In the last year I put 3279 miles on my feet, and well, the rest of my body. I went through at least four pairs of hiking boots and countless pairs of socks to do so.
My husband and I hiked the first 2,179 miles on the Appalachian Trail during March-August 2010. We followed that up in January and February of this year by walking the 1,100 mile Florida Trail.
While a lot of women are introduced sports at a young age and many play them throughout school and even later in life, most aren't introduced to the sport of backpacking. I believe a lot of this comes from the thought of being dirty for several days, wearing the same clothes and underwear, digging a hole to use the bathroom and, well, carrying all your gear on your back and as a society we just aren't into that line of thinking. Society likes to shower daily, change clothes often and though some women's purses might push ten pounds, carrying your life and home on your back isn't on the top list of things to do for most people.
Now, we didn't hit the AT as our first hike, though some do. Old external frame Kelty packs from the 70s started us off for several beginner hikes several years prior. We made do with some lower quality backpacking gear such as a cheaper and slightly heavier tent. Our overnight trips consisted of short 5-10 mile out-and-back trips at state parks and along sections of the Florida Trail.
But for the serious backpacker, paring down and purchasing appropriate gear is a must. As for training, well, nothing prepares a backpacker other than throwing on a pack and going for a hike! Some of the fittest people we met on the Appalachian Trail still struggled initially before gaining their 'trail legs'. Sore knees, hips, feet and blisters are common ailments to struggle with for any beginning hiker and even those who've completed long hikes but have taken time away from the sport.
In upcoming posts I hope to shed a little light on the adventure sport of backpacking, and open some eyes to this great way of seeing nature, even if it is within a day's drive of where you live.
If you have any particular questions please comment so that I can address them properly...I'm sure someone else might have the same question!
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