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Johnny Swank
10-23-2006, 20:13
Seven Tips for a Successful Expedition

After traveling over 5,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail and Mississippi River, I've found seven thing that help to make for a sucessful expedition. Success means different things to different people, so throw out whatever doesn't work for you.

1. Take less stuff: Before you leave, split your gear into three piles - Essential (sleeping bag, toothbrush), Might Want (camp chair, extra towel), and Nice To Have (radio, expresso mug). Get rid of the last two piles—you’ll never miss them. Less gear means less to buy, less to carry, less to keep dry, and less to repair.

2. Schedule: Make a schedule at home, then burn it as soon as you start your trip. Those things never work anyway and just cause more stress. Better yet, don't have a firm ending date at all. Who knows, you might end up on a sailboat in Bali. Weirder things have happened.

3. Money: Estimate how much you'll need, then take double that amount. Make sure to put some funds aside to live on when you return.

4. Re-entry: Take some time when you're done to reflect on the journey. Jumping into the rat race too soon is a good way to forget those lessons you've worked so hard to get.

5. Raingear and duct tape: don't leave the driveway without them.

6. Sense of humor: Pack plenty. Resupply often.

7. Go with the flow: Something's going to mess up. It's just going to happen. How you deal with it is up to you. (I need to remember this one more.)

That's about all there is to it. Now go get outside.


Selected excerpt from the book Source to Sea:A Journey down the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers. (http://www.sourcetosea.net/Book/excerpts.html)
Release date: 2006
Copyright: 2006

1Pint
10-23-2006, 21:12
Thanks for the Cliff's Notes version that captures everything. Maybe that's what I should post in my office next to the AT map.

fiddlehead
10-24-2006, 00:36
Very good list. But i'd trade no. 4 for this one: Know before you take that first step that you are going to make it. (or if you don't know, you won't make it)
I especially like 1,and 2

Gaiter
10-24-2006, 02:03
1. Take less stuff: Before you leave, split your gear into three piles - Essential (sleeping bag, toothbrush), Might Want (camp chair, extra towel), and Nice To Have (radio, expresso mug). Get rid of the last two piles—you’ll never miss them. Less gear means less to buy, less to carry, less to keep dry, and less to repair.

I don't know if i completely agree w/ this one, i like the three piles thing. definitly get rid of the 'might want' pile. but have one or two things from your 'nice to have' pile, its the little things that make you happy when your hiking for a long time, and sometimes having that little thing that makes life a tiny bit easier really helps (expresso mug not included in that comment)

also i would add an 8th rule

8) HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE!!!! This rule can't be said enough, don't go any faster than your body and mind can handle, it doesn't matter that john doe can hike 20 mile days. My rule of thumb is to keep my legs moving at a steady pace, but adjust my stride to how far my legs can move my weight w/o hurting, so if i have to take baby steps to get up a mountain then i will take baby steps to get up a mountain. Find your own rule of thumb and be willing to change it for yourself and no one else.

also fiddlehead i like your rule goes along w/ the quote 'a thousand mile journey begins with one step'

Grampie
10-24-2006, 09:28
Another one:
Have enough time to complete your adventure. Folks who start a thru and have to be finished by a specific date are comming to the plate with one strike on them already.

Johnny Swank
10-24-2006, 09:44
I agree with that Grampie. We were sort of under the gun on the Mississippi trip and I had that constantly on my mind in the beginning stages. I did the same thing on the AT, only it was more related to money issues.

Good point about deciding before the trip if you're going to finish. I always stress that in my slideshows, and think there's alot of validity in that. There's nothing wrong with 'I'm going to get as far as I get", but I don't think that that helps to actually complete the AT. Granted, sometimes that goal can be a burden as well. I've seen dozens of miserable hikers that would probably be better served by getting off the trail and going to the beach for a month.

T-Dubs
10-24-2006, 09:56
also fiddlehead i like your rule goes along w/ the quote 'a thousand mile journey begins with one step'

When I read that bit of motivation I am often reminded of this site:

http://www.despair.com/ambition.html :)

Tom

Gaiter
10-24-2006, 13:42
lol, thats great!!

dsg
10-29-2006, 20:42
thanks. it's all helpful. going to start in march, tell everyone i'll be back in august, but really know, that don't know when. am closing my business, and will open it up when i damn well please when i get back. been working 32 years and i'm sick of it anyway. todays my first day on this site.

