View Full Version : Your Two Cents...

12-15-2011, 16:40
For those of you who have thru-hiked, done an extensive amount of hiking, or anything of the sort...I pose a question for any and all of you. If you could give just ONE piece of advice to someone about hiking, what would that singular piece of advice be? :-?

I'm sure we could all talk for ages and argue about all types of things, but I'm curious as to what everyone would choose to throw in as their two cents about hiking, especially thru-hiking the AT. :)

Big Guy
12-15-2011, 16:43
No a trhru hiker. Done some setions and like to hike.
My less tahn 2 cents:

Feral Bill
12-15-2011, 16:44
Cn any hike, start cartoonishly slow.

12-15-2011, 17:38
It's not a competition.

Faster, more miles, biggest pack, smallest pack, "purest" hike, longest hike, best equipment, oldest hiker, youngest hiker, smartest hiker, LNT royalty, most peaks bagged, most miles hiked, best shape, worst shape, stinkiest socks, whatever it is, the only thing you're up against is yourself.

Papa D
12-15-2011, 19:12
Wear shoes - not boots (unless snow is deeper than 3")

12-15-2011, 19:14
its the journey, not the destination

12-15-2011, 19:14
allow some flex in your schedule, and be prepared to give up a lot of control.

12-15-2011, 19:16
Don't do it unless you really love to walk.

12-15-2011, 19:58
learn to build a fire with a match before you ever leave home.

12-15-2011, 20:51
all this advice is no substitute for experience.

12-15-2011, 21:39
First - bring alot of money, you will benefit from having it (in particular not having to worry about not having enough money).

Second - embrace rhythm and momentum...they are your greatest assets. They are greater assets then things like zero's, hostels, and drinking beer.

Third - learn to accept rain, not attempt to avoid it, once you get past the fear of rain there are dozens of assets you can see with just one drawback, it's wet!

12-15-2011, 21:43
Your shoes are your most important piece of equipment. Take care of your feet.

12-15-2011, 21:48
learn all you can about the environment your traveling through,and let it sink in,It's quite wonderful.

Del Q
12-15-2011, 22:07
Good one,

1 thing huh?

Take less, to me, lighter and less is tons better.

12-15-2011, 22:59
Learn to become tolerant of discomfort...perhaps even learn to enjoy it.

12-15-2011, 23:05
You'll enjoy the hike more if you've attained at least a modicum of aerobic fitness beforehand.

12-16-2011, 00:27
Get plenty of rest after each day of hard hiking and bathe often or wash down with a Camelbak and Dr. Bronner's soap.

12-16-2011, 00:31
Relax and enjoy.

Different Socks
12-16-2011, 00:32
My advice? Just get out there and do it. Any trail, any where, any length, any weather, any age, any terrain.....no more excuses not to do it!!

12-16-2011, 07:07
We are getting a lot more advice than just 2 worth. Keep it coming folks!

Rocket Jones
12-16-2011, 07:43
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."
-- H.S. Thompson. ;)

12-16-2011, 08:08
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."
-- H.S. Thompson. ;)

Words to live by... BTW... Don't forget ur dog...

12-16-2011, 09:14
Hike the Trail, not your expectations.


12-16-2011, 09:17
allow yourself to find your own comfort zone and stick with it. trying to keep up with another hikers schedule could turn your hike into nothing more than traveling from point A to point B each day without the chance to enjoy the experience.

12-16-2011, 09:32
Get your head on straight before you take off. Don't expect the trail to do it for you.

12-16-2011, 09:44
Try to camp so your morning starts out as an easy hike. I really hate starting my day off with a monstrous climb. At the end of the day, even if I'm very tired I almost always make a climb to get it out of the way so I don't have to start with it in the morning.

Bonus tip: It's a lot easier to talk about hiking that it is to hike. :)

12-16-2011, 11:08
make you hike more about the views and less about the miles

12-16-2011, 11:12
Make sure you always label yourself a thru-hiker. Your sense of self-worth goes up 10 points.

12-16-2011, 15:01
again, hike your own hike. i didn't "get" this until almost a month into my thru, even tho i read it hundreds of times here. now i live by it. even got the tat on my forearm so i get to see it every day - i have a really bad memory. probably due to stuff i did when i was younger. :)


12-16-2011, 15:24
Take your son or daughter with you as soon as they are physically ready. Step 2: Savor Every minute with them and let them teach you what it is really about.

