I find it easier to prepare for an outing while outdoors. I know this sounds odd. And it’s true, there’s a lot of prep that must be done at home, before the outing. However, I find that the final honing is best done while actually outdoors, in the elements.
If the outing is a simple one, perhaps a few days camping or backpacking, I tend to pack and prepare all that I think I’ll need at home then spend a night or two car camping. This way, I’ll still be able to acquire anything else I need, or have forgotten. For the monumental task of hiking the AT, I plan to spend two to four weeks hiking the River to River Trail in Illinois. This 160 mile trail in the Shawnee National Forest is my home area, and I can be relatively supported during this phase. Bella and I need to bring ourselves, our gear, our skills, and our desire, all into focus. In actuality, this is a test. If we can’t survive this phase – not only survive, but keep coming back for more – we’ll need to bail out. The full and most desired outcome of this excursion is to go, do it, complete it unharmed, and live to tell about it.
Backpacking is a lot of work. In fact, it can be brutal, depending on what one undertakes. Conventional wisdom holds that one acquires “trail legs” after about two to four weeks of consistently hiking. This means that the body adjusts, or gets in shape, for the demands that are made upon it. For me, at this point, this is theory. I’ve never had this direct experience, but I believe it to be true. Therefore, that’s what we’ll do.
The same is true for Bella. She is certainly a capable dog, she’s becoming a trail blazing fool. I’m hoping to grow her trail legs, too.