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View Full Version : I want to start planning a thru hike. Georgia to Maine.



JDBaughman
2012-05-20, 00:30
From people that have done it, I need tips. Any help is appreciated. I don't have a lot of spare cash right now, so this is for a few months down the road.

JDBaughman
2012-05-20, 00:30
I want to hike the AT before I start pursuing my career...

SGT Rock
2012-05-20, 00:35
Don't sweat having the "perfect" gear too much. I'd try to keep my pack weight in the 30-40 pound range (with food and water). What month do you plan to start? That can make a difference.

JDBaughman
2012-05-20, 00:49
I have no idea... It really depends on when I can get the money together... But what I'm more concerned with is knowing just how much money I'll need, and where I should make stops at...

SGT Rock
2012-05-20, 00:57
You need about $4K, give or take. If you are going north you want to start around March and if you are going south you want to start around June (so I here). That said, there are people that start in other months. You will sort out the places to stop as you go, you probably only want to plan out about the first week, then wing it for the rest because that is actually the best way to make it work. If you plan ahead too much you will find the plan won't work and it may just screw you up trying to stick to the plan. Jack Tarlin does have a good article on how to resupply for the trail that sort of helps - but more for thinking how long most people take to get along a certain length of trail more than for how to plan the way you want to do it. You can find that article here: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?132

Some folks over plan gear, or more likely over think it. Here is a basic article on what to carry: http://hikinghq.net/forum/showthread.php?2650-What-to-Carry-Article

My best advice for now is to not blow too much cash on gear, save it for food and lodging on the trail.

JDBaughman
2012-05-20, 01:03
Well I got all the gear I need really... Other than a water filtration system... Like a pump or something

Bearpaw
2012-05-20, 01:08
Try to have about 50% more money than you think you will need. I spent about $4700 back in 1999 when the conventional wisdom was about 3 grand. Granted, I spent about 700 just in 5 days in Hot Springs when my girlfriend came to visit, so 4k would have been reasonable. But it was a great gift to myself after I got out of the Marine Corps.

I wouldn't spend much money on mail drops. Grab your food as you go. Better variety and you really don't spend any more money because you don't pay for postage.

Get the AT Guide now to start planning. It will give you ideas about where to resupply, how much you will climb along the way etc. If you are starting this year, you will want to go southbound (SOBO).

You may want to section hike instead of thru-hiking. Start at Springer and head north. Shoot for at least Damascus, VA, 450 miles up, then maybe go for Harpers Ferry (1000 miles), if you're feeling good. More flexibility, and better for a limited budget.

I always say the best gear is what gets you out there. But you may want to look at a lighter pack than your issue pack. If you can drive the couple of hours to Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap, near Blairsville, GA, you will have a much better selection of lighter weight gear than you will find at Rock Creek, which is strictly mass market gear. MTX will give you made-in-America cottage gear tailored to long-distance hiking. Beyond that advice, take what you have and go.

Oh, and look into decent maps. LOTS of hikers head out with no maps. You can do the trail without them, but you'll have a better experience with them.

JDBaughman
2012-05-20, 01:15
A map is a mist have for me... PERIOD. Whether its on a weekend adventure or more... I have been Ina situation where I lost my bearing and didn't have a map... So that, I will definitely have. I would like to get a lighter pack for sure, but money is always an issue... I'm going to school full time off the post 9/11 GI bill... Not much to live off of... At all...

SGT Rock
2012-05-20, 01:15
Well I got all the gear I need really... Other than a water filtration system... Like a pump or something

You really don't need a filter. I've been hiking the AT since the 70s without one.

Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

JDBaughman
2012-05-20, 01:30
Do you just drink the water straight up...? I drank from the north Chickamauga creek a few months ago... Didn't get sick at all, but I don't know what kinda nastiness lies 100 miles up the trail

SGT Rock
2012-05-20, 01:35
Most of the time it is straight. If it is a creek where it might flow through pastures and such I'll treat. Iodine was my method but lately I use bleech. Water filters are an industry that tries to convince you that you need their product to survive.

