Taking on a great outdoor adventure like the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail means navigating a world of blog posts, YouTube channels, and gear lists that can make planning overwhelming. So when it is all too much? At what point does our preparation begin to infringe on the experiences we’ll have on the trail?
Everything about a hike, town experiences included, are unique and subjective. Most of the towns along the CDT are a ways from the trail, so it's often tough not to stay the night. I had some favorites stays and town stops along the trail in 2017. Part of the adventure of the CDT is having little resources telling you where "the spot" is. So here I go ruining that for you with some picks, because I want to support the people who provided me with the best experiences.
The intangible benefits of having a bag like the Outback Dreamer are incredibly valuable to me. At the end of a long day of hiking, I’ll take this bag out and lay it down for Luna, helping her to establish that this would be camp for the night. It gives her routine and comfort during times when the scenery is changing each day.
The shrinking, rolling mountains of the Divide. The winding Gila River. The remote and wild desert. New Mexico was everything I needed. I traded in warmer layers for more forgiving weather and extraordinary sunsets. While yes, there was plenty of cow shit water and road walking, but I managed to soak in all the sun and dust I could during the final leg of the hike.
Wyoming, rich in culture and scenery, was a stunning, environmentally diverse state to hike through: Yellowstone NP, the Wind River Range, the Great Divide Basin and Medicine Bow NF. All topped off with viewing a solar eclipse in full totality from the trail. Five hundred miles and 23 days more experienced, more crisped by the sun, and more prepared for what lies ahead in Colorado.
Hiking with a dog is different. A thru hike is a unique, individual experience no matter the level of solidarity. Some choose to hike with a partner; some end up in a group. Others, bring along a dog that, while unable to express their needs through speech, will become an extension of you. So in sync that words become insignificant. A giddy, energetic, lovable presence that can change the energy on any given day.
No particular shoe is going to save us from injury. There is no way around it: most injuries are caused by lack of fitness and experience and/or carrying extra weight on our bodies/in our packs. Sure, having a shoe that fits is important, but does that cost $130 a pop? I say expensive trail shoes are overrated and hyped-up.
There’s a lot that goes into preparing for a long distance hike: Resupply strategy, getting to the start, gear, and perhaps most importantly…how to prepare your body for the physical challenge of walking daily. This, without a doubt, can be one of the most fun steps in the whole experience. It doesn’t involve running or starving yourself. But rather, alternative means of transportation and bulking up dat ass.
Dawn’s first rays sparkle off my sleeping bag, offering tranquil warmth on a dampened camp. Aromic and dark vices give off steam from inside a foldable mug, while I peek at the ridges that lie in the day ahead. Sipping slowly to delay the chill that will inevitably come when I emerge from the sanctuary of goose down. Cup in hand, everything is all right.