View Full Version : Working on this puzzle; starting with the corners

02-21-2011, 01:10
Uh oh, I just realized I titled my post with a metaphor; how on Earth will people ever know what this thread is about! I guess they'll just have to keep reading.

Sorry bout that everyone; sometimes my sarcasm gets the better of me. Anyway, my name is Matt and I just wanted to introduce myself and add my name to the list of 2011 thru-hikers. I had thought of doing to the AT a couple of years ago or at least something similar, but the time never felt right and realistically I had put too much work into school to see it all go to waste. This January I started thinking about the trail again; this time with much more interest and conviction. The idea started as a seed in my mind, but in a short amount of time that seed has grown; and now I pretty much have beanstalks growin out of my ears lol!

Sticking with my original metaphor; I have begun to fill in the puzzle pieces to turn this idea into reality. I have taken the first major step and told my family of my plans. I got the same sort of response most of you probably got; essentially the same kind a response you get from a dog when you ask them a question and they just cock their head to the side in confusion. Though its still sinking in, I think overall they are supportive.

I still have a lot of things to work out, but I'm going to try not to be too rigid when it comes to planning. From everything I have read so far, most plans end up getting thrown out anyway. I do have a few things worked out such as an approximate start date (April 4th or 5th at Amicalola), some of the finances, and where to keep my few remaining possessions. Some of the things that still need to be worked out are: the rest of the financing, acquiring gear (I literally have none), and what I am going to do after the hike. That last one in particular is difficult, because a big reason why I am going in the first place is to try and figure out my next step to take in life.

Finally, even though you are all complete strangers, most of you probably want to know why I'm going. Not because you care about me personally, but because you enjoying learning about the various motivations which are behind people choosing to do something most people would think of as crazy. Essentially I am going because I feel both trapped and uncertain. Trapped, because I've been forced to accept menial jobs in spite of working very hard to earn my Bachelor's degree. And uncertain, because after seeing several promising career opportunities be pulled out from under me I now am at a point where I truly don't know what to do with the rest of my life. I KNOW that meeting people on the trail w/ similar experiences and interests will give me the much needed perspective I seek so that I can make the best decision when my thru-hike is over.

02-21-2011, 11:35
I wish you all the luck in the world. But having said that I think you need to do a lot of work in the next few weeks. Since you say you have no gear I take it that you also have little experiance. Get your finger on the search button and read, read, read. You haven't got a lot of time to get real life experiance but you do have time to do a lot of research. You can learn enough from this forum to get you out in relative safety. After that you will be learning as you go. I hope you'll keep us posted and again, I wish you the best.

02-21-2011, 17:24
Many people have shown up at Springer Mountain and started a thru-hike with no previous long distance hiking experience. For some of them, their first night on the trail was also their first night camping in the woods. Some of those folks have gone on to complete the whole trail. The key is to be flexible -- have a plan, but be willing to change it to accommodate the Trail. Your mental flexibility is much more important than your gear or your experience or even your physical condition.

One suggestion: read the Thruhiking Papers (http://www.spiriteaglehome.com/THP_top.html). I think they'll help you on a number of levels. You might also enjoy this trail journal (http://skwc.com/exile/Hail-nf.html) from a while back.

Good luck, stay flexible, and enjoy the experience.

02-22-2011, 01:49
Thank you both for the replies and the encouragement. I have already begun reading as much as I can to get ready; so thank you for the links. I'm sure they will prove helpful. You’re right, I have no experience with long distance hiking, but I'm not going to let that stop me. I do have one thing that too many people these days lack, and that is common sense. I also I have some survival knowledge thanks to a great teacher back in high school who taught his very own survival class.

I am planning a 3 day hike near the end of March so I can break in my gear and work out any kinks. I realize that its cutting it close, but I'd rather do that than get out there with brand new gear to which I am not accustomed. I read on here that the black creek trail in the Desoto national forest is open now; if that is true then that is where I'm going. Sure it's nothing compared to the terrain I'll face on the AT, but it'll at least get me acquainted with hiking long distances and its close enough to Biloxi to do it over a weekend.

02-22-2011, 03:38
Good luck. Don't know how much "perspective" can be gained from thru hikers.

02-22-2011, 09:30
When it comes to buying gear, you'll find a lot of opinions, but when you look inside the packs of long distance hikers, you find a remarkably similar gear set. Much of that gear and clothing is not available at local outfitter shops, nor (especially) big box sporting goods stores.

You might start with this list (http://www.backpacker.com/november_08_pack_man_/articles/12659?page=4), from the Backpacker magazine article on Neels Gap. It's a pretty good synthesis of the generic contents of a LD hikers pack. I don't agree with all of it (for example, I hate drinking bladders and just carry 2 1-liter soda bottles), but it's a decent start.

If you want, I can PM you with a basic list that I put together for another aspiring thru-hiker. It has some brand and model suggestions, which might help. Let me know.

10-10-2012, 01:16
Thank you for your help.

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10-12-2012, 15:31
Nothing like resurrecting a 20 month old thread for a thank you :)

10-30-2012, 18:53
i wish i had all the money back that i spent on gear " that i thought i needed" when my gear set up now is so simple... less crap=lighter pack....my first pack weighed 5.5# now my sleeping bag. pad. tent and pack is less than 7.5#...hind sight is 20/20... only way to figure it out is get out and use it