Thru hiking a major trail can be a great challenge, but the rewards are indescribable. In the U.S. there are two major hikes, the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast and the Pacific Crest Trail on the West Coast. Also, there is The Great Trail in Canada, was just completed, which is now the largest connection of hiking trails in the world. So, if you are planning on thru hiking any long distance, getting prepared for it, physically, mentally and with the right equipment will be essential.
Here are some tips:
First understand why you are doing this – this is probably the most important thing about preparing for your hike. Knowing your purpose will give you the motivation to get it done.
Tell Others about your plan – doing this makes you accountable. No ones like to have to go back and tell everyone that they quit or didn’t meet their goals. If you can put up a blog or write about it on Facebook, even better.
Physical Preparation – This will depend on how in shape you are to begin with. Certainly aerobic preparation will be necessary to hike 8-10 hours per day, with weight on your back, day after day after day. So get in shape. Resistance training can also be a powerful tool to get your legs, shoulders and back in shape. Lunges, squats and planks will fortify your muscles. REI offers a great preparation workout that you can find on their website that gives you detailed instructions on a great workout to get you in shape.
Flexibility – Yoga is also a great tool to increase flexibility
Prepare for higher elevations – If you can train on trails in high elevation, that is the best. If not, choose cardio activities that build up your lungs, like running stairs or sprinting.
Get comfortable being alone – This great tip comes from bearfoottheory.com. Spend time without your cell phone, TV, computer or friends. Get comfortable with yourself because that might be all you have for miles and miles.
Know your gear – Test your gear, then test it some more. Learn how it works and how to fix it. When you are out on the trail, you might be the only resources you have, so know what you are doing.
Study – do you homework. You should spend a lot of time doing research on the trail you are hiking and experience that others have shared about that trail. Talk to people who have done it and learn from them. Take their advise.