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Posted: 5/18/2008 6:32:47 PM EDT
A buddy and I have been looking at this.

Setting a schedule to start a "thru-hike" about 2 years from now. Just curious if anyone has done it in part or as a whole.

Any thing you care to share (lessons learned)? What gear worked, what didn't, etc.


Thanks,


Gene

Link Posted: 5/18/2008 6:52:04 PM EDT
whiteblaze.net is the largest Appalachian Trail hiking forum that I've found.  You'll find lots of good info there.

Since I was a teenager, I've always wanted to thru-hike the AT.  I'm not sure it'll happen until way later in life.  

I've just started section hiking small parts of the Florida Trail.  I've been working on the some of the local loop trails of the FT and have a three-day hike scheduled soon.  

Link Posted: 5/18/2008 8:03:08 PM EDT
I've done a bunch of it, back in the day.  Doing anything beyond half requires some unusual mental and physical conditioning.  Go for a 7-10 day section, before you quit your day-job!  There used to be certain small town post offices near the trail where you could parcel post, general delivery (to yourself ) with a phase 2 re-supply drop. Clothes that fit, lite wt. food, shoes that are broken in. After 10 days it's like sleep walking.  It will (super) test your friendship with trail-mate.  I went slogging for one rainy month with a 'steady' girl friend, and we never even spoke again after.
Link Posted: 5/18/2008 8:05:40 PM EDT
My friend is doing it in the entirety this year. He is in Virginia now. Ive heard from him a few times. Sounds like he is having a blast! His trail journal is mattmanx.wordpress.com/I'm sure you can post on that and he'd be happy to offer his contact info, if he doesnt get back to me and I can forward it to you. He checks that site when he stops in towns ever week or so.
Link Posted: 5/18/2008 8:10:28 PM EDT

Quoted:
I've done a bunch of it, back in the day.  Doing anything beyond half requires some unusual mental and physical conditioning.  Go for a 7-10 day section, before you quit your day-job!  There used to be certain small town post offices near the trail where you could parcel post, general delivery (to yourself ) with a phase 2 re-supply drop. Clothes that fit, lite wt. food, shoes that are broken in. After 10 days it's like sleep walking.  It will (super) test your friendship with trail-mate.  I went slogging for one rainy month with a 'steady' girl friend, and we never even spoke again after.



lol. That's funny.

We've read a few books and online journals so far, and have been looking at other places online as well.

I think 4-7 months (on that trail) with the same person would get to be pretty aggravating.

Due to job/family issues, we may end up starting at different times though.

Right now just doing some long term planning.

I'll check out that link (thanks toyotaman).

Gene
Link Posted: 5/18/2008 9:23:17 PM EDT
Take whatever you think is your "light weight" loadout. Then strive to drop the weight by half. At least.

I've hiked the Ga. portion, parts of it several times. The other advice so far is dead-on...

Most people try and hike the AT as their first-ever hike. They fail within the first 50 miles and go home. Lots of contributing factors, but the number one is simple inexperience. With gear, with walking, with expectations.

Go on a few multi-day hikes. A single overnighter where you hike 3 miles in and 3 miles back out is no way to determine if you like to hike or not. You need to do something along the lines of a 4 day hike with some serious mileage (8+ miles a day over up and down terrain) before you can really say whether or not your gear works and you "like" hiking.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 3:02:48 AM EDT

Quoted:
Take whatever you think is your "light weight" loadout. Then strive to drop the weight by half. At least.

I've hiked the Ga. portion, parts of it several times. The other advice so far is dead-on...

Most people try and hike the AT as their first-ever hike. They fail within the first 50 miles and go home. Lots of contributing factors, but the number one is simple inexperience. With gear, with walking, with expectations.

Go on a few multi-day hikes. A single overnighter where you hike 3 miles in and 3 miles back out is no way to determine if you like to hike or not. You need to do something along the lines of a 4 day hike with some serious mileage (8+ miles a day over up and down terrain) before you can really say whether or not your gear works and you "like" hiking.


