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A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
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  1. #1

    Default I Stopped Doing This

    I have stopped researching trail prior to hiking it and it has tremendously improved my experience on trail. Previously while completing my AT section hike from GA to ME I would gather all possible info and data about the section I was about to set out on and unfortunately it took me about 1800 miles to learn that I was ruining a lot of the fun of the hike. I would saturate my brain with every climb, camp spot, mileages, towns, weather for the wear, what the road crossings looked like...EVERYTHING!! And I was hardly ever surprised upon finding what I had researched to death prior to the trip.

    Lets go ahead and disclaim an aspect of "planning". I am in no way saying I do not do the research needed to plan accordingly as far as what gear I will need and possible permits/ closures. The type of planning I am describing is "planning my fears". I have been chipping away at the Sheltowee Trace this year and have set out on the 3 trips so far knowing my start and stop locations and overall mileage for the trip - and that's pretty much it. The payoff has been a new sense of adventure and my brain staying more stimulated during the trek.

    I am still a user of guthooks but have stopped downloading the photos
    Planning to Prepare vs Planning out of Fear...
    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 01-28-2021 at 15:02.
    Trail Miles: 4,317.5 - AT Trips: 72
    AT Map 1: 2193.1 Complete 2013-2021
    AT Map 2: 270.2
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 148.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Default

    Wow! Well said. I completely agree. Quit over-planning and just go outside and do it.

    Some of my greatest joys have been managing the unexpected, sometimes awkwardly and with a bit of fear, but always with great stories afterwards.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  3. #3

    Default

    I concur, cant believe all these apps and updated guides and yadda yadda,, jeesh people.
    Reminds me of video game walk through guides that describe each and every step

  4. #4
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    So you've decided to work on your OCD as a new years resolution that's awesome !!

    But seriously I agree 100 % . I've done this as well and try not to, it's nice leaving some surprises.

  5. #5
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    Reminds me of something Nimblewill Nomad said in his book about halfway thru his epic IAT trek. He quit looking at his elevation profile just so it would always be a surprise to him.
    I am the same as you--probably overplan my section hikes, but I have not yet been able to shake the habit.

  6. #6
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    Default

    One clever bit of advice I have seen posted here a few times seems to align with this philosophy:

    Write out a detailed day-by-day plan for your hike on notebook paper and then use it as firestarter on your first night.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Beats planning out every trail bar, cell ph reception dead zones, and water stop pre 2000 mile hike. Let the good times roll. Won't you let the good times roll.

  8. #8

    Default

    I like this.

    Harkens back to many trips in the winter Whites before cellphones and GPS and internet availability of the most minuscule data points. Had topo maps and compass (and the skill to use them) and a weather forecast. Rescue plan was self-extraction, or in a real SHTF situation to send somebody out to summon help.

    Definitely learned a lot things that still serve us well to this day. The most important of which is knowing when it's time to turn back.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  9. #9

    Default

    Reminds me of my first LASH hikes on the AT back in AT8 and AT9, (1988 and 1989) all I had for info was the ATC Data Book. It simply listed the mileage between shelters and roads. The town information was sparse. For example,

    VA28 PEARSIBURG, VA P.O. 24134....R,G,L,M
    (P.O., G,M 1m E. R,L 2m E)

    Then when you got there, you wandered around looking for the R, G, L and M. I didn't carry any maps as the maps at the time were pretty much useless. I did carry a state road map for VA, mostly to mark my progress through the state. It definitely added to the adventure of discovery.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  10. #10
    Registered User foodbag's Avatar
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    Default

    Technology is a great enabler, and also a thief when it comes to stealing the mystery from things. In 1999 I went out with just a Wingfoot guidebook and somehow everything worked out. Come to think of it, everything seemed to work out in "the old days". However, I am posting this message with ease from my very first smartphone. I think I'll keep it....
    Long-distance aspirations with short-distance feet.... :jump

  11. #11

    Default

    I remember the debates regarding Wingfoots guides as they were far more detailed then the data book or the Philosphers Guide. He actually cut back some of his descriptions of trail magic spots as the people who were doing it were being overwhelmed.

    There have been debates when the first thru hiker will die walking off a cliff while reading their cell phones detailed route instructions

    Then again Avery who was editor of the first several editions of the AT guide to Maine was accused of given to much information but given that the trail mostly existed on private land subject to logging there was not a lot of choice to give a lot of detail.

  12. #12
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    A couple of the people who responded to this thread are the very same people that enable those that over plan. A bit ironic...
    Lonehiker

  13. #13
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    Default

    When it comes to backpacking the AT, I've done just about everything wrong. I don't have a cellphone/smartphone. No GPS or Guthooks. No ear buds or electronic entertainment. I use an external frame pack and a single, worn hiking stick (durable dogwood). To this point, all my trips have been in summer or autumn and in the South, where the only trail magic I've encountered was a plastic bag full of fresh garden vegetables hanging on a tree near Iron Mountain Gap in Tennessee (for trail magic, a big cucumber and a pepper are...not as exciting as a burger and cold drink). I carry a book to read (I somehow lost my copy of Alistair MacLean's Ice Station Zebra at the end of my last trip, somewhere near Bland, VA). I carry the ATC trail book and elevation profile for the section I'm hiking and love reading it prior to every trip...but, as the military says, "No plan survives contact with the enemy" (IE, a hiking plan generally goes out the window on day 1). I sure do enjoy backpacking this way and don't plan to change anything, though there are times when a phone (to arrange shuttles) and Guthooks (where's a good tent site?) would certainly be convenient. I concur with Gambit's thinking.

  14. #14
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    A couple of the people who responded to this thread are the very same people that enable those that over plan. A bit ironic...
    That could apply to this entire site!

    I try to keep my "planning" to using a map and being confident I have enough time and food to make it from point a to point b. Unfortunately, if somebody is going to pick you up at point b at a certain time, there is some planning necessary to be sure you're there on time.

  15. #15
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    I mentioned this several years ago that it seems like some of the adventure has been been eliminated by all the detailed information available today. Forty-five years ago all we had was the Mileage Facts publication. The trail was being relocated all the time in the quest for protection you often didn't know what to expect.
    More walking, less talking.

  16. #16
    Is it raining yet?
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    Default

    I like surprises, but I also get upset when I miss a historical point of interest or a side trail overlook b/c I didn't read the ATC guidebook for that section....
    Be Prepared

  17. #17
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    Default

    Go to Google Books and search for
    "Backpacker Magazine February 1991"

    https://books.google.com/books?id=me...201991&f=false

    Once you find that issue, look for the article "The Case for Primeval Wilderness" by Dave Foreman.

    He argues that there should be some wild places that are left unmapped so that we can encounter them on their own terms.

    I'm not recommending this approach necessarily, but the essay is well worth reading and considering.

  18. #18

    Default

    Two thumbs up, Gambit. Great perspective.
    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change". Charles Darwin

  19. #19
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinnah View Post
    He argues that there should be some wild places that are left unmapped so that we can encounter them on their own terms.
    might be too late for that already, but you don't have to go far to find places that are untrailed

  20. #20
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    Default

    I for one agree with the old military axiom "Plans are useless; planning is invaluable".
    I actually get almost as much fun out of planning a section hike as I do the actual hike. But like a previous poster said, no plan survives first contact with the enemy (unplanned events). So I plan to continue to vicariously hike at my desk/computer and hopefully follow it up with the actual one foot after the other . . .

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