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  1. #1
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    Default How long did your pre-trail preparations take?

    Including the time you were just researching, before you bought a single piece of gear?

    The way I'm going, I figure I'll have all the bugs worked out of my gear and be ready financially by maybe 2017.

  2. #2
    Registered User kk1dot3's Avatar
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    I have been planning/obtaining gear for about 2 1/2 years now but I'm still making a few gear changes with only three weeks before I leave. I am content with what I have but some other options have opened up so I am still making decisions about them. It took me about 9 months to save up enough to thru-hike, including having money for post-hike. I just moved back in with my parents 6 months ago and they have been nice enough to not make me pay rent and every paycheck I receive I automatically put half into savings. I work as a cashier so I don't make the big bucks by any means.
    - Life is Good -

    It's not about the destination, it's about the journey.
    May you live all the days of your life. - Jonathan Swift

  3. #3
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    8 months from the time i decided to walk it til i left

  4. #4

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    First time: about 2 months. (but had a lot of help from a partner)
    Second time: about a week.
    Third time: day and a half (I do maildrops but pretty much had it dialed in by then)
    After that: I just start with a maildrop or two and then set more up while I'm on the trail, in the bigger towns.
    You stop asking people to help after a while and become self sufficient.

    Sometimes no plans are the best plans.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  5. #5
    BYGE "Biggie" TOMP's Avatar
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    I only decided that I would definately do the hike in the begining of December 2011. I had been loosely considering the idea for since April 2011, when I thought about through hiking last year but I decided I wasnt mentally prepared. I had most of my gear already but just bought my final piece today, a new pair of orthodotics. Financially I have been ready for years. Now I am dialed and ready with about 1 month to go.

  6. #6
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    I have been hiking/backpacking on the AT off/on since I was old enough to walk, so I had basically what I needed way prior to deciding to thru hike. I really decided to do it about 9-10 months prior to my hike date, and I simply refined my gear a bit.

  7. #7
    Registered User Old Boots's Avatar
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    Began two years ago to plan and discuss with family and others. Had some gear from other wilderness experiences. Within the past 18 months, acquired gear, found a partner, and began a training regimen. Start 2-18-12.

  8. #8
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    A little over a year- I bicycled across the country first then thru'd the AT right after that. Lots of great lessons learned. YEEHAW!!!!

  9. #9

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    30 years and im still not ready.

  10. #10
    Registered User BigHodag's Avatar
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    Default re: How long did your pre-trail preparations take? 4 months to all my life

    All my life is probably the most truthful answer. Every hike since cub scouts, every family car camping trip, each first aid class, and a career of military field exercises prepared me by giving me valuable knowledge, important skills, and a tough mind set.

    I spent about 4 months paring down gear and modernizing from an old 1970's external frame pack to a modern internal frame pack with hydration pouch. Made two shakedown trips and camped a half dozen times in the backyard. Walking is the easy part, but one should practice making camp, preparing meals, and breaking camp at night, in cold temps, and under foul weather conditions. Taught myself to make alcohol stoves and how to cook with the freezer bag system. Modern instant potatoes are so much more inviting than the bland, tasteless potato flakes of the early 1980's.

    In between weekend trips and tests, I studied the guidebooks and maps and roughed out a hiking plan. Learned on the trail that 12-15 miles starts are unreasonable for most. Also discovered weekend 5-in and 5-out trips won't reveal the metabolic changes the human body makes the first weeks on the trail and how your own will respond.

    Hope that helps someone to HYOH.
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  11. #11
    Garlic
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigHodag View Post
    All my life is probably the most truthful answer....
    My answer, too. I was 51 when I hiked the AT, 47 when I hiked my first long trail (PCT). A lifetime of backcountry travel and bicycle touring and frugal living gave me the skills, time, and money. It's a long journey.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  12. #12

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    Haven't done it yet, but my 3 month bike ride in 2003 took about 10 mos, including making 12 (count 'em) bicycle panniers, numerous other pieces of gear, and dehydrating food for three. I'm starting with gear now so I can hike this summer and will start dehydrating food probably in the late summer/fall for next year. Started researching and reading about it about 6 months ago.
    Quilteresq
    2013, hopefully.