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SGT Rock
2012-05-20, 12:40
A map is a mist have for me... PERIOD. Whether its on a weekend adventure or more... I have been Ina situation where I lost my bearing and didn't have a map... So that, I will definitely have. I would like to get a lighter pack for sure, but money is always an issue... I'm going to school full time off the post 9/11 GI bill... Not much to live off of... At all...

Good to hear that. Too many people these days hike the AT without maps. You can make it on the AT without one if nothing goes wrong and you also decided to never leave trail. During my hike(s) some good reasons for maps have come along:

1. Hiked to where the guidebook said was a spring which turned out to be dry. My option was to backtrack over a mile or to go 5 more miles without daylight. But my map showed a creek on a side trail about 0.3 down from the AT. The side trail and water were not listed in any guides.

2. After a bad storm a bridge was washed out and the creek was still out of its banks. I would have to either camp and wait for the water to go down or attempt a dangerous ford solo. But my mapped showed a road that paralleled the AT on the side of the creek I was already on, which eventually crossed on a road bridge and then there was a parking lot for a side trail to the AT. I was able to make a nice 2 mile road walk and make the campsite I was shooting for that day.

3. Hiking along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway there are lots of opportunities to leave the green tunnel and road walk along the drive where it crisscrosses the AT. There are better views all along the road, where the trail is often view less and honestly - sometimes annoying. With maps you can plan places where you can take a detour and enjoy some of those views.

There are probably other examples I am not thinking of. But there have been situations here in the Smokies where folks are "hiking by the numbers" as I think of the guidebook only guys, and get into situations where maps could solve it. A few years back some spring breakers got caught up in some late season cold weather/snow and were not prepared for the weather. They ended up spending two days at a shelter getting colder and in worse shape. If they would have had a map they would have known they were only about 0.3 from a very nice downhill trail that went straight to a ranger station in about 8 miles. But instead they ended up freezing near to death until some locals hiking into the AT on that very trail found them. One guy went back down to the ranger station for help while the others got the freezing hikers somewhat thawed out. They ended up walking two of the guys out on that trail while the third had to be airlifted out. The guidebooks don't mention this side trail and what is down there, while the maps do.

Bearpaw
2012-05-20, 12:50
Do you just drink the water straight up...? I drank from the north Chickamauga creek a few months ago... Didn't get sick at all, but I don't know what kinda nastiness lies 100 miles up the trail

In the gorges along the Cumberland Plateau, I check my maps carefully and watch above while I hike. There are usually populated areas above, and the locals throw their trash down into the gorges like a landfill. So I might treat stream water more often than up in the Blue Ridge range further east. Still, I almost never treat springs unless there is visible fouling (like boar damage in the Smokies). I generally drink mountain streams straight also.

When I do treat, I use Aqua Mira drops. Light, fairly cheap, treats about 25 gallons, which will cover months of hiking since I rarely treat any way.

SGT Rock
2012-05-20, 13:01
When I do treat, I use Aqua Mira drops. Light, fairly cheap, treats about 25 gallons, which will cover months of hiking since I rarely treat any way.
Probably a very good strategy, better than just bleach like I use. Bleach looses its efficiency over time as the chlorine escapes the liquid through agitation and you are going to get that as you walk. I change mine out every few trail weeks of hiking.

And this sort of brings up another point you should consider: Hiking the AT is not some continuous trek through wilderness. Sometimes people plan their hike with this sort of mistaken belief and it ends up making for strange gear choices and resupply plans (like starting with a gallon of stove fuel). Thru-Hiking is a series of 3 day to 1 week short hikes between town stops.

