PDA

View Full Version : Day-hiking AT



Thorfinn
07-07-2015, 20:04
I am about to complete a 15-year adventure of day-hiking the entire AT. 110 miles in Maine to go in the next 3-4 weeks depending on weather. By day hiking I mean not camping out at all and coming off the trail every night. I suspect this has been done before and have corresponded with one person that has done it. On the other hand, there are people who have claimed to have done it, but when you look further they backpacked a section or even skipped some important sections such as the White Mountains or the Smokies. I am curious as to how common a complete day-hike of the trail is. I get asked all the time but don't have an answer. If you have completed the trail by the definition above, or know someone who has, I would appreciate knowing about it.
Whereas I am interested in anyone who has day-hiked the trail in any manner, you might be interested in the parameters I used.

Pass every blaze without carrying a tent, sleeping bag, stove, water filter, etc. (I did have to take two high water bypass trails around flooded fords).

Beer and/or cocktails every night (I did miss three cocktail hours in the Whites and two while sick).

Shower or bath every afternoon.

Sleep in a bed under a roof.

Hot supper preferably prepared by someone else.

Disco
07-07-2015, 20:27
Pete Wetzel (Seeks It) did a DOUBLE thru by all day hikes in 2012.
http://www.trailjournals.com/about.cfm?trailname=12720

Thorfinn
07-07-2015, 22:27
Pete Wetzel (Seeks It) did a DOUBLE thru by all day hikes in 2012.
http://www.trailjournals.com/about.cfm?trailname=12720

Pete is the one I referred to (to whom I referred)

Thorfinn
09-21-2015, 20:03
For those interested - I did complete the AT by day hiking under the rules stated above, i.e. no camping, on August 16, 2015. It was 186 days averaging 11.75 miles per day. I am still interested in knowing who else has done it this way.

What a great adventure!

Ktaadn
09-22-2015, 09:13
Congrats! What were your logistics like? Did you have a shuttle or have someone move your car each day?

Gambit McCrae
09-22-2015, 09:24
I am interested in this thread for sure, I have done a mix of both Day hikes as well as weekend backpacking trips. I can go further day hiking but if I do it for multiple days it costs more then backpacking via shuttles

gsingjane
09-22-2015, 11:03
We met a terrific couple from Maine last year in NJ who is doing this. I believe they were using two cars and just spotting one at either end. It seemed like they were having a wonderful time, and really having the freedom to explore and spend as much time as they wanted. A very cool thing to do!

Jane

joshuasdad
09-22-2015, 11:43
Congrats! I started with a whole lot of day hikes, and I know it CAN be done, but the Smokies are a real pain without camping, and it gets expensive if your family is not around to help. I eventually switched to a 1-3 overnight strategy using a near-minimalist pack setup to save $$ and maximize hiking time.

I'm guessing that you hiked the northern Smokies NOBO in one (marathon) day from Newfound Gap, and most of the southern Smokies in one long day SOBO from Clingman's Dome. You can break these up by dropping down on a side trail, but that doesn't save a lot of miles, and adds a lot of wasted vertical.

The Whites would be relatively easy if you use the huts, but I think the cocktails and the shower/bath criteria would be difficult to meet there. So I guess you just had some monster days in there...

Of course the big question is...now what? I've been trying to answer that one for the last year.

TwoSpirits
09-22-2015, 11:44
I too am very interested in learning more about your hike...it sounds like it could be a very cool way to see and enjoy the trail.

On the one hand, it seems that the planning and funding for this type of hike would go far, far, beyond that of any other "typical" thru (or section) hike...and frankly, I enjoy setting up overnight in a beautiful setting, so I would miss that. But I can also imagine that just the basic logistics for this hike would allow you to see and experience so much more of the trail -- i.e., exposing you to more of the places and people along the trail corridor. That is a very attractive idea.

A quick question: Did you bring anything (shelter or bivy, etc.) to hedge against any type of accident or delay?

Congratulations on your hike! An awesome accomplishment. I would love to read more about it!

