CouchtoCDT

Hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) Northbound in 2013- sharing my preparation for the hike and my day to day experience while I'm on the trail. Inspiring people to follow their dreams.


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10 Things I learned in my first 600 miles of Thru Hiking

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1.  Do your research:  Before you leave you should try to learn as much as you can about the trail you are going to do.  This means finding all the resources that are available to you either online or talking to other hikers.  The internet is full of forums, articles, websites dedicated to the long trails so do your research before you leave.  You don’t need to learn every bend in the trail but at least know what to expect.

2. Be ready for plans to change:  When your sitting in your warm house, on your comfy couch and planning your trip its easy to think what you write down will be your schedule.  But, when your on the ground hiking every thing can and will change no matter what you do.  Things like unexpected zero days happen because the post office was closed when you got there or your body was in worse shape then you thought it would be.  Weather is unpredictable so you might go slower or don’t get the hitch you wanted. Be flexible to change and be happy when things actually go right.

3.  Know your abilities:  When you get on the trail you’re full of ideas of what you want to do, how fast you want to go and accomplishments to achieve.  When I started on the trail I wanted to do 20-25 mile days but quickly learned I wasn’t ready for that.  On the trail you see what I call “Team Lightning” the group that’s doing 20-30 miles right out of the gate.  They’re fast, have their gear and food locked in and they haul butt.  Don’t try to keep up with them.  Go at your pace, do what you know and just be yourself.

4.  Learn to love pain:  No matter what you do you will get blisters, your legs will hurt, your back will spasm and you will be in pain.  Learn to love it.  Understand that even though you hurt you sometimes have to keep going.

5.  Listen to your body:  If you are in pain and it feels like you can’t keep going just stop, slow down or take a day off to recover.  When you push it toO hard and don’t listen to your body it will just compound and it could take you out for a couple of days or worse make you go home with a major injury.

6.  Take care of your feet:  Your feet are what propel you on your hike so if you don’t take care of your feet you aren’t going anywhere.  During breaks take your shoes and socks off and let them dry out.  When you feel a ‘hot spot’ developing stop and take care of it-IMMEDIATELY! Learn how to handle blisters and make sure you have the necessary supplies to treat them properly.

7.  Have a positive attitude:  The trail can be brutal so learning to be positive no matter what your facing can help keep you going.  Its easy to get down on yourself for not making the miles you wanted, getting lost/misplaced from the trail and forgetting something.  I’ve learned to find something to laugh about every day either about something on the trail or something you did, its always good to have a good laugh to raise your spirits.

8.  Believe in the kindness of strangers:  Its amazing the unsolicited help you can get from strangers.  People will offer you rides, food, water and so many other things that it will surprise you.  In many of the towns you pass through people know about hikers and because we have a good reputation they are happy to help.  Always be nice to everyone you meet and a please and thank you go a long way.

9.  Get use to smelling:  Yes, you will stink.  You will stink so bad that you won’t even be able to smell yourself anymore.  Your feet, shoes and body will always have a certain funk to it so just get use to it.  When you get to town, do laundry first and don’t forget to presoak all your stuff because washing machines were designed for regular humans, not thru hikers.

10.  The thru hiking community is awesome:  The people that you meet on the trail are all great people and are probably out on the trail for the same reasons as you.  They are easy to spot and are welcoming with advice, tips and stories you can relate to.  Nothing is better then talking about that last 10 miles of trail or that water source that was suppose to be there but wasn’t with someone who understands. Everyone is out to make sure you succeed with your hike so be nice to everyone you meet on the trail because we all talk to each other and if you’re a mooch or a jerk, word will get out.

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Section 5: Pie town to Grants

I love Pie!

I love Pie!

After stuffing myself with pie and loving the Toaster House, while in Pie Town, it was unfortunately time to start the hike to Grants. We left late in the afternoon after meeting two other CDT hikers, Trip and Michigan Wolverine, in cafe where  we were having a late lunch. I couldn’t resist having one more piece of pie before I left.  We chatted for a while and shared stories of the past section, which is customary to do with other hikers. They are both great guys and I was glad to bump into Michigan Wolverine later on the trail in the El Malpais ” The Badlands” . We left the Toaster House with new hiker friends, Virgo and Nicotine, and did a 10 mile road walk until we called it a night near the road out of town. It was a cool night with a half moon that lit up my tent.