+1

I've hiked the Ga section of the AT several times and what seems to get most people is the constant elevation change.  Other trails out west are longer but the AT has the worst elevation change of them.  Light weight gear makes a world of difference...  You need to see what gear works best for you.  Some hikers can go with very little and still be comfortable, but you may be miserable.  I have learned that I don't might a little extra weight for a comfortable nights sleep...  Hiking can be very enjoyable or miserable depending on many factors...  Good luck and may your trip be enjoyable...
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 3:29:42 AM EDT
, not on the Appalachian, but,

, way back in the day, I did the Orygun section of the Pacific Crest  Trail.

"Out" about 2 1/2 months, and traveled (with side trips) around 500 miles.


After you have severely cut the weight of your kit,,

cut it again.


Get good boots,,  and have them well broken in before you start.

Your feet will be carrying more than designed for and "having a flat"  will ruin your trip.

Link Posted: 5/19/2008 4:37:48 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 5:03:42 AM EDT
My brother has hiked the whole thing.  I hiked a 95-mile section of it with him in November 2005.  Here's a thread in the archive about it:

archive.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=123&t=412336

Link Posted: 5/19/2008 5:11:19 AM EDT
I bought a t-shirt. It was just like hiking it.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 6:23:42 AM EDT
I did a ~65 mi sectional last August in NH and all of the above advice is pretty good.

Whatever you do pack light. I packed about 25% of my body weight (I'm 150 lbs so ~38 lbs) and that worked good, but it probobly should've been a bit lighter.

Maybe I'll get a change to do the whole thing after college.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 6:49:44 AM EDT
Hike a couple section trips - try to get in a couple of ~10 mile + days if you can.  Use them to shake down your gear and your body so you know what's going to work and what's not. You'll figure out quickly enough what you use and what you can drop - every ounce dropped really adds up and the lighter you can get your pack (without putting yourself in danger) the better off your legs, shoulders and feet will be for the long haul.

For workouts, cardio and weights are always good but focus on body core exercises - hips and trunk are critical to stability on the trail.


Link Posted: 5/19/2008 7:18:14 AM EDT
I've done all of the 50+ miles in CT a couple times as well as some in MA and some of NY. It's a beautiful trail and well worth doing if you have the time. Being in shape is a huge part but even more important is the can-do attitude. The people who laid out the AT looked for every possible hill to go up and over (or so it seems) and it can be quite rugged at times.

whiteblaze.net has tons of information
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 7:35:44 AM EDT
Did the whole state of PA south to north in August 1985.  Best time of my life.  Hot as hell, PA rocks were horrific, springs were almost all dry, but man, what an awesome hike...

Hard to comment on gear - it was different then.  I had an EMS bag, an early internal frame and wished I used an external at times for the heat.  But it was very nice when jumping from rock to rock to have the center of balance close to my back.  I wore some old-school Dunham hiking boots, complete with red laces, if I recall they weighed like 6lbs

Ate lots LOTS! of GORP and cans of tuna and minute rice.  Sucked on tubes of grape jelly to keep from passing out on the hills.  I had an old leather Bota to carry water.  Sterno for cooking.  Long live The Mullet:



I think that was on top of Dan's Pulpit, IIRC.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 7:42:07 AM EDT
Will be interesting to hear of your progress through the planning phases and the pre-hikes you do.

I'm planning a 28 mile hike here in the next month or so.

What do those here think is a good pace for a mountainous terrain hike? Elevation change of 4K+ feet over 14 miles then back down.

Thanks and I hope I'm not hijacking.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 8:13:15 AM EDT
I did a couple of sections of the PCT, spend two full summers out mountain bumming it, with over 4 years of sleeping on the ground. Most of the shorter trips were 70-100 miles.

Look at every piece of gear and figure out how to make it do 2 or 3 jobs:
Nail cutters can cut mole skin, etc.

Look and every piece of gear and figure out how to make it lighter:
A piece of shoelace is lighter then the metal pull on your zippers. You can cut half the handle off your toothbrush, etc. It might sound stupid, but it makes a big difference. In the Sierra, the climbs are big. Forester Pass is a something like 9000 feet of elevation change in one day. If you lose one pound of pack weight, you save yourself 9000 ft-lbs of output. You lose 9000 ft-lbs of output, you need less food, etc., etc.

Smooth the trail out: Don’t step on a rock or log just to step down on the other side. Step over it!
IE: keep your pack from bobbing up and down.

