Hiker Panel - Learn from hikers who have been there, done that!
Is 2018 the year for a big hike? At our Harrisonburg store, we had a panel of hikers differing in ages and hiker-type join us to go over the questions that you may be wondering about. The goal of this event was to provide a dialogue between folks interested in getting into hiking and those that have experience to draw from and a willingness to share tips, setbacks, stories, etc. in an effort to open the outdoors to as many people as possible in a positive, friendly setting. Check out this blog to learn from their experiences.
Facilitator - Vince Mier - AT Northbound Thru Hiker * Trail Name - Blaze
Mark Bailey- 2017 Northbound AT Thru Hiker * Trail Name - Uncle Pyro
Patti McInerney- Grand Canyon, Day/Overnight Hiker, AT sections as well as a variety of other trails * Trail Name - Hard Bark
Eddie Bumbaugh- AT section hiker w/Northern Maine section * Trail Name - No Sweat
Kirk Miller- 1999 Southbound AT Thru Hiker * Trail Name - Flying Monkey
Justin Shifflett- 2016 Flip Flop AT Thru Hiker * Trail Name - Spider
Q: There is so much gear on the market nowadays, how do you know what to get?
A: Online research, talking to the staff at Walkabout Outfitter (heck yea! - nice shout out from Uncle Pyro), join a hiking group and talk to people in the group, do an over-nighter, much of it is trail and error - no two people are exactly alike, feet are so important - everyone is different but always keep your feet happy
Q: How do you address cold and rain?
A: Layers (always carry one more layer than you think you will need) - synthetic and wool, positive attitude, rain gear, always bring extra socks and dry camp clothes - use safety pins/clothes pins to attach wet clothing to your pak as you walk to dry out, Pak towel, stay home if it's that bad! But!! You can have an awesome day too. Changing socks always makes a huge difference, and rain in the summer is good - helps keep your body
Q: What do you do when there is lightening?
A: Keep walking, find shelter, you are safer in the woods than on top of the mountain - may have to back track to find a wooded area until the storm passes then continue on
Q: What are your weekend trip necessities?
A: Same as a week long trip! trekking poles, water filter, headlamp, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, shelter, etc.
Q: What type of water filtration system would you recommend?
A: Uncle Pyro - Platypus Gravity Works; Justin - started thru hike with Steripen but switched to Aquamira drops because batteries were hard to find for Steripen (now have one that has rechargeable batteries!)
Q: How much water should you estimate for a day?
A: Uncle Pyro - 4L/day --> 2 to 3 to drink, 1 to cook with; Kirk - 9L/day, drank a lot one day during the summer in Maine
Q: What type of electronics do you take with you, and how do you recharge?
A: Solar chargers - Goal Zero, phone (with a rechargeable battery pack), there is also an additional GPS service you can get for your phone that will work, even if your phone doesn't have cell service. Justin had a battery pack that would charge his iPhone 5 times before it needed to be recharged itself - found that this was a good amount to get him to the next town.
Q:What was your best and worst day on the trail?
A: Kirk - Worst - no truly bad days, every day was great Best - there are so many, Maine and Virginia were his favorite states, dreamed of doing the AT for 20 years, 100 mile woods was just made him happy.
A: No Sweat- Worst - decided to drink a chocolate milkshake before starting a hike... there were black bugs covering him just about everywhere while in Vermont Best - 1st time in the rhododendron tunnel in VA, a trail angel one day brought them a fresh strawberry shortcake, and any day that ends with pizza
A: Justin - Worst - the 1st day he set out on the AT and actually realized what he was about to do, got super sick one windy evening and the shelter he was staying in didn't help shelter him from the cold wind and it was blowing right in onto him Best - hanging out with thru hikers in NH.
A: Uncle Pyro - Worst - during a snow storm when they were trying to find the blazes (which are white) on the trees to continue their progress forward, but ultimately ended up hiking 20 miles that day. Best - every day is Saturday.
A: Vince - Worst - 1st couple of days back on the trail after a 10 day break where he could eat whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, psychologically hard, friends were 10 days a head of him Best - every day was better than the last
Q: Wives of thru hikers, some info to pass along:
A: difficult to not have constant contact, maybe once a week - have a communication plan, but its also enjoyable because it is also their time as well. Statement: No Sweat said their goal of section hiking is to make it as easy as possible - they would get off the trail whenever possible at night, and one night while in NY they ended up taking a train into NYC because they could!
Q: What type of injuries did you sustain?
A: Knees - R.I.C.E. always land with your foot in front of your knee, ragged feet and Christmas toes (when you will start to feel your toes again), use a tennis ball to roll your feet out at night; Pack not fitting right so it causes irritation on shoulders; Twisted ankle - put your foot/ankle in a cold stream, Leg cramps - walked down hills backwards - proceeded to get trekking poles (good idea!), Don't push yourself to hard - you will ruin your hike
Q: What are some things that might keep you from going?
A: Ice - but get Yak Trax, slippery during falling hiking - leaves: WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS A WAY
Q: What are some local groups in the Harrisonburg area?
A: Sierra Club, Take a Hike (out of Woodstock), Meet Up Group, PATC
Q: What were some of your fears, and how did you overcome them?
A: Patti - hikes with my brother so I had to learn to do everything myself, night, being alone in the wilderness, hiking with weight on your back is different for women than men - we definitely can't carry as much as men so you may have to give up some luxuries.
A: Kirk - fearless (haha), curious about New England
A: No Sweat - N.H. and Maine hiking the cliffs straight up, challenging but doable
A: Justin - actually starting the through hike - but you are in a community of hikers. you look out for one another and word travels fast on the the trail
A: Uncle Pyro - physical ability; start with yoga, pilates - stretch your muscles
Q: What about mailing yourself stuff?
A: don't have to do as much unless you have a special diet, found to be a nuisance but you do get what you want, you're not going to starve on the trail, but do mail medication to yourself, mail winter gear back when it's time for summer and summer gear back when it's time for winter. Thru hikers LOVE fresh fruit - don't offer Clif bars - they get sick of those fast!
Q: What is your favorite trail food?
A: Tortillas w/ PB and dried cranberries, Pasta sides, tortillas with pepperoni and cheese, kale, hard boiled eggs, Gatorade - get your electrolytes but also gives your water a different flavor sometimes
Q: What were you looking at total expenses for your hike, not including gear?
A: varies on what you want to do, some people needed more than others
A: Justin - $1,200 $2,000/month
A: Uncle Pyro - $3/mile
A: Vince - $2/mile
Q: What was the best advice and worst advice you have been given?
A: Best - carry duct tape (but not on trekking poles), don't leave the shelter if it's raining - wait for it to pass (it will pass!), buy your pack last - get your gear and build your pack around your gear that way you don't buy something to big and feel the need to fill it, it's ok to start slow - it will get easier, do a 'dog' spin around your campsite before you leave to make sure you have everything with you, do your own pack shakedown after you return from a trip - something you need to make sure you have or something you have you don't need?
A: Worst - don't listen to just one person, don't listen to how far away something is - take that with a grain of salt, not everyone wants to know the weather or how big the next mountain is.
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