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The next morning we started on a full day of road walking before we hit Amejo Canyon which would be our camp for that night. We got water halfway through the day by stopping at the Thomas ranch which is run by some of the sweetest people I had ever met.

John and his wife have lived on the ranch for many years, having purchased the property from a flyer they happened to receive in the mail many years before .   They ranched the property and lived in a what you would call a “large open shed” that they converted into their living space. Everything was beautifully compartmentalized and decorated with antique, family pictures and an old west-looking ‘outhouse’ indoors. Its was a wonderful place. We sat and talked with them for 2 hrs about all the hikers that had come through the property since they started hosting hikers in the late 90’s, I believe. They had nothing but good things to say about hikers and the visitors they’ve had over the years. John told us stories about his time being a medic in Korea and how proud he was of his service and his continued mission work around the world. He was a pastor and his wife had joined him in his journey while raising their children.

John told us a story about how he had saved a man’s life in Korea.  He was called to a mortar explosion that a private had been unfortunate enough to be standing near.  When John arrived he used what he calls his “basic” military medical training to help the private whose insides were now outside of his body. The skin tends to shrink after the tension has been released from it so he picked up a large safety pin that was used to close laundry baskets and pinned the skin to his pelvis, pushing all of his insides back into his body.  They had been laying on his chest before that time and it was doubtful that the private would survive.  John did all he could for him and took him to the helicopter that would take him to the MASH unit that was waiting for him but not before he took a picture of the chopper as it flew away.  Fast forward 42 years, and after some investigative w0rk by John over the years, he obtained a phone number from the private’s cousin he’d  found through the internet.  With shaking hands, dialed the number and waited for someone to pick up… ring… ring… ring…  Finally someone picked up and it was the man whom he had saved 42 years earlier.  John told him his name and explained “I was one of the medics that pinned you up that day.”  The shocked private acknowledged, saying only “Oh, Oh…”  Unsure of what to do next, John asked him if he had plans for breakfast, being as the phone number was in the same area.  The private told him that he ate breakfast at the same place everyday, and he suggested they meet there.  John replied “Ok, I’ll meet you there but you better not die tonight because I’ve waited 42 years to meet you again.”

The next morning, two men who had not seen each other for 42 years are face to face in a coffee shop.  They embrace other and quietly start to cry.  This is the story that John tells us and as he tears up, I can feel myself doing the same.  This is bravery and love from service that I will never know.  It warms my heart thinking about it even now.

The Thomas's

The Thomases

John then embraced his wife, for whom he has so much love, it practically glows from their faces and  bodies. It was truly a wonderful place to rest our weary bones. Two hours later, we continued on our road walk until dark when we reached the canyon and setup camp for the night. The next day we headed up and over the ridge to Sand Canyon, which as you expect, was lots of walking on road and sand that just sapped the energy out of me. Virgo is a faster hiker than me, so he took off and we didn’t see him again until we arrived at Grants. Everyone has their own hiking style, and that’s fine with me. We continued down the canyon and eventually started our road walk to the Rim Trail which provides a great overlook of the Ventana Arch and the expansive volcanic area called El Malpais National Monument.

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The black basalt terrain was created over the past million years by volcanic forces that created this vast landscape of cones, trenches and caves. The black volcanic rock was tough to walk on and brought the end of my shoes by cutting up the soles so badly that my feet were completely exposed to sand. The going was slow but, the beauty of the landscape and it’s rugged terrain was a great change of pace. After the 4 hours of walking across the El Malpais we entered the final canyon which would take us to Grants the next day. We camped that night on the side of the forest road with Michigan Wolverine, who we’d caught up to toward the end of our hike in the Malpais. The next day we continued on the forest road but not before spotting my second snake of the trip. It was sunning itself on the road and cared less that we were near it until we got a closer at it. It was still a young snake so it’s rattle wasn’t loud and it didn’t seem as afraid of us, as I was of it.

USA

USA!!

Walking into Grants I was happy to back in a town that provided me with the opportunity to rest and relax before the next section. We stayed at the Travel Inn, which has cheap rates, and did our laundry, which needed lots of presoaking. I’ve learned that washing machines are designed for normal humans, not thru hikers.


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New Mexico Sections 1-5

Welcome to New Mexico

 

Wind, sand, heat, scorpions and snakes will greet me as I start the first leg of my CDT adventure in New Mexico.  It’s a beautiful, yet harsh landscape, where water supplies are limited. Here’s how I’m planning my trip for the first 5 sections in New Mexico.

