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  1. #161

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    Datto's AT Thru-hiking Tip 49 for 2017 AT Thru-hikers In-Planning

    49) What are the greatest benefits from thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail?

    None of these top benefits listed below are useful at all for convincing a dweeb in Human Resources why you should be given a leave-of-absence at work. None will likely be beneficial even for convincing a spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend why it's best for you to start an AT thru-hike.

    Instead, each is only a (powerful) individualistic benefit from an AT thru-hike. Those benefits may (or not) trickle down to others but mainly it's a direct benefit only to you.

    a) Your legs will be ripped when you complete your AT thru-hike. If you're using hiking poles on your AT thru-hike, your forearms will also likelyy be ripped. If you're a man who started an AT thru-hike overweight, you will likelyy be pleasantly trim and fit when you complete your AT thru-hike. Others back home may have a few seconds of contemplation before recognizing you when greeting friends and relatives after your AT thru-hike. Women won't likely lose near the weight that a man will lose on an AT thru-hike but women will also likely be completely fit. Now, remaining trim and fit after completing an AT thru-hike, heh, that's an entirely different story. This is paricularly so when you take into account the gargantuan appetite you've acquired along the way when you return back home after completing an AT thru-hike. Also, when you're returing back home, you're going to want to go hiking and be outdoors as a means to stay in shape rather than going to a gym -- a gym may seem so Societal to you right after completion of your AT thru-hike.

    b) For a northbounder, when you enter Maine and are heading toward Katahdin on the horizon you will likely have acquired an outrageous level of self-confidence. Not the "I am cool" type of confidence -- rather the kind of quiet self-confidence giving you the long-term viewpoint that after this, you can do anything with your life, you can surmount any obstacle from this point forward.

    c) You will discover, first hand, that people who are given a choice will choose good. If you've come to the AT from a hostile environment (corporate, military, family, marital environment for instance), your faith in humanity will be renewed and refreshed. You'll discover we're not all going to Hell in a handbasket tomorrow like that portrayed for the masses on CNN .

    d) You will know, first hand, the great benefits of Incrementalism. This is a most valuable concept where you realize great goals in life can be achieved with small, incremental, everyday effort. You start out reaching for a sizeable goal and the next thing you know, you're entering Maine.


    Datto

  2. #162

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    Datto's AT Thru-hiking Tip 50 for 2017 AT Thru-hikers In-Planning

    50) This is the guarantee.

    In 2017, if you will carry your full backpack past every blaze on your AT thru-hike I guarantee if you live to be 70, you will still think your AT thru-hike is one of the best things you've ever done in your entire life.


    Datto

  3. #163
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Last year, there was an illness outbreak along the AT in NH and ME and it was blamed on the water. My GF and I hiked the AT in Maine and NH and we didn't get sick, so its not the water.

  4. #164

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    When I was in the preparing phase for my northbound AT thru-hike I was looking for information as fast as I could get it.

    So I'd joined an Appalachian Trail mailing list. A very busy mailing list -- almost completely unmoderated -- with three or four posts coming in per minute.

    Great. I was used to taking on firehose-level information in my career so this was great for learning about an AT thru-hike.

    Give me all you can give me and I'll decipher it in my head as it comes in.

    What was great for me was many of the past AT thru-hikers were active on the mailing list.

    Excellent! Just what I'd needed. People who had done this before, get their advice and opinion and I'd be ready to go.

    About twenty percent of the people who were on this Appalachian Trail mailing list were certified comedians. You couldn't miss your fix with the mailing list when you were wasting your life away with working some pissant job. That mailing list was the highlight of your day. It had allowed me to put up with all the things that had happened in my existance in corporate life. No matter how bad things got in your work life, you always had the Appalachian Trail mailing list to show you the Real World and get you laughing out loud every day.

    After my AT thru-hike I'd still stayed active on that mailing list.

    One day a thread was started on the mailing list with the subject of not being able to sleep at night during a long-distance hike.

    Many posts happened explaining about the benefits of Excedrin PM and similar things, including meditation and filling your stomach with the evening meal to get you sleepy. Lots of suggestions on how to handle the problem of not being sleepy when getting into your sleeping bag at night.

    Then a woman responded saying when she couldn't sleep at night she would masturbate in her tent to help her relax. That would help her get to the point where she could relax and sleep at night on a long-distance hike.

