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We made it to Maine on Sunday evening after a long but picturesque drive through PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA, and NH. Fortunately, it only rained for an hour or so, and being able to belt out Frankie Valli and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes kept us trucking along.
We’ve just boarded a bus that will take us to Medway, where we’ll catch a shuttle to Millinocket and the AT Lodge. We’ve already met a few potential thru-hikers who will be starting the trail over the next few days. The levels of preparedness vary quite a bit from hiker to hiker.
As for us, we’ve been preparing for this for over a year both mentally and logistically. You could say we’ve been preparing physically, but that’s stretching the truth a little bit. (As they say, “The AT gets you in shape for the AT,” right?) We have gone through many iterations of backpacks, tested out sleep systems, and experimented with bug protection. We read numerous books, including a joint effort of Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis, a book about mentally preparing for the AT. If I had to recall, we also probably spent over half of our premarital counseling sessions talking about hiking and life on the trail.
In addition to preparing gear, we’ve been able to prepare our responses to common questions. Will you carry a gun? How do you get food? Will you sleep in a hammock? What do you do about bugs? Bears? Ticks?
Our answers have changed over time but currently stand at: No; via resupply boxes and stops in town; nope–we have a 3 person tent; and Permetherine/Picaradin and head nets, run and shout, and nightly tick checks in addition to bug protection.
It was difficult to arrive at answers to some of those questions. It was comforting when we both blurted out the same answer (Will you be hunting squirrels on the trail? No! Are you trying to finish the whole thing? Yup!). But more often than not we had to do some further discussing (How many pairs of underwear will you take? Will Kristen sleep in a hammock?) The most memorable of these was probably last 4th of July when Levi surprised his family (and Kristen) when he declared, “We won’t even be carrying a cookstove!”
“Yup. No cookstove. They’re heavy and we can just cold soak our meals.” (Whatever the heck that means).
We ‘compromised’ with a 30-gram cookstove that burns both alcohol fuel (not the good kind, though) and esbit tabs. Kristen can have her coffee and Levi can have much more pleasant mornings.
Sometimes it wasn’t about compromising, but about solidifying our reasoning. Yes, our backpacks are really really light and no, we aren’t carrying many items that some people think are entirely necessary for surviving for 6 months in the wilderness. If it weren’t for all of the supportive yet curious friends and family members, we might not be able to explain why, though.
Anywho, here we are, prepared as we’ll ever be with many a thanks to all of you who’ve expressed interest in our journey!