Here we go!

The day is here! Well, the week is here. My mom wont let me tell you the exact day that I’m starting my hike, because she thinks i’ll be tracked and murdered. I know, know, the trail is safer than town, but she’s a Mom, what can I say? I will tell you that I’m off to Vermont tonight, to camp with my partner, for somewhere between 1-5 days. Then, we say adieu and I head off on my own.

She’s been really patient with all my last minute jitters. I might be panicking a little, and she might be able to tell. I didn’t realize that I got a free-standing tent, and we tried to put it up yesterday. I started vibrating with anxiety, “what if I don’t have a place to stake it?!” She slowly puts the tent back together and tells me not to worry, she will take care of it.

“What does that mean?! I’m leaving tomorrow!”

“I have a plan, but I don’t want you to freak out, so just trust that Ill take care of it.”

“I need to have a plan for myself.” (There’s that Type A Kelly coming out to play.)

“Ok, we got the wrong tent, but its ok, I’m going to go get you a new tent tomorrow, before you get out of work.”

“What? How will you know what to get? I don’t know how much money to give you. How do you know what to get?! WHAT ABOUT WEIGHT?!

“See. This is why I didn’t want to tell you. I’m going to take care of it.”

She did, of course. She has done so much for me, in preparation for this hike. Too much, really. All of the people close to me have. My family had a little party, and they all wrote letters to me. My youngest sister took those letters and wrote them on a tiny scroll, so I could take it on the trail. My older sister, Mom, and Grandmother are picking me up in the end, and they have all encouraged me the whole time. I even have a few friends who are going to meet me at certain sections and hike a bit. I know it’ll help. I know it will keep me going; keep me strong.

In my panic, I started thinking about the training I could have done, or the people I could have gotten advice from… but whether I like it or not, we are here. The training is over, the conversations have finished, and the only thing left to do now, is hike. So, I’m off. Thanks for being part of my training journey, and I hope to post along the way, if I can. Ill leave you with my tentative itinerary. It could change, of course, because as I have said before, I have no idea what I’m doing. See you on the trail!

Note: If you are a Long Trail/AT hiker and see any itinerary red flags, feel free to shout it out!

Long Trail Itinerary Total trip: 273 Long Trail miles, 8.6 side trail miles

Day 1-Total Day: 6.1 miles

*Williamstown approach, Pine Cobble Trail- 3.3 miles to the start of the Long Trail

*Continue hiking 2.2 miles to Seth Warner Shelter

Day 2- Total Day: 11.5 miles

*From Seth Warner Shelter, continue 11.5 miles to VT9 (camp off-trail)

Day 3- Total Day: 10.1 (Start of Division 2- Resupply)

*From VT 9, continue 10.1 miles to Goddard Shelter

Day 4- Total Day: 9.1 miles

*From Goddard Shelter, continue 9.1 miles to Story Spring Shelter

Day 5- Total Day: 11.2 miles

*From Story Spring Shelter, continue 3.6 miles to Stratton (Start of Division 3)

*Continue 7 miles to Willis Ross Clearing, .6 to Stratton View Campsite

Day 6: Total Day: 12.5 miles

*From Stratton View Campsite, continue 12.5 miles to Bromley Shelter

Day 7- Total Day: 12.8 miles

*From Bromley Mountain Shelter, continue 3.5 miles to Mad Tom Notch (Start of Division 4- Resupply)

*Continue 9.3 miles to Lost Pond Shelter.

Day 8- Total Day: 10.1 miles

*From Lost Pond Shelter, continue 10.1 miles to Greenwall Shelter.

Day 9- Total Day: 8.8 miles

*From Greenwall Shelter, continue 1.5 miles to VT 140 (Start of Division 5, meet Marge)

*Continue 7.3 miles to Clarendon Shelter.

Day 10- Total Day: 6.1 miles

*From Clarendon Shelter, continue 6.1 miles to Governor Clement Shelter.