Jack Tarlin
10-29-2006, 20:46
I like your attitude.

Welcome to Whiteblaze!!

freefall
10-29-2006, 21:08
todays my first day on this site.

:welcome

Lots of great info and wonderful people here!

maxNcathy
12-07-2006, 09:13
Starting north Mar 19th how NECESSARY is a stove?
Thanks, Sandalwood

Johnny Swank
12-07-2006, 10:15
Stoves aren't an absolute necessity, but I'd strongly encourage you to at least carry one for awhile till you're comfortable with the no-cook thing. You can go to Walmart and pick up a complete out for about $10. Pick up a Grease Pot and buy a can of cat food in an aluminium can to make a stove with. Go to the auto section and by a bottle of HEET in the yellow bottle (denatured alcohol). Make a windscreen from some aluminum foil from home. Boom-instant cook set.

Carry that set at least till you get through the Smokies if not beyond. Try the no-cook thing to see how you like it, but carry a lipton meal or 3 as a backup. You might find that you really like to be able to heat up some liquid without making a fire.

At the very least, carry the cookpot, but you really better have your firebuilding mojo in gear. That's a cold, wet time of year to not carry a stove.

There's a ton of info on alcohol stoves in the Homemade gear section. You can make a minimal setup for next to nothing if all you want to do is heat a couple of cups of water at a time.

Spirit Walker
12-07-2006, 12:21
We tried going stoveless in New Mexico this year. It didn't work for us. The food was heavier and got really boring, very quickly. When we could, we went back to cooking dinner, and were both much happier. It works for some people, but not everyone.

Johnny Swank
12-07-2006, 12:26
Yeah - the stoveless thing isn't for me either except for some weekend trips here and there. For me, the hassle of coming up with things I don't get sick of is getting harder and harder, and I can't afford to limit my options any more than necessary.

Footslogger
12-07-2006, 12:29
Starting north Mar 19th how NECESSARY is a stove?
Thanks, Sandalwood

==================================

There's NO substitute for a warm meal on a cold night. I left Springer on 3/19 (2001 with my wife) and 3/29 on my own thru in 2003 and despite the weather changes from year to year ...you're gonna have some cold nights (and even some cool/cold days). After a full day of walking and then setting up camp, your body needs some quality rest and a good warm meal goes a long way toward getting a good nights sleep and staying warm.

Sure ...you can go it without a stove. But the benefit of a good warm meal outweighs the cost in ounces of carrying a stove.

But, like someone else said, you can always experiment by carrying one for a while and then leaving it behind.

Just my $ .02

'Slogger

maxNcathy
12-07-2006, 13:28
Thank You so much for your insights.Sandalwood

Brrrb Oregon
12-07-2006, 13:37
How did y'all cope with spending that much time in your own company? Had you been in that sort of situation for over a week before your thruhike?

If you had a designated companion, what were the rules, spoken or unspoken, that you used to get along smoothly? What plans did you have for what you'd do if your companion got hurt or bailed?

If you got some uninvited companions, how did that work out? Did it matter whether they were same-gender or not, or just whether they were roughly in the right range of volume?

Any insights would be appreciated.

Footslogger
12-07-2006, 13:51
[quote=Brrrb Oregon;281685]How did y'all cope with spending that much time in your own company? Had you been in that sort of situation for over a week before your thruhike?

For me it was a blessing to get quiet with myself and follow a single thought in my mind for hours. That said, if you are a sociable person you will at times miss contact and conversation with others. There are enough hikers out there to quench that thirst.

If you had a designated companion, what were the rules, spoken or unspoken, that you used to get along smoothly? What plans did you have for what you'd do if your companion got hurt or bailed?

I did not start with any designated companions but later in my hike I became part of a group of 4 who got along and stayed together (somewhat). There were no rules or outspoken agreements in terms of how we would hike. We never found a need to form any plans in advance in terms of bailing. There were a number of times when one or more of us just didn't feel like hiking that day and stated that out loud. Generally the group hiked on without them ...understanding that the "unspoken" hope was that the hiker would eventually catch up.

If you got some uninvited companions, how did that work out? Did it matter whether they were same-gender or not, or just whether they were roughly in the right range of volume?