Do a bunch of 2 day+ shakedown hikes.

As stated above, break in your boots. Don’t cheap out on your boots. I have burned thru many pairs and my current boots cost me around $200. Spend the $50 for a good pair of insoles with arch support and shock absorbers or have custom made.

It is so cool to be hanging out in the mountains for weeks on end – enjoy.

"The lighter the load, the freer the sprit!"

Link Posted: 5/19/2008 9:53:28 AM EDT

Quoted:
Will be interesting to hear of your progress through the planning phases and the pre-hikes you do.

I'm planning a 28 mile hike here in the next month or so.

What do those here think is a good pace for a mountainous terrain hike? Elevation change of 4K+ feet over 14 miles then back down.

Thanks and I hope I'm not hijacking.


Don't try and set a pace from your couch. Do smaller hikes to get a real estimate.

The slowest I've ever hiked was about 45 minute miles over some of the rougher terrain in georgia, carrying a Kif. Marauder loaded out to about 50lb (in other words: WAY overloaded.)... It was hell, and I was getting full body cramps after a 18 mile day.

Typically, with a lighter load (13lb dry weight), I can do about 25 minute miles. Give or take depending on how steep a grade I'm on.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 9:55:09 AM EDT
Not much on the AT, but long sections of the PCT and CDT, and a lot of other long distance hiking as well.  I was a wandering bum for a few years...

There is an AT-L site on here:

www.backcountry.net/

You should also check out BackpackGearTest which has many gear reviews.  (Full disclosure:  I'm a mod on that site.)

The best advice gear wise is that lighter is better, and to figure out what you *need* and only carry that.  

I can reccomend my friend Dr. Allnutt's excellent book, _A Wildly Successful 200 Mile Hike_, which you can find at Wayah Press.  I should disclose that I am quoted several times in the book, but I don't make any money off his sales.

You may find his website helpful.  www.imrisk.com/index.htm

My own hiking website is less useful than his: www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/index.html

but I wrote a 'Where Do I Begin?' page which is directed at people thinking about doing the long distance hike thing:

www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/sections/philosophy/begin.htm

Shane

Link Posted: 5/19/2008 10:21:35 AM EDT

Quoted:
I was a wandering bum for a few years...



Shane,

Cool... same thing here. I lived in my truck - tent - whatever. I would grab a job framing for a while just to make enough to go back into the mountains.

Climbed most of the fourteener’s on the west coast. Spend a winter as a full time ski bum.... Two full seasons in Yosemite Valley rock climbing.... blah, blah, blah....

Best time of my life. Now I'm a fully grey haired dad with kids still in grade school. I wouldn't change that for world either; I'm enjoying the hell out of em.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 10:49:54 AM EDT

Quoted:
Will be interesting to hear of your progress through the planning phases and the pre-hikes you do.

I'm planning a 28 mile hike here in the next month or so.

What do those here think is a good pace for a mountainous terrain hike? Elevation change of 4K+ feet over 14 miles then back down.

Thanks and I hope I'm not hijacking.


imo 10+ miles a day hiking (not climbing) across PUDS (pointless ups and downs) is not difficult if you've got full days to hike and you're in decent shape.  That's ~5 miles before lunch, hour or so off of complete rest, and the rest till you feel like camping.

I typically try to keep a ~2.5 mile moving average across technical terrain.  My pace is roughly 1 hour on, 10-15 mins off with < 35lbs skin-out weight (35 years old in ok shape).  

I've done 2100ft total ascention in <4 hours but it wasn't all straight up (Ft. Mountain, GA Gahuti Trail loop - 8.8 mile loop). My brothers and I are hiking the GA section of the AT this June - 6 days to cover roughly 65 miles (Springer to Dick's Creek Gap).

