View Full Version : Newbie and sectioning MD.

06-26-2015, 23:15
I am retiring on 1 Aug and plan to section hike the Maryland section from Pen Mar, south to the Virginia line with my dog. Planning on departing on the 3rd and making it the better part of a week. Dont have my pack weight figured out yet, but have been gearing up pretty light. Know i wont be in the UL range, but hope to be tolerable. Dont have any real concerns on the pup, because hes a trail dog that just goes and goes. Never tires out. I on the other hand, might be another story. Anyway, this is my shakedown before doing a thru hije of the C&O canal in Sept. Using dehydrated food for the pup, and the usual mixture of poptarts, ramen and or dehydrated foods for me. Ill have the pup connected to my with a bungie leash connected to a belt harness around my waist. He may be carrying his food in a pack. Ill be using trekking poles. Thinking we will really take our time and soak it all in. Being new at all this, id be willing to lusten to any advice you more experienced folks would be willing to share. Thanks.

06-27-2015, 04:48
Congratulations on your retirement!

Part of being new to all this is figuring out what you need, don't need, and what you'd like to have with you. It takes a while to figure this out, what gear you like to have with you, and what the lightest possible weight you can reach with that gear. A lot depends on what you are doing, a lot of people will bring things on an overnight they would not on a five day due to weight for example. 30 lbs that includes your gear, food, and water load tends to be the target zone. You'll hear a lot of advice on weight that will be valuable but the more important part (to me anyway) is to have fun and be comfortable.

I'm sure you know this already, but if you have new gear you may want to set up the pack how you want it and take it for some walks to see how it fits, rides, and how easy you can access stuff like rain gear. That way you can dial in how you want to pack it. Practice setting up your tent or hammock if its new to you. I have made the mistake of thinking all tents set up pretty much the same, only to find out in fading light and building weather they don't and really made a mess of things.

Your dog carrying some weight is a good idea. For one, it helps you maintain a lighter load and the dog is less apt to run around or get tangled up around trees if it has even a little weight on. Much like taking your new gear for some shake down walks, your dog should have the same opportunity to wear any gear you get for it to use. Check for hot spots and pinch points of the harness to be sure its not binding or chafing.

If water is plentiful along your route, you don't have to carry more than a liter or so to keep weight down. Filtering or treating water is strictly a personal preference, though I suspect most on this board filter using various types and brands of filtration systems. I don't know about the majority, but I do see some people with dogs filter water for the animal and use a bowl (collapsing bowls seem to be popular).

These are pretty basic things, I'm sure others will have some more advanced pointers. However, experience sometimes translates easily and sometimes one just has to learn on their own. Don't be concerned with making a mistake (everyone here has) which is where adventures can come from, its a big "do and learn" school out there. There is no right or wrong way to do things or type of gear to have with you, there are only different ways to do things and different types of gear.

I envy your grand adventure of a new life in post retirement, you sure are kicking it off well. Have fun!

06-27-2015, 06:46
Ah...a nice area to get a feel for the AT. I did that area last year and the only issue I had was having to camp in designated areas. There are plenty of folks on the trail too so if you run into trouble getting help should not be too huge of an issue. Take your time and have fun...and drink plenty of water, it is hot there in august!! I am doing MD/PA line to Boiling Springs starting July 6th...2 more years to retirement for me then comes the flip-flop thru hike!!