Well, it's happening. About a year from now we will be standing on top of Springer Mtn, GA looking towards Mt Katahdin, ME. That's so surreal. Of course Eric and I being who we are, we aren't just going to walk out the door and face the AT unprepared. I've probably read more in the last month about the Appalachian Trail than I have about any other single topic in my life, and I went to college to study a single topic for four years.
Right now, we are in the midst of a complete "Gear Makeover." eric has switched out his old Gregory Baltoro 75L (nearly 6 lbs!) for the new Osprey Exos 58L (2lb 5oz). Among other things. (I also switched out my pack for a less impressive 1 lb difference). Sleeping Bags, cooking systems, trail shoes, camp clothes, the list of gear decisions goes on and on. We both are trying out Brooks Cascadia Series Trail Running shoes as our primary hiking shoe. I Found a Pair of Cascadia 10's in my size at the REI garage sale on Saturday morning, which felt a bit like a sign from the universe. Eric got a pair of Cascadia 9's, which have a larger toe box than the 10's. Once I wear through my 10's I'll probably transition to the 9's too.
I'm also making the scary transition from the world of traditional sleeping bags to a ultralight backpacking quilt. I got mine from Enlightened Equipment which is a well renowned company. My 0 degree bag weighs less than 2 lbs! I probably don't need to have a 0 degree bag, but the cost, and weight were not significantly different enough from a 10 or 20 degree bag to convince me that I should risk going with a higher temperature rating. I'm carrying a few extra ounces (only about 2 extra ounces actually), but you better believe I won't be shivering my nights away! I'm thinking it will also be warm enough to convince me that I don't NEED to bring two jackets with me. My mom is probably laughing as she reads this. My father and I both have a serious addiction to Outerwear which she does not support.
Our first "Big Trip" won't be until this summer, when we complete Cloud's Rest and Half Dome on a 3-4 night trek in the Yosemite Backcountry with my Dad and a few others. We also have a two nighter in Point Reyes planned for my birthday in May! I'm sure we will plan some weekend trips between then and now though, so stay tuned.