    Her response had stopped that unmoderated mailing list in its tracks for fourty-five minutes. No kidding.

    I, as well as I'm sure hundreds of others, had hit the Reply button, starring into the quoted blank screen, not being able to think of anything that could be said that would have topped that response.

    Finally, one of the certified commedians responded saying, "I guess that would work."

    I'd busted out laughing in my cubicle.


    Datto

  5. #165

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    Quote Originally Posted by Datto View Post
    47) If you're a planner-type, I'm convinced properly addressing these three things put you into the top 30% of chances for finishing.

    b) If you want to become more prepared during the next 12 months before you start your AT thru-hike, you should focus effort on getting your finances in-order.
    An interesting article about the cost of chasing the American Dream -- the short version is here (which includes a link to the full article):

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wer...eam-2016-04-27


    Datto

  6. #166
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    Datto, your AT journal is one of my all time favorites, & I read a lot of them.

  7. #167

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    Quote Originally Posted by JumpMaster Blaster View Post
    You are absolutely hilarious!
    Thanks.

    By the way, that bon vivant stank from thru-hikers -- on the Trail that's called Chanel No. 2.


    Datto

  8. #168

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    Seperating a northbound AT thru-hike into smaller milestones for manageability

    AT Northbounder Psycological Milestones:

    * Springer Mountain, GA to Damascus, VA
    * Damascus, VA to Harpers Ferry, WV
    * Harpers Ferry, WV to Hanover, NH
    * Hanover, NH to Katahdin, ME


    AT Northbouder Cost Milestones

    * Springer Mountain, GA to Southern Connecticut State Line
    * Southern Connecticut State Line to Katahdin, ME (the expensive portion - you may need half your money for this part)


    AT Northbounder Terrain/Treadway Milestones

    * Springer Mountain, GA to Waynesboro, VA
    * Waynesboro, VA to Duncannon, PA (you should cruise this section)
    * Duncannon, PA to Hanover, NH
    * Hanover, NH to Katahdin, ME


    AT Northbounder Even Smaller Chunks (front-end milestone smaller chunks for northbound AT thru-hikers):

    The Beginning Chunk
    * Springer Mountain, GA to North Carolina Border (your first state completed at/near the gnarly NC border tree)
    * North Carolina Border to Fontana Dam (Fontana Dam = entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park)
    * Fontana Dam to Hot Springs, NC (Hot Springs is such a nice town I took 2 zeros here)
    * Hot Springs, NC to Damascus, VA (if you've timed your start, you hike in for Trail Days weekend)

    Virginia Chunk (~1/4 of AT)
    * Damascus, VA to Wayneboro, VA (Waynesboro = the start of Shenandoah Nat'l Park)
    * Waynesboro, VA to Harpers Ferry, WV (Harpers Ferry = the ~1,000 point -- you should cruise this part)

    The Easiest Chunk
    * Harpers Ferry, WV, to Duncannon, PA (you should radically cruise this part)

    The Middle North Chun
    * Duncannon, PA to Hanover, NH (Hanover, NH is the start of the White Mountains)

    The White Mountains and Maine Chunk (the toughest part of the AT)
    * Hanover, NH to Katahdin, ME


    Datto

  9. #169

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    Flip-flopping for Northbounders:

    If you've left Sprnger Mountain, GA heading north prior to April 15, then you'll need to be leaving Harpers Ferry, WV heading northbound on or before July 1st or you risk not being able to continue north and reach Katahdin before weather gets too bad. Some northbounders have, in the past, waited at Millinocket, ME for weeks into November in order to find a good enough weather day to summit Katahdin but I wouldn't count on that happening for you. Instead, you should seriously consider flipping up to Katahdin and hike south back to Harpers Ferry, WV to complete your hike. Reason: with a flip-flop hike, you have to be able to get to

  10. #170

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    Katahdin and then back south through the White Mountains (and even more south than that) before the bad weao ther hits or you'll be screwed.

    I would only use a flip-flop hike as a fall-back approach to thru-hiking the AT -- Reasons:

    a) you'll have discontinuity in your hike if you flip and you won't want that -- so flipping is only a fall-back plan if you're too slow to make it north out of Harpers Ferry by July 1st

    b) you'll have more expense in doing a flip-flop hike (more transport costs)

    c) if you're too late in the Springtime to start north from Springer Mountain, GA then it would be better for you to be a southbounder and start at Katahdin in order to have a continuous hike rather than racing north (what a waste that would be to race yourself on the AT -- an AT thru-hike is something to savor, not to race through as an item on a to-do list).


