View Full Version : PA Section Hike

04-28-2015, 00:00
My name is Josh, no trail name yet.

I am planning a section hike of the AT thru PA, from the Maryland line to the NJ line. This is day 10 of planning. Myself and a fellow brother firefighter are planning to make the hike in April 2017.

There is so much info out there about the AT I just don't know where to start. We have already bought are maps and guide books but from there I am lost.

I am an avid camper but pretty new to hiking. Any help would be appreciated.

04-28-2015, 00:53
2017 is a long way off, so you have plenty of time to do some trial hikes, buy and zero in your gear, develop some skills, etc. Best recommendation is to join a local trail or outing club and get your feet wet, hang around here on WB and read the articles and posts, and ask questions. Don't rush out and buy a mess of gear until you research it a bit with other hikers both locally and here on WB. What's in the big outfitter stores isn't always what you need, and often it's more than what you need - in weight, price, etc. I agree that there are so many options that it can be very confusing.

Most three season section hikers are likely carrying packs in the 2 - 3 lb range, sleeping bags anywhere from 1 - 3 lbs, sleeping pads in the 8 oz - 1.5 lb, tents from 2 - 4 lbs. There are also hammock options, quilts, tarps, etc. And stoves/cookware is a often discussed/debated subject, particularly alcohol vs gas canister. Footwear is also a confusing area, but the trend is toward lighter and lower cut trail shoes vs. boots. Light AND high quality gear is typically expensive. There's an old rule: Light, strong, cheap - choose any two.

Oh yeah, and welcome to WB :welcome

04-28-2015, 06:02
Take a couple of weekends and hike Maryland for practice!

04-29-2015, 15:54
The PA AT can be brutal on the feet. I strongly encourage you to put money in your boots and insist on sole plates. After your 500th encounter with a needle sharp rock, you'll appreciate the weight penalty of plates. There is no way I could have done two back-to-back 30 mile days with EVA soles. On a more humorous note, after 30 mi on the AT yesterday, I tripped on the carpet, passed out, and have a badly bruised face.

04-29-2015, 22:01
I will definitely look into those sole plates and into other gear as well.

I am thinking MREs for food. Also it is being planned as a 15 day hike, thinking 4 day hikes before resupply?

Hope your eye heals soon :)

04-29-2015, 22:50
Southern PA is fairly mild. I just came back from a two day hike in northern PA. Rocks, Rocks, Rocks. Get old school boots. The guy I was hiking with learned to love the sections of the trail that were merely rocky, vs. nothing but rocks. MRE's? You can do better than that.

04-30-2015, 06:09
We completed the middle third of Pennsylvania this month, from Duncannon to Port Clinton. I know the worst rocks are said to be north of Port Clinton, so we'll see them in another trip. But I have to say the rocks in mid-PA weren't awful. The "bad" sections were really just short patches that could actually be kinda fun, maybe without a pack on. There were also long stretches that were clear, smooth, and flat - couldn't have been easier. Enjoyed this thread about the rocks: http://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/110797-Greetings-from-Rocksylvania?p=1965172#post1965172

To the OP, you won't be the first person to go out on the AT without experience. We met a guy at our last shelter, Eagle's Nest, who was carrying a bow & arrow, a HUGE food bag, and all sorts of other big heavy stuff. He asked us whether he should have brought his fishing gear. It took him two days to go 9 miles. He was planning to walk from Port Clinton south to Georgia, hunting/fishing along the way to save money. All he had was sixty bucks. We persuaded him to go back home and make his "fresh start" in familiar territory.... Hopefully, you're more knowledgeable and better prepared than he was. :)

04-30-2015, 06:39
Just go out and camp at night and walk in the daytime.
The only difference is: Instead of sitting around drinking beer and cutting firewood all day, you walk instead.
Wearing your hiking shoes a lot before the hike will probably help with blisters.
Best to go out and do some practice hikes since you are going to be hiking for a while when you do the big section.
That way you can pare down your gear a bit and only take what you need.
The lighter your pack- the more fun you'll have hiking.
The rocks can be fun, if you aren't in a hurry.
I grew up hiking those rocks and still enjoy them.

04-30-2015, 07:33
check out this great websites for hikes/maps/directions, etc. all in your area:


04-30-2015, 21:59
Yea definitely don't want to bring that much gear with me lol. We are looking at 15-20 miles a day max depending on how everything goes.

It seems like I am going to enjoy rocks by the end of this.

And I am planning multiple overnight trips prior to the big trip: Any suggestions would be a huge help

04-30-2015, 22:47
There's an old rule: Light, strong, cheap - choose any two.

I had never heard this, but it makes sense!

I began section-hiking the AT 5 years ago (completing 100-120 miles each year). Originally, I had a 40+ pound pack (although, I was hiking with my 9 and 11 y/o sons, so I carried the bulk of the weight!). Now I am down to 21 pounds, which includes food - but not water. Each year, I purchase one good light weight item.