View Full Version : AT Northern Terminus Approach Trail Start ?

07-31-2017, 09:36
Over the years I frequently see debates regarding the proper way to start a north bound through hike in GA but rarely a similar debate for SOBOS. Realizing there is no Emily Post for through hiking questions ( I nominate Lone Wolfe;) and that ATC recognizes any effort that starts at Springer and ends on top of Baxter Peak at Katahdin or the reverse, why is there little or no debate at Katahdin?. Generally the debate at Springer is starting at FS42 and walking back along the AT to the Springer summit is “cheating” compared to starting on the approach trail. I would expect the vast majority of folks either arriving or departing Baxter Peak start and end at KSC via the Hunt Trail. Using the Springer logic, shouldn’t a Sobo hiker start at Roaring Brook? Obviously that adds to the challenge of the first day as lugging a backpack up the terrain of Baxter is far more work but given that most early through hiker candidates are purists, “gotta see every white blaze and have to leave a campsite the way they came in”, how can they rationalize that starting the AT as a slackpack is a “purist” start. Note I am aware some folks do lug a fully loaded pack up and back from the summit from KSC but the vast majority seem to leave the backpack at KSC and slack it with a borrowed day pack. Logistically I can see the reason for the KSC slack as the AT Lodge currently offers shuttles from KSC but realistically if the demand was there I expect they could take t right at the gatehouse instead of a left.

The intent of the post is not to say a KSC or Roaring Brook start is inherently better or worse, ultimately it’s HYOH, but would be interested in hearing rational discussion on the merits of KSC vs RB start.

07-31-2017, 11:25
As you noted most people do not carry a full pack up the Hunt Trail. The night before we were to summit one hiker claimed he was going to carry his full pack up Katahdin since he lugged it since GA. The next morning he relented and only carried the essentials. I met two NOBOs who left predawn to catch the sunrise from the summit then went across the Knife Edge and came down at Roaring Brook. They carried full packs and then were lucky enough to hitch back to Millinocket from Roaring Brook. I can see where Roaring Brook could be a potential start if you SOBO. It would be more difficult to start there NOBO.

07-31-2017, 18:24
I think, for a sobo, doing the greatest elevation gain in the entire AT on the first day of their hike, is justification enough to hike it however they want. Nobos have three to six months to prepare for it.

Whats the elevation gain from the approach trail? Pfft. No comparison, stairs be damned. I mean there is a hand rail, for pete's sake. How much more coddled do you want to be?

07-31-2017, 22:42
I started at Roaring Brook with enough food to make sure Iwould be left with 10-day's worth once I reached the HMW. Made for a long day, but made sense at the time.

08-01-2017, 11:27
You can arrange your ascent of Katahdin so you don't retrace your steps going down the AT, but unlike the southern start, you really don't have the option of being dropped off somewhere else. At least not somewhere else that's anywhere near the top of Big K.

evyck da fleet
08-01-2017, 14:59
RB isn't a realistic end for a Nobo and is actually discouraged by the ranger due to limited traffic for hitching. If Sobos want to start their hike there, go for it, but like the Approach Trail it's a different terminus