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Hiking is a term used to mean a walk, usually through a trail or footpaths along the countryside. Thru-Hiking is a more intensive form of hiking.
Usually, when people use the term thru-hiking, they mean a long-distance, end-to-end hike that generally takes a long duration. It is a long-term commitment and often takes anywhere between 6-12 months.
Kinds Of Thru-Hikes:
There are a few kinds of thru-hiking that a thru-hiker can adopt. They are:
- Section Hiking: Thru-hiking trails are usually long, and one might not have the time or opportunities to complete the entire hike at once. So many hikers divide the course into smaller segments. They finish it in parts instead of doing it all at once. This is called Section Hiking.
- Flip-Flop Hiking: This is a less traditional method of hiking but is effective. Flip-flop hiking means hiking without maintaining sequence or order. For instance, one might start from the last segment of a hiking trail and make their way to the start instead of going from first to last. There are many reasons for doing this as well. The most common reasons are weather and availability of resources.
Why Do People Thru-Hike?
An individual may decide to thru-hike for a wide array of reasons. Some of the most common ones are:
- To escape from their daily routines.
- To overcome stress, frustrations, and depression.
- Rediscovering themselves.
- To test their limits: both physical and mental.
- To clear their minds.
- To satisfy their adventurous side.
- To learn more about themselves.
Should You Thru-Hike?
Thru-hiking is a big commitment. Before blindly deciding to go thru-hiking, there are a few things you need to consider:
- It is a demanding activity. It takes a toll on your mental and physical abilities.
- Thru-hiking means you will be away from your everyday life for anywhere between 6-12 months.
- Financial backup. You will not be able to work or do business for a long time.
- You can survive outside with limited resources.
- You are comfortable being alone and on your own.
Besides all these, there are many other factors you need to consider. You should only decide to go on thru-hikes after proper research and assessment. Ideally, you would want little to no repercussions.
Traveling is essential for many reasons. It allows you to learn many things and gain experience in various aspects.
To know why you should travel more, click here.
Caution: You should consult your physician before hiking, especially if you have breathing problems and any condition that may trigger at any given time.
How To Plan For A Thru-Hike?
Prior in-depth research is critical when planning a thru-hike.
I cannot stress this enough, but prior research is crucial regarding thru-hiking. Please do your homework beforehand. Here are a few things you need to research:
1. Weather Patterns
Always research the weather patterns of the area you wish to hike on. Ideally, you would always want to avoid adverse weather conditions. Choosing a good starting day can make all the difference here, as the starting day will also determine your ending day!
2. Permissions And Permits
See whether you have permission to cross borders, camp, enter places, etc. Traveling rules constantly change, so ensure you have the necessary permits and approvals to avoid conflicts later.
3. Daily Targets
Calculating how many miles you need to walk each day, your daily sleeping and resting times, etc., is a good practice. It will give you a more accurate idea of what you need to do and how to perform daily to achieve your goal on time.
4. Resupply Points
Carefully map out places where you can resupply perishable and necessary supplies effectively.
Next, you should plan what you are taking on the hike.
Always plan what you will be taking along with you on the hike. Here are the essentials that you must carry:
- Sleeping Arrangements: It is a common practice for hikers to carry sleeping bags to sleep on. Your sleeping bag should essentially be weather resistant. Sleeping bags protect from the cold as well. Always choose a sleeping bag that is water-proof and has good insulation.
- Clothing: What you wear on your hike can affect the entire experience. When choosing clothes, always select ones made of durable material. If you are going somewhere with adverse weather conditions, for instance, rain, snow, etc., you need to pack accordingly.
Clothing also includes footwear and headwear.
- Drinking-Water: Always carry equipment that helps you purify water in nature. There may be times when drinkable water isn’t available, and you must purify the water first. So always carry purification systems. Also, you should take utensils to store drinkable water as backup.
- Shelters and Shades: All hikers should look for a good shelter spot, especially if the trail is in an area with adverse conditions. It should be a suitable spot to put up a tent to protect against rain, snow, and sun.
- Medication and First-Aid: If you have any underlying health conditions, you must carry your medication. This includes medicines, inhalers, insulins, etc. Besides these, you must also carry a first-aid kit. That kit must contain badges, disinfectants, gauges, sterilizers, etc., as one may injure themselves in the wild in multiple ways. So it is always a good idea to have a first-aid kit.
To learn more about packing, click here.
Choice Of Gear:
Your selection of gear can make or break your hiking experience. When choosing equipment, opt for lightweight gear and gear that is durable and takes less space.
Here is a list of gear you should consider carrying:
- Inflatable Pillows: This is a comfort item and one of those things that improve your overall experience.
- Lighting: Having a reliable source of light is game-changing. You have no idea how handy a light source can be in darkness. Always carry a lighting source with you during hikes.
- Multifunctional Tools: Having multipurpose tools at your disposal is always a good option. They prove to be handy in a wide array of situations. So always try to carry multi-tools along with you.
- Utensils: This includes spoons and knives to even containers and plates.
- Firestarter: Many kinds of fire starters are available on the market. So having one at your disposal is always a good idea. You may need to start a fire for a wide array of reasons. Whether it’s for cooking or keeping you warm in the cold, having an option to create a fire is always handy.
- Duct tape: Duct tape can be a lifesaver and has many uses. You can use it to patch up things, especially making a shelter. Moreover, you can use it to attach bandages as well.
- Electronics: Electronics such as power banks, emergency beacons, headphones, etc., help improve your overall hiking experience by a wide margin.
- Repellants: Having repellants and bug sprays is always a good idea. Mosquito and insect bites can make you very sick; they may even stop you from having a good night’s sleep. So you should always carry repellants.
- Map and Compass: This is one of those things you MUST carry with you, especially if you are hiking alone. It is not uncommon for one to get lost or lose their sense of direction, so having a map and a compass will always prove helpful.
Besides all these, something most people forget to consider is the backpack itself. A proper back can distinguish between an easy and comfortable trip and a bad and unpleasant one. An ideal backpack should be:
- Easy to carry
Some Thru-Hiker Terms And Lingo:
HYOH: Hike Your Hike means to do your own thing and not be judgemental, like “live and let live.”
Yoyo: To complete a thru-hike and then turn around and complete it backward.
Bounce Box: It is a supply box you don’t carry around. It contains supplies you will need at a certain point in the hike and is delivered accordingly.
Hiker Box: These are communal boxes placed at resupply points where hikers leave their extra or surplus supplies.
Trail Magic: Unforeseen assistance in your hike.
Camel Up: This means drinking as much water as you can possibly hold inside.
Hiker Midnight: Bedtime for hikers, which is 9 pm.
Slack Packing: This means hiking with as few gears as possible.
Zero Day: A day with little to no mileage, usually resupply or layover days.
Nero Day: A day with very low mileage or progress.
Thru-hiking is a serious and long-term commitment. If you plan on going on a thru-hike, you should first consult someone you already completed that hike with, as they will be able to give you advice and tips that others can’t.
Please research before selecting a spot to go hiking. Prior research is crucial here. Lastly, inform your friends and family before embarking on any hikes with exact details and information. You never know when you’ll need to reach out for help!