View Full Version : The Whites

02-24-2014, 23:15
Hello all. I am a hopeful 2014 SOBO thru hiker and have some questions about the "Whites" area/section of the AT. I have some compounding worries by what kind of shape I'll be in by then and mileage (average) affecting camping, and resupplying. I think my biggest worry is regarding the camping issue, as I am not against staying in a hut, I would rather not, thus saving some money. From others past experience, is camping feasible out side of the marked camp sites (in AWOL guide)? I understand there are areas you can not camp and I don't plan on breaking the rules. I also am not against paying for the campsite or doing WFS at the huts (if available). I want to enjoy the scenery and not rush through the Whites, but don't want to take too much time there as well. My plan is to hike campsite to campsite, but was wondering if there where any other options. Thanks!!!

02-25-2014, 00:02
While I am sure one individual's voice won't quell your worries, I got to say with near 100% certainty that you will find everything will work out just fine.

There are plently of options to avoid the AMC campsites if you want, but in the context of a thru hike, the luxury of a flat spot and nearby water and privy is something most find hard to resist. To my way of thinking avoiding having to stay at Huts is easy-- with the possible exception of Lakes of the clouds -- but with just a bit of planning you can walk on by that one too. I did as a Sobo. BUt why not embrace the experience and check one out for a night? Just don't be a hiking machine snob.

As for rushing thru, I think giving yourself permission to take an extra zero in if the weather sucks might be more important than modifying your pace.

As as for being in shape-- you will be. Southbounders gain confidence and stride faster than northbounds, I think. Southern Maine can be physically tough if you at intent on making miles but Gorham will surely replenish. So don't give to much credence to the NObos' tales of how hard the trail is ahead. They bitched and moaned 30 years ago, and are far worse these days. Once you reach Gorham, you will know you can take anything that lies ahead.

02-25-2014, 00:12
Perhaps this link will answer your question better than my ramble:


02-25-2014, 00:17
so you are southbounding. After finishing up the 280 miles in Maine (no easy state!) you'll be in fine shape for the Whites. If possible start in July (June is still very wet and buggy) and you want to move through the whites in Summer. Regarding work for stay at the huts.. arrive in later afternoon if you want that. If you show up say at mid day at a hut they'll just tell you to move along unless the weather is awful. BTW work for stay means you do say a half hour of chores either in the evening or in the morning. you sleep on a table in dining hall. You get up with the croo (at that means before 6 am.. probably 5 am) you eat meals with the crew. But its a great deal. The food is worth it. you will not want to miss that. Also remember.. work for stays are extended by by the AMC as a courtesy to thru hikers. They are not ever in anyway obliged or required to offer you work for stay. So take it in that spirit. As far as camp sites go.. above tree line camping is prohibited out right. below tree line you are supposed to camp at designated sites only. Besides, these are the only places where a flat surface and easy water source access is guaranteed. Most of the terrain otherwise is steep or bushy or rocky. Most camp sites have a care taker and then there's a 8$ per night fee. If you can avoid the fee more power to you but plan to pay it. Incidentally, there's one site in Maine that has a caretaker (and thus a fee) and that's Speck Pond Campsite. You WILL want to camp here because after this place you climb Mahoosic Arm and then go down and through Mahoosic Notch.
That's a full day in itself.

Plan on 10 miles per day (give or take) through the Carters, Presidentials, over to the Kinsmans. Also the Mahoosics in Maine 10 MPD or less. This is a GORGEOUS stretch of trail. you can make up time further south. By the time you get to Mass, say, what will be hard for Nobos will be a piece of cake for you!

Oh.. Definitely absolutely pencil in a stay at the AMC Pinkham Notch Camp. That's on Rt 16 right after the Carter range and right before the Presidential Range. you get a bed, showers, and ample food.. the best food you'll see in a while! They even have a gear store! You'll climb into the Presies refreshed and recharged! Plus.. the AT literally goes right to and right past the dining room at the AMC's Pinkham Notch Camp. All this is ON the trail!!


02-25-2014, 00:23
so you are southbounding. After finishing up the 280 miles in Maine (no easy state!) you'll be in fine shape for the Whites.

This. If you make it through Maine you will be fine for the Whites.

The same thing goes for NOBOs. I had fears about the Whites on my NOBO thru, but by the time I got there it just wasn't that big of a deal. If I was coming off the couch it would have been a different story.

02-25-2014, 00:29
OP seems to be concerned about camping. Which can, admittedly be a problem in that neighborhood. I don't know of any great solutions, except to mention that there are tent platforms here and there (eg., Garfield, Liberty Springs) and some "standard" shelters here and there, eg. Imp, Guyot, Ethan Pond if your goal is to avoid the huts. Stealth camping (in my experience) is tricky till you get well off the AT.

