View Full Version : Communication

03-19-2015, 11:24
As a parent of an AT hiker, what is the best way for me to expect to communicate with him while he is on the trail via phone or mail. I am hopeful most of the towns near the trail have cell service.

Enjoy your walk .....

03-19-2015, 11:27
Cell phone service is available from most of the trail. Especially when high on a mountain or ridgeline. I would caution you not to get nervous if you don't hear from him for a few days though. If he is in a more remote section or lower in some valleys, there can be no signal at all.

03-19-2015, 11:50
Also, hikers can do dumb things like run their batteries down on their phone. Has happened to me once or twice on trails other than the AT though I never got into charging trouble on the AT because I had my battery backup along.

While that means that you may not hear from your kid for 2-3 days until the phone is charged again, it's not uncommon to run across other hikers who DO have phones with charge on them so an emergency call could be made if necessary.

03-19-2015, 11:53
As a parent of an AT hiker, what is the best way for me to expect to communicate with him while he is on the trail via phone or mail. I am hopeful most of the towns near the trail have cell service.

Enjoy your walk .....

If being able to remain in contact is really important to you, consider buying him a Delorme InReach Satellite Communicator. It will allow him to send and receive text messages anywhere there is a clear view of the sky.

03-19-2015, 12:13
I cannot speak for the ability to communicate while hiking south of Norwich, VT. I have only done from Katahdin to there. My plan was to send a text or 2 per day. I left a very detailed itinerary at home. My texts were short and to the point. "On schedule. Text sent from ______. See you in _ days." If there was an item I needed not on my resupply list, I would include it in the text. I like to be in the woods and not resupply often. Did Maine on 2 resupplies. Having said all this, there have only been 4 or 5 days where I could not get a text out. Most of those 4 or 5 days were in the Whites.

03-19-2015, 12:14
I found the best cell service was Verizon…even in towns. If no Verizon, no cell service. That said, texting is always more reliable than trying to make a call. It uses less power and short burst transmissions can be very useful. I generally turn my phone off except to communicate. This preserves battery life for scheduled communications and emergencies. Ask him to send a short text say at noon and at 1800 daily if that works for you. I also recommend carrying a rechargeable storage system if you can. That generally gives my phone 1-2 extra full changes.

evyck da fleet
03-19-2015, 12:28
Most towns do. Verizon is better than AT&T which I had. Another option is to send an email. I remember being in Damascus for Trail Days where I didn't have phone service but I checked by email at a coffee shop that had WiFi. I hadn't realized it had been a week since my last update so I replied to the email saying I'd call at my next chance.

Sarcasm the elf
03-19-2015, 13:39
Cell service is better than most people would think, but it's not always there. As others have said, you will need to understand that a hiker might be out if contact for a day or three and this is totally normal. When I hike, I attempt to contact my wife once a day to let her know I am okay, text messages can often be sent with very little cell signal, so I primarily use these and then only call when I am in a place with a good signal where I can talk without bothering others (ie I don't sit in a shelter having a phone conversation)
Mountaintops have surprisingly good cell reception, so when I get to a peak I take out my phone and try to send a quick text.

03-19-2015, 14:48
Our son did the AT thru hike in 2013. He called twice. Just sayin'.

03-19-2015, 15:00
Thanks for the words of wisdom. Excited for him and this new adventure.

03-20-2015, 12:02
I'm starting my thru-hike next week and I rented a gps and communicating device so my parents can look online to see where I am at any given time. I rented some other equipment from this site as well. https://www.lowergear.com/product.php/id/230

03-20-2015, 13:49
In the event of an emergency if you have a general idea where he is you can call an outfitter, hostel or other service provider in the area and leave a message for him to call home. I'd bet in most cases if you posted a message here he could be located within a day or two.

03-20-2015, 15:21
Best way, email and txting most likely. This might be from the trail if he has Verizon and wants to try to get a signal out there. It can be frustrating at times.

Towns would be the place where it would be more reasonable. But even some of them have no service especially for other carriers, so he would need to seek out wifi.

Snail mail, yes he can drop a post card every so often, but getting a message to him this way would be much more difficult.

Voice, yes if there is a signal, perhaps he could skype over wifi.

03-22-2015, 13:08
I remember a few locations where Verizon didn't work but I was able to call using Skype. Some locations allowed texting but not emailing. Be sure to remember your pin for the voice mail as sometimes a land line is the only way to get the messages.