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This book is written with the thru-hiker in mind. It might help those interested in a leisurely weekend backpacking trip, but it is meant to be a mental checklist of hundreds of considerations when contemplating a thru-hike.
This thru-hiking handbook is not designed to give you all the answers, but to prompt you to ask all the right questions, help you imagine the effort a journey on foot demands, and consider gear choices.
There is not one size fits all in thru-hiking. I have tried to craft a checklist of things you should consider when contemplating a thru-hike. The conclusions you come to will ultimately be your own. This tome is meant to introduce you to all the questions you need to ask.
I have included 100s of ideas, considerations, tips, and personal experiences that will give you some insight into tackling a long trail.
Spending a few months traipsing through the wilderness will probably be life-altering, but you will have more blisters than epiphanies. The only way you are going to discover what it is really like along the worlds great trails, on a day-to-day basis, is to put boots on the ground—or trail runners.
The information in this book will not prevent you from prematurely quitting a month’s long thru-hike, but it will help you understand the challenge so that you can approach this adventure realistically.
Some long trails will still allow you to get away from it all, but the popular trails today will have you hiking in bubbles of backpackers. You will find yourself in a slow-moving current of people. No matter how hard you try to keep to yourself, a thru-hike will become a social adventure. It’s a great way to escape the mundane, switch gears in your life, or simply challenge yourself.
I have tried to condense my thru-hiking thoughts into short bits of information that will tease readers into imagining themselves in each situation and entice them to think their way through.
You will find no clear picture here, but perhaps it will help you focus on what is important, for you personally, to complete a successful thru-hike.
Fully immersing yourself into the wilderness is not a Thoreau prose experience for the majority of thru-hikers. If you are considering a thru-hike and picture yourself cross-legged in transcendental meditation on a ledge overlooking a spiritual sunset—great. I hope this happens for you. But unless you learn to deal with simple trail day realities, you won’t make it to sunset.
I hope the following information helps you dissect the intricacies of pulling off your dream. See you on the trail.
—Keep Smilin’, Packtoter