Berserker
09-22-2015, 12:11
I can't add any value as far as knowing anyone else that has day hiked the trail, but I just wanted to say congratulations on finishing. As a fellow section hiker I can attest to the pain of the logistics of section hiking. Day hiking seems like it would involve even more logistics. At any rate, if all goes well I'll hopefully be finishing in a few years.

warren doyle
09-22-2015, 12:12
I've day-hiked the entire AT (including the Smokies) at least four times. I am surprised that more people don't do it this way. The completion rates would certainly increase. Most of the evenings I sleep in my car at road/trail crossings.

Uncle Joe
09-22-2015, 12:47
Great job! Congrats!

BillyGr
09-22-2015, 14:34
I'm guessing that you hiked the northern Smokies NOBO in one (marathon) day from Newfound Gap, and most of the southern Smokies in one long day SOBO from Clingman's Dome. You can break these up by dropping down on a side trail, but that doesn't save a lot of miles, and adds a lot of wasted vertical.

Would it add much difficulty if one broke that into 4 pieces, doing half of each half the opposite way?

So say, for the northern half staring as you mention at Newfound, go north to about the distance, find a side trail to drop off (down?) to a road.
Next day, start at the northern access to the park, hike south to the same side trail as the day before.
That way you covered the distance in two shorter (easier) days, and added only some extra downhill, avoiding the uphill that would be needed to start the 2nd section at the point where you ended the first section by going the opposite way.

backpacker451
09-22-2015, 21:00
I'm very interested in this as we have done the trail this way so far. Done 800 miles so far. I didn't think it was this common, as everybody we meet on the trail is very surprised we've been doing it this way.

Kaptainkriz
09-22-2015, 21:12
When breaking the trail up this way, is there a particular way to document progress? I'm new tomthe section hike convept and this is sectioning in the extreme. :)

RockDoc
09-22-2015, 22:32
An older man trail name Attilla the Hun did this back in 2007. I met him three different times in Maine. He would hike various directions depending on his car shuttle situations. He was rather ill and took medicine, part of the reason for his day hiking. We spent the night with him in the Sugar Shack, if you know where that is (was).

SkeeterPee
09-22-2015, 23:40
I have a friend who has a friend doing this. they drove one car to Springer, then got a second car and drove to their first point north of Springer. left second car at lot and then hiked south to Springer. then drove first car to hotel, hostel, etc. Supposedly costing about 40/night. next morning they drove to some point further north on the trail and then hike to the car left the previous day. drove that car to hotel etc. each day they move further north and hike to their car to the south. I just saw my friend this weekend and they have 150 miles to go. Not sure what they would do for the 100 mile wilderness, or if there were any other places they had to carry a pack and spend a night on the trail. While a meal/shower would be nice everyday, I would think I would feel like I was missing out on a big part of the trip by not staying on the trail most nights.

LittleRock
09-23-2015, 10:45
Would it add much difficulty if one broke that into 4 pieces, doing half of each half the opposite way?

So say, for the northern half staring as you mention at Newfound, go north to about the distance, find a side trail to drop off (down?) to a road.
Next day, start at the northern access to the park, hike south to the same side trail as the day before.
That way you covered the distance in two shorter (easier) days, and added only some extra downhill, avoiding the uphill that would be needed to start the 2nd section at the point where you ended the first section by going the opposite way.

That likely won't help much - most of the options for side trails going down to roads are nearly as long as just finishing the other 1/2 of the AT route. One thing that will help is taking advantage of the Clingman's Dome road. It will cut about 8 miles off your hike through the southern smokies. That still leaves you with two very tough ~30 mile day hikes, one south from Clingman's Dome to Fontana and one north from Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap. I'm sure it can be done - but it doesn't sound appealing to me.

FlyPaper
09-23-2015, 14:25
When breaking the trail up this way, is there a particular way to document progress? I'm new tomthe section hike convept and this is sectioning in the extreme. :)

http://www.atdist.com has a feature to track progress using browser cookies.

