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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithjv View Post
    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 . . .
    I really like the way you word this. I still do the same. Hike from my desk lol but I do not ingrain the info for upcoming hikes so that there aren't surprises.
    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. #22

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    I have the opposite problem. Iím such a crappy planner, itís always a surprise when a hike goes smoothly.

    OTOH, itís taught me to be flexible and to make decisions on the fly...and to not get too bogged down in the details.

  3. #23
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    I would add that there are no off-trail waterfalls, views, hostels, AYCE’s or towns that are “must sees” on the AT.

  4. #24
    Registered User rmitchell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackcloud View Post
    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....
    ^^^this^^^

  5. #25

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    FWIW - To paraphrase an old adage "no plan provides any certainty beyond first contact". I have seen the effects of over planned hikers through the years, my guess is many here have also seen them. They appear to be on a train-like timetable schedule to the point where minutes count, as soon as they arrive at a view or feature they want to push on to the next point of interest in their plan, and the next, ad infinitum. Their pace is fast, their intent solely on the next feature in their plan. I have seen people in camp watching videos of the trail section they will do the following day, which to me makes little sense.

    I enjoy the serendipity that accompanies hiking and consider it to be part of the experience. Though I will do some some planning, it tends to be minimal like clothing needs, what shelter gear to bring, and determine resupply. More to the point, I typically carry a trail map (or topo map if no trail map is available) for basic navigation, get an idea where I can expect to find water, where legal camping areas are, or gauging resupply points.

    Beyond a simple level of planning I leave each day to present what that day wants to provide for adventure, challenges, misery, or surprises, preferring to be the guy who sees and photos the moose along a pond edge than being the guy who missed it trying to reach a waypoint.

  6. #26
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Yeah, I used to be an "over-planner", and I agree overall with that's it's nice and more satisfying just to let it flow a bit.

    However: what IS nice about planning is just the fact that it's a bit of fun to plan, even knowing that the grand plan will surely change radically.

    Detailed planning is a virtual preview of a big upcoming hike, especially this time of year when there are sooooooo many possibilities for relatively near term spring/summer long hikes. For example, I'm waffling right now between hitting the CDT this spring, or finally trying the Hayduke challenge. And, doing the Hayduke pretty much necessitates doing more planning than most hikes (water caches, etc).

    The next time I accompany my wife for a 500 mile LASH on the AT (she's got two ~500 miles sections to complete) we will do precisely zero planning, other than how to get to the starting trailhead. We won't even bother to plan the return logistics/flight.

    The bottom line, I agree overall that over-planning is silly, but still, it's a bit of fun.

  7. #27
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Another way to plan is to learn something more about the history, and natural history, on and along the Trail before heading out.

    From the Trail of Tears to Audie Murphy and Shaysí Rebellion, to veeries and white-throated sparrows and spruce grouse, to porcupine scat to Harpers Ferry and Earl Shaffer to Governor Baxter and to box turtles and the North Star plenty out there.

    I will be the first to admit that I hiked with blinders on to all that, and missed a lot (and a lot of context) as a result.

  8. #28
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Another way to plan is to learn something more about the history, and natural history, on and along the Trail before heading out.

    From the Trail of Tears to Audie Murphy and Shays’ Rebellion,
    In 08 I missed the Audie Murphy ceremony by about an hour. As I was walking up the road all these vehicles were going by me on what I thought was a closed road. I had no clue what was going on. Still got a little bit of trail magic though.
    Lonehiker

  9. #29
    Registered User Water Rat's Avatar
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    What works for one, doesn't necessarily work for all. Doesn't make it right, or wrong...it just means people do what works best for them, for their hike (in this instance).

    "Planning to Prepare vs Planning out of Fear" can be one and the same to the novice backpacker. They have questions, but don't yet have the experience and confidence to know they are planning to alleviate their fears. As one gains more experience and confidence with backpacking/their own backpacking needs, their planning style will evolve to suit what they need to make their trip enjoyable.

    One person's over-planning might just be another person's style of doing things. I like to know the history of places I go. I like to learn about the possibilities of things I can see/do along the way. Some think this is over-planning...or might take away from adventure. For me, my research tends to enhance my adventures, not take away from the adventure itself.

    It is all about perspective.