Hog On Ice
2012-05-20, 13:10
I carry a few chlorine dioxide tablets (aka Potable Aqua) but I've never felt the need to use them yet - springs and mountain streams I drink with only a floatie filter (a nylon sock) for "treatment" - select your sources wisely and you won't need to treat - avoid agricultural runoff and ditch water next to roads if at all possible

Kanga
2012-05-20, 16:05
Good to hear that. Too many people these days hike the AT without maps. You can make it on the AT without one if nothing goes wrong and you also decided to never leave trail. During my hike(s) some good reasons for maps have come along:

1. Hiked to where the guidebook said was a spring which turned out to be dry. My option was to backtrack over a mile or to go 5 more miles without daylight. But my map showed a creek on a side trail about 0.3 down from the AT. The side trail and water were not listed in any guides.
.
hey, speaking of which!... there is a place on the bmt north of the damn after that ridiculous uphill where you said water and there was no damn water. i was pissed and called you generoll for the rest of the trip. i will have to find it on a map and then beat you with the map.

SGT Rock
2012-05-20, 16:14
Unreliable.

Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

Hog On Ice
2012-05-20, 16:19
sometimes she is

Gary
2012-05-20, 21:57
... I'm going to school full time off the post 9/11 GI bill... Not much to live off of... At all...

What are you going to school for? I know how you feel, retired from the Navy and went to nursing school but using the Montgomery GI Bill instead.

JDBaughman
2012-05-20, 23:51
I'm just doing my General classes. Associates of Science General Transfer. Originally I wanted a degree in homeland security, now I'm just trying to get passed my basic classes. I did, however, turn in my resume to a large company, so hopefully I will get a good paying job, and I can put my reliance on the GI bill, as a means of making a living, on hold. The Post 9/11 gives you BAH or a "housing allowance" if you go to school full time, which is for me, $1,035. The only draw back is that they prorate the days you go to school per month. So, if they cut for Christmas break, you only get paid half. Or spring break, or any holiday, or let's say they don't have any classes for May. There is an entire month where you don't get paid at all. I top of the fact that it takes them about 1 1/2 - 2 months to pay me the money to buy my books... By that time Class is halfway over... In my opinion, I think the post 9/11 is somewhat of a scam. It forces unnecessary hardships on you, for absolutely no reason at all.

And as for the funding involved for thru-hiking the AT, I was looking at like $1000. I was WAYYYYYY off?!?

Skidsteer
2012-05-21, 00:00
Yeah, you were way off. But when you add it up $4000 for 6 months is pretty cheap, no?

JDBaughman
2012-05-21, 00:01
6 months to hike the AT? I thought it averaged out to 2 1/2 months....

Cuffs
2012-05-21, 00:15
Where u getting your info???

Weary
2012-05-21, 00:17
6 months to hike the AT? I thought it averaged out to 2 1/2 months....
The trail is around 2180 miles long. Plus additional walking is required to get to and from supply points. A simple division should have told you that doing the trail in 2.5 months would require you to walk an average of at least 30 miles a day, day after day. Very few people are capable of doing that. The average is probably more like 15 miles per day -- or less. Most of us who have done the long walk spend five or six months doing the AT.

JDBaughman
2012-05-21, 02:07
Yea no I didn't calculate it at all... I haven't even had time to look into it much other than come up with the idea

JDBaughman
2012-05-21, 02:08
But I do want to do it and i am setting money aside for it. I'm thinking I'll be ready in 4-6 months... Maybe I should just section hike it...?

JDBaughman
2012-05-21, 02:53
What is this guide you guys are mentioning...?

SGT Rock
2012-05-21, 04:12
But I do want to do it and i am setting money aside for it. I'm thinking I'll be ready in 4-6 months... Maybe I should just section hike it...?
Probably a good plan. Section hike it a while and if you get time/money later then you can finish where you last sectioned from and maybe only have 2-4 months left to finish.


