There are a few questions everyone asks when they hear you’re about to thru-hike the AT. “How long does that take? More than a month?” Yes. “Are you going alone?” Yes. “You’re bringing a weapon right?” Just my killer smile. “You’ve probably done a lot of planning for this.” Not really, actually. I’ve known I would be hiking the AT for about a year, yet I did not start any real planning until after graduation. This seems silly; the first principle of Leave No Trace is “plan ahead and prepare” but in my experience, over-planning usually leads to a change of those plans in the end anyway. I’d say I’ve done a perfect job of hardly planning anything at all, and so far things have come together quite nicely.

My favorite adventure pal, Hayduke, will sadly not be joining me on the trail.

I’m starting the Trail June 15th, I leave for Maine June 12th, and here I am writing this on June 8th. I’m missing one gaiter, one pair of socks, one Leatherman, and my headlamp. I expect all of these things to magically re-appear as they always do, probably on the morning of June 12th. There were a few things I did to prepare this year. I upgraded a lot of my gear, I mailed myself envelopes of guide book pages and Trader Joe’s fruit snacks, and I spent most weekends doing what I do best (walking around in the woods with my friends). In this last week, I’ve done the very important work of attending jazz concerts in Burlington, reading an entire Edward Abbey book, having my teeth cleaned, renewing my license, caving, building this website, and hanging out on Lake Champlain, all vital to a successful hike.

The sunset this evening at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

I actually put quite a bit more planning into preparing to hike the Long Trail the first time two years ago than I have for the AT. I think this happens with most activities as you gain experience; I don’t even think before I pack up for a skiing or backpacking trip anymore. The more comfortable I become with something the less I plan until I’m perpetually flying by the seat of my pants, assuming I remembered to pack pants. So let’s see where this takes me, ‘cus all I know is I’m going to Georgia, eventually.

 

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