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MyMusclesHurt
12-19-2018, 08:46
Hi all
Iím new to WB and searched this question to no avail. Maybe I just searched incorrectly or the question is just too ridiculous to ask, but hereit goes
Iím doing a NOBO thru hike at 65 years old. I was wondering-if some of the experienced ď seniorĒ hikers could share what they actually did on the first 100 miles of the AT. Iím starting at Springer ( pics w family etc) on March 29 th ( my birthday [emoji512]).
Daily mileage ( and hours walked)
Camping sites
Re-supply places
Zero or Nero day (s)
Weather issues, temps etc
I would like to make myself a loose plan for the first 100 and figure things will fall into place after that
Appreciate your thoughts
Kevin ( no train name yet)



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Gambit McCrae
12-19-2018, 09:17
Welcome Kevin!
I am not a senior hiker, but there are a lot here :)

My non senior hiking advice would be to start the trail with no plans. I would suggest getting the Guthooks app, it will show you all waypoints from resupply to water sources and camp sites, road crossings and shelters. If you start March 21st there will be plenty of other thru hikers to start with and plans can evolve as the days go by.

As the days go by, walk until you are tired, not to an expected destination. If your body only says 8 miles for the day, only do 8. The longer you stay on the trail, the further your body will allow you to go in a day.

Good luck on your hike and keep an open schedule, it will lead to less disappointment.

peakbagger
12-19-2018, 09:52
My suggestion, set up a few slackpack days with a local outfitter. Then if you want to switch to backpacking do it later in the week. We slacked the entire state. Lot to be said for gaining that initial elevation up the approach trail with a daypack on ;)

Be careful on one aspect of Gambit's other wise good advice, some folks put in way too many miles on the first day. Its better to take a short day the first day and see how you feel on the second day then ramp it up.

garlic08
12-19-2018, 10:11
I think it's curious you picked 100 miles as a metric. That's the number I use when new hikers ask my advice about getting ready for a long hike. I suggest they go out and hike at least 100 miles to learn their bodies' requirements for water, rest, and food. I think that's a good "shake down cruise."

I don't think the AT should be your first 100 miler. Just setting foot on the AT is a major commitment in time and money from you and your family.

Your hiking experience isn't clear from your post, so please forgive me if I read it wrong.

I think it's good to have a plan, but be prepared to throw it away on Day 1. Battle plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy.

Are you aware of the journals in Trailjournals.com? You may be able to find hikers in your demographic and experience level.

Good luck with your plan.

MuddyWaters
12-19-2018, 10:49
No 2 people are exactly same.
Age is not a equalizer here either.

I hiked with a 67 yr a while back, on his 2nd thru hike of the CDT. He outhiked me when he wanted too.

GA has plenty of water, road crossings, cell service, shuttlers, and people.

Just start walking with 3 days food and 1 L water. By the time you get to neel gap youll have it figured out , and probably be hiking with a few people.

If you have any issues call a shuttler to pick you up, or hitch from a road crossing.

But yeah, figure out if you CAN hike , before do too much dreaming. People from 18 on frequently cant due to knee pain, etc.

full conditions
12-19-2018, 10:50
In my experience, both as a thru hiker and as someone who has lived close by the AT most of his life, I think the number one thing most aspiring thrus aren't prepared for is the sheer physical exhaustion that they face every day - day after day. For many, the realization of what hiking the trail is "really" like hits them around Neel's Gap and they call it quits there.

My question is this: if you've never done a long distance hike (especially if you havent done a long hike in the last 10 years or so), how do you know that this would be an enjoyable experience? If you have, then great, you probably dont need a bunch of advice from us in that case.

But if you haven't, then why not make that a priority? Get out this winter and do a bunch of shake-down hikes on ground that has terrain that mimics the AT. If before you head out for your thru hike, you've successfully completed and week-long hike in rugged country and you still like it (and your body has held up OK) then I think you will have dramatically increased your chances of success.

I never cease to be amazed at the number of folks whose first significant hike is their attempted thru hike - and while a surprising number of these selfsame people are successful the vast majority are not. Presumably, one of the principle reasons you're going to hike the AT is because you really, really like backpacking for long periods of time thru the mountains. If you're not certain this is true of you - give it a serious try first.

MyMusclesHurt
12-19-2018, 11:58
My suggestion, set up a few slackpack days with a local outfitter. Then if you want to switch to backpacking do it later in the week. We slacked the entire state. Lot to be said for gaining that initial elevation up the approach trail with a daypack on ;)

Be careful on one aspect of Gambit's other wise good advice, some folks put in way too many miles on the first day. Its better to take a short day the first day and see how you feel on the second day then ramp it up.