  13. #13
    Registered User Papa D's Avatar
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    I think that most people today over-plan or plan wrong. (I had to plan a lot but there was no internet then.) They spend too much time on-line and in stores looking at gear. Time would be better spend backpacking and figuring out what their pace should be and what constitutes a successful backpacking day for them - what to wear, what to carry, what to eat, how to sleep, etc. This is the sort of "planning" that is probably really beneficial.

    I've seen people plan for many months and quit in the first week and I've actually seen a kid plan a whole SOBO in about 2 weeks and finish in good style.

    Also, people should get themselves in shape - very few runners would just sign-up for a half marathon (13.109 miles) without TRAINING but (for some reason) a lot of would-be thru-hikers think they can boogie up and down mountains with a backpack on for that mileage or a lot more every day for 5 months!

    I think that anyone who starts a thru hike that cannot honestly jog slowly for 5 to 6 miles without feeling exhausted and tired the next day is starting with (nicely put) a pretty significant handicap.

    PYOH
    Last edited by Papa D; 02-12-2012 at 13:39.

  14. #14
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    Just decided in November. Leaving April 4th.

    Don't let it overwhelm you. Simplifty everything as much as you can. Don't try to plan your route day by day because you don't know what's going to happen until you are out on the actual trail.

    Figure out how to get on the trail, figure out how to get off the trail. Everything inbetween will work itself out.

  15. #15

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    I've lived in the fantasy of doing it for about a year and half. I was hoping to do it this year but it just wasn't the right time. Next year I believe it will be.

    I already had a lot of gear from the get go as I enjoy camping as much as I can. I will never "post my gear list" because I know it will get ravaged and belittled on how it's "too heavy". The fact is that I don't want to spend tons of time trying to figure out how to lighten my load and pay the extra bucks doing so. It works for me so yeah. Besides, the illusion that a lighter pack will somehow get you to Katahdin (or Springer) is an exercise in futility. Some people enjoy trying to figure out how to shed a few measly ounces (not to say there is anything wrong with that), I'm just not one of them .

    Someone already commented that the best planning is to just get out and hike. I agree with it wholeheartedly. Find out what works best for YOU.

    Financially, just sock away $ each paycheck and don't touch it.

  16. #16
    Digger takethisbread's Avatar
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    You don't NEED much, a pack, a bag and some clothes and a shelter of some sort. Gear acquisition is a religion, promoted by gear manufacturers. Just grab some crap and go. People who focus on their gear are just finding something else to worry about. One could easily outfit oneself with gear bought at walmart and have a base weight around 20lbs.

    Used gear is fine as well. Just get out there . You'll find what you need, and not waste money on crap you won't.
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  17. #17
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    In 2006 I realized I wanted to thru, I'm making it happen this year. I started preparing that early so that I would have the time+money+gear needed as soon as I completed my academic work. If I hadn't already had a 6-year academic commitment I'm sure I could have prepared in less than a year.

  18. #18
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    One year ago I had never even heard of the Appalachian Trail. I knew of the Appalachian Mountains but I never knew that there was a walking path from Georgia to Maine. I start my thru hike in less than two weeks!

  19. #19
    BYGE "Biggie" TOMP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Half Note View Post
    I will never "post my gear list" because I know it will get ravaged and belittled on how it's "too heavy".
    Yup it would. But if you have a thick skin it doesnt matter. I would still post because you might learn something new and find something you can really use. There is so much gear out there these days that there is likely something cool that you never heard of. Its not all about ounce pinching. Although the forums these days are dominated by the UL crowd when I actually go hiking some of the best and fastest hikers I know are old school guys, with old school gear, about twice my age that still can smoke me. When I dont like a suggestion I just dont listen to it.

  20. #20
    bamboo bob's Avatar
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    I definitely agree with Papa D. Everyone is over planned. Any stove will work OK, as will any bag , any pack, any food, etc. Trying to make things perfect is just something to do until you start your hike. I doubt gear choices prevent anyone from completing a hike. Eventually you can replace things if something doesn't work well. I'm assuming that you get decent backpacking gear and not just get all your staff at Walmart and Dicks. I mean, you know, actual back packing gear, not car camping gear. Gear choices are the least of your challenges. Let's just see if you really can get up every day and hike.
    Everything is in Walking Distance

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