Thorfinn
09-24-2015, 19:27
Congrats! What were your logistics like? Did you have a shuttle or have someone move your car each day?
Thanks for your reply and those of several others. I will answer them in succession as there are many good questions. I, and the ATC, believe that alternative means of doing the AT reduces crowding and pressure on shelters, springs and other limited resources. Day hiking leaves a very light footprint on the trail and heightens the exposure in neighboring communities. One of the best benefits of our day-hiking was the time we spent in local communities and the people we met.
OK, logistics - they were major. I spent much more time researching, planning and exploring access points than I did hiking. My wife, in a Buick Lucerne that went to places the designers never intended, shuttled me at least 70% of the time. We would always visit the pick-up points to be sure she knew where to bring my post-hike beer. She would drop me off in the morning and meet me in the afternoon. When she was unavailable or the access was too remote or difficult I hired shuttlers and would leave my vehicle at the end point and be driven to the trailhead. Many times shuttlers, rangers, etc. did not know the access points. I used Google Earth, old maps and local knowledge to find them. There's nothing like going to a happy hour at a local watering hole to ask if that woods road is still there, passable, and where I can hire a kid with a big truck. Everyone was so interested and helpful. The AT is not wilderness, not even here in Maine, and with local knowledge you can get there. My longest hike was 27 miles.

Thorfinn
09-24-2015, 19:33
I am interested in this thread for sure, I have done a mix of both Day hikes as well as weekend backpacking trips. I can go further day hiking but if I do it for multiple days it costs more then backpacking via shuttles

Yes, it does cost more but it is spread out, in my case, over several years. Because of my age, chronic back problems and inability to dedicate the block of time for a thru-hike, day hiking was my only option. When I began I didn't know if it could be done but after studying maps for years I was convinced that it could be done. What a great experience!

Thorfinn
09-24-2015, 19:38
We met a terrific couple from Maine last year in NJ who is doing this. I believe they were using two cars and just spotting one at either end. It seemed like they were having a wonderful time, and really having the freedom to explore and spend as much time as they wanted. A very cool thing to do!

Jane

Great. Do you know their names? We're from Maine and we were having a wonderful time. We got great pleasure from rest days or horrible weather days in visiting historic sites, museums, etc.

wormer
09-24-2015, 19:44
I'm about to finish the Maine AT without spending a night on the trail. I have used a bike, motorcycle and a ATV to post with my truck.

Thorfinn
09-24-2015, 20:31
Congrats! I started with a whole lot of day hikes, and I know it CAN be done, but the Smokies are a real pain without camping, and it gets expensive if your family is not around to help. I eventually switched to a 1-3 overnight strategy using a near-minimalist pack setup to save $$ and maximize hiking time.

I'm guessing that you hiked the northern Smokies NOBO in one (marathon) day from Newfound Gap, and most of the southern Smokies in one long day SOBO from Clingman's Dome. You can break these up by dropping down on a side trail, but that doesn't save a lot of miles, and adds a lot of wasted vertical.

The Whites would be relatively easy if you use the huts, but I think the cocktails and the shower/bath criteria would be difficult to meet there. So I guess you just had some monster days in there...

Of course the big question is...now what? I've been trying to answer that one for the last year.

Thanks. I worried about the Smokies for a long time. I even called a helicopter company for help - didn't help. I did the Smokies in five days: Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap; Low Gap (from Cosby Campground) to I-40; Clingmans Dome to Spence Field (down Bote Mtn. and Anthony Creek trails); Spence Field to Fontana Dam (Up Lead Cove and Bote Mtn trails; easier than the latter) this was a tough hike; finally Newfound Gap to Low Gap and Cosby Campground. The latter was 27 miles and took 11.25 hours; the longest mileage day I had. That being said, it was not the hardest day but any means. Really not much up and down. The Kinsman Range and the Carter Range in the Whites were about half the mileage but much more difficult and took longer.
I did use the huts in the Whites. I took thorough sponge baths that did the job; all other showers/baths were long and hot. Cocktails in the Whites were provided by my wife's cousin who accompanied me through this section.
What now? Good question. We are missing the wonderful lifestyle we had along the way.

Another Kevin
09-24-2015, 20:53
The AT is not wilderness, not even here in Maine, and with local knowledge you can get there. My longest hike was 27 miles.