12-16-2011, 15:49
Since the OP is from Pa. (and this is for the whole Appalachian Mountain chain).

Forget about staying dry (if you're out for an extended period). Sorry, I've gotta add one more thing:

The only thing you own that is waterproof and breathable is your skin. :D

12-16-2011, 17:44
Don't ask hikers for their two cents. Generally they'll come up half a cent short.

12-16-2011, 18:50
The best advice is to ponder this question- Who are you?

mountain squid
12-16-2011, 19:02

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

bamboo bob
12-16-2011, 19:06
Hikers have horrible memories so don't ask them questions like, Am I near the top? Or how far is the next water or shelter? They'll tell you, "your almost at the top" or "the shelter is a half hour away" or "one mile to a spring" but the truth is THEY HAVE NO IDEA !. They already forget because they are spaced out as they walk. AN hour ago? two hours ago? Who knows!

Jim Adams
12-16-2011, 19:13
Go slow enough to not hurt yourself and check out EVERY view, waterfall, creek, flowers, wildlife, side trail, swimming hole, waterslide, incredible lunch spot and new friends that you can find....if not you may as well just be outside on a treadmill.


12-16-2011, 19:14
For those of you who have thru-hiked, done an extensive amount of hiking, or anything of the sort...I pose a question for any and all of you. If you could give just ONE piece of advice to someone about hiking, what would that singular piece of advice be? :-?

I'm sure we could all talk for ages and argue about all types of things, but I'm curious as to what everyone would choose to throw in as their two cents about hiking, especially thru-hiking the AT. :)

Don't complicate hiking. Don't complicate your gear. It ain't rocket science. Keep it simple. I realize this is an undertaking, since man likes to complicate everything he puts his hand to. Most folks on this site would much rather read a page long recitation than to believe and apply a simple solution that actually works.

12-17-2011, 22:27
Take photos of people you meet along the Trail -- those photos will be valuable to you later when you relive your hike.


12-17-2011, 22:33
I think that in general the things that people are afraid or worried about are the wrong things. Cities are dangerous; if you're sensible, the outdoors can be a pretty darned safe place in general.
As someone else mentioned earlier about HYOH, however, I think this is something that one can understand --- in an intellectual way --- without "getting it" in their gut.

12-18-2011, 00:03
Take care of your feet and they will get you where you want to go.

12-18-2011, 08:49
make out a daily journal. you will be able to relive your hike at any time by going thru the journal later on in life. you can bring back supressed memories by reading thru it...

12-18-2011, 08:55
I am relatively new to hiking and got a lot of blisters the first few times out. Then, someone told me to buy my hiking shoes big. I went up a full size and a half width and haven't had a single blister since. Might not work for everyone, but that tip was huge for me.

12-18-2011, 20:30
I think the best advice about the AT I ever got was from Lone Wolf - "believe half of what you see and none of what you hear"

12-18-2011, 21:14
It's more head than heel.

12-18-2011, 21:43
stretch morning and night - PF sucks and stretching helps prevent it

make sure shoes are wider than you think you need - Morton's neuroma really sucks

12-18-2011, 23:36
Get a good sleeping pad

12-19-2011, 11:54
A long distance hike will aford you many memories. Keep a journal and take picturs. These will become memories of a lifetime.

12-28-2011, 14:32
Wake up early enough the watch the sun rise, take a moment to watch the sun set, and never pass up an opportunity to sleep under the stars.

Wise Old Owl
12-28-2011, 14:48
Easy "Be prepared to get lost & know how to get yourself out."

Love Bamboo Bob's Post!

and yea - as you get more acquainted with hiking - see a podiatrist. (Take care of your feet)

12-28-2011, 14:57
Carrry whatever YOU want to carry. You have to carry it, no one else. You'll know if it isn't working and you need to make a change.

12-28-2011, 16:31
get comfortable with being uncomfortable

12-28-2011, 16:39
Your hike will be whatever you make of it.

12-28-2011, 16:59
Dont LITTER! ...no really....

but my best advice based on years on the trail(s)....

