A Brief Guide to Long-Distance Hiking (Part Two)
Healthy Lifestyles

A Brief Guide to Long-Distance Hiking (Part Two)

by Emily Jannet on Sep 10, 2022

Following up on our recent post on long-distance hiking, here are several more tips and guidelines for getting the most out of your first thru-hike:

  1. Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Technology

A smartphone and a sophisticated GPS tracker really can be godsends on all types of hikes.  That is, just as long as they remain functional along the way. Long-distance hiking naturally means contending with unpredictable weather conditions, along with extended periods of time spent with no phone signal.  Not to mention, no realistic way of keeping your devices charged.

Take them along for the ride by all means, but do not put too much emphasis on the use of technology. Old-fashioned maps and compasses will never let you down.

  1. Expect and Be Ready for Bad Days

The occasional bad day is all part and parcel of the experience on a thru-hike.  Things go wrong, weather conditions take a turn for the worse, aches and pains start taking their toll, and you generally feel down in the dumps. Then there’s the psychological impact of being far from home in questionable conditions, with nobody but yourself and your companions to count on.  The temptation to quit will creep up on you from time to time, but in most cases will be short-lived.

Realistically, no thru-hike is ever going to be a bed of roses, every hour of every day. If you find yourself dealing with a day you’d rather forget, take stock of all the great things you’ve done so far, and take a well-deserved rest.

  1. Consider Stop-Offs Carefully

Planning a thru-hike means taking into account the places you will be stopping along the way to refuel.  Packing everything you need to keep yourself going for several weeks is simply not a realistic option. You will therefore need to stop off at countless towns and villages along the way, which in turn need to have everything you need to stock up for the next leg of your journey.

Likewise, it is essential to plan stop-offs in places where you will be able to treat yourself to a hot shower, a good meal and a fantastic night’s sleep in a real bed. Contrary to popular belief, occasionally indulging in a hotel stay or restaurant meal on a thru-hike is by no means cheating.

  1. Keep in Touch with Those Back Home

As you are not entirely sure where you will be heading, you cannot leave a comprehensive overview of your planned trip with anyone back home. This can make it difficult for anyone to know where you are supposed to be and when, or when to raise the alarm if things take a turn for the worse. Keeping in touch with those back home when possible is therefore essential.

Each time you stop off in a town or village, get in touch with someone back home.  Let them know where you are, where you plan to go next, and when you should arrive. Tell them whom to get in touch with and when, in the event that you do not arrive safely on time.

  1. Learn a Few Basic Survival Skills

Last up, even the simplest survival skills can go a long way on a thru-hike. The better you are able to make use of what nature provides, the less you will have to pack, and the easier your trip will be. Practice starting a fire with a flint and steel, learn how to put together a rudimentary shelter, and master the art of purifying water.

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You could also learn how to catch fish, forage for wild food and so on – anything that could help you out in a pinch. 

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