I fear that if I don’t do this now I will physically and emotionally fall apart
Per my usual, everything I said I’d have done in preparation for my 2017 Thru-Hike…THIS YEAR…JUST A FEW WEEKS AWAY!!…is incomplete. It’s not that I’ve been slacking, albeit I could have accomplished more. No, I have been preparing but it’s the preparations that are ‘behind the scenes’ like the DIY projects around my house that my daughter’s family will be living in while I’m gone; working – to make money for paying bills while I’m gone; some illnesses/injuries; holidays, etc. So when I resumed some hiking reading on The Trek: newsletter (Appalachian Trials website – which I’d hyperlink but I can’t figure out how to find the http address); bloggers posting about their preparations and plans for their thru-hike, I am now feeling very “behind-the-eight-ball”.
I know, take a deep breath, everyone has their own journey, their own hike, their own way of doing things – which is when the adage “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” pops into my head. Time is flying by and the only preparation I feel I’ve dented is the mental/emotional determination that I AM GOING TO DO THIS, PREPARED OR NOT. I keep telling myself that despite what I have for equipment/gear or how ‘out of shape’ I am – everyone starts off and then has to adjust, whether it’s equipment or attitude or the physical stamina required to keep going. I’d prefer to not need to make too many “adjustments” once I’ve begun; i.e. if I can be in better shape, I’ll be better off, if I can have the ‘right gear’ to begin with I won’t need to buy more later.
The bottom line for me is, as it always is, I’ll do my best and just “punt” later. I am going to be an almost 54 year old woman solo hiking the AT with limited experience camping. I’ve read plenty about hikers stating that preparation is good but no amount of preparation is going to really prepare you for 10-14 hour-day hikes day after day and sleeping in the woods in all kinds of weather. There is just no way to prepare for that until you do it. It would be helpful to have SOMEONE who I could bounce ideas off of, someone who had some experience and could offer some advice but my situation is that I am the only person I know who hikes and plans to thru-hike. This is an alien idea to everyone in my very limited circle so I am reading what I can and doing my own research and preparation in addition to working and carrying-on with my current daily life.
Here are some questions or concerns I have that I have seen addressed no-where in print – not even thru-hiking books:
Money: what does a thru-hiker bring; cash, credit card, both? and if cash, how much? and where do you keep it? worries about theft?
Sleeping Bags: apparently down is the preference but no one has said how in the hell they keep a down bag DRY when they spend days and nights slogging through rain (and snow) and no way to dry off when getting INTO the tent/sleeping bag. ???
Maps: I know maps are important even if the AT is well marked with white blazes but the maps I’ve looked at for the trails entirety is over $100.00 and rarely have I read anywhere hikers referring to their maps. It seems to be a follow the trail or the pack endeavor. I’d hate to be the one dumb-ass who gets lost and doesn’t even have a map.
These are but a few of the things on my mind – things I seek answers to but they are elusive in all my reading material. I’d love to have someone, some person who’s done this before, I can text or call and say, “Hey! How do you keep your down bag dry with consecutive wet days?” Or, “Should I invest money in maps and if so, carry all of them with me?”
Externally I am going about my life, doing what I need to do. Internally I am afraid I’ve made a decision, set a goal, that is not going to come to fruition because I fear failure, I fear I’m not up to the challenge, I feel that if I only had a little more time to be more ready I would be better off (but hiking the AT is a time-sensitive endeavor, once you pass the window of opportunity, you have to wait for the next time) and I fear that if I don’t do this now I will physically and emotionally fall apart. Doing the thru-hike is not an option for me – I’ve invested so much of my self-worth and personal survival on this goal that I cannot abort my plans – I am getting through each day of my life physically and emotionally by focusing on the trail.
So, this is it. My first post of 2017 with my fears and goals –