Every boy scout, whether they realize it or not, knows the secret to a successful long distance backpacking trip: Be Prepared. A long distance trail blazer requires an adequate amount of planning and a lot of things to take in consideration. Here for you today are some things to keep in mind before you escape into the wild, before you take a step back and get a good dose of fresh air:
Choose Your Trail.
This seems easy enough, but remember to consider the time of year you’ll be going, how you have to travel (airplane, car, greyhound), and if you have the right experience levels. This will help you narrow down the selection. Once you get an idea of where you are going, or want to browse different options, find the trail associations webpage with a Google search. Here you can get started on planning the logistics. Here are links to some of the most prestigious trails in the United States:
- Pacific Crest Trail
- Appalachian Trail
- Colorado Trail
- John Muir Trail
- Hayduke Trail
- Arizona Trail
- Long Trail
- Continental Divide Trail
Know Your Water Sources
You have to stay hydrated on trail. Do your research as if your life depends on it. Relative to the weather, time of year, and region, you will want to know how you can obtain water. If you are in the desert, you’ll need to carry a lot more water. If you are in the Smoky Mountains, you will want to have extra water filter parts. The last thing you want while out in the middle of the back country is no accessible forms of hydration.
Plan Your Food Rations
Alongside hydration, proper nutrition can make or break your backpacking experience. Find that line between adequate food and weight, keeping in mind that the more you carry, the more you need to refuel. Find backpacking recipes and light snacks that can pull through in a clutch. It’s strange to organize everything you’ll be eating for a month, and it may look like a lot, but out on trail as your stomach is rumbling you probably won’t think so.
Know Your Region, Maps and More
Figure out the mileage you are shooting for and the type of terrain you will be traveling. This will depict what gear you need to bring, what hard-skills you should touch up on, and roughly how each day will be spent. Mark the maps, organize your schedule; once you get out and away from the computer, cell-phone, and modern day technology; you’ll be happy you did.
Chances are if you are traveling for more then a week, you’ll need to re-up on certain necessities. Every trail organization can help you figure out where you can pick up a new pack of Ramen or a clean t-shirt. Chances are, if you don’t want to rely on the supplies that certain backpacking posts carry, you can mail ahead you re-supplies with everything you might think you need.
Backpacking does keep you busy. But without Netflix, Facebook, or Amazon, you will find yourself with sudden true free-time. Time to explore within yourself. If you are backpacking solo, or for a long amount of time with a group, figure out items you can bring to constructively occupy some time. It’s as easy as a harmonica, paperback book, or pen and paper; any interests that can be packed into a pack.
Life of the Trail
Getting away from it all is not always permanent. Make sure you don’t come back from your journey into the wild with credit collectors knocking on your door, bills piled on the floor, and a significant other wondering where you went. Plan ahead to pay bills online, let people know that you might be out of communication for awhile, and don’t forget to have someone feed your Cockatoo.
Plan ahead to play free. Taking the time before your trip to get your ducks in a row will leave you the time to enjoy what you are out there for, to enjoy living in the wild and connecting to the real world we live in.