Inevitably when planning one trip I end up dreaming of and usually planning another trip. In the past, it hasn’t proven too much a problem as one usually flows into another and I’ve had school to plan around. In this case, I have begun to research a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. This is something I have known about for quite some time. Back in ’09, I did a road trip up the eastern coast of the US a portion of which followed the trail, this is probably when I first became aware of the idea of hiking it. Although not to the full extent of its length or that it could be hiked in its entirety. The final push for the possibility of completing such a hike came while I was reading Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.” As I’m sure many others would agree, I found her story inspirational, at the very least to attempt such a hike. And so, I have been planning, reading guide books and logistics information, blogs and books. This year’s hikers will be out in full force in the coming weeks. I will not be among them, having decided to make my attempt in 2018: northbound. I aim to work and travel for two years (stick to my commitment of doing a Working Holiday Visa in the UK). Then return home to prepare gear, food, and fitness during the remaining months and set out on a 6-month hike.
As I’ve never undertaken a hike of this magnitude I will have my work cut out for me while planning (even more so while hiking). And if time/money is on my side I’d like to attempt some of the long distance hikes that Europe has to offer while I am in the UK. A couple that I would like to do more research on are the South West Coastal Path, England which comes in at 1,016 kilometres (630 miles) and The Camino de Santiago ranging 780 kilometres (nearly 500 miles). But that’s all up in the air still.
Things to consider before hiking:
- After I come home from the UK I’ll have nothing but time, and many months to save the money necessary. The benefit of not owning a home or having dependents is the ability to take up and leave for an unknown amount of time.
- Physical and mental preparedness
- Regardless of your physical fitness if you are not mentally prepared for what lies ahead it could be very easy to become disillusioned and quit.
- For each item, there are debates on which is best, pros and cons. Even though I’m not planning to hike for 3 years I only feel slightly crazy for researching this far in advance.
- Food/mail drops
- For a hike of this length, it would be impossible to carry all of the food necessary so I will have to resupply along the trail, whether by purchasing as I go or by having someone at home mail pre-packaged items to me along the trail, which could be a logistic nightmare.