Starting dates/routes:

My start date is Saturday, April 20th.  I will solely be using the Ley Maps and taking the Columbus vs. the Crazy Cook route. My research shows there is better water along the route and it is more scenic as well.  It is also the easiest to reach and since my family is driving me down to Deming, I wanted it to be easily accessible for them as well.  They will not be taking me to the actual border because honestly, I don’t think it’s safe for my sister, mom and nephew to be in that area.  It’s fine for me but, not something that I’m completely comfortable with.

The ride to the border will be with Keith from Deming, NM.  Keith is a long time trail angle from Deming and offers rides to the border for only $25.  He will tell you exactly how to get back to Deming, alert border patrol of your presence and knows the local landscape.

Here is my plan for the first 5 sections out of 10.  I’ve split them up with the help of Yogi’s CDT Handbook and various other resources:

(Mileage is my own estimates; please do your own research as well-this is also in North bound order)

Section 1- Mexican Border to Deming:  68 miles

Ley Maps Columbus 11-7  – Local Resupply

After taking some pictures and walking a couple of feet into Mexico I’ll start heading north.  Now it’s time to stop dreaming, and time to start doing.  My plan is to take it easy in this first section.  I plan on putting in some easy miles and not get too excited. I don’t want to push it too hard, too fast, and risk an injury.  I do not plan on doing anything as I walk through Columbus except maybe pop into a convenience store.

Section 2-  Deming to Emory Pass ( Hwy 152)  69 miles

Ley Maps Columbus 6-3 –  Hitch 40 miles to Silver city- Local Resupply

I plan on leaving a resupply box and Heet at Keith’s to keep things easy and to keep up my early momentum.  This will make for a quick and easy exit out of Deming after staying the night, probably in Keith’s back yard.  Hopefully take a shower and wash some clothes.  Once I’m in Deming I’ll tell my sister to mail my package to Doc Campbell’s because this is a must for resupply.  This gives it plenty of time to arrive and ensure it is waiting for me.

The ‘trail’ out of Deming is a mostly gravel road that hugs private property lines.  I hope to avoid any problems with local ranchers.  I think my biggest problem will be finding reliable water during this section, with most of it coming from cow tanks.  Maybe some nice old lady will let me take water from her faucet, who knows?

Section 3- Emory Pass (Hwy 152) – Hwy 35 (Mimbres): 26 miles

Ley maps Columbus 3-1- Hitch/walk 6 miles to town- Local Resupply

From what I can tell this is an uneventful section, but fun I’m sure.  The town of Mimbres is only a 6 mile walk (or hitchhike) and has a decent resupply from what I have read.  I expect to get creative here with food selection.  But it’s not too far to get to Doc’s where a resupply will be waiting for me.

Section 4-  Hwy 35 (Mimbres) – Doc Campbell’s: 47 miles

Ley Maps NM30j, 36-34 – Mail box to Doc’s- Zero Day

This stretch will start to be a change as we start heading into the Gila’s and getting close to more exciting terrain.  I’m excited for this section because I am a fan of Ancestral Pueblo or Anasazi culture.  I believe that I will start to see some cliff dwellings, rock art and possibly some ancient remains.

Section 5- Doc Campbell’s to Reserve – Gila River Route: 86 miles

Ley Maps 34-28 w/ river route – Hitch 30 miles to Reserve – Local Resupply

Once at Doc Campbell’s, I plan on taking a zero day.  I’m excited to look at the Gila Cliff Dwellings and all the sites in the area.  I will also have a chance to lounge in the hot springs and sleep in a bed if I choose to spend the cash.  Other hikers have stayed at the campground in the area for much cheaper and still have access to the hot springs.  Notes for the area say to bring cash and not to skip the homemade ice cream at Doc’s.  I know I won’t miss that!

When you leave Doc’s you can either take the mountain route or the river route. I am definitely taking the river route.  They say you do about 85 river crossings total, but the scenery and history along the river is unbelievable.  I can’t wait for this section as most say it’s finally like you’re in wilderness after walking on the roads for what seems like forever.


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Royal Rumble: New Gear vs. Old Gear

I held in my hand a $210 quilt that has the latest and greatest technology inside of it, like piles of 850 goose down-filled baffles with silky 10d nylon.  At my feet is a new sleep pad that was designed with body mapping technology to cradle me as I sleep.  These are the kinds of things you read about and see when you start buying gear for your thru hike or outdoor adventure.