    Datto

  11. #171

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    If you are in any way uncomfortable being around people not fashioned from your same mold, you are in luck.

    A thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail is the most effective diversity training you'll ever experience.


    Datto

  12. #172

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    Backpack cover for traditional backpacks

    If you're using a traditional backpack (has built-in struts or built-in back panel support, side pockets, made of something other than silnylon) you're probably going to need a backpack cover for your AT thru-hike.

    The purpose of the backpack cover is to keep most water from penetrating your backpack and soaking all the contents (a small amount of moisture will get into your backpack regardless of how careful you are). Otherwise, without a backpack cover a traditional backpack will get waterlogged and weigh like an anvil. You'll be hiking in the rain much of the time on your AT thru-hike, particularly in the beginning of a northbound AT thru-hike.

    You'll want to get a silnylon backpack cover (weighs less than 2 ounces) rather than any of the heavy duty backpack covers made by your backpack manufacturer (those may be too heavy). You'll want to seam seal the sewn seams on your backpack cover. If you're handy with a sewing machine (or know someone who is) you can make your own.

    Don't bother with using a trash bag for a backpack cover -- even the industrial strength trash bags will get ripped and gashed by the shubbery adjacent to the Trail (although that look would certainly add to the panache you're trying to achieve). Plus, you won't have to deal with resupply of industrial strength trash bags.


    Datto

  13. #173

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    One item to consider putting into your backpack, particularly if you are starting northbound on your AT thru-hike during March, is a mylar sleeping bag. I use the ones from Amercan Science (they've held up the best for me).

    The Appalachain Trail can get very cold particularly in early Spring and during September/October. A mylar sleeping bag can help you stay on the Trail for a night or two of very cold weather while still making northbound progress during the daytime. This versus having to head to town and stay in a motel until the very cold weather goes away. The weight cost is about 4oz for the mylar sleeping bag.

    Here's how you use your mylar sleeping bag -- you put the mylar sleeping bag inside your regular sleeping bag and then heat up some boiling water. The boiling water goes into your drinking bottles (Gatorade bottles for instance) and those bottles then go into your mylar sleeping bag with your body. The heat from the hot water bottles gets you very warm while the mylar sleeping bag protects your regular sleeping bag from getting soaked from the ensuing condensation. This allows you to get good sleep at night even during very cold weather while sleeping in an AT shelter (or sleeping inside your tent for that matter). The downside is your body is covered with moisture in the morning from the condensation (it'll dry off rather quickly once you get hiking and that body of yours starts throwing off excess heat from carrying that backpack).

    Make sure you don't put your regular sleeping back inside the mylar sleeping bag -- that would be a bad thing since your sleeping bag will get soaked from the condensation.

    For me, this is called my "Hot Pocket" setup and I've used this setup about 30-40 times in my hiking travels (including when I got marooned for days in a Maine blizzard during my northbound AT thru-hike).


    Datto

  14. #174

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    One of the things you can do when on your pre-hike prep hikes is to get your backpack organized and items known where they're consistently located in your backpack. This is one of the reasons why it's important to always carry your full backpack (with all the contents you'd carry at the start of your AT thru-hike) when you're doing your pre-hike prep hikes.

    There may be quite a bit of frustration in finding things inside a backpack for a newly starting AT thru-hiker. That can cause lots of pack explosions in the beginning of your AT thru-hike -- and in the rain/snow. A pack explosion is when you remove all the items in your backpack onto the dirt or onto the shelter floor because you're looking for something and you can't find it. A better approach is to just memorize where things are always going to consistently be located within your backpack so you don't have to go looking for stuff. That takes away some of the frustration.

    For instance, I always know my Deet, bug headnet and my tarp are located at the bottom of my right-hand bottle pocket of my pack while my tent stakes, Potable Aqua water treatment and backpack cover are always at the bottom of my left-hand bottle pocket of my backpack. My water bottles (Gatorade bottles) are also in each pocket to allow me to retrieve the bottles from the side pockets of my backpack without having to take off my backpack. I can set up the tarp at night (many times after dark) and get my stakes in place without having to open and sort through my backpack to get that done. Lots of relief when you're tired to know where stuff is located in your backpack after dark, particularly when it's raining/snowing in the evening or after dark.

