For the past two years, Alex Galante (of the renown illustrated novel, Is this Thing Loaded or is it Just Me?) and I have had the opportunity of taking some time off our schedules, coordinating common dates as well as making sure we head somewhere smart during ideal weather conditions for hiking, and head out into the wilderness for a bit, on week long section hikes of the Appalachian Trail.

In August 2016, we head off to the Shenandoah National Forest, Virginia, and parked at Chester Gap in the evening, where we met the kind hiker who showed us around his hostel and helped with some of our planning. We had a short night since driving from NYC to Virginia ate up most of our day, so we hiked a few miles to the Tom Floyd Wayside Shelter. It was our first section hike, so we learned about treating our water (using Iodine tablets), boil in bag meals, UL setups, lean to’s, shelters, and taking your socks off before coming in. The first two days gave us a multitude of lessons that we will carry with us on all of our future hikes. Our packs weighed around the 28-31 lb range, so we were by no means ultralight, but we did our best to minimize weight and by 2017 we were at a base pack weight (no water, no food) of 19 lbs, with Alex around the 21 lb range. So one major thing we took home with us after those first two days is the less you need to carry, the better.

We continued onward, and although it was nice to have wet energy bars which were homemade just the night before leaving, we did notice that it was a good amount of added weight. The next year, although we did cut down on snacks, we also ran out of them two days earlier, which means we had to cut our trip short by one day and remain hungry for two days straight because there was nothing to snack on. When we decided to cut the trip a day short though, we did end up eating double our meals since we had the extra days worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For our next trip, we definitely need to coordinate our meals a bit more precisely, as well as try to cut some weight wherever we can. Alex had mentioned down sleeping bag, I had a mentioned a new two person tent, and finally, a bit more of a casual pace at the start so we don’t burn out towards the end!