What is this guide you guys are mentioning...?
There are a couple of guides out there. The Companion which is put out by ALDHA - http://www.aldha.org/companyn.htm

And the AT guide - http://www.theatguide.com/

I prefer the AT guide. To me it is laid out better, and the town information is more user friendly.

chumpchange
2012-05-21, 10:35
national geographic has an episode on the AT that gives a decent overview. i watched it on netflix...

Big Mac
2012-05-21, 11:02
national geographic has an episode on the AT that gives a decent overview. i watched it on netflix...

Are you talking about the one with that annoying Chad guy? :-)

JERMM
2012-05-21, 11:07
And the AT guide - http://www.theatguide.com/

I prefer the AT guide. To me it is laid out better, and the town information is more user friendly.

agree 100%

Superman
2012-05-21, 11:08
Are you talking about the one with that annoying Chad guy? :-)

Hey, I love that show. I think that makes him a nationally recognized trail legend.:angel:

Bearpaw
2012-05-21, 11:41
national geographic has an episode on the AT that gives a decent overview. i watched it on netflix...


Are you talking about the one with that annoying Chad guy? :-)


Hey, I love that show. I think that makes him a nationally recognized trail legend.:angel:

I hear he can be a real bulldog.

Hog On Ice
2012-05-21, 11:44
hey who let that dawg out?

chumpchange
2012-05-21, 11:46
i thought i saw ms. cuffs on there 'til they said she was from Germany.

Cuffs
2012-05-21, 11:59
I wish! That girl was trim and fit! I can only hope I get back to that size!

JDBaughman
2012-05-21, 13:12
So, is Damascus, VA the first town i get to after I start...? I mean, not including that store where people drop their loads...?

JERMM
2012-05-21, 13:29
So, is Damascus, VA the first town i get to after I start...? I mean, not including that store where people drop their loads...?

there are a few towns off trail that's a fairly easy hitch to. first town the trail actually goes through is Hot Springs NC, then Erwin TN then Damascus.

JD if you're seriously want to hike the trail be a thru-hike or long section hike order the book recommended by Sgt Rock, with it or any trail guide your planning will become much easier

JDBaughman
2012-05-21, 13:42
Yea I've already got the "AT TRAIL GUIDE" in my shopping cart

Cuffs
2012-05-21, 14:56
annoying Chad ? :-)

is that like a hanging chad?

Bearpaw
2012-05-21, 17:05
So, is Damascus, VA the first town i get to after I start...? I mean, not including that store where people drop their loads...?

No, Damascus is the first major milestone, at least in my opinion. It's 3 miles into Virginia, about 460 miles up the trail, about 1/5th of the way through the AT.

But you will hit good resupply at Neel Gap (Mountain Crossings) at 31 miles, easy hitches into Hiawassee, GA at miles 53 and 69, hitch into Franklin, NC at mile 110, you walk right through Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) at mile 137, call for a shuttle to local services from the Fontana Dam or Marina around mile 165, hitch to Gatlinburg at mile 207, etc, etc, etc.\

Hot Springs, NC (mile 274) is cool since it is the first true town you actually hike through the middle of. Same with Damscus, VA, and a handful of other towns along the way.

If nothing else, I would STRONGLY urge any prospective thru-hiker to stick with it at least until Deep Gap in NC (mile 85). You will have hiked all of Georgia, gotten past all the let-down of long-distance hiking no being the romantic BS many expect, gotten past the realization that hiking the AT and its mountains is a LOT tougher than the leisurely, level strolls through a city park that many expect, and you can realistically assess if this is something you really want to spend another 5+ months doing. It also gives you time to have strengthened those surprised muscles that are kind of sore that first week. I was straight out of A/NGLICO, a pretty hard-core unit, but all my training was on flat beach break or pine forest at Camp LeJeune. It took me a few days to get used to the mountains.

Quitting before NC because your hike sucks (and the sheer packs of hikers you compete with for space can cause suckage with a March/April hike) isn't really giving yourself or the trail a chance. If, by Deep Gap, you are not enjoying your thru-hike, walk 4 miles to Standing Indian Campground and call for a ride out.