YMMV.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 12:23:13 PM EDT
We are goal and accomplishment oriented people!  "I sir, am on a 1000 mile hike to Maine" goes over big with family, random yokels and cops.  Finding the most remote real estate in your part of the country and "hanging-out" is a lot more rewarding to me. Selling hanging out is a lot harder, "like a damn hippie" , "no visable means of support", "vagrants", "gypsys- tramps and thieves" comes to mind.  On goal oriented trail hikes, I do a Spartan walk-eat-crash(like a refugee); have generally felt more stressed and un-satisfied afterwards. Hanging out w/o the forced march for me results in staying up late in a beautiful or interesting  location and thinking star oriented thoughts, practicing skills and craft, learning things about nature and myself. Think Les Stroud with a bag of food-drink goodies & sleep gear vs Forrest Gump with "one day I decided to run".  
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 1:14:39 PM EDT
I am doing the northern side of Smoky Mtn Nat Park in June. 56 miles round trip with my son. I will post a report when i get  back.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 1:25:07 PM EDT
I would seriously consider using trail running shoes instead of boots.  I've done the Grand Canyon rim to rim in a day, top to bottom south side in a day.  Five trips in the last  five years.  Many 15+ mile days hiking in the Sierras.  Look up ultra light weight backpacking for more tips.  

I've retired my hiking boots, what a difference.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 7:18:03 PM EDT

Quoted:
We are goal and accomplishment oriented people!  "I sir, am on a 1000 mile hike to Maine" goes over big with family, random yokels and cops.  Finding the most remote real estate in your part of the country and "hanging-out" is a lot more rewarding to me. Selling hanging out is a lot harder, "like a damn hippie" , "no visable means of support", "vagrants", "gypsys- tramps and thieves" comes to mind.  On goal oriented trail hikes, I do a Spartan walk-eat-crash(like a refugee); have generally felt more stressed and un-satisfied afterwards. Hanging out w/o the forced march for me results in staying up late in a beautiful or interesting  location and thinking star oriented thoughts, practicing skills and craft, learning things about nature and myself. Think Les Stroud with a bag of food-drink goodies & sleep gear vs Forrest Gump with "one day I decided to run".  


Amen!  This is my kinda of fun!  I just hike far enough (2-3 days in usually does it) to get away from the rest of the world then I just wander and breath freedom for a while.  I still like to cover ground and miles, but nothing like a scheduled thru hike.  You can't beat it.  I have spent a little time on the AT and there are just too many people for taste.  Too each their own, but when I hit the bush one of the top reasons I go is to get away from people.  It is a good trip when I can say that once I left day hiker range there I saw no one else.  Don't get me wrong, I am not a recluse or anything, but some of us just need to get away every now and then.  
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 8:13:38 PM EDT
I've hiked parts of it but not the whole thing.  Me?  I go for comfort as light as possible.
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 8:17:31 PM EDT
I've done a few sections of the AT in North Carolina and it was an amazing experience!
Link Posted: 5/19/2008 8:27:22 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/20/2008 12:57:57 PM EDT

Quoted:

Quoted:
Will be interesting to hear of your progress through the planning phases and the pre-hikes you do.

I'm planning a 28 mile hike here in the next month or so.

What do those here think is a good pace for a mountainous terrain hike? Elevation change of 4K+ feet over 14 miles then back down.

Thanks and I hope I'm not hijacking.


Don't try and set a pace from your couch. Do smaller hikes to get a real estimate.

The slowest I've ever hiked was about 45 minute miles over some of the rougher terrain in georgia, carrying a Kif. Marauder loaded out to about 50lb (in other words: WAY overloaded.)... It was hell, and I was getting full body cramps after a 18 mile day.

Typically, with a lighter load (13lb dry weight), I can do about 25 minute miles. Give or take depending on how steep a grade I'm on.


I live in the mountains at about 6500'. Went yesterday and hiked some mountain bike trails. Did 6 miles in around two hours. had my dogs and they aren't as good of shape as me and they were needing more breaks.

Reason I ask is I want to a 28 mile hike that goes from 7000' to 10500' and down again. Just curious how many days off I am going to need from work. I'm thinking I can do it in two days with a 35lb pack.
Link Posted: 5/20/2008 1:04:53 PM EDT

Quoted:
I live right off of it, hike a few sections from time to time, but know a bunch of people, mostly retired, who do the long distance hauls.  

Biggest complaint, having to sleep in the areas that require you stay in specific camping areas,  The wood is all picked clean and people snore like bears in the shelters.

Usual pack weight, 30lbs, these guys are into ultra-light high tech gear.

Usual food, freeze dried.

Best modern hiking boots money can buy.