I’m like most people – ok maybe not most – but I have a lot of gear that is old, but has served me well for many years.  They are my ‘go-to’ items such as my Golite quilt, Big Agnes one-man tent and closed cell foam pad that has seen better days.  We each have those pieces of gear that have been with us forever, like an old friend. I know I can depend on them because they will not let me down.  These pieces of gear are iconic in our minds, so it’s hard to start thinking about buying new gear for my CDT trip.  I almost feel like I’m cheating on my old gear just by thinking about this new and exciting gear I want to buy.  Recently, I had the opportunity to buy some gear at great prices, so I pulled the trigger and got a couple of new things, despite what I imagined as nasty looks from my old gear.

Nemo Siren 30 quilt:  This quilt is the newest technology in quilt manufacturing and the first run for a company called Nemo Equipment.  It’s rated at 30 degrees, weighs 18 oz, 6’ long, 10d nylon on the outside and filled with 850 fill down. If you’ve never used a quilt, think of a sleeping bag with the bottom cut out.  I’ve been sleeping in quilts exclusively for 5 years and absolutely love them.  By using a quilt you save weight because there is no zipper and no hood.  I toss and turn during the night and this quilt is wide enough to prevent drafts from coming in and is a great piece to just throw over you as you hang out in camp.

siren

Klymit Inertia X-lite:  This is a ¾ length pad that is the worlds lightest, most compact and technically advanced sleeping pad on the market today.  It blows up in about 3 breaths and is pretty comfortable.  It rolls up smaller then a banana and weighs only 6.1 oz.  This will be new for me, since I’ve traditionally used a ¾ length closed cell foam pad for several years, using my pack as the portion that protects my legs from the ground.  I’ve never been a huge fan of inflatable pads because, in my eyes, it’s a ‘moving part’, which means it has features that could go wrong.  It could pop, it could leak or some valve could break off.  I purchased it because if I’m going to be sleeping on the ground for 5 months, I should get something that is comfortable. And I have to say, when I laid on it, it was very comfortable.

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Rab Xenon Jacket:  Weighing only 12 oz in size Large, this jacket is a synthetic power house featuring super lightweight synthetic fill that will stay warm even when wet.  I picked this as my ‘go-to’ garment for early morning hiking in cold weather and in case of light rain in the cold.  It comes with a full-length zipper, 2 zipped pockets and a chest pocket, which is essential, in my eyes, for storing items you will need quickly and won’t have to worry about slipping out of your pocket.  I wore it recently, while walking a dog in a snowfall. It kept we warm and dry with only a cotton tee shirt underneath in 32-degree weather, for over an hour.

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Pmags- Interview with a thru hiker

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I walked into the brewery, to the immediate smell of hops and malts hanging in the air. I was ready to drink me some damn good beer. I was also here to meet Paul Magnanti, or “Pmags,” as known by everyone out on the trail and his blog, Pmags.com.

I was excited to meet him and happy that we could meet at the Avery Brewery, a local favorite of both of ours. This was my first real interview ever, if you don’t count the janitor and lunch lady for the school newspaper. He was gracious enough to meet me so I could ask some questions about the CDT and get some straight answers.

Pmags did the CDT Sobo starting in July 2006, not taking his first zero day until Salmon, ID. This hike completed the Triple Crowner after starting with the AT, then PCT and finishing with the CDT, as he says most people do. He did miss the San Juans due to heavy snow, taking what he described as the Super Creede cut off. He took routes such as Butte vs. Anaconda, the Gilas in New Mexico for the ruins, and the Winds for their stunning beauty. He’s definitely a ‘Hike Your Own Hike’ kind of hiker. He’s more likely to tell you “it depends”, rather than to tell you exactly how you should do it. His philosophy is: It’s all about what’s best for you and your situation. If you read his blog, it’s not full of technically detailed reviews of the new (insert company) jacket and how the fibers work and moisture transfers or how it could save you from a zombie apocalypse. He reports on how to get good stuff at Costco, a good shirt from Target and why not to eat Value Brand bologna on the trail after 5 days in your pack.

I wanted to know more about the logistics of the trail and what’s real compared to what you hear on the forums from a ‘pack sniffer’ (Google it now, I’ll wait).

