Plan Ahead and Prepare for the 2018 Hiking Season

Jekyll Island, GA: Road life for a Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer gets tougher in the winter. Gone are the plush days of summer; we're dealing with more wet, more cold, and longer dark stretches outside our tent. While being further south helps - come say hi to us at the Choosing to Lead Conference on Jekyll Island on January 13th and 14th - we're fighting the January blues by dreaming about spring, and the return of hiking season. Here's how we're getting tips, tricks, and inspiration for our own outdoor adventures.
 
blog January.jpgOn the road, we like to use both digital and analog means to Plan Ahead and Prepare. Staying up to date on all the latest gear and news means following some of our favorite backpacking bloggers, like triple crowners Paul Magnanti and Cam Honan. Magnanti's PMags.com has trip reports, gear reviews, and frequently compiles ways to get on the trail on a budget, where Honan's blog The Hiking Life not only discusses skills, but also other resources and inspiration he uses when he's out on his adventures. When we don't have access to the internet, resources like Liz Thomas's incredibly-thorough Backpacker Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike and Shawnté Salabert's labor of love Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Southern California get us prepared, revved up, and ready to hit the trail running. 
 

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Map resources like Google Earth can also be used to Plan Ahead and Prepare for new experiences, but once you've found an interesting spot, we like to map our experiences with CalTopo before heading out. CalTopo is an online mapping tool that takes public record maps - like US Geological Survey maps and US Forest Service Maps - and plots them all side by side, making a contiguous map of the US with whichever mapset you prefer. They're searchable by location and by coordinates, and you can import GPS tracks and overlay them onto maps as well. PDFs can then be printed of whatever maps you need, at whatever scale you'd like. It takes some of the most powerful cartographic tools available to anyone, and makes them available to everyone, which is why we love it.
 
If you're more about the full sensory Plan Ahead and Prepare experience, stop into your local REI! Not only do they have gear for nearly every outdoor activity, but you can check out the latest outdoors tech in a low-pressure environment with knowledgeable staff around to help you make your final decisions. Some stores have even gear rentals if you're not looking to commit! Plus, by shopping at a co-op where 70% of the profits are donated to outdoor organizations like the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, you know you're also supporting REI as an organization that cares for the outdoors - and about its members, who get 10% of their purchases back as store credit every March.
 
Although it might feel long now, winter won't last forever - so there's no time like the present to start dreaming up your 2018 trips. While we touched on some resources, feel free to add anything we missed in the comments!
 
We hope you enjoy your planning, and Enjoy Your World!
 
Amanda and Junaid, Team East Central

Leave No Trace's Amanda Jameson and Junaid Dawud are part of the 2018 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, and Klean Kanteen.