Day 11- Total Day: 4.3 miles *Killington Mtn

*From Governor Clement Shelter, continue 4.3 miles to Cooper Lodge

Day 12- Total Day: 7.7 miles

*From Cooper Lodge, continue 7.7 miles to The Inn at Long Trail (Resupply)

Day 13- Total Day: 12.7 (Start of Division 6)

*From The Inn at Long Trail/U.S. Route 4, continue 12.7 miles to David Logan Shelter

Day 14- Total Day: 12.6 miles

*From David Logan Shelter, continue 7.2 miles to Brandon Gap (Start of Division 7)

*Continue 5.4 miles to Sucker Brook Shelter

Day 15- Total Day: 11.4 miles

*From Sucker Brook Shelter, continue 11.4 miles to Emily Proctor Shelter.

Day 16- Total Day: 12.2 miles

*From Emily Proctor Shelter, continue 5.7 miles to Cooley Glenn Trail (Start of Division 8)

*Continue 6.5 miles to Battell Shelter

Day 17- Total Day: 7.3 miles

*From Battell shelter, continue 7.3 miles to Starks Nest (2 miles further to off-trail camp)

Day 18: Total Day 13.3 (Possible 11.3, depending on Day 17)

*From Starks Nest, continue 5.1 miles to Bean Trail (Start of Division 9)

*Continue 8.2 Miles to Hump Brook Tenting area (Pay site)

Day 19- Total Day: 4.2 miles (Camels Hump)

*From Hump Brook Tenting area, meet Kourtney and Bory (Resupply)

*Continue 4.2 miles to Bamforth Shelter

Day 20- Total Day: 11.8 miles

*From Bamforth Shelter, continue 5.3 miles to U.S. 2 Parking Lot (Kourt/Bory depart)

*Continue 6.5 miles to Buchanan Shelter

Day 21- Total Day: 9.7 miles

*From Buchanan Shelter, continue 3.7 miles to Mtn Bolton

*Continue 6 miles to Twin Brooks Tenting area

Day 22- Total Day: 9.9 miles *Mansfield

*From Twin Brooks tenting area, continue 9.9 miles to Sterling Pond Shelter (Pay site)

Day 23- Total Day: 7.3 miles

*From Sterling Pond Shelter, continue 7.3 miles to Bear Hollow Shelter.

Day 24- Total Day: 7.4

*From Bear Hollow Shelter, continue 4.1 miles to VT 15 (Division 11)

*Continue 3.3 miles to Round Top Shelter

Day 25- Total Day: 14.7 miles

*From Roundtop Shelter, continue 14.7 to Spruce Ledge Shelter

Day 26- Total Day: 8.4 miles

*From Spruce Ledge Shelter, continue 8.4 miles to Tilston Camp. (Division 12)

Day 27- Total Day: 11.7 miles

*From Tilston Camp, continue 11.7 miles to Jay Camp

Day 28- Total Day: 7.5 miles

*From Jay Camp, continue 7.5 miles to Shooting Star Shelter

Day 29- Total Day 4.5 miles

*From Shooting Star Shelter, continue 4.5 miles to Journeys End

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The Guy with the Bow Tie

I have been trying to make a conscious (somewhat unsuccessful) effort to loosen my grip on control; letting the circumstances or challenges of my life guide me, knowing that everything has purpose, regardless of the outcome. If you get a flat tire that makes you late for work, but you learn something from the tow truck driver, than life is happening exactly as it should be. We tend to focus so heavily on the things that are disruptive to our day, that we miss the lessons or experiences that come with them. I drove to Vermont last weekend, to clear my head and to give a section of the Long Trail a shot. While in route, I decided to bring that concept with me, and just let myself be led by the circumstances of the weekend. My initial plan was to stop at the Green Mountain Club, to get a copy of the Long Trail Guide. Apparently, the Green Mountain Club is closed on weekends… so starts my trek up and down the beautiful Route 100, to find a bookstore that had a copy, do a little hiking, and maybe some soul searching along the way.