BEARS:

You hear a lot of stories about how bad the bears are in Yellowstone, or is it Glacier, or watch out in the Bob Marshall. The perception of bears is not that big of a concern, as long as you stay especially aware around Grizzlies. He does advocate a different hiking style while in bear country. Some of the suggestions he made were:

  • Don’t eat where you sleep
  • Stop and eat dinner, then continue hiking again
  • Camping for the night with your food hung far away.

The chances of encountering a bear can be likely, but more so in Glacier because it is more spread out, with fewer opportunities for the bears to encounter humans and get used to us. Yellowstone is day hiked a lot so the bears are more used to people Also, the large hunting parties in the Bob train bears to avoid humans because, to them, humans equal guns. Typically hunters shoot right above their heads if they have an encounter. I think the hyper-alertness you need to have in these areas is the biggest stress, making it more of a mental game with yourself, than an encounter situation. Pmags relied on his techniques, and didn’t even carry a bear canister through any of these areas, and he hasn’t been eaten yet.

Food & Water:

If you’re thinking about taking snickers bars on your hike, consider that Pmags ate 60 of them in 20 days during his Colorado Trail thru hike. Keeping it simple while your out on the trail is a good policy if you don’t have any dietary or medical restrictions on your diet. If you do, then relying on mail drops and timing your stops in town to parallel the local post office hours will be key. If you can eat anything, then you can rely on mail drops, super markets and the occasional convenient store rotating heating rack. If you’re hiking to a spot that is remote you are going to have to mail yourself food, such as places like Ghost Ranch, but when you hit any larger city with a good food selection you can mail ahead your next 5 packages, as he did. This gives you the flexibility to not have to worry about shipping yourself 26 boxes, paying postage and finding a friend to help you. It provides the ability to pick foods that you like right then, or what sounds good to you for the next couple of weeks. Nothing could be worse then packing something up in March and eating it in July. Who knows what your body will be craving at that time or what just sounds really good. Eating 5,000 cals per day was typical for his hike. Estimating an average of 100 cals per oz makes the math easy to calculate when buying food. Follow the KISS philosophy for food, make sure you have carbs and protein in your diet, such as a simple tuna and rice, and try not to get overwhelmed by trying to calculate the ratio for each type of food.

Pmags is a self proclaimed Dip & Sip kind of hiker, meaning he’s not too picky about his water and uses Iodine mostly to purify. What he’s seen on the trail is mostly hikers who use Iodine or Aqua Mira do selective treatments. Steripens are for religious purifiers and pumps are for weekenders. He’s horrified people such as the Princess of Darkness (POD) out on the Wyoming Basin, doing a 5 min iodine treatment on what she considered to be very suspect water.

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Trail Towns, Trail Angels, Orange Buckets and Not Stinking

Trail towns are all about food. It’s the first thing you think about when you hit town and are craving the calories you just burned. Pmag’s food of choice is good old-fashioned pub grub; Burger, Fries, Salad and a local beer when he could. When he hit a town and wasn’t starving, he would get a hotel, take shower, do some laundry, then get some food, shop, send emails and do any mailings. Get the things you need to get done first, before you crash into your bed and start catching up on ‘Honey Boo Boo’. Taking a shower first is the important part because, as he says, “its one thing to have a big beard, another to stink.” Be considerate of the locals. They are not there to gush all over you because you’re walking across America. Trail Angels are there to help because they are great people and want to support you and the trail, but they are not your parents. Don’t expect them to give you something because you’re a thru hiker; a simple “please” and “thank you” go a long way, in his book. Leadville is what he calls a real hiker town with a great hostel and wonderful mountain town feel. Salmon, ID is another great town even if it is a 50-mile hitch there. Most trail towns these days have a restaurant, bar or library where you can get Internet access if you need it. If you’re worried about that, you can utilize a bounce bucket that you send from town to town. Pmags used a bright orange Home depot bucket because it was lightweight, durable and every post office employee could easily spot it, lowering your chances of it getting lost. These days you can’t rely on payphones anymore (seriously, when was the last time you saw a pay phone?), so bouncing a phone or iPad could be great for you. You can also bounce chargers, self-addressed stamped envelopes, maps, medications or whatever you need along the trial.

Electronics & Mental

The use of electronics on the trail is a hot debate for any hiker regardless of ability. Pmags will say to take what is best for you but he doesn’t see it as a necessity for the hike. If you want to bring it, cool, but hiking the CDT and the American West, for that matter, isn’t that difficult, navigationally. As he says, “Harder was having to worry about navigation, not navigation itself but, worrying about navigation, can’t just zone out, you have to be on the ball“. Even today he doesn’t think that he would take a GPS with him, which is the way that I plan on traveling as well.

