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View Full Version : Southbound from Harpers Ferry winter hike



hackshear
12-10-2015, 14:56
I'm planning on section hiking solo, as of right now, from Harpers Ferry to Springer Mountain, starting sometime in the next few weeks. I'm not a novice when it comes to hiking and camping but I am in no way an expert. I did a test run with all my gear and it went well enough. Im using David Miller's AT guide.

I've had several people tell me hiking during the winter is too dangerous and to wait till spring. I think Im prepared, but would like to know if you guys think Im making a mistake or if Ill be fine as long as I follow the wool rule and layer system, using common sense when dealing with icy conditions, etc.

middle to middle
12-10-2015, 15:31
I'm planning on section hiking solo, as of right now, from Harpers Ferry to Springer Mountain, starting sometime in the next few weeks. I'm not a novice when it comes to hiking and camping but I am in no way an expert. I did a test run with all my gear and it went well enough. Im using David Miller's AT guide.

I've had several people tell me hiking during the winter is too dangerous and to wait till spring. I think Im prepared, but would like to know if you guys think Im making a mistake or if Ill be fine as long as I follow the wool rule and layer system, using common sense when dealing with icy conditions, etc.

even with a zero degree bag it will be cold. +long underware be prepared to shiver all night.

squeezebox
12-10-2015, 15:52
Any chance of finding someone to hike with? I'm mostly thinking looking after each other for hypothermia.

Gambit McCrae
12-10-2015, 15:58
southern AT is doable save the shmokes year round. Shmokes I would carry an extra 3-4 days of food, and watch the weather. If you get a bad snow, you can hang out at the shelter a day or two extra and let it melt off, take good quality 0 deg down bag( I just tested my antelope 5* and am sold on winter camping in it and my downmat 7 lw.

Coffee
12-10-2015, 16:13
You will hit relatively high elevations early on as you go through Shenandoah National Park where no park services will be open. Usually hiking SNP is easy because of all the opportunities to resupply and eat, as well as campground and lodging possibilities if necessary but in winter the park is not very busy and Skyline Drive has been known to close at times due to snow or ice. SNP can be COLD in winter as I learned in March a couple of years ago... still the coldest night I've ever spent outdoors. My 15 degree bag didn't really cut it all that well and it probably never got below 15. If I ever get into winter camping locally, I'll have to buy a zero degree bag for sure and I suggest you consider carrying one. I'd probably also buy the Exped Downmat for ground insulation. In terms of budget I've read of many winter AT hikers who end up in towns for extended periods due to weather so plan for that in your budget as well. good luck.

paule
12-10-2015, 16:32
check this guy out,,,,,,http://therealhikingviking.com/blog/

Slo-go'en
12-10-2015, 16:44
I'm not convinced we will have a winter this season. A year ago today I was digging out from a 12" snow storm. Today it's 40 and raining. It looks like the PCT will take a pounding this winter though.

So, if this weather keeps up you'll probably not have a problem with extreme cold, but it could be wet a lot of the time and that's bad.

Gambit McCrae
12-10-2015, 16:56
I still agree with all comments above and would like to add that I would only consider taking a 0* bag(I consider my 5* to be a 0*) but all the same not a 15*. And I would not go cheap on my pad either

Just Bill
12-10-2015, 17:10
:welcome

You will probably die, or quit.
On the other hand Harpers south would be a good way to find out.

But if you're asking... you will probably die or be just fine.

1azarus
12-10-2015, 17:25
Your plan just makes hiking the AT into more of an adventure:

adĚvenĚture
adˈven(t)SHər,ədˈven(t)SHər/
noun
noun: adventure; plural noun: adventures
1.
an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

sounds perfect to me.

QHShowoman
12-10-2015, 17:41
I'm not convinced we will have a winter this season. A year ago today I was digging out from a 12" snow storm. Today it's 40 and raining. It looks like the PCT will take a pounding this winter though.

So, if this weather keeps up you'll probably not have a problem with extreme cold, but it could be wet a lot of the time and that's bad.


Agreed. It's like 60 degrees here in VA today.

Coffee
12-10-2015, 17:54
Agreed. It's like 60 degrees here in VA today.

The cherry blossoms in Washington are blooming today.

Mud Dauber
12-10-2015, 18:08
I have thought of the same trip. I hate bugs. I live close to Harpers Ferry. Not a fan of shelters, but I would definitely use them in the cold. I agree with the 0 degree bag. I highly recommend a freestanding tent as well for added warmth. You can set up the free standing tent inside most shelters.
Hiking through snow isn't the biggest problem. It's hiking through rain and the temp is 35 which is very common south of Harpers Ferry. I'll take snow and 20 degrees any day over that.
Beside the rain, it's very lonely out there at this time of year. Good luck, it will be an adventure.

Gambit McCrae
12-10-2015, 18:27
I have thought of the same trip. I hate bugs. I live close to Harpers Ferry. Not a fan of shelters, but I would definitely use them in the cold. I agree with the 0 degree bag. I highly recommend a freestanding tent as well for added warmth. You can set up the free standing tent inside most shelters.
Hiking through snow isn't the biggest problem. It's hiking through rain and the temp is 35 which is very common south of Harpers Ferry. I'll take snow and 20 degrees any day over that.
Beside the rain, it's very lonely out there at this time of year. Good luck, it will be an adventure.

YES should have the trail pretty much to yourself!

saltysack
12-10-2015, 23:16
Sounds fun...take microspikes or at least a dozen hex head screws you can screw in icy conditions..15* bag you will be cold!!! I love to hike in the solitude of winter...go for it..be smart bail if you need to..


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Scrum
12-11-2015, 14:49
Winter hiking is a different beast. The biggest difference is that the margin for error is much smaller. Keep moving, drinking and eating and you will stay warm, but when you stop or if you get wet you will get cold fast. You have to moderate pace and amount of clothing to avoid sweeting (sweet = wet = cold = trouble). Lots of different and additional equipment needed.

I day hike in the Whites all winter, but the idea of thru hiking is still intimidating to me. Good luck, stay safe.

George
12-11-2015, 22:34
I did HF to Parisberg starting dec 26 - was a nice issue free trip, some days nice enough to be in shorts, of course all most all solitary - no significant snow until the last week- the last night it was below zero - 2nd half of shenendoah I had the park to myself as there was some ice and they closed skyline drive - picked up/ dropped off at an entrance gate by motel owner in luray to resupply -

major decision to make ahead is whether to bug out/ hole up in town for rough weather or plan to stay on the trail

practical planning for staying on the trail would be to have ice spikes or crampons and have a way for snowshoes to be quick shipped - carry 2 days extra food/fuel for delays between resupply -

other than that - my setup was minus 5 F, that was about right using shelters and a bivy - keep plenty of batteries, short days and long nights, so hike into the dark or read etc to kill time