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…As scary as it is to not have a job, it was becoming more and more impossible to meet the growing demands of this particular position. So I joined the growing unemployment population.
Needing inspiration for a new path and tiring of tediously filling out repetitive applications, I decided to take a break and delve into a new adventure.
Having considered for a few years now doing a solo hike on the AT, my adventure was chosen. I even already have a good sturdy pack for backpacking, and it’s a cute shade of purple (not that the color matters, but I’m just saying, it’s pretty cute).
Questions started pouring in; where do I start/finish? How far is an attainable daily distance goal? Is it safe to do a solo hike on the AT? What are the bare essentials needed for the trip? After doing some research online and reading blogs on hiking, my trip was determined. I would start at Neel’s Gap and end at Amicalola Falls. The hike is approximately 40 miles long and should take 4 days if everything goes as planned.
Now on to packing; what are the essentials needed?
Most of the lists I found online were geared towards selling higher priced items for various retail stores. I couldn’t really find any blogs that offered a good list of backpacking essentials. Surely I could devise my own list. How hard could that be?
Since I have to carry everything I need and I don’t want to pull any muscles, everything needs to be as light as affordably possible. Let’s face it, I’m jobless so this needs to be as cheap as possible. After perusing the hiking aisles at the outdoor stores, it was becoming more and more apparent that for many things like tents and sleeping bags, the weight of an object was in direct correlation with its price.
Hmm, this was beginning to look like it was going to be more expensive than originally thought. Borrowing some of these big ticket items might be the best idea. And as luck would have it, I found someone willing to loan me both a tent and a sleeping bag. Yes!
As I’m looking over the selection of dehydrated foods, I realize that my options are limited. Now may be the time to mention that I’m a vegetarian. I know, it’s odd, but that’s another story. I grab the only two veggie friendly options available. Hopefully they’ll taste good. A bunch of protein bars and granola finish off my food supplies.
I’ll need to cook water to hydrate my dinner options. There are a few different choices with the stoves. From solid fuel cubes to liquid fuel canisters and all the various sizes they come in. Many blogs suggested the cubes over the liquid fuel depending on the individual’s needs. The liquid fuel is heavier and more expensive than the solid. And apparently it’s not so unlikely that the liquid fuel can leak out in your bag. I figured my history of klutziness upped this possibility, so it was prudent of me to try to avoid such a disaster. So this was a no brainer; for under $10, I obtained a stove and pack of solid fuel cubes.
Water proved to be a little tricky. What is the cheapest safe treatment? A water pump seems to be the best option, but it is also rather costly. There were these drops that only took 30 minutes to treat the water and they were very cheap. But the box said for emergencies only, so that kind of seemed a little scary.
On to the next option, pills; they were cheap and safe. The only issue was that it required a treatment time of four hours. That just seemed like such a long time.
Waiting four hours seemed to be less threatening than the drops and much cheaper than the pump, so in the bag it went.
While gathering up the final supplies, such as camp soap, a cup, spork, first aid kit, etc., it occurred to me that I should take a knife. I may need it for something. Possibly cutting rope. Or perhaps making my own kindling. Who knows.
It also seemed like a good idea for protection. I’m not really sure exactly how it would help against a snake or a bear, but it made me feel better. The selection of knives was enormous. I’m not sure I’ve ever bought a knife other than for cooking and eating purposes.
They all looked the same, until I came across this really cool little gadget. As I picked it up, a sales man came by to ask me if I needed any help. He seemed confused by my selection and asked why I needed a hatchet. After explaining the purpose of my purchase, he replied that he would definitely not mess with a girl carrying a hatchet. This, of course, satisfied my reasoning for the tool. Considering that this was a utility gadget, he explained all the different options the tool offered. Then after confirming that I was going alone, with a worried expression, he advised me to carry a gun. Should I be worried?
Finally, I had all my supplies needed for the trip. And it was only a couple days till the start of my new adventure on the trail.
I did the research, checked the weather, and was prepared. Right? Nothing could go wrong.
Oh boy was I wrong.
So very wrong.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for part II of Kimberly Drew’s exciting A.T. adventure!!… I mean, you can go do something else until then, but please check back eventually.
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