The one question I find myself asking anyone who has done any large athletic feat is how you handle it mentally. How did you push yourself to accomplish what you have accomplished? The CDT is beautiful in many ways, but there will be boring sections, hard sections and times when I am just going to want to get off of the damn trail. Making the transition from backpacker to thru hiker as he says is a transition from the mentality of a typical weekend backpacker who is hiking to camp, to that of a thru hiker, who is hiking to hike, not to camp. These two activates are totally different. A good way of seeing if you are up for a thru hike is to go out for a week, hike to hike and see if you enjoy hiking with a pack on all day. In the end, if you can’t make that transition from backpacker to thru hiker, the trail will be very difficult for you. If you go out there with a romantic view of the trail and deny the realities of it you will probably not make it. You need to stay positive and understand your abilities. I once read a quote saying that ‘thru hiking is about becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable’ and I think that’s true.

So what does the future hold for the CDT?

The CDT has changed since his sobo hike in 2006 with his pocket mail and heavier equipment. Today we are fortunate to have an ‘official’ route now with the introduction of the Bear Creek maps and the wonderful Ley maps being continually updated. Books like Cheryl Stayed will help create a buzz about the trail, but only a temporary bump in numbers of participants. Pmags says that the CDT will become more like the PCT in the future with a more ‘official’ route and unofficial side trail options. He doesn’t think the trail will ever be finished because the CDT will always be a HYOH kind of trail, and he likes that about it. He speaks to the population surrounding the trail. With very few large cities near the trail, it will always lead to it being less worked by volunteers, less used by hikers, and have fewer resources, compared to the AT or even the PCT. This rural aspect of the trail means that it will never truly be completed. It will always remain a rugged patchwork of trails that will lead people along the Continental Divide and provide them with an experience of a lifetime. Will a book about the CDT create more buzz about it? Sure, but in the end it will always be a special trail for everyone.

Pmags has had some great adventures in his life, like hiking the long trails or enjoying his passions for backcountry skiing and climbing. He’s enjoyed the time and reflection the trails have provided him and have made him part of who he is today. I know that the itch will always be there for him to be active outdoors, and I hope that I can get the same attitude as him during and after my CDT experience.


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Top 5 to-do’s for my CDT thru hike

Money 

This trip isn’t cheap.  On average it costs between $3-5K to hike the CDT, depending on how frugal or lavish you are.  You have to pay for food for every day of the trip, insurance, clothing, town stops and equipment that’s going to need replacing.  You go through 5 pairs of shoes alone.  I also don’t want to complete the trail and come home broke. Getting back into the groove of modern life will be hard enough after the trail, but to come back having to go straight back to work would be tough.  Since my current savings is at $0, this is of immediate concern.

Research

How do I get from Mexico to Canada?  I need to get lots of maps and guide books to hike the trail, learn what are the best foods to take and decide what gear I need and when.  I need to learn where to send mail drops, lodging and transportation.  I also need to enhance my outdoor skills like navigation, site selection, animals and observing the weather.  There are a lot of moving parts, so tackling them in an organized and methodical way is my only hope.

Family

Leaving my family and friends for the thru hike will also be hard.  I love seeing my family for dinners, wrestling with my nephew and being a short drive away.  Having my family involved in the process and having their support is very important. Setting up ways to communicate with them through email, pictures and phone calls while I am away will be a key to happiness for everyone.

Fitness

Getting fit enough to endure 4-5 months of 20-30 mile per day hiking, every day, is going to be a challenge.  Some people don’t train hard before the hike because they figure they will get fit on the trail.  This is wrong.  You need to show up in shape and be ready to do the miles; this prevents injury, enhances your enjoyment and helps you feel more confident in your abilities, mentally.

Mental

Most people who hike a long trail will tell you that the trail is 80% mental and 20% physical.  The day after day hiking in the rain, cold, heat and bugs can make a person start hating life real soon.  Preparing myself mentally is one of the biggest things I can do for a long trip like this because I will be in my head A LOT.  Can I stay positive?  Can I remember why I’m out there and pushing myself like this?  I feel I’m mentally strong now but this will be a whole different challenge for my head and my body.