View Full Version : Wanna-be Thru Hiker

10-20-2002, 16:16
Any suggestions from anyone on where to get started in planning?
Hike alone or with someone?:)

10-20-2002, 18:02
Everyone hikes at their own pace. So, coventional wisdom is not to pre plan a hiking companion. And if one happens to be on the trail at the same time and place as you, and agrees with your progress, then great.

But I believe that most pre arranged partners don't stick it out together for many reasons.

10-21-2002, 12:05
As a warning, I am not a thruhiker. I did a section hike from Springer to Damascus this may and have other hiking experience.

One easy way to get started is to read one of the successful AT thruhikers journals on www.trailjournals.com

You can get a good feel for what a hike might be like. You can also see what some of the terrain looks like and what kind of gear might be good to bring and what might be best left at home. This forum is another good spot for information. There are some very experienced hikers who post regularly to this board. Roland Muessner (?) has a book called something like Long Distance Hiking: Lessons learned from the Appalachian Trail. It has some statistical information about various aspects of the trail. From a scientific point of view, I don't think it is particularly strong (low sample size), but there are some good, general points in the book. These are just three of many sources of information about the AT.

10-21-2002, 20:30
Hi Mr peepers,

One of the best ways to start planning is get a hold of a thru-hiker guidebook, either Wingfoot or the ATC guidebook; it can put some of the mileage, and what to expect in each town in the way of supplying into perspective. Also, I would take a good look at your finances, and start to determine a prelimnary budget, take a look at what you have for gear and what you might need to acquire before your thru-hike, and also figure out how much time you can allot to being on the trail. Once you've done all that, the fun part (picking a date to elave and arranging transportation, etc...) will come more easily. A good first step is to peruse trail websites (like this one and others) to get a feel for "what's out there". Good luck!

10-21-2002, 21:56
I agree with all of the above but if you want more ideas on planning part of it, you must decide how you will be resupplied, if my mail drops, or purchasing along the way. If mail drops, decide what foods to purchase, if you are going to dehydrate them or purchase freeze dried, ect. Also natually start reading about all the various equipment you will need, and by all means read this forum to get ideas on what will work for you. Everyone is different so everyone has different ideas and what works for them may or may not be for you. Some people are willing to carry the extra pounds since their comfort level is more important than the weight, while others will sacrifice and do without some things for comfort. As for partners, do not worry about that if you are starting in March or April at Springer Mt. you will have plenty of company and as you hike north you will automatically end up hike with several people that hike your pace. So it will come naturally to end up with a hiking partner very early in your hike. You may have several as you move northbound, but generally each will hike about the same pace as you hike. One of the most stressing problems is trying to hike with someone that has a different pace than you do. You will either be waiting on them all the time, or you will always be trying to keep up with them, and in both cases the stress will get to you and them before long and both of you will be miserable. To me this is the most important part of hiking is to hike your own hike.
Hope this will help in some small way....

Ed (Never Alone)AT99

PS.... Also check out ATC website..

10-22-2002, 06:22
You can check out an online guide book from the following website, which will give you distances to shelters and other information. A lot of information can be found on this site as well. Good luck..

Also even though it is not completed, Wingfoot's site also has or will have a lot of information concerning the AT. Check it out at this address -

Hope this will give you some ideas of what to expect and start planning.


10-22-2002, 07:35
How do you get started planning a thru-hike?

Well, I'd say that the first thing to do is to read someone's book on the trail (other than Bryson's).

Next, I started to plan out my tentative schedule. Then, for planning purposes, set some criteria, like I plan to stay at an established shelter or campsite every night, I want to take one day off every week, I want to take extra time off to see certain sites. Now, making a realistic accessment of your abilities, pick some criteria for daily mileage, like maybe I want to hike around 15 miles per day.

Then, using the data book, make a preliminary schedule for your hike. Figure out where you plan to stay every night. (do it in pencil, because it's going to get revised many times before yo start.)

Now, you can start to pick resupply points. Read Wingfoot or the Companion and figure out where the best places (towns) are for you to resupply. Highlight these places on your schedule.

Once you have a first draft done, set it aside for a while. Then go back to it and start checking it. Does the mileage each week look reasonable? If not, then adjust accordingly. Have you planned to stay in those "must stay" places? Have you gone slow enough at the start? and picked up the pace afterwards? Have you slowed enough for the White Mountains, etc.

How many days between each resupply place? Too many days and your pack will be very heavy. Too few days, and you will be going off trail often.

As you get answers, refine your plan again and again.

Now, understand that once on the trail, your actual schedule will probably be completely different. However, the tentative schedule is a baseline schedule and it lets others know when you expect to be where. And it's easy for people to adjust this baseline schdule once they know that you are a day or days ahead of schedule or behing schedule.

SGT Rock
10-22-2002, 08:21
My name is SGT Rock, and I'm a thru-hiker wannabe.

