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10 Random Things To Consider When Planning a Long Distance Hike

I received an email today from a soon to be section hiker I met while working at L.L.Bean over Christmas. He was young, excited and full of questions about his 2017 long distance hike. I gave him my contact information so he could reach out later if he wanted. The only thing more exciting then going on an adventure is helping someone else with theirs.

After I hopefully and successfully answered all the questions in his email I realized it would make a great blog post. Here are 10 random things to consider when planning a long distance through hike.

There is no wrong or right way to hike the A.T. Everyone needs to work out the details for themselves but there are tips and tricks that generally work for everyone. Remember, the best piece of equipment is the 6” you have between your ears.

1. Try to relax and not get overwhelmed. Enjoy the planning. That can be one of the most exciting pieces of the hike. It’s not so much the destination as it is the journey along the way.

2. There is a ton of information out there. Make sure you go to reputable resources. My favorites are L.L.Bean, REI, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear.

3. Join hiking groups on social media. Facebook has an A.T. Group. and are A.T. specific groups. Trailjournals has other major trails also, just choose the Appalachian Trail group.

4. Register your hike wherever appropriate. I did with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy - ATC. It’s free and voluntary but they are the group that makes hiking the Appalachian Trail possible so why not support them.

5. Keep an open mind and be flexible. What you think may work, might not and what you thought never would might surprise you.

6. Learn from those around you.

7. Enjoy the little things.The trail is long and tough. There will be times you will see nothing but the same thing over and over again. Take time to reflect on the little flower growing in an inconspicuous spot or the way a trunk of a tree has grown as it searches for sunlight. The little things can be the difference between boredom and exhilaration.

8. You will get wet and you will get cold. Learn to manage it. I found my Gortex Rain jacket was vital. At the end of the day when I was wet from rain or sweat I kept it on over my wet merino wool shirt for awhile setting up camp and cooking as long as I was not freezing. The jacket was breathable and allowed moisture to vent while my body heat helped to dry out my shirt.

9. Know your limits and in most cases ignore them. You will never reach new heights if you stay in your comfort zone.

10. Have fun

Happy Hiking

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