You may remember me telling you about my camp friends. I’ll likely speak of them often, and anyone who has spent their younger days working at a sleep-away camp, will understand why; we are bonded. The staff came from all over the world. One camp friend, Hilary, lives in California. In summer of 2013, she was going to a wedding in Vermont and had the idea to follow it up with a camping trip. Our friend, Marge, lives in New York and I am in Maine, so we are equal distance from Vermont. So, the three of us met in Vermont, at a lovely river-side campsite, in the Green Mountain National Forest. A campsite that I have since come to know like home. That is when it all started. I met Vermont. I met the Green Mountains. I met Route 100. A year later, I met the Inn Keepers. Two years later, I met the General Store clerks who I talked about in “Why the Long Trail”, and last weekend, I met the Guy with the Bow Tie.

Since that first camping trip, Marge and I have “met in the middle” a few times a year. We meet to campout or find some dive bar where we meet locals, drink Long Trails, and talk about our lives. One time we found the exact mid-way point between her house and mine. The exact middle spot between us. It was someone’s driveway, but that didn’t stop us from taking a picture there. Over the weekend, I stayed at a motel in Mendon, that Marge and I have stayed at before. My solo-Vermont soul searching weekend standards are not that high, I knew that motel was clean enough and cheap enough. The motel clerk asked me why I was in town, and I explained that I am hiker, practicing for a Long Trail thru-hike. How about that y’all, I’m reporting as a hiker now. He then told me about an “easy” mountain trail, just down the road. He said “45 minutes in total”, and “those are the kind of hikes I like, the easy ones.” I took the directions and thanked him, but to be honest, I wasn’t really looking for easy. Well, easy enough, I guess, but comparable to what I’ve been doing in training. Maybe even a little harder, I am on the Long Trail after all. Instead, I decided to find a hike that was a bit more challenging, and I headed towards Brandon Gap. The hike I found was marked as “Moderate”; two miles with an elevation of 1300 feet, not what I was up to before the injury, but certainly a post-injury moderate for me. My hike intel was a little off, and it turned out to be 1.2 miles, with a 400-foot elevation gain. I was finished by 9:30am, and barely broke a sweat. I figured, what the hell, I’ll head for the motel clerk’s trail and maybe find that book along the way. Two easy trails are the same as one moderate, right?

I stopped at a few bookstores with no luck, and continued down Route 100, but didn’t realize that I was driving away from the trail. When I turned on my GPS, I saw that I was in Waitsfield, VT, 47 minutes away from my intended location. I thought to myself, if there are no accidents, then I’m definitely supposed to be in Waitsfield, VT right now. I found a small bookstore called “Tempest.” Walking in, I see piles of books; an organized mess, like you see in most used bookstores. I was greeted by a slender man, with a checkered blue and white shirt, a tan vest, and a multi-colored bow tie. The Guy with the Bow Tie. If Bill Nye morphed with the villain from Charlies Angels (the movie), he would be the Guy with the Bow Tie. From his first sentence, I knew not to let the mess fool me, this guy knew exactly where everything was. He took me the hiking section and shared that the only version of the guide he had was a first edition. Trekking along Vermont with a vintage copy of The Long Trail Guide? Heck yeah. I asked him the difference between the first edition and the latest, and he said “well, one is that there are no shelters listed on it.” If any of you have read…well, just about any of my blog posts, you know I need a shelter list. The Guy with the Bow Tie did tell me where I could find the latest guide, but not before sharing a bit about Waitsfield, VT.

