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[cdt-l] CDT --- Planning, Learning, Doing

Some final words about planning, etc. – some of this came up recently on 
another list.  It applies here as well as there.

There are a lot of philosophies about planning.  Some people enjoy it - 
others hate it - and a lot of people are somewhere in between.  I spent a 
lot of time planning my AT thruhike - with the realization that once I got 
out there the plan WOULD fall apart - and that I wouldn't care.  It did  -- 
and I didn't.  We (mostly Ginny) spent 3+ years planning our CDT thruhike - 
with the same caveat.  And then we spent 3 months planning the PCT thruhike 
– with the same caveat.  In each case the PLAN fell apart within an 
amazingly short time.  In each case we finished the trail.

The PLAN is NOT reality – it’s only a representation (paper or otherwise) of 
what we think reality will be (or what we’d like it to be).   And only an 
extremely good, extremely lucky and truly omniscient planner will put 
together a PLAN that comes together 100% on the CDT.   And if you’re 
omniscient, I need to talk to you – there are a few things I’d like to know, 
like the origin of the Universe and what came before the Big Bang and why 
intelligent people act so dumb and …………….. a few million other such 
questions.  :-))

Remember- the purpose of planning is NOT to set up an iron-clad irrevocable 
PLAN that you have to adhere to in detail.  We’ve seen people do that – and 
it’s invariably an unmitigated disaster.  The purpose of planning is 
'familiarization' with the trail (or whatever else it is that you're 
planning) so when things go wrong (and they will), you'll have some idea 
about what resources, options, solutions, etc. are available. This is as 
true on the CDT as it is in building a Space Station.

To paraphrase Dwight Eisenhower - "Planning is absolutely vital, plans are 

Planning is a survival tool, even on the trail.  And the more you practice, 
the sharper your planning skills will be – and the better your chance of 
success will be, not only on the trail, but in anything you do.

Of course, there are those who decide to NOT plan.  That can actually work 
for most of the AT, but it doesn't work well on the other trails.  One pair 
of CDT thruhikers 'couldn't afford' to buy the guidebooks - so they didn't 
know where the water sources were.  They got through a large part of New 
Mexico by finding partially filled water bottles that people had discarded 
alongside the road - not a source I'd care to depend on.  At one point they 
had no food or water for over 36 hours.  Not my kind of hike - but you’ve 
gotta give them credit - they did finish.

There are also those who believe that “planning” mainly consists of  “what 
gear do I take”.   But you won’t get much about gear from us unless you ask 
specific questions.  If  “gear” was the ‘all-important’ subject in planning 
then that’s what we’d have been talking about in this series of posts.  But 
it’s not, so we didn’t.   Bottom line is that if you’re not confident in and 
comfortable with your gear at this point, you need more experience before 
starting the CDT.  This trail is no place to be ‘experimenting’, much less 
learning about your gear.  It’s a long, long way to the next outfitter.

Now let’s say a few words about ‘learning’ ---- I don’t want anyone thinking 
we’re ‘experts’ - we’ve tried for years to avoid that label.  We’re 
‘thruhikers” – and what we write about is what worked for us.  If it’ll work 
for you, that’s cool.  If it won’t, then you need to be listening to someone 
else.  That’s why we invited others to say what they have to say here – to 
add to what we’ve said, to provide alternate viewpoints and information, to 
disagree if necessary.  We ALL have more to learn – except the ‘experts’.  
But remember my definition of  “expert” --- “ex” is a has-been, “xpert” is a 
drip under pressure.

There are also those who think they have nothing to learn from us (yeah- 
I’ve been told that).  Maybe they’re right.  What we have to say is NOT for 
everyone. Our route won’t satisfy everyone; the way we hike, our reasons for 
hiking, our schedule, thought processes, conclusions, decisions and opinions 
---- are “ours” and won’t fit everyone – or maybe ‘anyone else’.   You have 
your own thought processes, opinions, etc. – adapt your hike to fit “your” 
lifestyle, beliefs, dreams and personality.  If you can use anything that 
we’ve written here – that’s cool.  If not, that’s cool too.  We’re not here 
to “teach the one and only right way to hike the trail” – there is no such 
animal.  We’re here only to provide information (and sometimes a little 
philosophy) for those who want it.   Learn what you can, use what you can 
--- and then “Just do it!!” --- your way.   Hike your own hike.

I think this is the end of the line for this mess --- We’ve about run out of 
both time and things to say.  We’ll be happy to answer questions (if we 
can), we’ll happily talk about the trail, but you’ve gotten nearly all of 
what we’ve written about the trail, a lot (but not nearly all) of our 
opinions and thought processes, a lot of the mechanical details --- even a 
little philosophy.

Too much.

Best thing you can do now is to throw half of it away, disbelieve half of 
what’s left and then burn the rest – kinda the way you eat bear steak.  
Personal opinion is that your hike would be better if you do that.

Vaya con Dios
Jim and Ginny
aka Spirit Eagle AT-92, CDT-99, PCT-00, ???????

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