    Since I use a standard backpack (not a silnylon featherweight backpack but a store-bought Granite Gear Vapor Trail backpack) I put my sleeping bag into the stuff sack it came delivered with and then put that into a trash bag. The trash bag then goes into the main compartment of my backpack first, pushed down to the very bottom of the backpack (I'm only planning to use my sleeping bag at night so it doesn't need to be readily available and goes into the bottom of my backpack). This helps me get out of bed in the morning since my sleeping back has to go into the backpack first and helps to stabilize the backpack upright so I can cram the rest of my stuff into the backpack. If I'm carrying a Neoair type sleeping pad that goes in upright on one side of the pack compartment. If I'm only using a RidgeRest then the RidgeRest is rolled up and attached on the outside of the backpack at the very end of the stuff process (center back of the outside of the backpack). This so I can use the RidgeRest as a sit/sleep pad during the daytime without having to dig through my pack to take a nap. I wouldn't use a Neoair as a sitpad -- too fragile and very expensive for that type of use. You'll need something to use as a sitpad since it'll be muddy where you'll want to sit down next to the Trail to take a break.

    I use a belt pouch on the front of my backpack for the location of my readily-available electronics (camera, music, phone if I'm carrying one, data book paper info if I'm carrying paper info). Also, I use ZipLoc bags for most everything that goes into my backpack.

    Another thing I do is before I get out of my sleeping bag to pack up and head out in the morning is to grab what I'm going to eat for breakfast (while hiking) -- that breakfast goes in a ZipLoc (with my headlamp and my Ibuprofen for the day and my Crystal Light drink mix for the day) and that ZipLoc goes into the front belt pouch. What I'm going to eat for lunch goes into a separate ZipLoc at the top of the main compartment of my backpack (since I'll be stopping for lunch and taking off my backpack) along separately with my rain gear at the top of my backpack if rain is expected and I'm not already wearing my raingear when I leave the shelter/tarp/tent.

    Since I should already have my maps/data book paper pages in my Front Belt Pouch, I put the unused paper/map pages into a ZipLoc and that goes in just above the sleeping bag along with my insulating coat (insulating coat goes into a ZipLoc since many times it will be soaked) also locate that insulating coat ZipLoc just above my sleeping bag.

    It's important for getting the best weight distribution in your backpack to have the heavy items (such as food) right up against your back at the shoulder blade level. If you put all your food at the very top of your backpack, that'll cause your backpack to sway back and forth too much. If you put your food out away from the surface of your back your backpack will likely pull away from your shoulders. Instead, keep your food ZipLocs/silnylon food bag right up against the surface of your back, preferably right at the shoulder blade level. Your backpack will likely ride much better.

    I keep a separate ZipLoc for technology items (spare batteries and the like) and a separate ZipLoc for first-aid/health items (toothbrush, blister treatment and the like). If I need to sit down and treat a new blister, I know I can find my first-aid bag in the middle of my backpack just above my sleeping bag. I can reach in, grab the first-aid bag blind, treat the blister and put the bag back in where it was before. I don't have to do an entire pack explosion just to find where my first-aid bag is located.

    This may all seem a mystery to you right now while you're sitting in your cozy living room. The value will start making sense to you as you do your pre-hike prep hikes and discover you can't find what you're looking for in your backpack.

    Once you're on your actual AT thru-hike and have carried your backpack for 1,000 miles, you'll already know all of this -- the value is in the beginning of your AT thru-hike when it's raining cats and dogs and you need to retrieve a particular something from your backpack. If you already have memorized where the contents of your backpack are supposed to be located, you'll avoid much of the frustration of finding items in your backpack in the rain/snow.

    In case you didn't know it already, Deet and standard mosquito repellant will corrode and trash all of your electronics and things that are metal. Even Deet vapor will trash electronics so you never want electronics anywhere close to your Deet. Even Deet on your hands will start to corrode electronics so you'll want to make sure you clean your hands of that Deet you just applied before you touch the knob on your earbud cord that changes the music volume.