  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Another way to plan is to learn something more about the history, and natural history, on and along the Trail before heading out.

    From the Trail of Tears to Audie Murphy and Shaysí Rebellion, to veeries and white-throated sparrows and spruce grouse, to porcupine scat to Harpers Ferry and Earl Shaffer to Governor Baxter and to box turtles and the North Star plenty out there.

    I will be the first to admit that I hiked with blinders on to all that, and missed a lot (and a lot of context) as a result.
    I wish I had done this more often. It would have made my trips more meaningful.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  11. #31
    Registered User hobbs's Avatar
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    s When I hiked Georgia to virginia Daleville be specific. I had the at Guide and Gutthooks apps. I didnt really have a plan. I just ent to georgia by bus sstayed at hiker inn then went hiking.Never used gutthooks. Just the ATGuide. It was a great trip I did this in fall of 2015. Probably pick up this year and head north with just the AT guide and a phone to keep my family informed where I am and it will be alright. No over planning Just get what I need and Knock out about a months worth of hiking,..FGO as far as I can while I can till I have to go back to work,,,,
    My love for life is quit simple .i get uo in the moring and then i go to bed at night. What I do inbween is to occupy my time. Cary Grant

  12. #32

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    If I was section hiking, how would I know how to get to the trail or get off if I didn't research it? Just stick out my thumb and tell the driver to take me to the AT at the airport?

    Planning a hike is how some of us keep sane during the winter months. I don't know what level of planning some of you are doing, but at least in my case I don't find it takes away from my hike. When I hiked the PCT many years ago, I took a few side trips only a few miles off trail that no one I hiked around had any idea what they missed. Only took a small amount of researching to find out. I do find that a lot of hikers rely on knowledge from other hikers, who probably got it from looking it up ahead of time.

    Just saying, not all plans are useless. If you are talking about planning every shelter you are camping at, then yes, I agree that is pointless and stop doing it. But planning out resupply towns for the next 2-3 weeks (not all are equal) to minimize the amount of food carried and whether or not you are likely to be there on a weekend when the post office is closed, is a good thing to know, if you are using a bounce box or expecting a package from home. Yes, having flexibility to adjust things on the fly is good, but having some knowledge ahead of time makes the process much easier when it becomes necessary.

    I think there is a happy medium between praying the trail gods will work it all out somehow and planning every step of the way.
    Last edited by Miner; 02-01-2021 at 00:20.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Water Rat View Post
    I like to know the history of places I go. I like to learn about the possibilities of things I can see/do along the way.
    Not doing this has caused me to re-hike certain areas later to see what I missed the first time.

  14. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miner View Post
    If I was section hiking, how would I know how to get to the trail or get off if I didn't research it? Just stick out my thumb and tell the driver to take me to the AT at the airport?

    Planning a hike is how some of us keep sane during the winter months. I don't know what level of planning some of you are doing, but at least in my case I don't find it takes away from my hike. When I hiked the PCT many years ago, I took a few side trips only a few miles off trail that no one I hiked around had any idea what they missed. Only took a small amount of researching to find out. I do find that a lot of hikers rely on knowledge from other hikers, who probably got it from looking it up ahead of time.

    Just saying, not all plans are useless. If you are talking about planning every shelter you are camping at, then yes, I agree that is pointless and stop doing it. But planning out resupply towns for the next 2-3 weeks (not all are equal) to minimize the amount of food carried and whether or not you are likely to be there on a weekend when the post office is closed, is a good thing to know, if you are using a bounce box or expecting a package from home. Yes, having flexibility to adjust things on the fly is good, but having some knowledge ahead of time makes the process much easier when it becomes necessary.

    I think there is a happy medium between praying the trail gods will work it all out somehow and planning every step of the way.
    Like with most things, some level of common sense has to be used.
    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
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    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  15. #35
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    I planned every single detail of my very first AT section out of Amicolola 4 years ago. After the second night my plans were out the window. I realized that level of planning was useless and now simply plan my Point A, Point B, food carry and my travel logistics and that's about it. I try my hardest to avoid looking at any pictures of the areas I am about to hike. I don't really care about elevation as I've accepted long ago that you will climb no matter where you hike the AT. The mental gymnastics some folks go through in order to minimize elevation gain on a trip is amusing.

