I am fully packed and am ready to start walking. It’s at this point when the doubts creep into my head. Should I have gone with a bigger backpack? Should I have gotten my boots a size smaller? Should I have brought an extra jacket? There is no substitute for experience. While I have done hikes of several days in length, none have been several months, so there is always that doubt.
I have arranged for a ride to the trailhead, or rather to the trail that will get me to the trailhead. I have to hike eight miles just to get to Springer Mountain, the official start of the Appalachian Trail. I will do the eight miles as a warm up day and start on the actual trail the day following.
For those of you not familiar with backpacking, I will give a little background. While the Appalachian Trail is mainly in the wilderness, the trail does cross over roads and near towns. With that, I will need to resupply my food stock when I am near the towns. At this point I am planning on stopping every four or five days, 100 miles or so, to load up with food. I have a mechanical water purifier and some purifying chemicals with me as well. I have the capacity to carry four liters of water, so I should be covered there. That being said, the southern states have had a severe drought, so some of the water sources may be dry. I’ll figure it out.
I am not bringing maps, but what I do have is a data book of distances and listings of services in towns nearby the trail. While it is possible to have things shipped to me in the towns along the trail when I need them (such as maps), I am trying not to do that. It is limiting if I have to pick up a package at a post office, being that they are only open for a limited time and not on weekends. I would hate to arrive at a pick up spot on a Friday night.
Much like on my bike ride I am sure some people will ask me what I am going to do when it rains. Quite simply, the answer is: get wet. I have a rain jacket and garbage bags to act as a pack cover to keep my things dry.
Also, I am not taking a tent so as to keep the overall weight of my pack down. There are a number of shelters along the trail where I am hoping to sleep most nights. In the event there is no shelter I will sleep out under the stars. If it is raining, I will make it a point to get to a shelter.
That is about it for the logistics, so here I go.