But walking into Damascus, archway and all, that's a great feeling, typically about 6 weeks into a hike. If money is an issue, wrap up your hike there and come back again in a year. It's a great town to end or start a long section hike.

JERMM
2012-05-21, 19:42
JD- if funds and time are limited for a thur-hike you might consider section hiking the AT. But, keep in mind it's more expensive to section hike than thru-hike due to transportation to and from the trailhead each time you go back. If you do decide on section hiking try to end each section at a point where plane/train/bus services is within fairly easy access.

Like Springer to Damascus, next time out Damascus to Harpers Ferry WV...and so on

Mags
2012-05-22, 15:51
I wrote a Quick and Dirty Guide to the AT....maybe it will help answer some questions?

http://www.pmags.com/a-quick-and-dirty-guide-to-the-appalachian-trail

Superman
2012-05-22, 19:10
I wrote a Quick and Dirty Guide to the AT....maybe it will help answer some questions?

http://www.pmags.com/a-quick-and-dirty-guide-to-the-appalachian-trail

...but you say in it that a cell phone is NOT a substitute for having the proper gear. That's just crazy....

SGT Rock
2012-05-22, 20:30
Well if you can use your cell phone to pound in tent stakes, then it has dual use right?

JERMM
2012-05-22, 21:01
i've seen a few cell phones with more light than my headlamp, so some of um are good for night hiking making them double use

sheepdog
2012-05-22, 21:10
hiking makes you late for supper

Mags
2012-05-22, 21:42
Well if you can use your cell phone to pound in tent stakes, then it has dual use right?

Use it to call in pizza, too...

SGT Rock
2012-05-22, 21:46
You can also watch porn on the new ones.

Superman
2012-05-22, 21:53
When I hike with Tex he carries a satellite phone. He often has a shuttle waiting for us at the trail head.

Tin Man
2012-05-22, 23:49
Hey, I love that show. I think that makes him a nationally recognized trail legend.:angel:

Impossible...there is only one.

Tin Man
2012-05-22, 23:51
When I hike with Tex he carries a satellite phone. He often has a shuttle waiting for us at the trail head.

Funny, i dont recall meeting you guys at any trailhead

sheepdog
2012-05-23, 06:30
Funny, i dont recall meeting you guys at any trailhead

to do that, you would actually have to hike....:angel::aetsch:

Superman
2012-05-23, 09:06
to do that, you would actually have to hike....:angel::aetsch:

Ouch but true.

Bearpaw
2012-05-23, 10:27
Funny, i dont recall meeting you guys at any trailhead


to do that, you would actually have to hike....:angel::aetsch:

I'm pretty sure Tin Man hikes. It's shuttling that I'm skeptical about.

JDBaughman
2012-05-28, 16:00
You can also watch porn on the new ones.

Fact. I am right now.

JDBaughman
2012-06-19, 14:35
I think, for right now, a thru hike isn't feasible... But, I DO believe I can hike from my moms house in Front Royal, VA to my house in Chattanooga, TN. I think it will take about 1.5 - 2 months to make it.

JDBaughman
2012-06-19, 14:37
I can literally hike out her back door to my front door... She lives about a mile from the AT and has a trail that leads to it. Me on the other hand, I'm about 5 miles from it...

chumpchange
2012-06-19, 14:44
you should do it the other way and tell her to have you a big meal waiting for you.

Cuffs
2012-06-19, 15:58
Umm.... If you're in Chattanooga, I think you're a few more than 5 miles from the AT...

JDBaughman
2012-06-19, 22:10
Srry cuffs, Yea, more like 50 miles... But compared to 2,000... Or at least the 1,000 I'm talking about hiking, 5,10,20,50,100 miles wouldn't make a difference... say Cuffs, you been to the beach lately...? ...lol

Cuffs
2012-06-19, 22:26
I live the life, dont need no stinkin beach...