There are many “right of passage” or “spiritual journey” treks that are foundations or milestones for the outdoor adventurer or traveler. The Camino de Santiago, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, the Via Alpina – there are so many of these that it is difficult to decide which one is right or even feasible.
There are a myriad of stories on the Internet that portray these pilgrimages as a necessary right of passage for the outdoor enthusiast. But in today’s world, a six-month trek will not, in most cases, fit with the schedule of the working woman or man. It just won’t. Most professionals cannot go to Europe for two months to exclusively walk the Camino.
As a traveler and outdoorsman, this pains me. I believe that there is beauty in isolation and determination, but alas, even I cannot take off every summer to ramble about. So we have to find a middle ground here.
Finding the middle ground.
Let’s focus on the Appalachian Trail. I recommend doing it in pieces if the whole thing cannot be accomplished in one go (5-7 months for the whole thing). It’s a relatively easy trail, and it is extremely kept up and well-marked. Here’s a list of things you need for a trail like this. I’m excluding some of the hiking essentials (that is for a later post).
- Sleeping bag and pad
- Backpack, one with hip straps (I recommend at least a 55 L)
- Swiftwick socks
Yup! Why? You will only need a few pairs because they last a long time, smell won’t be an issue, and the less clothes you pack, the better. This isn’t Scotland or the Alps. Swiftwick socks will not get in your way. If you are walking a hundred miles or the entire AT, your feet (your most important asset on the trail) will be safe.
- Depending on seasons, clothes that will stay warm and dry
- Water bottle and purification method
- Bear bag (I just use the top part of my backpack)
- A guide book (you don’t even need this to be honest)
- Tools (knife, headlamp, trowel, tent)
There could be a more extensive list written (including shoes and food and raincover, etc..), but the point of packing effectively is packing as little as you can. Seriously, pack almost too little.
Find ways to do what you love. Even if you have to compromise and split up trails into segments, do it! Life is too short.