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So you think you want to thru-hike- Part I

So you think you want to thru hike the AT...

Hi everybody,  I have been asked to give some advice/recommendations
on doing a thru-hike.  This could take a while so I'm going to break it down
into several notes.  That way I won't be getting writers cramp along the

I think I'll have the following notes covering these topics:
*Reading essentials
*Which way and when do I go
*How much planning is enough
*Money matters
*Hiking with a partner or a dog
*What do I eat
*What should I take with me
*Blue blazing vs. white blazing and other stuff

I will try and avoid some of the conventional things that you can just read
in a book.

So are you ready to do a thru-hike?  Are you convinced that you can be out
there in the woods hiking almost every day, 8 to 12 hours a day for almost 6
months?  You will be cold.  You will be miserable.  You will be wet.  You
will hurt!  Guaranteed.  But it could be the most rewarding experience in
your lifetime!  You will have sunsets, companionship, wildlife, and

I think that most successful thru-hikers are obsessive compulsives!
(No offense intended).  We tend to be the type that will accomplish a 
goal no matter how tough the going gets.  For me, hiking the trail was a
dream I've had since I was about 12 years old.  For six months before I
started my hike, I had this AT poster on my wall.  I'd look at it every day
and tell myself, "The whole thing!  I'm will only be satisfied on Katahdin!"
practically memorized that thing!  And you know, on the trail (well, in
towns), I'd see that poster occasionally and remember that commitment. 
Even if I'd come a long way, I knew just how much further I had to go.

I believe that there are three major reasons thru-hikers drop out.  Of course
you have the physical challenge, but after about 400 miles of hiking, you've 
proven that you can endure the physical challenges.  There can be an
occasional trail ending fall, but the chances lessen quite a lot.  The other
reasons are both emotional.  A big challenge is some emotional  tie you may
have off  the trail:  a family, significant other, job, friends.  The other
boredom! Believe it or not - there is not that much excitement out there. 
You hike all day - every day - and there's not much new happening each
day.  I would end up thinking all day:  questioning why I was there, 
thinking of what I could be doing with my friends that day, dreaming about
the beach, whatever I could to pass the time. But in the back of my head, I
knew I had left that normal lifestyle until I was done. 

Well, enough said for now.  I do not intend to scare people away.  But I
think it would be great if more people were able to finish the trail.  They
(whoever 'they' is!) that only 1 out of every 10 who start a thru hike will
finish.  And I do think it helps to know what you are getting into before you

-Steve Lund
"Uncle Wolf"
GA->ME '95