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Re: Lotsa Questions



Adam/Underduck -

>I found a couple of good books about distance hiking (Walking
>The Appalachian Trail - Luxenberg; The Pacific Crest Trail
>Hiker's Handbook - Jardine). I have put together a training
>program based on them and a couple of things I've seen on the
>net. As I already spend a lot of time walking with weight on
>my back (I'm majoring in Physics), I'm fortunately not at square
>one. More like square 2 1/4.

I'd suggest you get the video "How to walk the Appalachian Trail".
It's available from the Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC).  For
 information on the Net go to: http://www.fred.net/kathy/at/atbooks.html

A word of caution - using Jardines book for the AT should be
done VERY carefully.  The book was written for the PCT and
doesn't necessarily fit for the AT.  But his training program
should be good for either trail.

>I'm also planning on doing some section hiking on the PCT
>during Christmas and Summer breaks. That ought to be a good
>test of my organizational skills and ability to do long
>distances without much human contact at high levels of exertion.

Keep in mind that the AT is a "social" trail - at least if you're
going South to North.  You'll meet and hike with a LOT of people.
You probably won't be lonely unless you make a real effort to
cut yourself off from the thruhiker community.  Keep in mind
that there will be several thousand people starting the AT in
a very short period of time - and you'll be part of the pack.

>    Both authors pointed to nutrition as being a major problem
>on the trail. Has anybody ever tried using Met-RX or any of the
>other mega-nutritional supplements on the trail? Did they help?

I know a few people who used some form of multivitamins.  I had
them in my maildrops - and kept sending them home.   I ended
with a vitamin deficiency, but they were just more trouble than
they were worth.  There are other opinions on this.

>    There seems to be a controversy surrounding the use of boots
>versus jogging shoes. Any opinions?

Running shoes are a Jardine thing - and they're a part of a total
philosophy that includes an ultralite pack.  Jardine uses - what?
 - an 8 or 9 pound total pack weight?  You'll find people on the
AT whose packs weigh almost that much - empty.  There are a
few people who do the AT in running shoes - but I wouldn't
recommend it.

>    Jardine suggested that feet will grow up to 2 shoe sizes
>under the stress of thru-hiking. Has anyone noticed this type
>of thing happen to them?

Personal opinion is that using running shoes contributes to the
problem, although it does happen to a lesser degree to people
who use boots.

>    I want to go as light as possible, but not a minimalistic as
>Jardine suggests. I can appreciate the necessity of doing so if
>attempting to thru-hike the PCT, but that isn't what I'm preparing
>for. I've got a different hike in my mind that I want to hike, I
>guess. Beside, I might drop my stuff over a 1,000' cliff.

Jardine has a lot of good ideas - but it takes time and
experience to grow into them.


>    Bag- clueless?? What was that about Feather Friends?? Is it down?
>         How can anything keep a down bag dry?

Down or synthetic?  Which to use?  That's a lifestyle thing - if
you're generally a careful person, and you learn from those who
have used them, down bags can work.   For those who tend to be
a little careless or sloppy or accident-prone, I'd bet that they'd
be happier with a synthetic bag - in spite of the extra weight.
But it's always a personal choice.

>    Wet Gear- Marmot Denali Jacket and Guide pants (is this overkill??)
>              Also heard about some Nike wet gear that was supposed to
>              be pretty decent

You'll want a decent jacket in the South against the likelihood
of snow and to help stay warm.  But once you get into the
Mid-Atlantic states anything more than the lightest rain
gear is probably overkill.  I used a coated nylon jacket for
the last 1500 miles.  It was all I needed.

>    Umbrellas- Do they work as advertised in the book? Have any of you
>               tried them?

Umbrellas are a good idea for the PCT - and possibly the CDT.
And I've seen them used - mostly for sun - on the AT.  How
enthusiastic are you about the Trail name "Umbrellaman" ??

>    Stove- I'm totally confused about this one. There seems to be 20
>           to 30 good ones and then there's all of the different gases
>           Clueless???

MSR, SVEA, Coleman - anything that uses white gas - although
a few people use propane/butane.  We used Whisperlites on the
AT and will again for our next thruhike.

>    Hiking Poles- considering using them as I've had surgery on both
>                  my knees, and they seem to be useful in dealing with
>                  the fanged population (Snakes...It had to be snakes.)

Don't go without them - especially if you've had knee surgery.
The AT is a LOT rougher on knees than what you'll encounter on
the PCT.  And the poles WILL help.   As for the snakes - please
don't mess with them.  It's their home and you're just a visitor.
But the poles WILL be handy for dealing with the other fearsome
furry fanged nemesis of hikers - dogs.  There are few dogs that
are willing to eat 4 feet of steel or aluminum hiking pole.

>    Palmtop Computer- I want to be able to post a trail journal, but
>                      little else. Is it even possible to keep one of
>                      these things intact? How?

I wouldn't touch this one ---

>    Duck Call- How else does UnderDuck announce his arrival into town!
>               I need a sturdy one obviously  ;)

Go for it -- I carried a yellow rubber duck through the Smokies,
others have carried teddy bears, Barbie dolls and other, stranger
things on the AT.  As the man says - whatever turns your crank.

>There! I realize this is a ridiculously long list of questions.

The only ridiculous question is the one that's not asked.  The more
you ask, the more you learn - and the better your odds of finishing.

Walk softly,
Jim