AT 2017: Making a Few Final Preparations (Finally)

Doctor, doctor, give me the news

Resupply items

When my doctor said I had to have hernia repair surgery, I expected I would only need to delay my thru-hike attempt by about three weeks. Instead of leaving on March 7, I could leave any time after April 1.

That was my presumption, you must understand. I knew I didn't have the final say.

DateTuesday, March 21, 2017
WeatherClear, sunny
Trail ConditionsSmooth going from here
Today's Miles0.0

Final approval would not be coming from my doctor, either, though his viewpoint certainly carried weight.

The last word on when I started my hike would have to come from a higher authority.

My wife.

She's been monitoring me closely to make sure I follow doctor instructions during my recovery. I've been scolded more than once for lifting something she thought might have weighed more than 10 pounds.

With Dr. Graves

In order to get final sign off from Kim, I visited today with Dr. Daniel Graves, my surgeon, for a post-surgery checkup.

He asked a few questions and said he was satisfied with my recovery. Although I'm still not supposed to lift anything more than 10 pounds until April 1, he said he saw no reason to prevent me from starting as I planned on April 3.

That pronouncement met Kim's criteria, so now the date is set.

There are a few things to finish, though, before I can go.

Maildrop boxes

One of the biggest items on my to-do list is to prepare a few maildrops for the first three weeks of the hike.

It used to be common for thru-hikers to prepare dozens of boxes of food and other supplies, which they would then schedule to be sent at intervals to destinations on the trail. That practice has been less necessary in recent years. There are a greater number of businesses near the trail that provide hiker services, so it's now much easier to resupply for short sections.

Though I don't really need to do it, I have elected to prepare a couple resupply boxes for my first three weeks on the trail. I decided to do this because I am trying to make those weeks as efficient as possible.

I'm hoping to get through the Smokies before April 23, which is when I plan to take a week off from hiking. I will be to attending DrupalCon, a web developer convention that is scheduled for April 24-28 in Baltimore.

So the plan is to have a food box waiting for me at Neel Gap in Georgia, which is the first resupply option directly on the trail. I'll send another box to Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina.

An outfitter store is located at both of these spots, so it's possible to purchase resupply items there. I don't plan to spend the night at either of these locations, though. It will be faster for me to just pick up a box there instead of shopping and repackaging everything before continuing down the trail.

A couple stops are planned during the first three weeks where I'll have more time to shop for food. Hiawassee, Ga. and Franklin, N.C. are farther off the trail, so a longer time spent in town will be necessary anyway.

The final resupply during the first three weeks will be just before the start of the Smokies. Our two sons, Logan and Landon, are planning to join me for the 72-mile hike through the national park, so I will arrange for them to bring me a resupply box I've prepared ahead of time.

There are many other things to do before I leave, like handling a few last minute gear changes, but I feel like I'm about as prepared as I'm going to be.

Doctor, doctor, give me the news
I've got a bad case of lovin' you
No pill's gonna cure my ill
I've got a bad case of lovin' you


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.