Currently we’ve traveled 861.7 miles into our journey from Georgia to Maine. It's mind-boggling to see the coverage that we have actually made from Google maps. I still can't wrap my head around it. Yea, I'll toot my own horn. I'm cool with that. In 67 days I’ve had some great experiences and learned a lot from the Trail. Here are just a few tips.
#1 - Hike Your Own Hike:
This is the most (over) used term on the Trail, but the importance cannot be overstated. The Trail offers a variety of opportunities and journeys. Some are for you. Some are not. It's that simple. Do what is right for you. If that means hiking alone and never speaking to another person on the trail, so be it. If you want to touch every White Blaze, go for it. You want to skip a mountain because ... you don't need a reason. Do you. The Trail is a very personal journey for every single hiker out there. Everyone has his or her own personal battle. It's up to you to decide what is right for you. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
#2 - Don't make a decision on a bad day:
Guess what? This ain't easy. Hiking day in and day out will wear on you. I don't care who you are. A twenty-mile day isn't so bad, but what about the 23 miles you had planned the day after? What if it's raining? Are you hiking on rocks? Of course these factors can make you want to quit every once in a while, but those feelings don't last. Walking into Pearisburg from a ridge-line where we were being pissed on by freezing rain, the only thing I could think about was quitting and sitting by a fire. Once I warmed up (and that took quite a while) I was fine and those thoughts were out of my head. Don't let a few bad hours ruin your hike.
#3 - Show NO modesty to Trail Magic:
Every so often you will come across Trail Magic; former hikers or just overall great, generous people take time out of their day to provide hikers with food and / or drink. Trail Magic can range from a cooler of sodas (might as well be manna from the heavens) left by the side of the trail to a full on cookout with hamburgers and brats. The generosity is amazing and truly overwhelming at times, but some people get a little shy and only want to take one soda or one burger. NOT ME. I've been on the trail hiking my ass off, I have no problem eating till my stomach's full, and neither should you. When they say, "Eat all you want", I say thank you and take a seat.
#4 - Listen to Your Body:
It would be great to average twenty miles a day throughout the Trail, but only a small portion of people have that ability. Don't push yourself beyond your limits. When your knees are aching find some water and set up camp. There is no need to put yourself through long-term pain for a short-term gain. The Trail is a marathon, not a sprint. If the aches turn to true pains, see someone who knows what they’re talking about. Don’t let small problems become big problems!
#5 - Stay Dry:
Staying dry on the trail is a must! You get cold when you're wet. You stink when you're wet. Most importantly, many problems arise when you stay wet. Keep your rain gear in an easy to reach spot for easy access if a quick storm sneaks in. If a storm is rolling in, find shelter. If you’re not near a shelter on the trail, pitch your tent and get in. Some people just trudge through the rain. They are better than me. If you must walk through the rain for whatever reason, dry out your socks and shoes at camp. Walking a bunch of miles with wet feet is awful!
These are just a few tips to make your next long distance hike more enjoyable. Don't forget to donate to help fight MS if you haven't done so already. A HUGE thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way thus far! Take time to enjoy yourself and make sure you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you!
I'm thru hiking the AT north bound to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. If you're interested in finding out more, and contributing to my cause, please visit my HikeFor account. Remember to follow my journey here at HighlandFrog.com and to "like" the HighlandFrog Facebook page to be notified about future articles and updates! Thanks for your support!
One step at a time,
Geoffrey, aka Messiah
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