Some people just start a thru hike. That’s fine. It’s also not me – I find it fun to plan and prepare the logistics for a trip. Sometimes I overdo it. I created this in XMind over the winter one weekend to start gathering a to-do list of sorts for the trail. After awhile I stopped updating it as I moved the most relevant stuff into Google Docs/Drive.
Much of what I’ve read indicates you don’t need more than a couple resupply boxes to start – prep one for Warner Springs and Kennedy Meadows and figure out the rest on the trail. We ended up prepping 10 boxes regardless, based on the results of the 2016 Halfway Anywhere survey. I figure even if we scrap most of them, we end up with some food after the trail for weekend trips. Or just a bunch of extra munchies. Either way, I expect to modify our resupply strategy sometime mid hike. For now the boxes are headed to the following spots:
Warner Springs (mile 110)
Kennedy Meadows (mile 703)
Sierra City (mile 1198)
Crater Lake/Mazama Village Store (mile 1830)
Big Lake Youth Camp (mile 2002)
Timberline Lodge (mile 2107)
White Pass (mile 2303)
Snoqualmie Pass (mile 2402)
Stevens Pass/Skykomish (mile 2476)
Stehekin (mile 2574)
Like most, were using USPS flat rate boxes. Food wise we have a mix of bulk foods, home dehydrated fruits, and some bulk order freeze-dried fruit/veggie/meat combo packs. In the boxes we have a mix of the following meals/snacks concoctions:
We used the medium and large boxes for the food. The exception being the Kennedy Meadows box, which has the above but also has to fit the ice axes, crampons, BV500 and other items for the Sierras. I’ve got spare shoes, socks, insoles and a few other items on standby to ship out as well if I decide to switch up some layers.
Aside from all that I’m moving my life into a basement and garage, prepping my truck for storage, and getting ready for the lifestyle shift. As for the actual start of the hike we’re lucky to have some friends that will be joining us in San Diego the week prior to our start – they’ll drive us down to the Southern Terminus.
I’ve got some past experience with long distance hiking, so I’d like to think this list won’t change much. It will though, I’m sure – already considering going stove less at some point in the hike, following Sara’s lead. For now, this is what I plan to take with me on my 2017 northbound attempt.
A little weight will be added in the Sierras for the BV500, Kahtoola MICROspikes, CAMP Corsa Ice Axe, and possibly snowshoes, depending on snowpack this year. Since this year is a little unusual weather wise, we will determine what gear to bring when we hit the Sierras sometime mid June.
I also have some flexibility in my gear. Through working in the outdoor industry and general nerding out over gear, I’ve accumulated a plethora of backpacking gear over the past several years. This gear sits in boxes at my parents house, ready to ship out if I want to change something up. This flexibility gives me peace of mind as the start date draws ever closer…
In April of 2015 I had been working as an IT Field Engineer doing all sorts of high stress system/network troubleshooting. After the third Saturday in a row of on call night work, I could see this work/life imbalance was just going to continue. Around that same time I visited an old coworker at the paddle shop I used to work at, she asked what I’d been up to. The conversation went something like this:
“That’s it? No trips or anything interesting?”
Followed immediately by me thinking about how I hadn’t had a vacation in two years. And noticing just how boring it is if all you have to talk about is work. So I put in my two weeks notice, the company ended up getting me to work another four weeks to finish up projects and then I’d do something. I’d never been further west than the Ozarks in Arkansas so I decided to drive around the lower 48 for a while.
My goals for this adventure were:
Sleep in the truck when possible to save money
Visit friends and family
Make it to Colorado, Oregon, and Washington
Not return home for at least a month
I had a rough idea to drive out to Colorado as fast as I could, stay with a friend there, then make my way over to the Pacific Northwest to stay with another friend. From there I’d take a northern route back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to end the trip. While I didn’t end up recording my exact route, I did stick pretty close to my plan. Below are most of the places I stopped on the trip, with friends places removed for privacy.
Gas was cheap that summer and my Ram 1500 has a V8 gasser in it, so the fuel economy was relatively low, but for the truck I was satisfied. It was especially fun driving manual in the mountains. I tracked the gas in a Google Sheet for no particular reason.
This is the gear I brought with me on my 2011 SOBO End to End hike of the Long Trail. I have some notes added to the gear list after the trip; for the most part the gear worked out fine. This isn’t too complex of a trip to prepare for gear wise – any Appalachian Trail hikers or people with experience in the New England area can expect to bring what they normally would on any other backpacking trip in the area.
First off, I made a couple glaringly obvious mistakes with my gear:
Titanium spork – nice and light and fancy right? Not so complementary however with my REI Ti Cookpot – I quickly replaced it with a plastic spoon after scraping my pot for a few nights.
Ray Way 1P Quilt w/ “Alpine Upgrade” – For my first sewing project ever, I made a sleeping quilt using the Ray Way quilt kit. Supposedly with the “Alpine Upgrade” dual layer insulation it was rated down to 28 degrees. In reality is froze my ass off and cursed it any night it got down to the mid 30’s or lower. I learned a big lesson here and this has since become my summer weight bag. I think Ray Jardine makes some great products, but this one was not good for the conditions.
Gore-Tex Trail Runners – Prior to this trip I had switched from hiking in traditional hiking boots to lighter trail runners. In general I bought Gore-Tex lined ones because who doesn’t want dry feet? Well within the first couple days my feet were soaked regardless. Attempting to dry the shoes by the fire didn’t end well (effectively hardened them) and I was looking for a new pair of shoes the next resupply. I picked up a pair of Solomon XA Pro 3Ds and have been buying that model for the past 6 years. My feet love em. More on the why “waterproof” shoes suck on Andrew Skurka’s blog here.
Thankfully it was really easy to send back gear along the trail and buy anything needed in towns. To any future Long Trail thru hikers I suggest the following:
Prepare to get wet – It rained more days than not during the hike. Gore-Tex, Laminates, everything but rubber is going to soak through. If you are active and it’s raining you are either going to get wet from your sweat or the rain when your jacket wets through – it’s inevitable. My “raincoat” was crucial for blocking the wind, however soaked it was.
You don’t need a tent – Like the Appalachian Trail that it shares miles with, the Long Trail has pretty well maintained shelters for the entire length. I only used my Tarptent Moment once on the entire trip when a shelter was near capacity. A light versatile tarp is all I’d recommend carrying.
Aquamira > Filter – The water sources along the trail were plentiful, crystal clear, cold, and delicious. I sent home my water filter as soon as possible and switched to using Aquamira with no regrets.