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    Thru-Hiking Advice From Backwards Hat

    Q & A With Point6 Ambassador Lance Ness, aka Backwards Hat

    Lance Ness aka "Backwards Hat"
    With travel restrictions and safety precautions largely dictating our summer plans, we've been fantasizing about long distance hiking and all the wonderful places to take our socks. We caught up with Lance Ness, Point6 ambassador and thru-hiker to compile some advice for aspiring thru-hikers. 
    What's your trail name?
    Backwards Hat
    Is there a story behind that?
    I was section hiking Shenandoah National Park on the AT. There was a Thru Hiking couple going north bound. For 3 straight days, I would pass them every morning and they would always see my neon green backwards hat ahead of them on trail or ahead at visits and lookouts. By the third day, we chatted one morning when I passed them. The guy, Kit Kat (takes lots of breaks) said they had been referring to me as the guy with the backwards hat and deemed it my trail name. I never not have a backwards hat when hiking so it fit!
    Favorite trail sock?
    Merino 37.5. I normally like the mid-height (crew) but they ruin my sock tan for the beach. I’ve been sticking to the no show style lately and loving the quick-dry ability.
    Preferred trail shoe?
    Altra- Lone Peaks for mountain trails. Hoka One One for the beach and flat trails. 


    Best trail magic you’ve ever stumbled upon?

    Hot Springs NC - a rad couple picked up the bar tab for about 9-10 hikers. The next morning they picked us up and shuttled us into Asheville area for the best brunch and again treated us to the meal.... another time someone surprised us with a few pizza pies. And nothing beats that random cooler along the trail. God I love trail magic! 

    First thru-hike? And what other trails have you tackled?

    Lone Star Hiking Trail (Texas). There weren’t many trails in Houston and it’s where I began my backpacking adventures. 

    Appalachian Trail. Arizona Trail. Mason Dixon Trail. 

    Advice to a first-timer?

    Just go hike. Backpack. Plan a short trip and just get out. Don’t overthink gear. Basic works. We all learn from our failures so get out and fail. You’ll laugh about it later. 

    Mistake you made?

    I got mad one morning because my headlamp stopped working on our sunrise climb of Clingmans dome, and through it in the woods. Instead of being rational and realizing I could replace the batteries again or swap it out for a new one, I chucked it! It’s pitch black and now o have no lamp and no way to find it. Someone got a nice black diamond headlamp in Great Smokey Mountain  National Park because they probably found it after sunrise. My dumb self pushed on. 

    You recently had a pretty terrible accident, how have you managed the recovery process to get back out on the trail?

    I wrecked my motorcycle last summer doing 55 when the back tire blew out. I was unable to run, jump or do anything active for 8 months due to a hip injury. It was tough to not be active. As I got cleared, I’ve been doing yoga to try to regain mobility and strength. I massage it daily and use a foam roller. I tried a backpacking trip back on the AT but it proved to be too much too soon. I’m learning to listen to my body to know when to push it and when stop and relax. 12 month check up and the Doctor said I may never have feeling in my hip or be normal looking again but that’s ok... I’m lucky to be alive and walking again. 

    What would surprise us most about what’s in your pack?

    It’s more what I don’t carry. I don’t carry a knife or change of clothes.  

    Final words of wisdom?

    Never be afraid to ask for help 


    Keep an eye on Lance's recovery and his next adventure by following @backwardshatforwardthinking