02-25-2014, 08:49
It's relatively easy to avoid the huts (except Lake of the Clouds as mentioned). I agree with others that your legs will be fine by the end of southern Maine, certainly fine enough to tackle the Whites. Give yourself the freedom to take it slow and enjoy yourself. The views are fantastic and worth every moment. Also be sure and allow yourself to zero if the weather is bad. There will be much better terrain to slog through in the cold rain further south.

A couple other bits. At nearly every major road crossing/gap, there is a hostel or inn/hotel or the option of a shuttle to one. It can be a couple of days between them but it's another good option in your list. And I definitely suggest that you try for a work for stay or two if for nothing else then to get a taste of the hut experience.

Also, if you're unsure of where to head feel free to stop in and ask the huts for advice on good, legal camping spots. They can point you in the right direction. And go out of your way to treat them nice. They just might spread the good karma down the line to the other huts/campsites for you.

02-25-2014, 09:17
When you come to a hut go in and chat with the croo. You might be able to do work for stay and not only have a place to sleep but plenty of food to eat.

I stayed at every other hut going through the Whites and did work for stay at each one. I gained weight between Glencliff and Gorham. :)

Migrating Bird
02-25-2014, 09:33
I They just might spread the good karma down the line to the other huts/campsites for you. They did just that for me, Madison called LOC to tell LOC to expect me for WFS.

My thoughts on going SOBO are: being prepared to hike the Whites, starts at Mt. Katahdin. Plan to stay (2) nights at Katahdin Stream Campground, the day before and after you summit Mt. Katahdin, being flexible. Mt. Katahdin only has one short pitch which is difficult for some and heading south on the AT you really will not hit anything like it until south of Whitecap. That short stretch will be a precursor of things to come. The majority of the 100 mile wilderness will be getting your wind and hiking legs in shape. Southern ME is tougher than the Whites in my opinion for example, descending the Mahoosuc Arm through the Notch and the Hike up out of the Notch hard but you will have had time to adjust to them and it will be a blast. Like RickB stated you will find everything will work out just fine. Just be flexible and enjoy. Camping is possible through the Whites as mentioned above, but you'll miss out on meeting some wonderful people and some great food when you need it. You can also carry less food and water through the Whites even if camping by getting food and water at the huts.

02-25-2014, 09:47
Also ask the hut croo where you can camp nearby if you don't stay there. The croo knows the spots as they sometimes need to have a place to send the thru's if they don't have work for stay. It seems like all except for Lakes has them right outside the hut no camping perimeter.

02-25-2014, 10:20
I'm a SOBOer as well and am wondering the same! I'm happy to learn of a fellow SOBO hiker.

bamboo bob
02-25-2014, 10:28
I started SOBO May 31. The Croos were happy to see me! because they were not as yet sick of thru-hikers. But I never slept in the huts as I recall on that trip. There really plenty of places to tent below tree line or paid platforms.

02-25-2014, 11:18
Thank you all for all of the advice and reassurance. Having everything ready to go for my june 15 start, i tend to over think and stress my self (with nervousness and excitement). The time wait is driving me nuts, almost 100 days to go.

02-25-2014, 15:35
I have posted it before but the alternative to Lakes is a bootleg campsite off of Jewell trail. Its about a mile down and a 1000 feet in area of sort open spruces. Room for one man and small two man tents in the trees and one open area (pretty boney) with a fire ring. The area is also used as a toilet by day hikers just before treeline so watch your step. There is water that crosses the trail on the way down but its drains down from the AT (gulfside trail) so treat it. The area has some cover but is facing west which is where the storms come from. Its better than above treeline but still would be an "exciting" place to be during a thunderstorm. Do note that the Ammonusuc Ravine trail that drops down from Lakes is closed to camping for most of the way down the mountain and even if it were open, there are few if any flat spots.

Further south Edmonds path has some spots about 3/4 of a mile down the trail, you cross several water sources. The spots are spread through the woods after a small stone gate.

A general note is that once you have left the Osgood Tentsite to Crawford Notch going south, do not ever take a trail to the left to look for camping spots, they inevitably drop quickly and camping options are non existent until you hit the valleys. These trails are also a bad choice if you get into trouble as few if any will get you out to a road in less than a day. Go right and usually in 3 to 4 to 4 hours you are on a road.
By this time in a SOBO you will be an old pro and thus don't sweat it.

02-25-2014, 18:50
Being SOBO you shouldn't have a problem doing work for stay at the huts. I was NOBO during a pretty busy time and did several work for stay, also paid to stay at Joe Dodge Lodge and Highland Center, both not very expensive. I think I only slept out one night when I didn't make Lonesome Lake Hut and just pulled up on the side of the trail.

lemon b
02-25-2014, 19:06
Doesn't hurt to have an AMC Membership Card and a Gold AMX Card. Than your royality if someone scheduled doesn't show up.