Do I have experience? Yes and no, I was an Eagle Scout and did lots of hiking. At 20 years old did Clingmans to Bear Mt NY. Got the fever to do the entire thru hike but life got in the way. Iíll be the class of 2022 so I have plenty to prepare which I am doing now. I havenít really hiked much recently but have completed many, many marathons, a few ultras and three Ironmans. Iíve read some trail journals but most have been young bucks doing 16 miles on day one! This isnít going to be me. I just wanted to tap into some older (realistic) folks
I remember vividly the first 100 was the hardest


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Gambit McCrae
12-19-2018, 12:03
Do I have experience? Yes and no, I was an Eagle Scout and did lots of hiking. At 20 years old did Clingmans to Bear Mt NY. Got the fever to do the entire thru hike but life got in the way. I’ll be the class of 2022 so I have plenty to prepare which I am doing now. I haven’t really hiked much recently but have completed many, many marathons, a few ultras and three Ironmans. I’ve read some trail journals but most have been young bucks doing 16 miles on day one! This isn’t going to be me. I just wanted to tap into some older (realistic) folks
I remember vividly the first 100 was the hardest


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With that amount of experience, even some of it 40 years in the books, you will do great. I would be focusing on fine tuning my gear, pack weight, and relearning my body and its capabilities as a senior versus how you performed at 20. Sounds like you have the right mentality, and you know from ultras and marathons that it will be painful sometimes, and suck sometimes. Perhaps you could select a shorter trail to complete between now and 2020 like the sheltowee, BMT, Pinhoti etc to give you the gist of thru hiking. basically it is going to be aexactly like your Clingmans to Bear Mt hike except logistics will be much easier than they were 40 years ago, pack weight will be much lighter, and there will be many more people.

Slo-go'en
12-19-2018, 12:09
It all depends on what kind of shape your in when you start. If your 40 pounds overweight, most of the walking you do is from the couch to the fridge, and your popping twelve different pills, then the first 100 miles will be slow and painful. If your in excellent health, in really good shape and have years of hiking and camping experience, then the first 100 miles is a breeze. Most people will fall somewhere in between.

There are three major stops in the first 100 miles. First is Neel gap, second is Hiawassee and third is Franklin. Most people will spend a night at each one of these places. Maybe two depending on weather. Getting back on the trail when it's raining takes a lot of will power, especially at an advanced age. I like to take a zero after the first 10 to 14 days. I'm about due for a rest by then.

rgarling
12-19-2018, 12:19
Keep your pack light and your expectations low.

ldsailor
12-19-2018, 12:38
I started the trail in 2016 as a LASHer. and did 325 miles and came back a few months later and did another 207. If that experience will help, you can take a look at my blog to see what I did. Not all your questions will be answered but maybe some will. Blog address is below in my signature lines. When you get to the "Appalachian Trail" blog click on the "2016 April" link under "Appalachian Trail Hiking" on the right side of the page. The blog is sorted by the latest dates to the earliest dates, so you will have to go to the bottom of the last page to see the first entry (page numbers are at the bottom of each page).

soilman
12-19-2018, 13:00
I was 55 when I did my thru, but I don't consider myself a senior. I spent the night before starting at the former Hiker Hostel with 4 other retirees, 3 who were my age and one about 10 years older. Josh at the hostel told us when he dropped us off to not go too fast and not too far for a week or two. I followed his advice for several days until I found my rhythm. Of the 4 of us who started only one other hiker and myself finished. One hadn't hiked for 20 years or so and was carrying too much weight. He made it to the Smoky Mountains. One went home for his son's graduation after a month on the trail and never returned. The oldest of us 4, who was attempting his third thru, quit around Franklin.

I don't believe that one needs to have a backpacking resume to be a successful thru hiker, regardless the age. I agree that many who quit did not realize how tough physically and mentally hiking day after day can become. If you are healthy and have somewhat physically fit and like living in the woods, I think you will have a good chance to finish. The trail today is such that it is easy to resupply and reinvigorate by jumping off temporarily.

lonehiker
12-19-2018, 14:20
Download Mr. Tarlin's resupply article that can be found on this site. Couple that with Map Man's hiking mileage statistics, also available here, and you are set as far as planning. Buy a guidebook, any of them work, and just go for it. I created a spreadsheet based upon the above two sources and it was all the planning that I did (maybe 3 hours worth of work). If you would like I could send this to you as well as an edited version of Mr. Tarlin's resupply plan. My particular plan was for a 5 month hike but if you take the larger number in the article it probably equates to a 6 month plan. PM me if you want this information.