Hi guys...

What I have done so far to prepare - veterans, please give me pointers if I'm missing something.

1. Decided a packing list. Using exsisting gear, looking into catologes like campmor and REI. Asked questions on the internet on places just like this.

2. Did shake down hikes. Picked nasty weather and terrain to test in. Snow, rain, mountains, long dry ridges.

3. Changed packing list. Looked into building stuff I figured I needed but wasn't offered.

4. Repeat 1-3 about 4 times.

5. Do some research about mail drops and planing guides. There are a lot of good sources from real hikers, two way feedback was important. That way I could find people with a similar hiking style to mine and emulate what they used or reccomended. There are thousands of ways to hike and what one thru-hiker did isn't the same for another. So find people that hike/think like you and pick their minds.

6. Do another shake down hike using mail dops and a thru-hiking guide. Found out what the bugs were and how too little/much info is in some of those guides.

7. Made a tentative plan for daily travel including mail drops. I figured about the first week was solid, after that the plan is just for general scheduling purposes.

8. Do another shake down hike. They are fun! See if I could stick to the start milage and make the re-supply system work.

9. Post my plan on the internet including mail drops, packing list, and menu. This gets me a lot of feedback from hikers, even non-AT thru hikers that have new questions and think I've figured it out. sometimes they get me to thnking about things I never worried about.

10. Recived even more feedback. Hikers love to talk about their hikes :D

11. Change plan. This time I presented it to my wife with my retirement plan to show her how I could do it and we could afford it.

12. Do another shakedown hike. Take my kids and others along. I don't know exactly how this helped me, but it did.

13. Awaiting more feedback...

14. Planning more shakedown hikes...

And lastly, I hope this statment is true, I learned that I could have made it even without a ton of planning, it would have just taken me some trail time to figure out the same stuff.

The benifit I have now is time. I can play with my hiking style, not just equipment. As someone once told me - it ain't your gear that gets you to Katahdin.

BTW, thanks to everone that has helped me out so far. 2007 for sure, 2004 with the grace of USAREC.

10-22-2002, 09:43
There are a lot of good sources from real hikers, two way feedback was important. That way I could find people with a similar hiking style to mine and emulate what they used or reccomended. There are thousands of ways to hike and what one thru-hiker did isn't the same for another. So find people that hike/think like you and pick their minds.

i just wanted to make it clear to potential thru hikers that its a great idea to go out and learn from others who have done it before. but its important not to just copy their hike. hike your own hike. sure there may be some things you will want to try that somone else has done or stop at certain places they recomend, just make sure its your hike, not theirs. youll have your own experiances on the trail you dont have to go searching out theirs.

oh and Rock, i wouldnt complain about the shake down hikes as being unecissary you still got to go out hikin! :cool: theres never too much planing cause theres always somthin you didnt think of.

10-22-2002, 12:08
SGT ROCK - "And lastly, I hope this statment is true, I learned that I could have made it even without a ton of planning, it would have just taken me some trail time to figure out the same stuff".

i also hope your statement is true (actually, i know it is), because my plan for 2003 is NO PLAN. for my 2000 hike, i did tons of planning and preparations. almost none of it worked out. my schedule was a farce. maildrops were a pain, since i found everything i needed in towns. my year long conditioning program wasn't quite right (it's impossible to simulate trail conditions in a gym and i live nowhere near mountains). however, i will say that i had a great bod! hehe. one thing that did work out was my gear selection and that was gleaned from actually hiking and from forums like this.

SGT, i can't imagine anyone being more prepared than you. you have nothing to worry about. hope you get to do it ASAP.

Jack Tarlin
10-22-2002, 13:34

There's a ton of great information available on the Internet; suggest you start with www.atconf.org; then try www.aldha.org

Within a day or two, I'll be posting (on this Forum) a complete list of what I think are the best internet resources presently available

Don't wish to throw gasoline on an already burning fire, but I must respectfully disagree with the poster that advised you to check out Trailplace. While there may well be some useful information on the site, the problems with the site, its philosophy, and its administration make it, in my opinion, a highly questionable and suspect resource. I think all of the info and useful material you'll find there is available elsewhere, and you won't have to deal with the idiosyncracies and petty tyrannies of the site, which posts only the views and thoughts of one person; that pretends to be an open, interactive site and is anything but; and stubbornly and childishly refuses to mention or recognize other valuable sites that might have the audacity and temerity to post opinions other than those espoused by Trailplace's creator. This site once had great value and potential. No longer, and I cannot in conscience recommend it to anyone planning a thru. The primary purpose of the site used to be educating folks on the world of thru-hiking; the primary purpose now is to attempt to position the site's creator as the be-all and end-all voice of the Appalachian Trail, and to self-promote the work and reputation of its creator. I no longer wish to be a part of this, which is why I no longer contribute to the site, or spend any time there. But if you wanna check it out, feel free.