In our 50s, we decided that we only have so many September/Octobers left in life, so decided to tackle the trail this year. We had so much fun on our Weiser River Trail ride in Idaho this past May, that we decided to go for it, bought our Amtrak tickets (while still on the trail!) and started planning our journey.
We knew that we wanted to keep our costs low and the best way to do that was to stay out of hotels and restaurants. That's not to say that we didn't eat out or that we didn't enjoy a bed along the way...but we did try to focus on being self sufficient and enjoy the people and places along the way. But, avoiding those hotels and restaurants also means gear. Fully loaded, we figure that we were carrying between 15-20 pounds on our bikes, which included spare tubes, tools, camping gear, clothes, food for the week, and various other items. Being ultra lightweight backpackers (but not minimalists), we are careful about what we bring and I'm pleased to say that we used everything we brought with the exception of tools and spare tubes.
We do not have a "need for speed" and we approach our trips as an opportunity to learn about local history, visit museums, enjoy local beverages, and so forth, which all requires that you know the times that places are open and adjust your riding schedule accordingly. We also know that all trips require extra off trail riding, so what is planned as a 35-40 mile day generally becomes a 40-50 mile day and that we need a day to rest, do laundry, and so forth about every three days.
In our initial research, we were somewhat dismayed to find that the information on the Katy Trail web site to be fairly outdated and the reports regarding camping left us a little worried. But having learned from our Weiser River Trail ride that little towns are friendly, generally have parks, and if you figure out who to ask, you will find that there are nice places to camp out along the way.
The following posts outline our trip, including where we stayed and how we were able to ride the trail one-way without the use of a shuttle.