I was blocked on my first trail by a sign that said hikers couldn’t go any further. When I shared that with The Guy with the Bow Tie, he said, “let me guess, some older lady bought a glass house on the top and she doesn’t want you blocking her view?” I said, “actually, it said something about protecting the birds”, and he said, “yeah, there’s that too.” He went on to tell me a story about how he leads a boy scouts troop, who were told they couldn’t use a trail anymore, or the cabin they had on it, because a woman just purchased the land, and her insurance said it’s a liability. “I told her that’s too bad, because the boy scouts really get a lot out of exploring those trails.” She said, “well you can’t use the cabin, but I will give permission for the boy scouts to use the land, if they clean up debris left from other hikers.” He wasn’t sure how it would be possible for the boy scouts to earn their keep, considering that she was refusing the public access to the land. Who would they clean up after? He gathered the boy scouts and said “listen, we get to use this land if we help clean it up, so this is what I want you to do. I want you to eat a bunch of candy before we go. That way, if you’re stopped by an old lady on the trail and she asks you what you are doing there, you can take the wrappers out of your pocket and say, “we are just cleaning up the land.” Circumstance led me well, and The Guy with the Bow Tie and I spent a little more time on small town banter. The universe worked pretty well for him that day too. He usually doesn’t open the bookstore on Sundays, but he had a biography to edit. He figured he was doing work anyway, he might as well do it from the store. Look at him now, now his story is being shared with all 230 of my blog readers. He’s basically famous. If you happen to be in Waitsfield, VT, stop in and let him know. I left the guy with the Bow Tie and headed towards the gear shop that he told me might have the Long Trail Guide. Not only did they have the Long trail guide, but they told me that they will act as a supply stop for Long trail hikers. The universe just keeps doing it’s thing.

I found my way to the motel clerk’s “easy” trail. He said 45 minutes in total, 1.9 miles. I calculate my time- 30 minutes up, 15 back, add 30 minutes for summit basking. I gave my sisters the details and expected return time… good to go. I don’t need supplies, it’s 45 minutes. By my calculations, I should meet the summit at .95 miles. I hit .95, no summit. Ok, well, maybe its 1.9 out and 1.9 back, I think I’ve got that in me. I reach 1.9 miles, no summit. I’m starting to think my motel clerk is a professional hiker, who ran up this mountain. 45 minutes. Pfft. At 2 miles, I hit a ski-slope overlook and wonder if this was the spot he was directing me to, or if I’m on a different mountain entirely. At this point, I’ve reached that moment that I think all hikers reach, if they don’t know the mountain that well. What if I turn back, and the summit was right around the corner? Someone close to me once said, “you know you’re getting to the top, when the trees start getting smaller.” Well, the trees seem to be getting smaller (I don’t actually know if that’s true or not, because I didn’t look at them when I started). 2.10 miles. “I’m not even sure if I remembered that advice correctly, to be honest. Do they get smaller? Do they get thinner?” 2.20 miles. “Or was it that they no longer look like trees? Shit. What exactly did she say?” 2.40 miles. The sun starts to set, and I know that if I don’t turn back now, I will be hiking back in the dark, and because I thought it was a 45-minute jaunt, I don’t have the proper supplies for that. I get back to my car and I decide to do a little research. Turns out, I was just walking the AT, you guys. I’m glad I turned back when I did, I really don’t have the time to go to Georgia right now.

I quickly realized the lesson in all this. If you believe that things happen as they should, your stress level will diminish, by default. Think about all the times in your life when you feel wronged or disappointment by something, but you never connect the dots. You didn’t get a call back for that job you really wanted, and though you accepted one that paid a little less, it’s there that you met your closest friend. Sometimes we focus so heavily on what isn’t working that we can’t acknowledge everything that has worked for us because of the things that didn’t. Even circumstances that result in regret have purpose. They must, right? However, while circumstance may lead you, you have to put a little work in too. You can’t sit idly by and blame it on the universe, or God, or fate or whatever drives you. I let circumstance lead me that weekend, and because of that, I hiked a part of the Long Trail, I met The Guy with the Bow Tie, and I know way too much about the culture of Waitsfield, Vermont… but maybe next time I shouldn’t wait for the universe to tell me to bring a flashlight… on an unfamiliar mountain… at 4pm.

