Return to Your Wandering Roots on a Thru-Hike

Calling all hikers, mountain climbers, adventure seekers and wilderness lovers – have you gone on a thru-hike? Dove into the quiet, awe inspiring world of towering mountain peaks and sun-drenched hills. Breathed in the air off of a clear blue lake, or maybe explored the deepest caves and tunnels where only dragons may lurk.

Thru-hiking is for those who grew up looking at Mount Everest and thought, “yeah I’d climb that,” the people crazy enough to go out into the wild with only a backpack and their wits. While some trails are easier than others, these hikes of epic proportions aren’t for the faint of heart or body. Thru-hiking is going from point A to B in what could be days, weeks, or even months. They’re something special and entirely unique, disconnecting you from the world of Instagram and YouTube and TikTok, they allow you to see the world in a bright, technicolor way that few get or choose to experience. 

Know that backpacking and thru-hiking are similar in that you will be carrying everything you need with you when you go, however thru-hiking generally refers to continuous journeys, often on long trails such as the Appalachian Trail or the Great Divide [LINK GREAT DIVIDE TRAIL POST] where as backpacking can have a more flexible time frame, but the treks are typically shorter and involve going out to a location and then back to your starting point. 

Thru-hiking is a daunting task, walking steep inclines, trying not to slide down rocky descents, pushing your body to the limits. It’s not for everyone and that’s alright, neither is long-haul truck driving, or competitive swimming, but many still happily take up those! So, if you’re interested in taking up this hobby, start slowly and build up your endurance gradually. Depending on your established skill level and goal, this might look like hiking 10 to 15 kilometers a day and adding distance as you get stronger. However, it’s also important to plan for days of rest, commonly called zero or nero days when you don’t hike at all, or only an extremely minimal distance. 

There are other factors to take into consideration too, like can you devote the time it will take for some of these hikes? It’ll all depend. Plus, and this is not to dissuade you at all, there can be a hefty price-tag attached to the venture. Depending on the length of your hike, you might be passing towns and plan to stay in a hotel or hostel on a zero day, take the time to be a tourist and that doesn’t include making sure you have the right gear on hand. Depending on what you have and what you need, that could also cost you a couple hundred to a couple grand. But at the end of the day, those costs and choices are up to you! Some people budget to take trips to Hawaii, or massive shopping sprees, so what’s wrong with spending that money to live on the trail for a while?

While this and other posts may be good stepping stones to familiarize yourself with the concepts of thru-hiking, in the end you’re just going to have to start walking. It’s the challenge that calls to many hikers, the test of endurance, mental and physical, discovering your limits and just how far you can push past them!

Do your research, find the trail that works for you and start planning.

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