    I often think about the folks who hiked the AT decades ago. Hitting the balds of Roan or walking out onto McAfee Knob not knowing about either, just a total surprise. Must have been awe inspiring!
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  16. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    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.
    While I never hiked in the winter I did do most of my hiking in the Whites until moving south. I always carried a detailed map of the area so in case I needed to bail out I could find a quicker route out than what was maybe the original plan. Like instead of going overmountain, finding a side trail that would get me down and out of the weather, or get to help, quicker. The good ole days when you would get out to the trail and the only noises you would hear were "natural" unless you were too close to a highway when you camped at night and the sound of the vehicles made it up the mountains!

    Man, Gambit, I thought I was a planner! I like to start planning well in advance. In 2017/18 I "announced" my intentions to attempt a thru of the AT in 2022 here on WB! But no, I don't plan every step or research the trail to see what it looks like or try to memorize camp spots etc.

    I do like/need to plan how and where I am getting to the trail and get off the trail. And I usually have a "goal" distance but I also have a backup plan for getting off the trail. So I might plan a 200 mile section for the time I have to hike but then figure out if I'm not "making the miles needed" I know I can slow down and knock off 20/30 miles from that goal and know approximately how I will get off trail in the same amount of time. For most hikes my limitation has been how long I can be out there, not necessarily how far I can get. I do plan meal drops ahead. I won't have to in the future as my husband will be mobile, working remotely, while I hike and he "follows" me up the trail. I generally like to look at the next days hiking the night before using a map and/or data/guide book to decide if I should get an early start or just take my time leaving camp. I also like to plan how much water I need to leave camp with. If I can get to the next water with 1L instead of 2L, I will usually do that. Likewise if water is scarce I might camel up in the morning and carry an extra Liter or 2 or whatever is necessary. (I can actually carry 6L)

    I do like to know if there are things to see slightly off trail and may spend my winter months "highlighting" them in my data book or making notes somewhere so I don't miss them.
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  17. #37

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    Wow, I’m in awe of all you planners, I should try to do better.

    When I plan a trip, I decide where to go, get a rough idea of mileage, gather some maps, read a few trail descriptions, figure out where I’m going to park, how I’m getting back to my car, then pack and look at the weather forecast the day before...that’s about it. Sometimes I try to map it out on Gaia or Garmin but usually get too frustrated.

    For day hikes, I normally wake up and think, I feel like hiking today...grab my bag, food, and some maps and start driving, deciding on my destination as I drive.

    I’ve had some crazy adventures due to my spontaneous and lackadaisical habits. I also make a crappy hiking partner.

  18. #38
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    I've done most of my section hikes by arranging for a shuttle pickup at the END of my hike, specifying the date/time in advance. I've done this about a dozen times now for hikes of 1-2 weeks and never been late for a pickup.

    But, by doing it this way I have to plan carefully. I study the terrain, plan mileages conservatively, and carefully choose shelters/campsites so I don't end up in a bind. Most of the time I'm able to keep my schedule, at most I've gotten 1/2 day ahead or behind. Getting ahead isn't a big deal, but getting behind it can be challenging to make up the extra miles later.

    I used Guthooks for the first time on my last trip and was extremely pleased. The ability to find campsites that aren't listed in the guidebooks alone made it worth the money. That being said, I didn't bother downloading the waypoint photos as that felt like cheating.
    It's all good in the woods.

  19. #39
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    @LittleRock why not park your car at the end and get a shuttle to the beginning of your hike? Takes all that worry of making the arranged rendezvous off your shoulders.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  20. #40
    Registered User Bubblehead's Avatar
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    I enjoy researching the trail, gear, etc...and watching hikers youtube videos. I am really trying to "lighten my load" this year. I have my base weight down to 13 pounds. It keeps me going thru the winter months. I'm currently watching Quicksand's 2019 SOBO thru hike...am really enjoying it. He does a great job with his videos.
    I paid special attention to his hiking from Katahdin to Crawford Notch, since I am planning on finishing the trail up there starting late July this year.
    AT LASH GA to VA 2016
    AT LASH VA to NY 2017
    AT LASH NY to NH 2019
    AT LASH NH to ME 2021 ???

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