Tents vary but all light stuff.  Most common ground pad, foam, Thermorest Ridge Rest.  Headlamps almost everyone.  Garden trowels no shovels.  No about anything you don't use every night that weighs and typically one of anything to cut down on weight.  

If I think of more, I'll post it.

Tj


The garden trowel is a good one.
Link Posted: 5/20/2008 1:30:32 PM EDT
i have done a few smaller hikes with the AT being involved with a few, go buy a hennessay hammock, not a tent. 2 lbs of shelter plus the best nights sleep.

my winter load ( down to 25 degree night ) out including a 1911 commander is 35 lbs with 4 days of food. summer load is closer to 30 lbs, mostly due to 2 lbs less of sleeping gear, and 2 lbs less of food.

go do a 3 day hike anything you dont use more than once you dont need
Link Posted: 5/20/2008 4:49:43 PM EDT

Quoted:

Quoted:

Quoted:
Will be interesting to hear of your progress through the planning phases and the pre-hikes you do.

I'm planning a 28 mile hike here in the next month or so.

What do those here think is a good pace for a mountainous terrain hike? Elevation change of 4K+ feet over 14 miles then back down.

Thanks and I hope I'm not hijacking.


Don't try and set a pace from your couch. Do smaller hikes to get a real estimate.

The slowest I've ever hiked was about 45 minute miles over some of the rougher terrain in georgia, carrying a Kif. Marauder loaded out to about 50lb (in other words: WAY overloaded.)... It was hell, and I was getting full body cramps after a 18 mile day.

Typically, with a lighter load (13lb dry weight), I can do about 25 minute miles. Give or take depending on how steep a grade I'm on.


I live in the mountains at about 6500'. Went yesterday and hiked some mountain bike trails. Did 6 miles in around two hours. had my dogs and they aren't as good of shape as me and they were needing more breaks.

Reason I ask is I want to a 28 mile hike that goes from 7000' to 10500' and down again. Just curious how many days off I am going to need from work. I'm thinking I can do it in two days with a 35lb pack.


If I was planning this type of hike I would plan at least 3 full days on the trail, especially if you want to enjoy it.  I am sure you can do it in two, but would you enjoy it as much?  I think the time you allot for something like this depends on your backpacking philosophy.  
Link Posted: 5/22/2008 3:08:30 AM EDT
Good info in this thread. Thanks to all. My dream is to hike this someday.
Link Posted: 5/22/2008 3:29:34 AM EDT
archive.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=634914

Its not the AT, but it is the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail!
Link Posted: 5/22/2008 4:20:38 AM EDT

Quoted:
I live in the mountains at about 6500'. Went yesterday and hiked some mountain bike trails. Did 6 miles in around two hours. had my dogs and they aren't as good of shape as me and they were needing more breaks.

Reason I ask is I want to a 28 mile hike that goes from 7000' to 10500' and down again. Just curious how many days off I am going to need from work. I'm thinking I can do it in two days with a 35lb pack.


If by 2 days, you mean a single night, then I frankly think you're in for a miserable ride unless you hike very frequently

I'm not in bad shape. I work out pretty regularly and have damn good cardio for someone living in this modern world of ours. I still try to keep my days below 10 miles, just because... shit. I don't hike for a living!
I've got a buddy who doesn't like to go beyond 7 miles a day, and he's also in pretty good shape.

All the keyboard commandos who say that they should be able to hike a 15 mile day carrying a 50lb pack making 3 miles an hour are either ranger tough or full of it. (or they're hiking on asphalt on a perfectly flat area)

Once you start reaching up into the 8-10 mile in a single day mark, on lots of PUDs, a lot of things happen. Your legs are gonna start hurting, your feet are gonna be burning, and your shoulders will ache no matter how light a load you're carrying.

But hey, maybe I'm just a wuss and I can't admit it to myself. HYOH and all that. This is just my opinion.
Link Posted: 5/22/2008 7:01:24 AM EDT

Quoted:


I live in the mountains at about 6500'. Went yesterday and hiked some mountain bike trails. Did 6 miles in around two hours. had my dogs and they aren't as good of shape as me and they were needing more breaks.

Reason I ask is I want to a 28 mile hike that goes from 7000' to 10500' and down again. Just curious how many days off I am going to need from work. I'm thinking I can do it in two days with a 35lb pack.


