So I've gotten hooked reading about touring. I've a pretty avid hiker, and this appeals to me in so many ways. Well, my question is this...
You describe yourself as an avid hiker, and don't mention your experience with cycling. If cycling is new to you - then some of the comments about "getting used" to certain components won't really apply to you. You will be getting used to the whole thing - at once. Most bikes these days come with expensive combined brake levers and shifters. I prefer bar end shifters and have put them on ALL of my bikes except the ones with flat bars. They have the advantage of being used in friction shifting mode if something in your indexed shifting goes wrong. I've used them for 40 years and have no interest in "getting used to" brifters.
If hiking is your thing - you might want to get a bicycle that can handle dirt roads and trails where bikes are allowed. I don't think the 520 would be ideal for that use - it is really a pavement machine. If you want to ride mostly pavement and do cycle camp full loaded touring the 520 might be your bike, but the LHT, the Jamis Aurora, the Bianchi Volpe, or the Novara Randonnee(REI) are also worth a look. I have riden samples of all of these (except the LHT) and I own a Jamis Aurora. I believe that the LHT has the best geometry of these for heavy loaded pavement touring. I'm very pleased with my Jamis for all kinds of riding and touring short of full camping. I am currently converting a 1985 Schwinn Cimarron to a full loaded touring bike capable of dirt riding.
Some things to consider - what ever you buy can be changed by the bikestore to what you want before you buy it. (If they say no - find another store.) After you have ridden it a while, you can change things (like gearing) to what you find you prefer. For heavy loaded touring anywhere near mountains you will want the absolute lowest gears you can get (forget about the high ones - you will be happy to coast down hill on tour). For riding with light loads, commuting or general riding you can switch the rear cassette to one that tops out at 27 or 28 and have closer spaced gears. Remember: a wide range derailleur can handle a narrower range, but not the other way around.
Many, many people have successfully toured with 520's. Something to keep in mind is that the frame geometry and specifications of the 520 have changed back and forth from credit card touring to heavy touring over the years. I believe the current offering is somewhere in the middle. If someone says how great their 520 is - try to find out how long the chainstay is and how it is equipped.
For heavy touring, chainstay length is the number one criteria - the longer the better. Then look for a front end geometry that is neither too fast or too slow. A 72 degree head angle and 45mm fork offset is ideal for road touring of all kinds. This is where a single centimeter makes a huge difference. I've seen highly touted sports touring bikes with 73 degrees and a 55mm fork that handled like pigs - supposedly for "stable" steering. For dirt roads an even slacker angle is better. Generally for touring - a low bottom bracket is a good thing.
Having found a frameset that actually is made for touring (some are advertised as but don't deliver) then ride it and see if it fits and feels right to you. A bike that will work well for loaded touring is going to feel a bit stiff with no weight. The last things to look at are the specific components, because they can always be changed.
Good luck and enjoy your new interest.