I preach it and do my best to live it... ENJOY each day for what it is. If you are happy with who you are and what you are doing things like where you are and the weather don't matter so much. Maybe if I did the same trail year after year I'd tire of it, but hopefully I'll never become bored with being fortunate enough to be able to live the life that is the trail.

12-28-2011, 16:59
For God's sakes, keep a daily journal. Definitely my biggest regret.

Avoid sleeping in shelters when possible.

Don't become obsessed with your mileage--when you get to a beautiful spot, throw up your tent and enjoy. That's what you're there for.

Whatever you do, DO NOT pass up the Chinese buffet in Waynesboro, VA. You'll hear how good it was all the way to Katahdin.

12-28-2011, 17:46
I highly echo SwitchbackVT's comment about the Chinese buffet in Waynesboro --- I think this was called Ming's. Screw gear discussion and the like, this is the sort of thing you'll be thinking about and talking about on a thru-hike!

NOT to argue, but just to observe how different people come to different conclusions, Hog On Ice said:

"stretch morning and night - PF sucks and stretching helps prevent it
make sure shoes are wider than you think you need - Morton's neuroma really sucks "

I was struck by how much my own opinion varied on both of these points, which is a good thing to keep in mind about this sort of feedback --- only after a person has hiked for a distance will they know how well a particular piece of advice applies to them.

I never stretched on a thru-hike, nor did I ever see any other thru-hikers stretch. It sounds like a "good thing" in theory, I'm just saying that from what I've observed it doesn't happen. And no bad results seem to follow.

I certainly DO agree on getting wide shoes. When a manufacturer inevitably changes the toe width on a particular shoe model or discontinues that model, it's always a real PITA for me to find a shoe that works for me as a replacement. But this is because I have bunionettes (little toe side bunions). If shoe width is a factor in getting Morton's Neuroma, I'm unaware of it, and I had surgery for M.N. just before I hiked the AT. They cut out about an inch of nerve that was permanently damaged from hiking the PCT. And I wore wide shoes that didn't bother my bunionettes on the PCT, hence I don't think that shoe width is much of a factor for this particular issue.
My own suspicion is that while some are like me in needing a wide toe box in a shoe, others might not be. Feet are complicated, you have to listen to your body and figure out what works best for you. But certainly sizing up and looking for a shoe with a fairly wide toe box are good rules of thumb to start with, so no disagreement there (!)

12-28-2011, 18:10
Especially related to thru-hiking? Don't go off without "putting your house in order" first. You'll be returning to it - and likely sooner than you think. You may return a somewhat different person, but nothing else will have changed.

12-29-2011, 00:37
I am not a thru hiker--but I have well-over 30 years of hiking experience. Two tips:

1) Safety. Safety. Safety. (Don't take unnecessary risks and always carry the proper equipment, clothing and knowledge for the particular hike). Being lost, sick, injured or dead can ruin an otherwise good hike! You don't want to be that lost or injured hiker that we hear about in the news.

2) Don't push your body so hard that it "breaks down". If you feel that you can hike 20 miles--hike only 10-15 miles instead. Take time for proper nutrition and sleep. (Consume more calories, drink more fluids and sleep more hours than you think you need). Take days off ("Zero days") so that your bones, muscles and joints can "rebuild" and "repair". Your body is your most important piece of hiking equipment--take good care of it!

Miami Joe
12-29-2011, 02:22
Don't wipe with poison ivy.

Fat Man Walking
01-16-2012, 23:33
was in 2010 with a guy named Boomer 007 from down under. He said: "The trail will find what ever your weakness is where ever it is and exploit it." I felt that was so true.

The thing I would says is to plan for this and learn not to give in to it. Been sectioning since 2000 and have given in a couple of times. Kicked myself for a year until I could get back to the Trail.

It really is true that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. When I can accept and embrace the fact that I am in a learning process, I usually become much more in-tune to my environment and turn a great experience into an exceptional experience.

Can't wait to get back to the Trail again this summer.

01-17-2012, 00:09
It's more head than heel.

This the source of that statement, as far as I know. I read about her at least 20 years ago. One of the true trail legends and one of the first ultralighters:,34fe66bc&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=QbgRxvP1EOTJOQ21ReTIJg--