Getting excited for my next hiking trip.

My buddy and I are in the beginning phase of planning our next backpacking trip.

I am very excited to get out in the cold and do some winter hiking. A trip in the cold will give me a chance to test out a new ultralight setup for an early spring northbound start from Harper's Ferry, WVA at the beginning of this coming season.

I am planning on trying to complete the last 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail this summer. I am very excited to have the opportunity to get back out there and claim my "2,000 miler" title. If all goes well I may revisit Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the 2,200 mile trail, to celebrate completing the entirety of the trail.

My buddy and I are going to either hit up a small loop of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains or visit some spots just north of Max Patch, NC. Max patch is on the shortlist of my favorite places on the entire AT. Our goal is to find a place where we can set up every once in a while and give other hikers some awesome trail-magic. If you haven't heard of trail-magic before, it's basically where something unexpected and awesome happens to you on trail. It can be anything from a jug of water left at a trail head because people know the local water sources are drying up (super important for a lot of hikers) to a guy in the middle of the woods making everyone omelettes (yes, it's true!). Trail Angels, as they are called, come in all forms. The main reason that we want to provide trail magic to hikers is simply that we have received it ourselves. We want to give back to the trail, and its next seasons of hikers, for all the times we have gotten a sandwich, a banana, a beer, or a can soda when we really needed a pick-me-up. I'm thinking that I want to bring out a big pot of hot chili or something hearty and similar to fill cold hikers up with some awesome hot food. I'll probably bake a few loaves of bread for the occasion as well. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

It's super important for me to get out and try out my gear setups with a friend like this. I really value the opportunity to spend time outdoors and be active. I'm going to be able to test out my gear and spend some time thinking about how I could modify my setup. This is super important for a longer hike. You can get pieces of gear sent to you, or even add gear along the way in towns, but getting caught out with the wrong gear can kill you. On a longer hike the weather will turn bad and you are going to want to have the means to deal with it. I already know that I'm going to have to dig through my gear closet I've accumulated over the last two years and make some changes. Starting so far north this season, and hiking northbound, I'm going to have to be much more prepared for sustained cold and snowy conditions.

As it gets closer to spring you'll probably notice that my posts are getting to be more hiking and backpacking related. I hope you don't mind too much, I'll probably post journal-type entries from the trail online where I can.

One of the great things about an activity like backpacking is that you don't really need to spend a bunch of money to do it. You probably already have a lot of stuff that you could take out and use on a hiking trip in fair weather during the main hiking season. Winter hiking will be more expensive, as you will need to have a certain amount and type of gear to hike and camp safely. Still, though, it doesn't have to be crazy expensive. I wouldn't advise starting with winter backpacking trips.

If you are interested in hiking and camping check out my equipment guide. (You can read my guide for free if you do a free trial of kindle unlimited.)