.

11-03-2005, 18:46
I wouldn't bother with too many mail drops, it's easier and creates better hiker relations with the locals, to resupply along the way.

Almost There
11-03-2005, 23:46
As a section hiker it has been vital for me to plan due to time constraints, the beauty of a thru hike as I see it is that you should have some room for play in a schedule, use it. My experience is that inflexibility leads to injuries, etc. Know your body and listen to it, rather than a schedule who cares not for any aches and pains picked up along the way. By all means make a schedule but just realize it probably will change the very first week you're out on the trail, and that's cool, after all it's all about HYOH!

11-03-2005, 23:56
i agree with sly...it is just as cheap now adays to just buy locally along the trail. i think Jack lists 3 or 4 places that you would want to send maildrops, just cause there is no grocery to resupply. most of my friends have just not chosen those cities to resupply, so except for the wilderness and maybe early fontana, you might be able to get by without maildrops. my maildrops cost about 10 bucks each to send. i was tired of stuff i bought 6 months prior, ended up buying local on nearly everything...something to consider anyways. one thing i discovered was, that i could generally always find somekind of food, even at a gas station that would get me to the next town. some times went to the gas station and got a hotdog just cause it was just off trail and didn't resupply. you can do whatcha want...including what yer doing. many still do just that.

11-04-2005, 13:13
People you are hiking with will probably end up influencing your town stops and days off a lot. If you're with a few people you like, it's sure hard to keep going when they're all heading into town or taking a zero at a hostel.

Go with minimal maildrops and the logistical side of your hike will be a lot easier.

11-04-2005, 19:42
We're not planning any mail drops. we may use a bounce box but thats it. we'll resupply in town.

shades of blue
11-04-2005, 23:29
There are a few things I found helpful to mail....maps/guidebook info for that area (so I wasn't carrying a ton of extra weight), bag balm (for my poor blistered feet) batteries and such. Also, there is some food I just couldn't purchase on the trail, and it was nice having a treat from home. Most of the food I bought as I hiked though. Most of this stuff can be bought along the way, but the maps/guidebook info was pretty useful to be mailed. I still don't suggest P.O's unless hostels/outfitters/motels are unavailable for mail drops.

I divided all my maps and guidebooks by region and supply points. I tried not to carry more than two maps, unless they were small like ny/nj maps. The weight adds up after a while. It was pretty cool when I got to my last ziplock back full of info marked as ME map one Katahdin......

It's fun to plan....just be able to go with the flow when your plans don't go as you thought.

11-05-2005, 18:51
I wouldn't bother with too many mail drops, it's easier and creates better hiker relations with the locals, to resupply along the way.
well said,it's quicker and cheaper

11-05-2005, 19:49
I planned a day-by-day schedule before my thru-hike. I enjoyed having that plan and seeing how I was keeping up because it gave me an idea if I'd end around the time I was thinking (which may or may not matter for you, for me it was important). But confirming what others said, I didn't follow my plan at all, I think within the first 3 days I was already off it. One thing I'd say, if you do decide to plan your hike, be really conservative. Last thing you need is to feel pressured to hurry up to much.

11-08-2005, 00:41
Winging it is the only way to go. Your on the trail to be free and not have to worry about what day of the week it is or what town you must stop in and when. Just point yourself north (or south) and it will all take care of itself.

"ME & U"
11-08-2005, 10:32
Good answer! I found it a thrill to lose track of life and ditch the watch weight!