Businesses in the resupply article are probably dated by now but the fundamental plan is sound.

Puddlefish
12-19-2018, 15:22
I started overweight, out of shape and recovering from a broken foot. I was in shape prior to the foot break. I started in early March from Springer with a group of 10 hikers or so who'd spent the previous night at a hostel. A couple of people just flew away never to be seen again. I caught two of the speedy hikers at Neels Gap, where they were recovering from massive blisters.

I managed 7 miles a day, which conveniently put me at the early shelters/tentsites. I didn't move fast, I stopped for an hour each day at lunch and aired out my feet. I was fairly exhausted on some days. I carried far too much food, which translated to far too much weight which didn't help either. The first four days I was trudging, and not particularly hungry. The next four days, I put in about the same kind of mileage, but I felt capable of hiking longer into the afternoon.

Within a month, I'd shed some of my excess weight and felt far stronger, and put in a few more miles per day. By two months, I was putting in an average of 15 miles per day and feeling good about it.

Start slow. Avoid any hint of blisters. There will be early opportunities to get off the trail for low mileage days. Take those opportunities earlier, rather than later.

My hiking buddy for the first few months was a 70+ year old guy, in better starting shape, but unused to climbing.

Feral Bill
12-19-2018, 15:25
Not on the AT, but I hiked the Wonderland Trail (a bit under 100 miles with a lot of elevation gain and loss) a couple of years ago at 64. It took my son and me 10 days. I'd suggest getting your routines for cooking, sleeping, etc. in order first. Also get your gear sorted out. You may want some different choices than you used 50+ years ago.

Mostly I suggest lightening up your pack, to the extent you are comfortable. Many clothing items are much lighter and better than what we used decades ago, especially footwear. Also, you can't start out too slow. Beating yourself up is no fun. On the WT we met a couple (twice, as the were doing the loop the other way) who were 65 and 75. They had a 14 day itinerary, and seemed happy and strong both times. That should be you.

Take advantage of you location. From your home you can get to Harriman State Park and do a few short shakedowns. Winter is often not bad there, and the shelters may suit you.

Mostly, have fun.

nsherry61
12-19-2018, 20:29
Lots of great advice above. I'm surprised I haven't seen this yet. BUT . . .

My #1 suggestion, neah, my #1 plea: keep your first two weeks of hiking days shorter than you want to!!!

Probably the greatest cause of failure in long distance hiking, for those that have the mental fortitude to succeed and have managed to train to a reasonable level of fitness, is overuse injury caused in the first two weeks of hiking. Getting your body hardened, especially those of us that that are a bit older, takes time, about two weeks to get past the first bit. Out minds and bodies both are ready to go and push hard for a few days. The problem is kinda like long distance running. If you start off as fast as you think you can and want to, you won't make it for the whole run! No matter how hard it is to do it and no matter how how frustrating it is to do it, hold back for the first two weeks.

Good luck.

Have fun!!

Slo-go'en
12-19-2018, 21:06
There's no way around it. Those of us who are now in the geriatric club just have to plod along the best we can. In my 30's it took 2 weeks to become a lean, mean hiking machine. In my 60's it's more like 4 weeks. At which point I start to think maybe I've had enough and it's time to go home.

There's another potential issue and that is illness.
It's pretty easy to pick up something while traveling in the early spring while mingling with lots of strangers. Starting out with a bit of a cough can blossom into a serious chest cold pretty quickly. That's what happened to me last time I went to Springer in the spring. It was a week of cold rain, which made what ever I picked up hit me big time. I'll spare you the details, but I had to call it quits at Hiawassee.

tflaris
12-19-2018, 21:10
Welcome Kevin!
I am not a senior hiker, but there are a lot here :)

My non senior hiking advice would be to start the trail with no plans. I would suggest getting the Guthooks app, it will show you all waypoints from resupply to water sources and camp sites, road crossings and shelters. If you start March 21st there will be plenty of other thru hikers to start with and plans can evolve as the days go by.

As the days go by, walk until you are tired, not to an expected destination. If your body only says 8 miles for the day, only do 8. The longer you stay on the trail, the further your body will allow you to go in a day.

Good luck on your hike and keep an open schedule, it will lead to less disappointment.