There were several instances (generally at night in camp) where other hikers would arrive and "join in", so to speak. That was never really a problem since it was obvious by our behavior and conversation that we were hiking in a group. If it ever seemed like it was going to be an issue we just hung back and allowed the other hikers to get a head start OR we got up early and boggied.

'Slogger

Sly
12-07-2006, 13:52
Very good list. But i'd trade no. 4 for this one: Know before you take that first step that you are going to make it. (or if you don't know, you won't make it)
I especially like 1,and 2

Yeah, #4 is after the hike, not a tip for a successful hike and should be last if included at all.

crutch
12-07-2006, 14:01
I love rule #2.....here's a thought: if they must have a schedule, write it on T.P. and then at least it will be useful for something.

Jim Adams
12-07-2006, 16:13
in reference to #2
don't look at reaching the end of the trip as the goal, although it certainly is a goal. the trip is just a way to get there but the trip itself is the important item. look at what you will do next and the end "goal" is just a way to get to THAT point.
also with alot of wilderness canoeing under my belt i have found that canoeing is just luxury backpacking. take all three piles of equipment and live good. it is in the boat not on your back.

Peaks
12-07-2006, 19:19
I'd advise everyone to make a tentative schedule, but then be very flexible about implementing it. It allowed me to plan resupply, and gave family and others a rough time frame of when I expected to be where. If I were to do it again, I'd still make a plan.

Amigi'sLastStand
12-16-2006, 18:48
Have fun and remember why you're hiking is the only rule you need.

Brrrb Oregon
12-19-2006, 04:04
I had almost forgot. Don't forget the rest step.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5316322

ASUGrad
01-16-2007, 14:30
#1 is the best advice anyone ever gave. There is a 100 lb difference between 25 and 35 lbs when you are hiking.

88BlueGT
04-07-2011, 13:04
Responding to the person who asked if they should bring a stove, I would answer that question and say absolutely. Not only will you get tired of eating cold food every day (and that WILL happen) but having a hot meal after a long day of hiking is no longer just food, its food for the soul! :) Its a huge boost to have a hot meal at camp, wouldn't recommend going without one. This doesn't mean you need a huge hefty stove/cookset. Get yourself a soda can stove and a lightweight pot, you'll be perfect.

sbhikes
04-07-2011, 13:32
I agree with throwing out the two piles. If you miss anything, you can always add it back. If you don't, you will have saved yourself some pain and postage.

sheepdog
04-07-2011, 14:51
Kind of goes with number 7 ; I like , "take what the trail gives you." When I first started hiking the AT I kept hoping for gentler slopes, a level spot what-ever. I became much happier when I just took what the trail gave me and worked with it.

Hoofit
04-07-2011, 15:23
you forgot one-take good care of your feet - everything is riding on them!

gunner76
04-10-2011, 11:05
Have enough time to complete your adventure


To me going on a trip implies everything is already planed and you know what to expect and when. Boring

I preferr an adventure as you never know what will happend or when.

I also agree that we should each hike our own hike.

Ehrickah
07-06-2011, 22:59
a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. - lao tzu

MyName1sMud
09-22-2011, 09:41
Best 7 tips I've ever seen about ANYTHING.

Blue Butterflyyy
10-25-2012, 07:05
I hope these tips would be really helpful for me this weekend. I am planning to go for Thru-hike with my friends. You have done a great job.

GreenJaint
09-02-2013, 03:15
These tips are really useful. Thanks a lot.

strogiyogi
01-30-2015, 17:50
#1 and #4 were big for me!

peakbagger
01-30-2015, 19:04
I run into examples of folks who ignored Rule #2 on schedule in the whites on occasion. Folks have an date for finishing and they are running late so they don't have time to stop and enjoy the presidentials

TMathers
08-13-2018, 09:21
Nice list thank you for sharing

Alex90
09-04-2018, 09:08
Thank you for your useful list ;)

MaryaliceRitchlin
02-03-2019, 03:59
Really helpful but in my last climbing trip, I missed a good sense of humour within the camp.

Dogwood
02-03-2019, 17:49
Good thread.

MattSin97
02-04-2019, 01:59
Starting north Mar 19th how NECESSARY is a stove?
Thanks, Sandalwood

I leave the 18th, if you need a stove don’t be shy to ask around for me.