If you are not used to hiking above 10K feet, it is a different animal.

Some people get altitude sickness and it can be serious or even fatal.

I just did a 10K+ hike this last November in snowshoes with an experienced survival instructor, and it was a real eyeopener. I was carrying a 35lb pack and it will be less than 20 next time. But I am not in the best shape either, YMMV.
Link Posted: 5/22/2008 7:56:04 AM EDT
repost from another thread...so apologies if you've heard this before:

I did very much the same thing when I was in college, starting at the northern terminus at Mt Katahdin and working south. I started in July figuring I'd stay ahead of the winter weather.

The things I learned:

#1 Stay humble. Just because you *can* cover 20 miles in a day - - don't set that as your bench mark. Amble along, take your time and enjoy the sights. After the first couple of days of flogging myself trying to set a record pace, I was forced to lay low for a week to heal up ankle sprains and silver dollar sized blisters on my feet (that's another story but it involved the trail being submerged by a beaver dam and slogging through hip deep water and mud and being in such a freaking rush to get to my stopping point I continued without changing out wet sox)

#2 Keep your feet dry. The tactic I ended up evolving was having several pairs of good wool soxs and the damp ones I safety pin - with multiple safety pins -- on the top of my pack so they'd air dry as I was hiking.

#3 Pack light. I packed for just about every contingency and ended up shipping home about half the crap I'd originally brought. A shakedown cruise is well worth the time. Also, the trail weaves in and out of small towns along the way, so I'd hit the little grocery stores and never carried more than a weeks worth of food -- mostly rice, beans, pasta, tuna, sardines, sausage, hard cheese, hard candy

#4 Use safe water sources. Never, ever, ever drink out of a stream without boiling, filtering, and/or chemical treatment first. Even when stopping in the little hamlets on the way, don't assume because the locals drink the well water, you can too. Local bugs in the water can cause massive Montezuma's Revenge, where the the locals are immune to it. (hard experience)

#5 See #1 -- be respectful of the weather. Particularly in New Hampshire in the White Mountains, even an easy climb up those little 5000 foot alpine bumps that seem like idylic strolls can blow up into blizzard white-out conditions with 150mph wind gusts (I kid you not...the weather station on top of Mount Washington, a concrete bunker held down with anchor chains, has recorded wind gusts over 200mph) In Vermont, in mid October, I encountered 2 feet of snow. It could just as quickly been four feet.

#6 Get some decent rain gear and cold weather gear. I hiked prior to the invention of goretex. Ponchos are misreable. You will encounter everything from semi tropic to semi arctic

#7 Use a synthetic fill sleeping bag. Goose down is worse than useless when it gets wet.

#8 Get a light weight backpack stove. Campfires are great for morale, but when it's been drizzling for 5 days, you aren't going to be happy trying to cook on wet wood. I got so I'd climb in my sleeping bag, fire up my Svea stove, cook a pot of glop -- various mixtures of rice/pasta/canned meat/tuna, finish that with an inch of water brought back to a boil (the soup course, if you didn't know...), and then finally another inch of water brought back to a boil with a drop or two of dishwashing to clean my pot and spoon and sterilize it. Flick that out the front of the lean-to, and follow with another half inch of water brought back to a boil to get the traces of detergent out of the pot (preventing Montezuma's Revenge from yet a different source)

#9 Put together a decent first aid kit with ace bandages, compression bandages, imodium (Montezuma's Revenge), antibiotics, butterfly bandages, decongestants, antihistimine. Think "expedition medicine"

#10 Industrial strength DEET - bugs, need I say more?