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tflaris
12-19-2018, 21:21
Hi all
Iím new to WB and searched this question to no avail. Maybe I just searched incorrectly or the question is just too ridiculous to ask, but hereit goes
Iím doing a NOBO thru hike at 65 years old. I was wondering-if some of the experienced ď seniorĒ hikers could share what they actually did on the first 100 miles of the AT. Iím starting at Springer ( pics w family etc) on March 29 th ( my birthday [emoji512]).
Daily mileage ( and hours walked)
Camping sites
Re-supply places
Zero or Nero day (s)
Weather issues, temps etc
I would like to make myself a loose plan for the first 100 and figure things will fall into place after that
Appreciate your thoughts
Kevin ( no train name yet)



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Iím 50 and my wife is older than me.

We did the following on our first time out on the AT:

1. We planned for 10-12 miles a days.

2. We used a combination of Guthookís iPhone App and AT Trail guide to locate water camping, etc. Ultimately we stayed at/near shelters in our tent.

3. We planned resupplies every 2-3 or 3-4 days to reduce our overall carry/weight.

4. We tried to take a zero every resupply just to recover a little.

5. Typically it takes an hour to break camp/eat breakfast and typically the same amount of time to setup/prep, eat dinner.

6. So if you average 1.5 miles an hour including breaks, etc and you walk 6 hours you can do 9 miles. If you walk 8 hours you could do 12 miles. Iím not a fast hiker and easily averaged 2-2.5 miles an hour.

7. Do some day hikes and weekend hikes/camping to get your gear sorted out.

8. Have Fun and Live a Lifetime in Every Step.


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RangerZ
12-19-2018, 22:12
Kevin,

First of all, I think that here on WB, in deference to Another Kevin, you should be known as Yet Another Kevin.

I started the AT this year at 64 and it aged me, I had my birthday on the trail. I did the southern half of the trail.

Everybody's advice above is good, though I take one exception. My military and professional required a plan, but I agree that the plan didn't survive contact with the trail (apologies to van Moltke) but having a plan and understanding the hike provided flexibility in the execution. When I started planning my hike I didn't know anything about when or where anything was. I started planning my hike in 2013 when I bought the Thru Hikers Companion, then the 2015 and 2018 AT Guide and Guthook's app. I lurked here and on Trail Journals, read all the books, listened to podcasts, you tubes. Like lonehiker, I used mapman's and Baltimore Jack's articles to guide the planning, made a spreadsheet, etc. I wrote everything I learned (rocks, climbs, good/bad shelters/tenting spots, resupply places, etc) in my AT Guide, that helped with daily planning. (I'd sell it to you but I still need it to finish the trail.)

Below is the info that you asked for:

8 April - Slackpacked SOBO down (Mama didn't raise no fools) the steps on the Approach Trail ( 1.1 miles )
9 April - Top of the falls to Springer Mountain ( 7.7 miles, 6.3 hours, tent )
10 April - Hawk Mountain Shelter ( 8.1 miles, 6.2 hours, tent )
11 April - Gooch Mountain Shelter ( 7.6 miles, 5.8 hours, tent )
12 April - Lance Creek ( 8.2 miles, 5.4 hours, tent )
13 April - Neel Gap (7.2 miles, 5.2 hours, Mountain Crossings hostel, mail drop )
14 April - Low Gap Shelter (11.5 miles, 8.2 hours, tent )
15 April - Unicoi Gap ( 9.7 miles, 5.4 hours, motel at Helen )
16 April - Tray Mountain ( 5.7 miles, ?, shelter ) (? notes are scant, probably due to cold )
17 April - Dicks Creek Gap ( 11 miles, ?, Top of Georgia hostel, mail drop )
18 April - Muskrat Creek Shelter ( 11.8 miles, 7.9 hours, ? ) (? probably tent but not in my notes)
19 April - Carter Gap Shelter ( 12.5 miles, 7.8 hours, ? )
20 April - Rock Gap Shelter ( 12.1 miles, 7.9 hours, ? )
21/22 April - zero at Franklin Baltimore Jack's Place Hostel )

The hours are hiking hours not total day hours, I took out my breaks, lunch, etc. Total days probably ranged toward 10-12 hours. I usually walked from 0730 to 1800. I am not fast, overall I averaged 12 miles a day (range 7-16 miles) at an average 1.6 MPH (I rarely exceeded 2 MPH). I took short pack off breaks every two hours at first, the interval became longer later in the hike.

I don't have good notes on the weather but remember mostly good weather except cold pouring rain hiking to Unicoi Gap (main reason we went to Helen) and 27* with light snow at Tray Mountain Shelter.

I'm currently planning my 2019 finish of the northern half of the trail, PA -> ME, working in lessons learned from this year.


