View Full Version : Section Hike for Noobs

05-24-2015, 18:45
I'm a 37 year old IT guy. I have been doing light hiking in Ohio over the past two years with up to 16 mile days. Even spent two days in the NH Whites with a buddy last year.

Long and short of it is I am trying to get a group of 5 to 10 IT folks together to do a section hike on the AT mid to Late summer. Looking for something we can safely do in 3 days with no more than 10 miles a day.

I was looking up sections for NC and found this, http://wilderness.org/no-time-hike-appalachian-trail-try-these-12-easy-section-hikes. The Nantahala Mountains stood out as a sub 30 mile trip with great vistas and from what I have read reasonable hiking conditions. It also seems to me like the traffic will be low with the Nobos well on their way to Maine.

Considering none of us are super in shape and some may be downright out of shape I need to make sure that each of the three days has a valid bailout point. When we get this trip planned out it will be super detailed including having planned ferry drivers and bail out drivers at pickup points

This hike seems very doable for the group I'm talking about. I have read 10 or so AT through hike books at this point and while challenging none of them seem to indicate that 9 or 10 mile start days should be to much on a new hiker. We also would be splitting a set amount of gear between all hikers to keep the loads as light as possible.

Anyway you all have more experience in this space than me so I would love some feedback. Ultimately I would like to start doing this at least twice a year on different trails to get us out of our DataCenters and Cubes and into the wild.

Thanks ahead of time!

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05-25-2015, 07:38
Getting a group of buddies together for a section hike can be a lot of fun (it can also be, er, not a lot of fun, but that depends on the buddies. :) )

So, a few thoughts:

The section you chose is the southern half of the Nantahalas. I would not classify this as an "easy" hike by any means. You will get a few nice vistas, from the top of Wayah Bald and from the old Wesser Bald fire tower (definitely climb this one, it's great). But those vistas come with some solid climbs, so be prepared.

Bailouts: there's a road to the fire tower at the top of Wayah Bald, though not much traffic. There are a couple of FS roads that you will cross. Depending on whether you can get cell service, some of these might be viable places to bail, but I would be concerned about this especially when combined with the steepness of this terrain. (It's not as steep as the Whites but it doesn't have to be for someone who has never hiked with a pack.)

From a logistical standpoint, you might consider hiking the first 20 miles of the AT from Springer to Woody Gap. Stay at the Hiker Hostel the night before, then get dropped at Springer, hike the 0.9 miles south to the summit, then the ~8 miles to Hawk Mountain on day 1, then the ~8 miles to Gooch Mountain on day 2, and the ~4 miles to Woody Gap on day three. Day one will be relatively easy, with a long gentle climb at the second half of the day. Day two will be very challenging with some stiff climbs over Sasafras and Justus mountains, and day three will be a pleasant hike out to the gap. The advantage of this hike is that there are plenty of bailout points along the way, and the Hiker Hostel folks will come get you, you don't need your own bailout drivers or whatever. The other advantage is that it's reasonable to pull this off in 3 days with new hikers who are not in shape - it will feel plenty challenging.

Good luck and happy trails.

05-25-2015, 08:03
Grayson highlands loop out of massey. VA

05-25-2015, 08:37
A group is only as good as its weakest member.

It will be intensely hot, humid, possibly dry, and probably much harder than you or anyone else expects.

These things dont really go well with out-of-shape. It can, but depends on level of commitment, mental toughness, pack weight, common sense.

Id say honestly start out with easier section, and work way up as get to know groups abilities. Seems like a bad thing to do to expect people to spend a lot of time and money, to do something with a high chance of failure. Planning for bailouts and pickups...should be a red flag.

How about planning for success?

Ill add hiking with groups sucks. Being around large groups sucks. Just my opinion. It is counter to the reasons you go to the woods. Understand also that shelters are not for groups. This is explicit on the ATC site. If you want to have the best time, limit your group to 3-4 tops. You can influence proper gear choices better, influence shape and training better, and find easier places to camp together.

If you still have a bunch of people, consider breaking into two small groups and go in opposite directions. This totally solves the problems with pickup from ending points, just exchange keys when the two groups meet in middle.

Spirit Walker
05-25-2015, 12:59
The Shenandoahs are much easier and also very scenic with lots of wildlife.