Preparing for an Overseas Thru Hike

When I adventure with my good friends Mark and Nick I have the hardest time packing. What may start as a weekend of rock climbing could easily morph into a weekend of Mountaineering and what starts as climbing one mountain could end being 3. Camping at the trail head might turn into a bivy at the summit and if you aren’t prepared for that then you aren’t prepared for what could have been an epic moment. If you think you might possible need it you have to bring it, because otherwise you are limiting your options.

This July Mark and I planned a trip out to Leavenworth for 5 days. The 5 days were originally planned for trail running and backpacking with a maybe a nontechnical summit. But on the day we were set to leave Mark’s doctor cleared him for climbing. Instantly our plan changed to include climbing. I threw everything I could think of into my car and we were off. On the way to Leavenworth we cycled through ideas. Run and then climb rocks and then climb a mountain? Run, then climb 2 mountains? Climb rocks, run, climb 2 mountains. Even after settling on a plan the plan changed several more times. At the end of the week we had run and climbed Dragontail, Colchuck and Liberty Bell Mountain!

I know going into these adventure that no amount of planning is going to last, but that it is going to be fun.

In 2014 when I was preparing for my pct thru hike I had my dehydrator constantly running. Nearly every meal I made in the months leading up to my hike was doubled and half was put on the dehydrator. I was also constantly dehydrating fruits and vegetables. Once the raw ingredients were dry they were combined with seasoning to make the majority of my dinners. These dinners were placed in boxes with the specific amount of food needed for that section of trail. Gear I would need for later in the hike were added to the boxes as well before I ever left for the trail.

When preparing for the pct I studied gear lists and maps and planned everything in as much detail as I possibly could. Yet as soon as I hit the trail I was forced to adapt and change plans. Even as prepared as I was I had no idea what the trail could throw at me. I adapted and learned a few tricks that made trail life a simple joyful life.

Planning for my Te Araroa hike has been far more similar to planning for an adventure with Mark and Nick then it has been like my PCT hike. Even if I wanted to prepare the someway I did for the PCT I would not be able to. For obvious reasons I can’t prepare my food ahead of time. Planning all of my stops from another continent might be possible, but it can also be done on the fly and that allows more flexibility. I’m no longer a novice thru hiker and yet I expect Te Araroa to throw new challenges at me that I can not yet foresee. My goal is to be prepared for whatever adventure New Zealand has in store for me instead of planning to have a specific adventure.

I am having the hardest time packing, because everything I bring and everything I leave at home represents an adventure I could have. I will be leaving so many adventures at home and yet I know I will have great adventures.


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