2-days until my AT thru-hike

It’s getting close! It is hard for me to believe I fly out to Atlanta tomorrow morning and will be on the Appalachian Trail by this time Wednesday. I am excited, nervous, anxious, but also ready.

My backpack explodes

Gear, gear everywhere

While I have been a backpacker for decades, I still obsess over gear. Is it the right gear for this hike? How much does everything weigh? And the like. On a recent evening, my backpack exploded! Okay, not really, but the contents of the said backpack were everywhere.

One thing I had lost sight of was this is a long-distance thru-hike, not some multiday, out and back, trip. What one carries (or more specifically how much) is different for a thru-hike. The goals are different, and the expectations are different; in short, a thru-hike is a different beast altogether. And I wasn’t packing for a thru-hike.

To me, photography is one of my primary reasons for hiking. This means I often carry lots of camera gear; sometimes upwards of 20 pounds of gear. This is not practical on a thru-hike.

Since I blog as well and was planning to take my camera, that meant taking a tablet for my editing of pictures. Throw another 2.6 pounds into my backpack. Since the tablet doesn’t have a card reader, throw one of those into the backpack too. Oh wait, my power needs have grown, throw in a larger battery pack. And so it went, and before I knew it, I had over 5 pounds of electronics in my backpack; something had to change!

Bluetooth keyboard & cellphone stand

After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to dump almost all of my electronics. Instead, I am going to use the camera and computer that I already carry around with me everywhere, my cell phone. The one problem I have is I hate trying to do a lot of writing on my phone, and then it hit me.

I would go back to what I did on my Colorado Trail hike, and I’d use a Bluetooth keyboard and a cellphone stand. Problem solved, but more importantly, I’d save lots of weight. I went from 5 pounds of electronics to less than one. I’ll still be able to take, edit, and post pictures and I have a keyboard for all my writing tasks. Hopefully, the perfect solution for my thru-hike.


Rain, snow, freezing temps, and tornadoes? Oh my!

As the outbreak of severe weather across the American Southeast yesterday reminded me, it is spring, and the weather is something I’ll have to contend with. Wind, rain, and snow are common along the southern part of the AT. It’s not uncommon to have a mid-April snowstorm, rain is a given, and the wind is also a given.

With my approaching thru-hike, I’ve been paying close attention to the weather. The night I fly into Atlanta, the expected low temperature is in the teens! The low temperature the night I start the trail is expected to be in the low 20s! Coming from Southern California, I am not sure I am ready for those temps.

These extremely low temperatures are making me think; mostly, I am contemplating putting my AT thru-hike start date off a day. By doing that, I won’t have to contend with sub-freezing temps right away. By starting Thursday instead of Wednesday, I’ll only have to fight with lows in the 30s; a temperature range I am more prepared to handle.

One thing I have learned from my years of hiking, flexibility is one of the keys to a successful hike. That, and knowing your limits and strengths. One of my limits is extreme cold, so I’ll have to consider that as I start my AT thru-hike.

About Gerard Saint-Pierre

I'm a long-distance hiker, writer, photographer, environmentalist, & digital nomad. I'm thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail NOBO starting in March to help raise awareness about mental health. Come and follow along as I blog about the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of a thru-hike while battling depression and PTSD.

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