#11 Lightweight shelter. The trail has log lean-to's about every 20 miles or so. They often are occupied. You might decide to stop before you get to one. I used a simple tarp and some parachute cord. In retrospect, a one man bivvy tent with mosquito netting would have been about the same weight -- see #10

I'll think of some other stuff. I did travel alone for the first month before I met up with my brother and we continued together. It was the adventure of a lifetime. Even so I covered only about one third of the trail, about 600 miles. I was on the trail from early August til just before thanksgiving.  I was beat down, with chronic sore ankles, I'd had enough and I just wanted to sleep in a bed, drink cold beer and eat hot pizza.  Besides,  winter time was just getting geared up...I'd planned to stay ahead of the advancing winter.  Although I'd dealt ok with two feet of snow around Sugarloaf  Mountain, I knew better than to tempt fate trying to deal with ten feet of snow in the Smokies. ( See #1)

Couple of books to read before hand --

Freedom of the Hills 7 Ed
Comprehensive climbing reference from The Mountaineers - 7th Edition
www.mountaineersbooks.org

This covers exhaustively the details of naivigation, mountain travel, first aid, nutrition, technical climbing (although the trail is really just mostly some steep walking - you won't be using pitons and ice axes) you'll still want to tune your awareness of scree fields, landslide areas and other hazards.

This book is written by multiple authors and each speciality is covered by a separate chapter. Best all-round how-to book *ever*. IMHO

"Compleat Walker," by Colin Fletcher.
A transplanted Brit who hiked from Canada to Mexico. Funny witty look at backpacking. Has commercial sources, suggestions for expedient shelter, methods, techniques...

With just these two, you'll have 99% of the booklearning covered.

Also, there are trail books that have detailed maps of all the sections of the AT. These are printed in a tiny format like a travel bible. They help enormously with navigation, but even so, I got turned around a couple of time when I'd miss a fork in the trail. By the way, NOT marked with big user friendly signs, but more generally a splash of paint on a tree trunk. The blazes get kinda ambiguous after a couple of years.

Try http://www.fred.net/kathy/at/atstate.html for starters

Also, I am a ham operator so this jumped out at me:

Appalachian Trail 2 Meter Repeater Guide v1.2.

www.fred.net/kathy/at/hamguide.html
Link Posted: 5/22/2008 1:09:22 PM EDT
In addition to the advice given about keeping your pack light I'd also
recommend getting a good pair of light weight boots.  Drop ship some
broken in ones at your resupply points.
Link Posted: 5/22/2008 2:32:29 PM EDT
I'v only been on the same 10 mile strech of the AT.   Pack weight well the last time it was 65# of rope gear to get a drunk kid at 3 am.   I'm the guy you do not want to see on the trail
Link Posted: 5/22/2008 7:54:45 PM EDT
Don't forget to bring "bear spray" or CS along on your hike.  We had black bear in our camp several times when we hiked the AT in NC.  Also make sure to hang your food in a tree, away from your tent!

Link Posted: 5/24/2008 12:51:13 PM EDT
What's a good pack weight to shoot for if one wants to hike just for  a week or maybe two on the AT ?
Link Posted: 5/24/2008 2:42:58 PM EDT
Not to hijack this thread or anything, but there is a pretty decent concealed carry thread going on at that whiteblaze.net site.  I kinda expected your normal hippie tree hugging anti-gun talk, but I was wrong.  Seems as if a few thru hikers actually carry.
Link Posted: 5/24/2008 3:42:23 PM EDT
I hiked almost 3 miles of it

My wife and I went hiking with our dog last summer.  There was a little 14mile circle that included a few miles of the AT.  About 9 miles in ran across an eastern diamond back sunning itself across the trail.  Long story;
-no rounds were discharged
-my dog is fine
-the snake is NOT dead, as I proved by poking it with a long stick
-we do not step over a "dead snake" in the trail
-Daniel Boone would be soo disappointed in us, as she made me turn around and go back the way we came


3 miles in and we got run off the train by 4pounds of what could have been a nice belt  and dinner.

Next time I'm hiking alone
Link Posted: 5/24/2008 4:32:44 PM EDT
Back before Gore-tex, I started at Katadin 19 Sep, got snow 10 Oct outside Rangely. Figured I'd better hitch hike to the N.H. border so as to get through the Presidentials. Made it to the Mass-Conn border in late November and figured I'd call it a hike (600 miles, most of it through the snow).

By starting in Katadin in late Sep, I stayed at a hostel after the first 100 miles where a good sized group of through hikers were laying out getting ready to do the last stretch. I've never seen legs like those on women before or since. They were interesting as they had been off and on bumping into each other all the way from the southen end.

