With about one month to go before I start my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I’m trying to pull together all my stuff (and buy or replace other stuff) and do a “shake down”, which is trail terminology for stuffing your pack with all you’d bring and do a hike to see how it feels, how it works out, how heavy it is, etc. Then go through the process of eliminating, exchanging, re-organizing so when you do start, you feel comfortable with your choices…until about the third for fourth day when you realize you need something you don’t have or get rid of yet more stuff because your pack is too heavy or you need more layers, etc. You get it.
I was uncomfortable with my pack when I bought it so I carefully tucked the tags while I tried it out so I can bring it back – unused. Why buy it? Well, it was the best of the choices I had at the time. I stuffed it and it barely held my sleeping bag, tent and poles, stove and very little else – I hadn’t even put any clothes or food in it and it was full. Today I ordered a “lightweight” pack that came recommended by a thru-hiker. She said it accommodated a bear canister well and since the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) recommends that hikers use these for the entire hike, I feel good that the pack will hold that and hopefully everything else I need.
My other concern is my sleeping bag. I’m still undecided about that. I have a 20 degree synthetic bag that I like but it is not as “compact-ible” as down so it will still take up more space.
I’m not letting these details ‘get to me’ but – a month, while I’m still working and doing other daily living stuff, – doesn’t seem like a long time. I’ve registered my hike with ATC and I should get my AT tag soon!! Exciting. I’ve written (but not sent) my resignation for work and I think about that every day! Soon I will be done with that job for at least six months.
The slight pressure to get everything together is not over-powering the excitement knowing that soon the only thing I will be doing is walking through the woods day in and day out for months.