New Year, Same Me (but a little stronger).

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I’ve been thinking a lot about New Year’s resolutions. How we take our experiences from the previous year, condense them, and decide that the year was either positive or negative. We do that with our character as well. We write a list of things we need to work on, to be better humans and we let that list determine whether or not we are a success or a failure. I have a list of my own, and it isn’t short.  I’m trying to take a different approach this year. I’m trying to look at my experiences individually; giving them all merit, either as memories to look back on or lessons to move forward with.  Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the concept of new year’s resolutions, and I participate in the tradition.  It’s motivating; the idea of a fresh start, a chance to fix your mistakes.  It gives you hope for progress, and hope is a powerful tool. Staring down a list of things you need to change about yourself, can be overwhelming. It can set us up for disappointment. I wanted to adapt the way I look at resolutions, to set myself up for success.

My best friend and I made vision boards, with goals for 2018; better health, self-care, financial responsibility etc. Little envelopes on a poster board. The envelope is marked with a resolution and holds an index card. Goals change, as we change, so I wanted the resolutions to be adaptable.  I can grab one of the index cards, and let that one goal be my focus for the day. The expectation of total perfection, that we want to accomplish by February, is wildly unrealistic. “I have to be kinder, more disciplined, healthier, more responsible, eat better, call my grandmother”, and all by the end of the day. I decided to stop thinking in terms of a total overhaul, and I’m hoping that if I allow myself to focus my energy on one improvement, it will become a habit. Under “kindness” for example, I have “think kindly” and “recognize anxiety, so you can better respond to it.” I consider myself a kind person.  I’m not sure if considering myself kind, speaks to my level of kindness, but here’s hoping my moral compass isn’t malfunctioning in some way.  Even kind people can act unkindly though, especially when you introduce life’s stressors. Put me in traffic, when I’m late for work, and I can show you unkind. I am trying to stop letting those daily stressors affect the level of kindness that I’m projecting- and sometimes I need that reminder.

“Fitness” has been a fun category. It’s fun because a lot of my focus right now is fitness, with the pending hike, but also because I wrote that I can’t say “no” when it comes to physical activity.  I made the mistake of telling people about this resolution, and they are certainly taking advantage of it…

My sister: “Do you want to take Bachata lessons?”

Me: “Ummm, I mean I don’t really have the coordination for that sort of…”

She interrupts:  “Well, you can’t say no, so…”

It looks like I’ll be learning the Bachata soon. So, I’ve got that going for me.

To be honest, it’s because of this “can’t say no” resolution, that I have had one of the most interesting winters of my life. I tried cross-country skiing for the first time. I started water aerobics, Pilates, and Yoga. (Pilates was a suggestion from a blog reader, actually- so it looks like I’m not saying “no” to you all either). Then there was my ice skating adventure.  Exercise-wise, ice skating was probably the least effective.  Take a minute to imagine a fat girl in her 30’s on ice skates for the second time in her life. Yeah, it looked exactly like that; close proximity to the wall, butt out for imaginary balance, hands ready for imminent impact, fear of passersby.  I was basically the ice skating version of an old man on his porch, yelling at the neighborhood kids to slow down.  Those damn hooligans, with their blue laces, and their funky tricks. Plus, I went with a friend who does know how to skate, and she was on some mission to “lap the derby girls.” I don’t really know what that means, but I just let her do her thing, and I did mine. I guess what I’m saying here, is that I spent more time in the warming yurt, with an Allagash in hand, than I did on the ice… but I put the skates on, just like she asked me to.

