As a newbie to long-distance hiking, I learned many helpful tips from my much more experienced comrade, Joan.
- I already covered information on our planning in my introductory post, so I’m not going to repeat it here.
- Basics – maps, data book, GPS track and way points, water report with the knowledge base and experience to use them.
- Establish your start and end dates
- Determine your daily/section mileage
- Map out your plan (using a calendar worked best for me)
- Record start and end dates
- Determine resupply locations and mileage between them
- Determine whether resupply locations will be NERO or ZERO stops
- Mail resupply and/or bounce box packages (see below for tips)
- Make motel/camping/transportation reservations and/or obtain permits (revise later as needed)
- Deliver water to caches (include your name and ETA, add date available for public use, take out all empties)
- Check weather reports
- Check water reports
Daily Hiking Strategy:
- Review profile (I’m slower on long climbs and drink more on climbs and in heat)
- Tip: Keep a log of elevation per mile hiked and water consumed per mile until you know your requirements
- Locate water sources
- Tip: The AZT uses a scale of 0-4, with 0 being unreliable and 4 being reliable; you’ll learn what part of scale is applicable depending on time of year and recent weather
- Determine mileage between water sources
- Tip: Keep a log of miles hiked and water consumed per mile to determine your personal needs. The goal is to carry just a little more than you need, but not to be wasting energy by carrying excessive amounts.
- Tip: Plan to drink a liter at the water source.
- Review maps and estimate camping location
- Schedule routine breaks (for us it was every 2-3 hours)
- Sit and rest
- Shoes/socks off, feet inspection and maintenance, soak if possible
- Eat, drink, hydrate next meal, filter water, etc.
- Watch clock to manage break time and miles
- Best to break in shade, better near water
- Water gathering
- Retrieve resupply package
- Shopping (make list while on trail)
- EAT!!!! and DRINK!!!!
- Body & foot care
- REST!!! (if taking a ZERO)
- Recharge electronics
- Check for water report updates
- Check weather report
Although I don’t care for planning in advance, I’ve found I prefer the weight and taste of my own food; although I’d love to learn to resupply from a mini market. I supplement my resupply with fresh food and snacks purchased locally. I use a flat rate box (regional is best rate) and recommend shipping to a local business (i.e. motel – call first) vs post office (with restrictive hours).
What’s in my box?
- Breakfast (cereal, coffee and vitamins)
- Dehydrated meals (packaged in snack size bags, I figure 4-6 per day)
- Drink additives, including electrolytes
- Refill items such as ibuprofen, lotion, feet ointment, wet wipes, dry wipes, eyeglass wipes,
- Plastic bags to repackage town purchases
- For town stops:
- Oxiclean (unscented) for presoaking and washing laundry
- Personal care items such as Q-tips and fingernail cleaner
- Denture tables (for cleaning water vessels, water filter, toothbrush, etc.)
I might send in addition to my resupply box or bounce ahead every couple weeks. I use a flat rate box (regional is best rate), and if it’s not opened it can be forwarded to next stop at no charge. I recommend shipping to a local business (i.e. motel – call first) vs post office (with restrictive hours).
What’s in my box?
- Fingernail clippers
- Plastic baggies
- Repair items (i.e. for air mattress)
- First aid kit resupply items
- Emergency preparedness resupply items
- Toiletry resupply items (i.e. floss)
- Items that may be needed in near future (i.e. mosquito head net, mosquito repellent)
Tip: many items can be ordered online (i.e. Amazon) and delivered timely to your next town stop. It may be cheaper than shipping forward in a bounce box (i.e. shoes). Amazon Prime is a great investment for long-distance hikers with their two-day free shipping on most items. When we need something, we need it now!
- 21 Pro Tips For the First-Time Thru-Hiker, from CleverHiker
Tips and Resources:
- Link to my other Arizona Trail (AZT) posts
- Rambling Hemlock (aka Joan)
- Arizona Trail Association
- Fred Gaudet’s Water Report
- Umbrella and Mariposa Pack Links
- Disclaimer: As a Gossamer Gear Ambassador, I was gifted the pack, but paid for all the rest of my gear