Sunday, January 15, 2012


I had the chance to head down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center or NOC this weekend to participate in an AT clinic. Former thru hikers Alpine and Apple Juice led a seminar hitting all areas of need to know from clothes and layering to sleep systems and food. It was neat to be in there with other thru hike hopefuls as well as alumni of the trail. The things that were covered in the clinic was all things I have heard or read before, but the real good stuff came from the people that had hiked it. I had a chance to sit down with section hiker Santa's Helper. This 70 something year old man is almost done with the trail and gave me some great advice like how to adapt my tent to set up quicker in the rain by adding pole clips to the top instead of using the loops so you can put your rain fly up first and get under it to hook the tent in...brilliant! He even told me to take a bandana and write "hiking to town" on one side and "hiking to trail" on the other to hopefully get the attention of cars to maybe hitch a ride. I also got some out of the blue advice from another thru hiker about how useful a sleeping bag liner is when you have a case of the sharts. Hopefully that will never be an issue. One thing is for certain, there are going to be some crazy characters out on the trail and I got a little preview of that this weekend.

After the clinic, I got a pack shakedown from Alpine. A shakedown is where you purge your pack of any item you won't need or use. This past fall I went on a shakedown hike where I made notes of what equipment I used and what I never touched and was able to begin the process. When you are hiking any long distance hike, the way to make sure you go further is to pack less weight. My pack weight is currently right at 22 pounds. This is without food and water. Once I add that my pack will be around 30 pounds. I was curious as to how I could cut a few more pounds out, but it looks like the only way to do that right now is to replace some equipment with lighter equipment. Right now my backpack and tent are my 2 heaviest pieces of equipment weighing in at 11 pounds which is half my weight. If I wanted to replace those 2 items I could shave 6 pounds with lighter options, but it would cost me around $550. Sometimes you have to be content with what you have.

Overall, the shakedown was encouraging because I was on the right track with my gear and weight. Looks like now I just need to get out there and get this adventure started. You can check out the gear page to see what I am taking. It doesn't seem like a lot for 6 months but less is more.


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