Lessons Learned from Thru-hiking

Hiking thousands of miles has taught me many a lesson over the years.

Here are some things that I learned and realized during my hikes.

  • Hike your own hike! Your experience, needs and wants are yours and yours alone. Comparing or measuring your experience against other hikers is useless. Hike your own pace and experience the trail on your terms.
  • There are some damn good people out there!
  • Don’t over-plan! The hundreds of miles I planned ahead of time for the Appalachian Trail turned out to be a waste of my time. Take your hike one day at a time and be flexible. More than likely the trail is going to make you change your plans. It is helpful to estimate where you will be in 4 or 5 days, but don’t worry about where you will be in months because that will probably change.
  • Blisters Suck!
  • Chaffing Sucks!
  • Monkey Butt Sucks!
  • Get up early and hike in the early morning hours just before just at dawn. Cool morning air coupled with a quiet serene trail is magical. As you walk you begin to see and feel the woods coming back to life after its nights slumber. Birds chirping, deer feeding and the occasional bear on the side of the trail make for a special time in the woods. How about hiking till dusk? There is nothing more special then catching a breath taking sunset high on a ridge. Dusk is a great time to watch and experience how the woods transition into a quiet and peaceful environment.
  • Take some cash with you for little treats when you hike through a town. You may not want to stay in town, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get yourself a little mind and body boosting treat!
  • Mail drops and town stops are not as logistically challenging as you may think. A-188
  • Take a lot of pictures and have a good camera (Don’t forget the SD card)! I forgot to put the SD card back into my camera before I started the Trans Adirondack Route and missed taking pictures of the rain for the first 80 or so miles. I have pictures from my 1998 AT hike, but wish now that I would have taken more.
  • I am more rested in rest in the woods than when I am in town. Time in town is more tiring than being on the trail. Town is chore time: laundry, eating, resupplying and cleaning the Funk off of you.
  • Waking up after an afternoon nap!

    Waking up after an afternoon nap!

    Take an afternoon siesta! I find that an afternoon nap in the woods is a great way to restore my energy levels.

  • Backpacking never gets boring for me. Each day there is always something new around the bend and the scenery is always changing. Experiencing wildflower covered meadows, rocky summits, wetlands and cow pastures are part of the joy and thrill of backpacking. Your body and mind are much stronger than you may realize. Every step you will take makes you stronger mentally and physically.

Your experience may be different, but will be/has been no doubt rewarding and life altering!


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