No. 3 Hike your own hike.
Got thru-hiker envy? Take the plunge and tackle a long trail in 2018, but start planning now. Use these tips from thru-hike goddess Liz “Snorkel” Thomas to make the most of thru-hiking prep season. Nail a start date. Apply for permits for the PCT and CDT.
Tell everyone. That means family, friends, and colleagues. Figure out your work exit strategy.
Get fit. Go on training walks, slowly ramping up mileage and pack weight.
Research gear. Resist the urge to impulse-buy based on other hikers’ tips. What works for others might not work for you. Use practice hikes to learn more about your style and preferences. Go easy on food prep. Dehydrating is fun, but unless you have a restrictive diet, you’ll want the flexibility to adapt to your changing appetite and taste.
Study up. Learn about your long trail through documentaries, books,and trip reports.
Firm up logistics. Buy plane tickets and shuttle rides to the trailhead. Reserve a hotel room. Get more tips and tricks in Thomas’s book Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike ($17; Falcon), or take our online course, Thru-Hiking 101 (taught by Thomas). Get more info at backpacker.com/th101.