The hostel was an old church with a loft built with a bunch of cots and a wood store. One old guy snored really loud keeping me up all night. The next morning the others told a story how this guy snored all night in a lean to. Nobody could sleep. Next morning he complained he didn't sleep well because he heard so much movement by the others

Anyhow, a couple of data points:

1. I used a military poncho. When I stayed in a lean to I stretched it across to block myself in and keep snow from swirling.

2. Best thing about the cold, no bugs and no people. worst thing, putting on frozen solid Raichle mountaineering boots in the morning. In the snow and ice you need really good boots.

3. I used a down Sierra Designs bag and ensolite pad. Still have it. When I made camp I'd immediately get in the bag and fire up the Svea.

4. I bought a 60-40 shell parka in Dartmouth. Best piece of equipment along with gators. I hiked in fish net undershirt, Woolrich Alaskan shirt, 60-40 parka, shorts (that's right, shorts) and Raicle boots with gaiters. Gaiters are a must in the snow and ice. I also had a wool blaclava which I took off and on to regulate heat. If it was really, really cold and windy, I'd put on gloves, pull down the balaclave and use the parka hood. In that mode I was good to go through anything except really nasty stuff above tree line.

5. There are two worlds, below tree line and above tree line. Tree line is only 3,000 feet.

6. I weighed my pack after a month or so of hiking pulling out of a town after stocking up. It was 65#. In the Presidentials (fortunately I had a perfect day for doing Mt. Washington) I watched a blood red sun rise one morning and didn't see the sun again for 9 days. My longest day, in the snow (8" or so) was 16 miles.

7. I'll take an uphill with a heavy pack over a down hill anytime.

8. It's hard to explain, but it takes a good while to really get your balance and foot placement. A great thing about rigid mountaineering boots is you just need a toe hold to keep moving. With the ice and snow and rocks it makes a big difference once you learn to hit your stepping points just right.
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 12:31:21 PM EDT

Quoted:
Best piece of equipment along with gators.


Yes indeed.  I'd forgotten that detail.  Keeps pine needles, twigs, gravel, snow and mud out of your boots. Priceless!
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 6:41:49 PM EDT
LEKI hiking poles also are helpful to drag your tired behind up and down the hills with your pack on.
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 7:29:21 PM EDT
Do not get just any old synthetic bag, get a Wiggy's Bag. Best bag for the money bar none and made in the USA.

I still have my two 30 year old North Face down bags, along with my 40 year old, or more, Svea 123 stove and Sigg cookset I used when hiking the AT. This gear has served me and my family well for years. The Svea now rides in my BOB and I have had a set of spare parts for it for the 30 years I have used it and have never had to use any of the spares. Great little stoves.
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 8:40:23 PM EDT
We're doing the Clingman's Dome to Fontana Dam leg this fall.  Can't wait.

Stuff I'm buying for my next trip:
-  An easy - to - light stove that is quick to set up - jet boil, etc.  My pop can stove was too hard to set up in the wind and weather.
-  2 trekking poles
-  Sling Chair - for comfort :)
-  More moleskin, for those inevitable blisters
Link Posted: 6/4/2008 4:49:06 AM EDT
i have hike for 20 years in my area and just did my 2nd 2 night backpack on the AT (and vicinity) 2 weeks ago.

certainly more experienced guys here but here is my 2 cents:

- on most sections of the AT, rocks are everywhere.  i turned my ankle 2 times last trip.  i was using NB trail shoes.  before next time i am going to get some light hiking boots for more ankle support.  a turned ankle is bad if you are 10 miles from help.

- get a trail map and look at where the campsites are.  you can sort of plan your trip around where you plan to sleep.  they are spaced out so that people don't try to hike to far on the trails at one time.

- buy a good water filter (i used the MSR hyperflow).  it saves you from carrying 2 or 3 bottles which is heavy.  take water purification tabs as a backup.

- pack high calorie foods.  nuts, rice, energy/protein bars, tuna, etc.

- the longest day so far for us (i am 38 and friend is 50 both of us have 10 year old sons) was about 12 miles.  let me tell you that is a pretty good hike with the elevation change.  i would not try to much more than that to begin with.

- take duct tape to cover any blisters that you might get, and more than likely you will get some.  

- have fun, it is addictive.  i am always proud to get home but usually start planning the next trip the following week.
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