Friday Five: 5 Things to do 5 Months before You Hike

Friday Fave has morphed, for the moment, into Friday Five, because it's winter and I'm working full time in South Carolina and my weekend hikes have been less than scintillating lately.

Fall has gone on forever here, but the piney woods here are a little claustrophobic and not especially photogenic when you're deep in them and shuffling through the fallen leaves.

I've been practicing my hammock set-up on my walks through the woods.  Lots of brown.  So much brown.

So, I've relaunched Friday Five.  YAY!

Each week I'll be sharing five things about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail that I've discovered, learned, heard about, realized or gleaned as I'm immersed in planning my own thru-hike.

I've decided to do a flip-flop hike (for a variety of reasons which I'll be sharing soon).  

I'll start in late April at Grayson Highlands State Park in southern Virginia.

So, five months out from the start date, here are some things to do at this stage of the game.

1.  Start carrying a pack on your daily walks.

It's time to start conditioning your muscles, tendons, ligaments and lungs to the daily stress of walking while carrying extra weight.  Start with 5-10 pounds and work up to your full pack over the next month or so.  

Go up stairs or hills.  Even more importantly, go DOWN stairs or hills.  It's a different kind of stress to get used to that the stairway to nowhere at the gym doesn't provide.

2.  Start thinking about resupply.

I've already planned my start & stop dates and sketched out my itinerary.  So do that now if you haven't yet.  Then start thinking about resupply.  The though of this overwhelms me, I'll confess.  But here are some questions I'm starting to grapple with:

  • What will I resupply?  (Food, yes, but what else might you need that you won't be able to get on the trail?  Essential oils?  Feminine products?  Vitamins?  Prescription meds?)
  • What will I buy in towns and what will I need to send to myself?
  • How often will I need to receive a package?
  • Who will mail the packages?
  • To where?

No need to freak out...that's why we're starting early and learning as we go.

3.  Start stretching.  Every Day.

Stretch these every day:  calves, hip flexors, IT band, hamstrings, inner thighs, piriformis. 

Ten minutes a day now can make the difference between success and failure later.

4.  Start settling your affairs.

Your affairs might include the following:

  • your home and your stuff
  • your bills--phone, car, insurance
  • your pets
  • your plants
  • your support team

5.  Start dreaming about gear.

I rushed into this too soon and I regret it.  You probably will, too, since getting gear is just fun.

Don't buy anything just yet if you can possibly resist.  Just start educating yourself.

Look at other people's gear lists.  

Make compare/contrast lists of your own.

Keep reading everything you can, watching youtube videos, talking to other thru-hikers. Talk to salespeople at your local outfitters, but ask specifically for the ones who've actually done a long hike.

Just dream right now.  And gather information.  It's too soon to shop.

Because I'm a tree-hugging Lorax, I couldn't resist sharing a pic of this incredible gingko tree down the street from where I'm staying in Abbeville, SC.  Breathtaking.  And proof that fall is never ending in South Carolina.