I feel better, physically, than I ever have in my life and I think this new year has offered me some emotional clarity as well. I don’t know if it’s because I am more disciplined, or just because I’ve given myself better direction, but it feels like I am making changes for my life and not just for the year; not for some obligatory resolve. I’m also learning that you’re allowed to cut yourself a little slack. We can’t use that slack as an excuse not to progress, but we can’t be perfect either. My friend, Rachael, once told me that she gives me the wrong start time, to decrease my chances of being late. Ok, so I have a small issue with time management. Don’t worry, I’ve added it to the list. She then said something that stuck with me. She said that people are made up of their positive characteristics and their… not-so-positive characteristics. We should strive to make changes, for a better life, but sometimes the not-so-positive characteristics mold you in the same way, and one wouldn’t be the same without the other. She described me as a whimsical person. I’m pretty sure that was code for “kind of a mess”, but that’s just not the index card I’m choosing to take with me today.  She went on to say that whimsy doesn’t necessarily fit with someone who is rigid in time management. If I were the kind of person who was always on time, and it came naturally to me, I probably wouldn’t be the kind of person who has the adventures that I have. I’m trying to keep that in mind as I reflect on 2017 and focus on my goals for 2018; to strive for forward-movement, but allow myself to fumble.

The truth is, my interest in these activities didn’t just start at midnight on January 1st.  I didn’t wake up that morning like, “you know what my resolution is going to be?” I’m going to change everything about myself and learn the Bachata.”  I had a long-term goal to hike a bit. That was it. Something that I have always enjoyed, but something that was tough for me, because I haven’t had the kind of endurance that hiking requires. When you resolve to lose weight, every other relatable goal, somehow only becomes possible after that weight loss. “Once I lose a little weight, and I’m in better shape, I’d like to start cross-country skiing.”  Then weight and diets become the focus, and you’re losing weight to cross-country ski, instead of cross-country skiing to enjoy your life and get healthier at the same time. I’ve decided that I’m not going to let my weight or anything else, be an excuse not to try something new. I’m learning to acknowledge that who we are right now, is and always has been the combination of all of our traits, positive and not-so-positive. I’m learning that we have to be grateful for the things in life that are grueling, like training for a hike, and the discipline that resolutions require. We have to try, of course. That’s all resolutions really are, a plan to try. We have to channel courage, and know that excuses don’t make changes, but we also have to see beauty in imperfection. Because it’s the imperfection that will keep us working towards our goals….. with the added perk of helping us maintain our individuality. Or whimsy, if you will?

Help me, please, anyone.

So, the hiking is going well… and by “well”, I mean that when I’m on the way up a mountain, I’m cursing father time, and on the way down, I’m all like, “I COULD DO 19 OF THESE!”  I couldn’t.  I have recently started walking with a pack.   Not on the mountain (yet), but I’m doing a lot of trail walking, so I’ve been bringing a weighted pack with me on the trails.  Between the pack, the blanket, and the dumbbells that I put inside of it, it weighs about 15lbs.  Today, I walked what us Mainers call “The Boulevard.”  It’s a 3.5-mile trail around a cove, that sits a few blocks outside of the busiest part of Portland.  The pack is borrowed from a friend, the hiking boots are three years old, and have not been broken in. I got them during my “fleeting idea days”, and they’ve been in a closet ever since.  So… my back hurts, and I got my first hikers blister this week.  It feels a little bit like a rite of passage, and also a little bit like a sore foot.  The more I introduce hiking gear into my training regiment, the more I realize that I have no idea what I’m doing.  I am getting some help from friends, but most of those conversation look something like this…

Me (while trying on packs): “How do I know which one will work best?”

Timmy (non-hiking friend who is barely paying attention): “That one should be fine.”

I’m not sure I should be making decisions for a 20 day thru-hike, over 53 mountains, based on phrases like, “should be fine.”  I may need to solicit the help of other hikers. I’ve started a supply list; relying heavily on the internet and not so much on my own instincts. I’m the kind of trip-packer who brings an extra bag just for the shoes and purses. I’d bring a shower koozie on this trail, if you let me. I can’t be trusted. I’m trying to figure out what I will need, what brands are most durable, and what supplies a new hiker would think are necessary, but will end up being dead weight. So, any supply/gear tips or hacks, would be incredibly helpful.  I’ll share my list below, feel free to tell me what to add or knock off…

Shelter and Comfort: Tent, pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad.

