The backpacking community has a variety of views when it comes to hiking. Some prefer taking easy routes that only take a day or two. Others love to take extended hiking trips that last for weeks.
Do you know there are hikers out there who take hikes for weeks or sometimes months?
Thru-hiking is a term used for pro hikers who pack a heavy backpack and rest for sleep only. Before getting into the detail about thru-hiking, it’s best to know the difference between different hiking.
What is thru-hiking vs. backpacking?
Backpackers are usually the beginners who hike for fun and plan short trips. Thru-hikers take hiking seriously, and they are considered masters in the hiking world.
Thru-hiking vs. sectional hiking
Sectional hikers complete a trail in sections, whether it’s in days or months. In contrast, thru-hiker continue their trail until it’s completed or ends. If we compare both hiking styles, the former is flexible while the latter is rigid.
A Brief Introduction To Thru-hiking
When it comes to thru-hiking, the experience requires a strong will, mind, and body. The challenging task is only possible with proper planning and basic knowledge.
The process of thru-hiking can be subdivided into three phases.
- Phase 1: planning
- Phase 2: hiking
- Phase 3: post hiking
Let’s discuss all three phases in detail to have a clear idea about what is thru-hiking?
Phase One: Planning
First thing, not everyone can endure the thru-hiking trail. You have to stay away from home for several days or months. The trails for thru-hiking are rough, and the sleeping conditions are not unusual. You have to push through even when every bone of your body is screaming; it had enough.
It’s a challenging task that requires your full focus and energy. You either have to be fully committed to the task or forget the idea there is no in-between. If you are training for a thru-hike, here are the planning steps to consider
1. Its time to do some exercise
If you think exercising twice a week can get you through a pacific crest trail, think again. To get through a long thru-hike, you have to get into the best shape. Walking is not physical exertion that requires much effort; however, walking with a heavy backpack is another thing.
Talk to a physical trainer or thru-hiker community and start exercising right away. Experts plan your exercise schedules according to your weight and endurance level. It’s best to create a proper plan that can get you ready for the main event.
2. Its time to break the piggy bank
Thru-hiking is not a paid sport; it’s a passion that requires money. Section-hikers or backpackers can pack food for the whole trip.
Do you know how long is thru-hike?
It took a month fr the trail to complete, and hikers cannot carry food for a month-long trip. It’s impossible to fit all the food in a little bag so have you to make a pit stop to resupply. The prices vary in every location, so it’s best to carry enough money that can get you through the trip.
Being out for months will pileup rent and bills, which have to be paid forefront. It’s better to pay in advance than to worry about them on trial. You need to save up some money to keep your expenses in line.
3. Ultralight Thru-hiking Gear
Backpacking for a day or two trips with heavy packs on the back is not much difficult. However, carrying a bag that seems full of bricks for months is excruciating.
Expert hikers know to pack ultralight thru-hiking gears. Everything from your food to gear to clothes should be light in weight. Get some ideas from the internet to pack light with essentials.
4. Do not plan everything
New or beginner thru-hiker love to plan everything. They love to map out their schedule with all the details about the trail and the supply post.
Situation and conditions change every day or sometimes in hours. Sometimes you slow down because of weather or tour physical health, and things don’t move as planned. You have to listen to the alarms of nature and your body to make wise decisions.
Phase Two: The Main Event – Thru-Hike
Everything is planned, from your health status to the backpacking gear list. It’s time to put all plans in action and set out for the thru-hiking trail.
Hiking is an individual experience for every hiker. Some find it stress-relieving while other bonds on the trail. However, here are some useful tips that can help you get through.
- The first rule is ultralight thru-hiking gear only brings what is essential, like food, water, clothes, and gear. Don’t panic if you run out of food or water supply. Your fellow thru-hikers always lend a hand to you.
- Enjoy the nature in all its glory the wonderful trail with breathtaking views are one in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t rush to the next phase of hiking; enjoy the minor details around to save them in your memory.
- Make friends along the way. Taking help from fellow hikers or lending them a hand will make your experience worth it. A thru trail companion can make your trip enjoyable and distract you from the same routine.
- Take pictures to store in your album and memory. Capture all the moments to enjoy later in life. Your grandkids will enjoy these moments in the future.
Phase Three: Post Hike
You have completed your thru-hike, which seems to be impossible at some point. Hiking is an amazing experience that involves mind, body, and soul.
Your physical strength helps you get through every day. Your strong will push you through limits, and your passionate soul helps you live every mommet.
If someone asks you what is thru-hiking, you can now share your experience with expert tips.
You can opt for short hikes of Tahoe trail or the longer thru-hiking to John Muir trail. But once your journey ends, you are left with a mixed feeling of euphoria and exhaustion.
Don’t rush yourself to get back to your pre hiking life. Take some time to refuel by taking healthy nutritional food and lots of water. Avoid alcohol intake for at least a few days.
Listen to your body and relax for a while. You deserve a break in a cozy bed with soft pillows all around.