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Facts about United States
Stuff to See and Do
What to Do
I could write a book about what to do and not to do on a thru hike on the at as could any thru-hiker, but the most helpful advice that i learned was that every hiker is different and there is never a "right" or "wrong" way to do anything. Its all about preference when it comes down to everything, from techniques on going #2 to how you cook your ramen with your instant mashed potatoes. Some people like boots and others have skellitoes. The one thing you need to be aware of is your pack weight and your walking pace, but most of it is all trial and error.
What ya need to know. Well, first, there's no help getting back up, so if your not mentally tough, don't make the hike to the bottom. You will find that being in good physical shape is just a small part of the walk. You will hit "The Wall," more than once and when you do you will see what your made of. Make sure you wear good worn in shoes that want give you blisters, no new shoes. It would be easy to break on ankle also, keep that in mind. Anyway, travel light, wear a hat, take plenty of water and some high energy food, you will need it for the extra burst of energy it will take to get through the wall when you hit it.Oh yea, don't forget to stretch before and after.Good luck, it's worth the pain.
Not much. Pretty easy climb. Class 1 hiking up the East Ridge.
-Don't start hiking during the day, unless you are only going a mile or two down.
-If you are hiking to the bottom, make sure to have reserved either a cabin or tent space, seeing as though unless you are an extremely experienced hiker, you will not want/be able to go all the way back up after going all the way down.
-The first rest stops are spaced shorter, but as you go further down, they are longer to get to. So, refill your water at EVERY opportunity, and start conserving it after mile 5.
-Dress for all weather; wear shorts and a tank top (women) with lose fitting pants and jacket over top. It gets very HOT.
-Be prepared for the squirrels...a lot of them love the hikers and can get very close.
-Be prepared for the donkeys that carry groups down. Sometimes it happens where you are on a very narrow ledge and have a group coming towards you; stay on the inside closest to the wall, the donkeys know what they are doing and are much less likely to fall off than you are.
Where to Stay
Many tourists visit the park and can end up paying as much as $150 per night for a hotel room with no tv, no amenities. Or you could stay at a campground, which is slightly cheaper. My suggestion, however, is that you go to one of the ranger stations a get a backcountry campsite. Permits for these campsites are free.
A well-rested night is necessary for a backpacker to be successful the next day. While backpacking in Estes Park, Colorado, I learned that a sleeping pad is not a requirement, but very nice to have. Every night before bed I found myself attempting to loosen up the dirt under my tent, or laying down brush to soften my sleeping area. Even though a sleeping pad takes up space, ever since then I always take one with me.
Hostels can be fun and all, but for a more personal trip anywhere, pitch a tent out in the countryside. it will save you money, get you in touch with nature and yourself.
Sign up for airfarewatchdog and get alerts for every place you might want to travel so that you can get familiarized with the price trends. More importantly, sign up for weekly alerts from your home airport, and determine which high-traffic international airports commonly have cheap fares from your area; then, sign up for alerts from those airports as well. Once you have a good grasp of cheap routes, you can sometimes save a ton by flying to your destination indirectly, and even more by being open to staying for a few days on your layover (depending on how expensive lodging is there). Cheaper flights, AND a new city for your list! Signing up for airline email lists is also good for spontaneous trips- Spirit is notorious for crazy one-day deals.
FlightFox.com is a brand new flight search website and it aims to differentiate itself in a HUGE way. Since flight search is a such a tough problem and hassle, why not just outsource it to someone else?
FlightFox lets you submit information about your trip (dates, locations, etc), offer a "finder's fee", and sit back and wait. Then, other people will search for the best flights for you. They are competing to find the best flight and win the finder's fee that you've offered.
Really what this website comes down to is: how valuable is your time? For a minimum of $19 USD, someone else will tackle your flight search headache!
If you are bussing it cross country, you damn well better be talking to people. I took a 26 hour bus trip from New Orleans to Indiana May 2012. It took me a few hours to get comfortable with the idea, but I can't name a person that I wish I hadn't talked to. I met a mattress sales man, a Russian student, a Jack Daniels employee, a writer from Wisconsin, an African student and so many more. Some people were loud, some people were rude, some people didn't speak my language, but mostly, it was awesome. It got awesome when I started talking.
101s And Ideas
Whether traveling with luggage or a small backpack, always roll clothes instead of folding them. It saves time, keeps your clothes wrinkle-free, and gives you plenty of extra space for the other essentials!
Money and Banking
As an accountant by trade I know you all just think 'oh well, she fits the stereotype then - she's good with numbers'. However true this may be, I think everyone can benefit from some simple budgeting techniques before and during a trip away.
My suggestion before you go is to create an excel workbook on your computer. Now this can be detailed or not so detailed, but is very handy to keep track of spending whilst you are preparing and what you will have left by the time your trip rolls around. Also helpful when you want to start writing notes down as to what to pack or to go see - just create another sheet in the workbook.
When actually on the road however, I like to just use my travel journal. Every day when I write my entry, then I just add in what I spent that day. It's still fresh in my mind and I can tell if I'm going to run short of money or not. This is also handy after the trip if your friends plan on doing a similar trip - you can let them know how much to budget for!
Stuff to Know
Great place for a weekend get away, or even just a day at the lake. Clean friendly environment with lots to do from art exhibits, shops, and restraunts on the historical boardwalk to hiking, camping, flying and every water activity imaginable in between. There are a few obvious public beaches close to the park and resorts but I recommend the brief 15 minute hike around tubs hill to the cleaner, more shaded and peacefully secluded hidden beaches located just off the main trail. There are plenty of water activity rental shops but more often then not you'll run into somebody who offers you a go on their paddle boards or kayaks. So save your hard earned cash for the multitude of restraunts, bars, and other unique shops. Parking is ample and most parking grounds allow the first to hours FOR FREE! So if you move around the lake every couple hours you'll literally never have to pay for parking. However if you do fall asleep on the beach or decide to stay a while rates are reasonable!
When hiking in the summer to avoid the sun, hike at night - but only if you are with a group.