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2017SOBO
10-02-2016, 17:04
Hello everyone. I returned yesterday from a six day shakedown/training trip in Pennsylvania. This was my first solo backpacking experience, and I'm hoping it will help me make a final decision about hiking the AT SOBO next year. For me, a week on the trail alone was a completely different experience than a overnighter with friends. Even this short and simple six days felt like one of the biggest things Iíve ever done in my life. Words cannot describe what it feels like to cover 40 miles in two day without seeing or speaking to anyone. It was awful and it was awesome. It has done wonders for my self-esteem. I couldnít wait for it to be overÖyet now that I am home Iím wishing that I had taken a seventh day to stay on the trail. If you're considering a solo thru-hike, I strongly encourage you to try a weeklong trip solo first to see what it feels like.

The Loyalsock Trail (LT) is a 59 mile linear trail located north of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. A detailed guidebook, maps, and information about shuttles to the trail can be found at this link (http://www.lycoming.org/alpine/). No permits are needed for a thru-hike, but I sent a customary e-mail to the Loyalsock State Forest office with my itinerary before departure. There are no shelters on this trail, but camping is allowed on most parts of the trail. A few miles here and there go through private land. The guidebook gives exact details on where the campsites are located and where camping is prohibited.

Here is my gear list (https://lighterpack.com/r/2vvlwv) (with photo (https://twitter.com/2017sobo/status/782681658189164544)) and my itinerary (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1py-kI3IfUSxbddXoOH0F77fcZFW9E91Kk04VWoooEJk/edit?usp=sharing), which I filled out along the way. I originally planned to complete the 59 miles in six days. Much to my surprise, I finished the trail in 70 hours (Thursday noon). The cell reception as strong at the trailhead near the end, and so I arranged for my ride back home to pick me up on Saturday instead of Sunday. I then turned around and set up camp by Sones pond and spent the next day slackpacking the 17-mile Loyalsock-Link loop. Saturday I was picked up at the trailhead and headed home.

I think the emotional/psychological part of the trail alone was much more difficult than the physical part. I am pleasantly surprised with my mileage. My muscles arenít sore, my feet hurt only a little, and I only got one blister which I blame on the endless rain which soaked through my socks and shoes. I thought the rain suckedÖbut then again anyone who wants to finish the AT needs to learn to hike in the rain. I religiously followed Skurkaís foot care guide (http://andrewskurka.com/2012/minimizing-the-effects-and-aftermath-of-wet-feet/), using a product called Hiker Goo instead of Bonnieís Balm, and escaped with only one minor blister on one heel. Since this seems to work for me, I don't plan on changing anything about my foot care for the time begin.

Here is a list of the food (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1py-kI3IfUSxbddXoOH0F77fcZFW9E91Kk04VWoooEJk/edit?usp=sharing) I brought with me (with photo (https://twitter.com/2017sobo/status/782682395736543232)) I now think that Mountain House sucks. Itís heavy, not very tasty, and takes up a lot of space in the my backpack. Skurkas recipes (http://andrewskurka.com/section/how-to/food-nutrition/meal-recipes/) are better. I wouldn't call them fine dining, but they were good enough for the trail. I was very detailed about organizing my food the week before I left, but I have no idea what people do in a thru-hike. I canít imagine taking the time to create a spreadsheet, and weigh ingredients and individually bag every meal and every day. Note: My favorite recipe was pesto ramen.

I left my camp shoes home as an experiment. I usually bring crocs but they wouldnít fit into my bag with all my food. I will never leave camp shoes at home again. It rained four out of six days on the trail, I barely saw the sun, my shoes were always damp, and it really sucked having to wear them around camp. I missed my crocs like crazy.

Permethrin? All my clothes. I didnít get any ticks. Iím gonnaí permethrin everything from now on.

Leave no trace. Absolutely. Part of the reason why I loved my week on the LT was that it was pristine compared to my usual hiking spots at Harriman and the Hudson Valley. I followed LNT principles religiously including, yes, packing out my used toilet paper. I don't want to sound overly preach about LNT, but I strongly encourage all my fellow thu-hikers to read and follow the rules here.

Feel free to ask any and all questions about my week in the woods!

egilbe
10-02-2016, 18:59
I usually pack a variation of Skurkas breakfast oatmeal meals. Cheesy potatoes for me is usually for supper with spam singles. I add walnuts, almonds or pecans to my oatmeal. Some ideas I got from: http://www.theyummylife.com/Instant_Oatmeal_Packets

I found I don't get tired of oatmeal, or spam singles, which my GF finds very weird. I also found I really craved cheese and corn chips.

2017SOBO
10-02-2016, 19:18
I usually pack a variation of Skurkas breakfast oatmeal meals. Cheesy potatoes for me is usually for supper with spam singles. I add walnuts, almonds or pecans to my oatmeal. Some ideas I got from: http://www.theyummylife.com/Instant_Oatmeal_Packets

I found I don't get tired of oatmeal, or spam singles, which my GF finds very weird. I also found I really craved cheese and corn chips.

Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely try spam singles on my next trip. It'll be a good way to get more protein, which I found I was kind of lacking on this trip.