With 16 Days remaining I am in the final countdown to beginning the trail. I have planned the entire trip down to the smallest detail and anticipated every possible situation I could encounter and prepared accordingly. For those who don’t know me, I’m absolutely not a planner and the second sentence is complete bull***t. For those that do know me, stop laughing, I got this.
My plan is to not plan but to have a rough draft and adjust as needed along the way. Planning every last detail to me is just as crazy as venturing off on a 2200 mile backpacking trip through the mountains with no prep at all.
life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans and to much planning just sets you up for disappointment when things inevitably don’t go as expected so I focused on the things I can control like clothing, gear, navigation, survival skills and having knowledge and information to think fast on my feet.
I have dialed in my clothing systems and gear with hours of research and by getting out and hiking, backpacking and using every item in all temperatures and types of weather from freezing rain and snow to hot and muggy to field test every item in my pack. Every item had to prove itself worthy of its weight or it got the boot.
This process of looking at each item in detail and tossing anything that wasn’t a necessity ether for my survival or my sanity has made a huge impact on my base-weight* and it also made me realize that backpacking is a lot like life, we tend to carry around things we just don’t need and those things can weigh us down. Getting rid of the dead weight can make every mile more enjoyable.
I have heard it said that you pack your fears and I have to agree with that at least as it applies to me. My choice to start in February has advantages and disadvantages and the biggest disadvantage would be the cold weather. The temperature decreases by about 3.3°F for every 1,000 feet up you go in elevation so a fairly nice day at 1000 feet can be a dangerously cold night at 6000 feet. For this reason I will be taking extra cold weather gear and mailing home anything deemed unnecessary sometime after the smokey mountains.
Note** The Items in my gear list post have become outdated through all of the testing and my efforts to reduce my base-weight as much as possible but I will update it prior to leaving for the trail as some items will be decided on last minute depending on the weather forecast the day I leave. I will experience at least 3 seasons of weather conditions so I will also do my best to document when I swap in and out seasonal gear as this was probably one of the most difficult thing for me to research to this point.
*Base Weight is the total weight of your entire gear kit, excluding consumables which are food, water, and fuel. Consumables are not included because the amount varies by trip length and conditions. A lightweight backpacker (LW) carries a base weight under 20 pounds.