That's interesting. I'm curious about the details, because I've been in a good-natured argument where I've been claiming that the Northville-Placid Trail is, despite having a couple of villages right on the trail, actually more remote than the HMW. There are sections of 37 and 39 miles where there's no road access. The minimum hike on the 39-mile section would be about 31 miles, which would require hiring a boat at one end and leave you nine miles off the trail at the other. The 37-mile section has a couple of spots where you could get within a few miles of the trail on logging roads, but it would definitely take a 4WD to do it. When I sprained a knee on that section, I hobbled out the fifteen miles on trail rather than chance not getting a ride on the logging roads.

What I think I see in the HMW is:

Between Little Wilson Stream and Big Wilson Stream, there are a couple of roads visible in an aerial view. The railroad is also, I suppose, hikable down to Bodfish Valley.
There are a bunch of haul roads near Long Pond Stream.
ATC has Katahdin Iron Works Road marked as an access point.
There are a bunch of haul roads visible on the north side of the Gulf Hagas ridge, and the trail crosses a couple coming down between Logan Brook and East Branch.
ATC indicates road access at Crawford Pond.
ATC indicates road access at Jo-Mary Road, and many hikers resupply there nowadays.
There's an access road visible from the air that crosses the trail twice between Potaywadjo and Nahmakanta Stream.
ATC indicates road access at both ends of Nahmakanta Lake.
There's an access road about a half-mile downstream from the Hurd Brook shelter, but you might just as well hike to Abol from there.

I presume that those of you who did the Trail in day trips used some combination of these access points?

rafe
09-24-2015, 20:57
The HMW isn't much of a wilderness any more. Shuttlers, seaplanes will drop you off at any number of road crossings. It felt like a wilderness in 1990, in 2010, not so much.

Smoky Spoon
09-24-2015, 20:58
How wonderful for you! Congratulations on finishing and on doing it your way.

Thorfinn
09-25-2015, 19:32
I too am very interested in learning more about your hike...it sounds like it could be a very cool way to see and enjoy the trail.

On the one hand, it seems that the planning and funding for this type of hike would go far, far, beyond that of any other "typical" thru (or section) hike...and frankly, I enjoy setting up overnight in a beautiful setting, so I would miss that. But I can also imagine that just the basic logistics for this hike would allow you to see and experience so much more of the trail -- i.e., exposing you to more of the places and people along the trail corridor. That is a very attractive idea.

A quick question: Did you bring anything (shelter or bivy, etc.) to hedge against any type of accident or delay?

Congratulations on your hike! An awesome accomplishment. I would love to read more about it!

You are right. What we saw and the people we met were a major positive. I did miss out on nights with follow hikers at shelters and campsites. On the other hand, I was able to stand up in the morning and we did see so much more while still having good interactions with hikers. We are still in contact with people we met in neighboring communities many of who were so supportive when our dog ran off.
Yes, I did carry enough stuff to hedge against an unexpected overnight. No shelter or bivy but extra clothes, food, thermal blanket, etc. I might have been cold but would have survived. I was also very conservative on what I did as I usually hiked alone, i.e. I was very careful rock-hopping, crossing fords and often crab-walked across single log ' bridges'. My balance isn't what it used to be.

Thorfinn
09-25-2015, 20:25
I'm about to finish the Maine AT without spending a night on the trail. I have used a bike, motorcycle and a ATV to post with my truck.

That's great. I met 2-3 people from Gardiner in Georgia or NC. There were lots of Mainers out there.

Thorfinn
09-25-2015, 20:33
I've day-hiked the entire AT (including the Smokies) at least four times. I am surprised that more people don't do it this way. The completion rates would certainly increase. Most of the evenings I sleep in my car at road/trail crossings.

Hi Warren,
We have corresponded before and I know I can't keep up with you. Unfortunately, I was not able to sleep in my car. On the plus side, I did get that hot shower and comfortable bed. Carry on!

Thorfinn
09-25-2015, 20:44
I'm very interested in this as we have done the trail this way so far. Done 800 miles so far. I didn't think it was this common, as everybody we meet on the trail is very surprised we've been doing it this way.