Clothing: One short sleeve shirt, one long sleeve shirt, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, three pairs of socks/underwear, one sports bra, one pair of hiking shoes, one pair of camp shoes.

Cooking/Food Supplies: Food, water, water purification tool, stove, spork/knife, (possible high-rimmed plate, but I’m not sure if that’s necessary.  I could just eat out of the pot and save myself that weight).

Utilities: Knife/multi-tool, bear spray, duct tape, rope, flash light, batteries, compass, flint/magnesium, a lighter/matches, hiking poles.

Toiletries: Toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, all-purpose camp soap, wash cloth, toilet paper, first aid supplies, sunscreen.

Reading Material: Guide book, map, one book of choice, small notebook/pen.

Extras: Camera, solar charger.

There are certain items that I know I will need, for sure.  I don’t think a single one of you is going to tell me to knock the water flirtation system off my list. No one has time for Giardia. But the options within are vast, and it can be overwhelming for a first time thru-hiker, such as myself.  So, I have a few (more specific) questions that I could use some insight on as well.

Water filtration: From tablets, to UV lights, to squeeze filters, to filter pumps, to bleach… what’s a girl to do? No, seriously, what do I do? I watched this documentary one time, where a couple of guys were trying to see if they could live on $1 a day, in an impoverished part of Guatemala.  One of them got sick from contaminated water, and now I have a real fear. I don’t even drink the water at my house, and I’m from the home of Poland Spring.  I’m leaning towards a squeeze filter, but I’m wondering if that is a realistic option for the length of this hike?

Pack weight: I read somewhere, that on a long-distance hike, your pack averages to about 1/3 of your weight. The average woman weighs 166.2lbs. Obviously that’s not the case over here, or I wouldn’t be writing a blog that starts with the words “fat girl”, but let’s just say, for research’s sake, that I was the weight of an “average woman.” Can we just pause for a minute here and appreciate how specific the average weight of a woman is… 166.2 lbs? Who did this math? Where did you get your intel? Doctor’s offices across the nation? Was there some sort of a poll on the street? “Excuse me Miss, we are trying to find the average weight of a woman, would you mind getting on this scale?” Anyway… if the average woman had a pack that totaled 1/3 of her body weight, she would be carrying a 55.4lb pack.

That seems completely unreasonable.

I’ve done a little research that said most people carry around 30lbs; 20lbs if you are an experienced hiker. So, this question is for anyone who has done a long-distance hike. From what I understand, the longest stretch between supply stops, on The Long Trail, is 5-6 days. What kind of weight should I expect to be carrying, and how much weight should I be training with?

Footwear:  Lots of internet debate around hiking boots vs. hiking shoes and waterproof vs. non-waterproof. It’s put me in a tough position, to be honest. If I can’t rely on the internet, who can I rely on?  The debate over hiking boots and hiking shoes seems to be a matter of weight vs. durability.  I read somewhere (the start of so many of my sentences) that 1lb on your foot is equal to 5lbs on your back, and that the average hiker will use 6% more energy with hiking boots vs. hiking shoes.   As far as water-proofing goes, it’s my understanding that any boot will get wet, inevitably, and water-proof boots are harder to dry out. I’m interested in hearing what kind of success you have had with non-waterproof hiking shoes?

There are so many other questions… like cooking: Jet-boil, alcohol, good ol’ fashion camp fire? Don’t even get me started on food. How do you consume enough calories to sustain 15-mile days, while peppering in a few mountain hikes… without having to carry 1/3 of a woman in your pack?  A funny question for a fat girl, because getting enough calories has literally never been my concern.

BUT… I guess I’ll save some questions for another day.  Thanks for your help!