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[pct-l] Planning and Preparing for Thru-Hike

Rob Brady wrote:

[.... just how much time does the preparation take?
Not the physical  part, but familiarizing with the
process of the hike, acquiring and testing equipment,
and the like?  How soon before you left did you make
the  decision and start preparation to go?  How much
did it cost, all told? ]


There are many days when I fantasize about getting
laid off my job...some time around April...with a
large severance check.

Preparing for a thru-hike is something that seems
really overwhelming the first time you do it, but
after you finish the hike, you think to yourself, "I
could have saved a lot of worry, hassle and effort, if
I'd only done it THAT way!"  Unfortunately, a lot of
that hindsight can only be won by actually going
through the planning process yourself.  So much is
personal preference and perception.

I spent probably 200 working hours preparing logistics
for my AT thru-hike for one year prior to leaving.  I
learned that that was WAY too much!  So, for my PCT
hike, I spent about 80 total hours preparing in one
year - half of which was dehydrating food and the
other half spent in a couple of all-nighters just
before I left scrambling to buy a tarp, cut up my
guidebooks and prepare drops.  I was a big time PCT

Now, in hindsight, I wouldn't probably even spend 10
hrs preparing for either hike, and I feel that with
one week of time, I could be ready to go provided my
job was taken care of and my posessions had a place to
be stored.  I already have an itinerary for resupply,
know what I want to take, and have a process in place
for moving resupply items up the trail without relying
on someone at home to send packages to me. ( I "bump"
a box from PO to PO and send myself food drops to
rural resupply locations from the towns that have
larger food selections.  Saves money, time preparing
and upfront preparation.)  But I had to learn all of
this through many hours of trial and error (and some

I would suggest spending as much time as possible
reading about the trail - books, on-line journals,
even stuff about other long trails.  This will give
you some idea of what to do, and if you start now, you
should have plenty of time to get educated and do what
you need to do before you leave for the hike.  If you
do a lot of research up front, then you are less
likely to waste energy and money on the wrong
equipment and such.

Also, do as many shakedown hikes on weekends and
holidays as you can.  This will really help you decide
on gear and build confidence.  If you don't have
enough gear yet, try renting or borrowing.  REI rents
major gear items.

I know a lot of people who had only a few weeks to
prepare and others who spent years getting ready.
It's more important that you feel comfortable with
your preparation time.

As for cost, I'm sure you'll hear a lot of variations
on the $1 per mile.  My AT hike cost about $1000 in
gear up front, all of the $4500 I had saved for the
actual hike, PLUS another $4000 to support me after
the trail until I landed my next job.  By that next
spring, I had worked myself out of the debt.

For my PCT thru-hike, I was averaging about $2/mile.
I had a hiking partner and had to get off the trail
about one third of the way northward.  Then, in a fit
of restlessness and sheer frustration at my illness
and lack of PCT completion, I went off to the East
Coast to do some MORE hiking and "recuperate,"
including a failed attempt at a Long Trail  (never got
past The Inn) and a totally fancy-free US highpointing
road trip (15 states in a few weeks), managing to get
myself way, way in debt again.  But it's all good -
paid off after a year of hard labor.  I figure you
just have to have fun while the funnin's to be had!

Of course, now I slave away, scrimping and saving for
that April morning when I can head northward once
more, praying that my blessings will hold until
Canada, but thankful to be out there no matter how it
turns out.....


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