I also found people were surprised that one would attempt to day-hike the trail. I think they just hadn't thought about it. Many of them were slack-packing sections. What not just keep that up? I have researched it online and with the ATC and have found few people who have really done it this way. There are books out there advising this approach, and I actually heard a talk at our local library, but when you examine it there is often something amiss. One person skipped the Whites; another the Smokies. It can be done as this gezzer can attest.

Thorfinn
09-25-2015, 20:52
When breaking the trail up this way, is there a particular way to document progress? I'm new tomthe section hike convept and this is sectioning in the extreme. :)

When I started I was just hiking a well-marked path with no intention of doing the whole thing. I just marked my hikes in an AT Data Book. After 8-900 miles I thought this may be serious and began keeping a detailed log. It's really fun to look back at that.

rafe
09-25-2015, 21:03
I think it's great what you did, Thorfinn. There are lots of ways to hike the AT. Though not all of us have a spouse ready and willing to support our habit with such dedication.

I did a bunch of short AT sections, two to four days on the trail, connecting the two endpoints by bicycle. Section hikers learn to be creative that way.

Thorfinn
09-25-2015, 21:17
That's interesting. I'm curious about the details, because I've been in a good-natured argument where I've been claiming that the Northville-Placid Trail is, despite having a couple of villages right on the trail, actually more remote than the HMW. There are sections of 37 and 39 miles where there's no road access. The minimum hike on the 39-mile section would be about 31 miles, which would require hiring a boat at one end and leave you nine miles off the trail at the other. The 37-mile section has a couple of spots where you could get within a few miles of the trail on logging roads, but it would definitely take a 4WD to do it. When I sprained a knee on that section, I hobbled out the fifteen miles on trail rather than chance not getting a ride on the logging roads.

What I think I see in the HMW is:

Between Little Wilson Stream and Big Wilson Stream, there are a couple of roads visible in an aerial view. The railroad is also, I suppose, hikable down to Bodfish Valley.
There are a bunch of haul roads near Long Pond Stream.
ATC has Katahdin Iron Works Road marked as an access point.
There are a bunch of haul roads visible on the north side of the Gulf Hagas ridge, and the trail crosses a couple coming down between Logan Brook and East Branch.
ATC indicates road access at Crawford Pond.
ATC indicates road access at Jo-Mary Road, and many hikers resupply there nowadays.
There's an access road visible from the air that crosses the trail twice between Potaywadjo and Nahmakanta Stream.
ATC indicates road access at both ends of Nahmakanta Lake.
There's an access road about a half-mile downstream from the Hurd Brook shelter, but you might just as well hike to Abol from there.

I presume that those of you who did the Trail in day trips used some combination of these access points?

You may be right. The HMW may be remote in terms of finding a store or pub but not for access points. There were several other places where access was more difficult. Of course, I worried for years but when we finally went up there we were pleasantly surprised.
I did the HMW something like this:

Rt. 15 to a woods road where Phil Pepin had me leave my truck.

That road to Otter Pond Rd. That's beyond Long Pond Stream Rd. and an easy 0.75 walk to the AT.

Otter Pond Rd. to Third Mtn. Trail. The access point there is near the AMC's Gorman-Chairback Lodge; an easy 1.4 miles from AT; only one short steep section.

Third Mtn. Trail to KI Rd.

KI Rd. to Logan Brook ( West Branch Ponds Rd.)

Logan Brook to Jo-Mary Rd (Cooper Brook).

Cooper Brook to Nahmakanta Lake (side road off Jo-Mary Rd.)

Nahmankanta Lake to Pollywog Stream (also on Jo-Mary Rd.)

Pollywog Stream to Abol Bridge, a not-to-hard 17 miles.

The KI and Jo-Mary roads are in excellent shape. Absolutely no problem in almost any vehicle (leave the Ferrari at home). There are other access points that I did not have to use. Be careful, however, using some maps and satellite images while planning. These are private, logging roads. When active they are well-maintained (watch for speeding logging trucks; hit the ditch; it's their road). When no logging is occurring, the companies often dig out the culverts and/or place rock barriers to prevent usage. Local knowledge is important. The KI and Jo-Mary roads are always well-maintained by agreement between the loggers and conservation groups. You pay a small fee that's worth every penny.