    There's a good chance many of you will want to use insect repellant that is 100% Deet once you get a load of the size and the density of flying insects you'll encounter on your AT thru-hike. I don't even bother with anything that only has a portion of Deet in it -- if it's not 100% Deet, to me it's a waste of time and money (I know, I'll eventually glow in the dark). Note that many flying insects hone in on carbon dioxide which is what your nose and mouth will be making tons of while you're carrying that backpack up a mountainside. Use of 100% Deet disorients some of the flying insects (like mosquitoes) -- sometimes the bugs will still dive-bomb into your eyes, nose and teeth because they're so rabid for your blood. I did not encounter many biting flies on my northbound AT thru-hike (I have elsewhere and they are the nastiest biting insects) but southbounders may run into them in Maine.


    Datto

  15. #175

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    Don't ever put your sleeping bag into a compression sack in order to save cubage inside your backpack. A compression sack will eventually destroy the loft and thermal properties of even the best sleeping bags. Just use the stuff sack that came with your sleeping bag and accommodate the cubage of your sleeping bag accordingly.


    Datto

  16. #176

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    Don't get yourself involved in any GoFundMe effort in order to fund your AT thru-hike or anything else for that matter. It wll show up in even the most superficial of background checks when you try to get a job.


    Datto

  17. #177
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    You know what Datto? This has probably been the most insightful series of posts from one member I've seen in, um, ever. Seriously. I'm going to copy and paste all of this into one yuuuge document, print off, and probably take as reading material when I go out. This is seriously good stuff. Keep it comin'.
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep."

  18. #178
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    Quote Originally Posted by Datto View Post
    Don't get yourself involved in any GoFundMe effort in order to fund your AT thru-hike or anything else for that matter. It wll show up in even the most superficial of background checks when you try to get a job.


    Datto

    If you do it as a fundraiser for a non-profit, it could help your job hunt. Yes, it will show up, but you explain (BRIEFLY) in your cover letter. IOW, you fund your own hike, but ask others to contrible - cf. walkathons. I know a woman who did this, not AT but kayaking the rivers and coastal areas of England to raise money for Sea Shepherd. She paid or her own tour, but asked or $ via nautical miles, to be directly paid to SS.

    Fundraising doesn't have to always be regarded as a negative. I also plan to do an AT thru-hike as a fundraiser, but will first save up the $6,000 - $7,000 to take care of myself. Not one penny of my fundraising efforts will go to me and I will be providing a full accounting on GFM (or whatever site exists then) to each person who donated and to the general public along the way.
    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing​ and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. --Rumi

  19. #179
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    Just curious - why do you have a poem about death as your sig line? (or JumpMaster Blaster)
    Last edited by Miel; 05-12-2016 at 13:38. Reason: typo
    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing​ and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. --Rumi

  20. #180

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    I consider the Appalachian Trail to be beautiful.

    You will too.

    Well yes, in the traditional sense, Yes.

    There are The Cliffs as you enter northbound from Georgia into North Carolina, and McAfee Knob in Virginia, Lake of the Clouds in New Hampshire. Yes.

    Beautiful.

    It's the individualistic experiences that make the AT also beautiful.

    It is music. It is gorgeous. Rapturous.

    You can't just look at the Green Tunnel. Or the mud and the bugs.

    Those step aside.

    It is the rounding of a corner on the Trail and seeing an acre of yellow flowers. In the Smokys.

    That is truly beautiful.

    But It is beyond that. Beyond your imagination.

    Then you round a corner and see love .

    A 22 year old woman. She's picked up the water bottle that had jumped out, on its own, from my side pocket. Handing it over to me as a prize to explain your self-incompetence. Her eye on the 18 year old guy hanging off the North Carolina boundary tree from 20 feet above the Trail.

    You think to yourself "She's got the hots for that guy."

    He would go 0.5 down the steepest hillside you can imagine to get her water. I would witness her in tears from the steepness of the Trail. No matter. They, together, would continue northward.

    Yes, he would go down the steep hillside to get her water. No penalty assumed.

    I would do a full-blown Charleston dance into Hot Springs, NC as she sat in a bench resting across the other side of the road. That would get her a goin', laughing at my antics.

    She and I would do an elaborate song and dance at the front of a shelter filled with AT thru-hikers in Shenandoah National Park. To the tune of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head that I would sing out loud. Making the AT thru-hikers get to singing along with the antics.

    He would get oh so sick.

    She would comfort him like you would wish a loving woman would do for you.

    God, if you could find a loving woman like that.

    Well of course, they would get married after the Trail. They were made for each other.

    What did you expect?


    Datto

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