Overnight Hiking – Planning
Pulling off a fun & successful overnight hike requires, and begins with a lot of planning. Start with a few parameters, Ex: For our recent trip, we wanted a challenge, but nothing extreme. We had a window of about 4 days and wanted to pack in as much adventure as we could.
That led us to choose the iconic Appalachian Trail (AT), based not just on the endless beauty along it, but also its incredible history. The AT, organized in 1925, is 2,190 miles long, stretching from Georgia to Maine. We chose a 20 mile segment from Roan High Knob to the town of Roan Mountain in Western NC. Our hike had us up over 6,000ft high – an elevation hard to imagine here in Piedmont, but not that far away! Check out the history of Appalachian Trail.
Sound like fun? Let the planning begin!
Here are few things to consider when planning your overnight backpacking trip:
• Start by getting recommendations from others that have ‘been there, done that’ – from online forums to your friends, there are near endless and amazing resources out there, and everyone is always willing to share their experiences.
• Don’t over do it – if you’re not an active hiker, start small with 5 – 7 miles planned each day.
• Get good maps – your cell phone isn’t likely isn’t reliable there, so you’ll want to carry maps. And more maps are better than one – we found an error in one AT map that had trail distance off by many miles!
• Then study your maps, not just for water sources along the trail, but also for emergency exits from the trail if needed, and where you’ll shelter each day.
• Factor elevation change into your trail distance. Add an hour to your hike time for every 1,000 ft of elevation gain.
• If you’re hiking with a group remember you are only as fast as the slowest person.
• Remember, mountain tops may offer spectacular views, but also note they can be shrouded in clouds or the peak may be tree topped with no views at all. Do the research and you’ll be a happy hiker!
• Be sure to leave enough time in your hike for meals, and to arrive at your destination in time to set up camp before dark.
• Keep in mind the weather can vary dramatically from season to season, and from the trailhead to the mountain top. Pack rain gear even if none is forecast.
• It’s best to hike with a buddy (or two), but If you go it alone, be sure at least 1 person knows your daily schedule and when/where you’re expected to check in. A written plan, reviewed with someone not hiking with you is best in case you ever need to be extracted.
• Be prepared & plan for: weather changes, gear failure, blisters, getting lost, trail changes & map errors, and illness. If you’ve planned for it, you’ll be able to deal with it and carry on with your hike.
• Finally, Leave No Trace! Please consider the next hiker behind you on the trail, and the next generation of hikers. Always pack it all out everything you’ve brought in. Leave nothing but footprints. There’s a lot of people out there committed to preserving the experience – learn more about the Leave No Trace organization.
Use these plsnning tips to guide your research and you’re going to be a long ways towards having a successful & fun hike!
Want to bounce your planning ideas off us? Just stop by the shop – we’re always happy to help and share our knowledge!