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So you think you want to thru-hike - part 4

So you think you want to thru hike.  Money matters.

Hi,  this is part four of a series of notes I'm sending around on thru-hiking
the AT.  
So far I've covered the following topics:
* Part 1.  Intro.
* Part 2.  Reading essentials
* Part 3.  Planning.

I'll have the following notes covering these topics:
*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.

Why should I even talk about money?  Everyone knows that the trail costs
Books I've read say you need a dollar per mile.  So, you need $2200.  Right?
Sound easy?  Here's my warning.  I consider that a minimum amount!  What 
happens when you're out on the trail, you've been hiking with a group of
people who 
are now your close friends, it's pouring rain, and someone suggests heading
dinner and the movies.  You didn't save enough cash so either you mooch off
or you say no or you use the credit card.

I bring up money because I saw many many hikers this Summer grumble and moan 
because they couldn't afford to do things off the trail.  Believe me, the
trail is a big 
social event - especially if you are heading North.  Doing things in towns
and off the 
trail helps break up the monotony of day to day hiking.  When you get into
you'll have the incredible urge to eat and not have to cook it!  If you're a
drinker, you will want to have that beer - and another.  If it's raining, you
will make 
that unplanned stop in that bed and breakfast.  In the Shenandoahs, I had 
hypothermia during a cold front that came through.  I sure was glad they had
cabin for rent and let me tell you, it didn't matter how much it cost.

I saw a hiker sell his camera and knife because he was out of money.  I saw 
another spend all his money on a doctor because he had gotten a spider bite.
 I saw 
another call home and beg for some money to get a bus ride home.  I saw
head into a town to buy food and all he had was $5 to do all his shopping.
sad, sad!

What do I think I spent?  All told, including new equipment, food,  I think I
around $5000.  I had the money to splurge.  In fact, during the heat wave
Summer (when the temp got to 106).  A friend and I rented a car, drove to
Island and hit the beach.  Of course, we had to buy beach towels and clothes
to hit 
Manhatten that night...  It was a blast.  If I didn't have that extra money,
I wouldn't 
have had so much fun this Summer.  I would have been stuck hiking day in and
out.  I must also say that it is your own hike.  If you want to stick to the
trail, so be 
it.  For me, I needed the diversions from time to time. 

On top of my trail expenses, I kept my car and all of my belongings in
storage.  I 
had to continue those payments while I was on the trail.  Don't forget about
things you need to start a life again after you're done.  I do wish I had put
some money for me when I got off the trail.  Right now, I really would rather
take a 
few more months off from work but I am flat broke!

Before I close, I will mention that several hotels and campgrounds do let you
for your stay.  I found this to be a nuisance and therefore never tried it.
 After a day 
of hiking, I really didn't feel like working.  I wanted to sit down with some
drink a beer and relax.  The only exception to the working rule is in the
Mountains, where thru-hikers can work for their stay in the huts.

Hope you are all enjoying these notes.  Thank you for you positive support
and feel 
free to comment either directly to me or the group.

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