RangerZ

MyMusclesHurt
12-20-2018, 08:02
Not on the AT, but I hiked the Wonderland Trail (a bit under 100 miles with a lot of elevation gain and loss) a couple of years ago at 64. It took my son and me 10 days. I'd suggest getting your routines for cooking, sleeping, etc. in order first. Also get your gear sorted out. You may want some different choices than you used 50+ years ago.

Mostly I suggest lightening up your pack, to the extent you are comfortable. Many clothing items are much lighter and better than what we used decades ago, especially footwear. Also, you can't start out too slow. Beating yourself up is no fun. On the WT we met a couple (twice, as the were doing the loop the other way) who were 65 and 75. They had a 14 day itinerary, and seemed happy and strong both times. That should be you.

Take advantage of you location. From your home you can get to Harriman State Park and do a few short shakedowns. Winter is often not bad there, and the shelters may suit you.

Mostly, have fun.

Thank you for you insights. Yes, I am very close to Harriman and literally lived there as a young adult. I must have done the Suffern to Bear Mt trail 100 times.

You have all given me food for thought. At the moment my goal is to do a gradual build up physically. I lift weights 4-5x week, try to get 3 miles a day in with the dog and 5 miles on the weekend. I actually still have some of my original equipment which is crazy heavy ( big three must be over 20 lbs !) but will be ok for a weekend. Money, fortunately, is not a big problem so over the next few years I will purchase everything with an emphasis on keeping it very light but also keeping me comfortable. Over the final year Iíll really ramp up my training, get a few long hikes of a week or two to fine tune my gear and go for it. Wife is on board but I secretly think she is looking forward to getting rid of me for 6 months-lol. Thank you all


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MyMusclesHurt
12-20-2018, 08:13
Kevin,

First of all, I think that here on WB, in deference to Another Kevin, you should be known as Yet Another Kevin.

I started the AT this year at 64 and it aged me, I had my birthday on the trail. I did the southern half of the trail.

Everybody's advice above is good, though I take one exception. My military and professional required a plan, but I agree that the plan didn't survive contact with the trail (apologies to van Moltke) but having a plan and understanding the hike provided flexibility in the execution. When I started planning my hike I didn't know anything about when or where anything was. I started planning my hike in 2013 when I bought the Thru Hikers Companion, then the 2015 and 2018 AT Guide and Guthook's app. I lurked here and on Trail Journals, read all the books, listened to podcasts, you tubes. Like lonehiker, I used mapman's and Baltimore Jack's articles to guide the planning, made a spreadsheet, etc. I wrote everything I learned (rocks, climbs, good/bad shelters/tenting spots, resupply places, etc) in my AT Guide, that helped with daily planning. (I'd sell it to you but I still need it to finish the trail.)

Below is the info that you asked for:

8 April - Slackpacked SOBO down (Mama didn't raise no fools) the steps on the Approach Trail ( 1.1 miles )
9 April - Top of the falls to Springer Mountain ( 7.7 miles, 6.3 hours, tent )
10 April - Hawk Mountain Shelter ( 8.1 miles, 6.2 hours, tent )
11 April - Gooch Mountain Shelter ( 7.6 miles, 5.8 hours, tent )
12 April - Lance Creek ( 8.2 miles, 5.4 hours, tent )
13 April - Neel Gap (7.2 miles, 5.2 hours, Mountain Crossings hostel, mail drop )
14 April - Low Gap Shelter (11.5 miles, 8.2 hours, tent )
15 April - Unicoi Gap ( 9.7 miles, 5.4 hours, motel at Helen )
16 April - Tray Mountain ( 5.7 miles, ?, shelter ) (? notes are scant, probably due to cold )
17 April - Dicks Creek Gap ( 11 miles, ?, Top of Georgia hostel, mail drop )
18 April - Muskrat Creek Shelter ( 11.8 miles, 7.9 hours, ? ) (? probably tent but not in my notes)
19 April - Carter Gap Shelter ( 12.5 miles, 7.8 hours, ? )
20 April - Rock Gap Shelter ( 12.1 miles, 7.9 hours, ? )
21/22 April - zero at Franklin Baltimore Jack's Place Hostel )

The hours are hiking hours not total day hours, I took out my breaks, lunch, etc. Total days probably ranged toward 10-12 hours. I usually walked from 0730 to 1800. I am not fast, overall I averaged 12 miles a day (range 7-16 miles) at an average 1.6 MPH (I rarely exceeded 2 MPH). I took short pack off breaks every two hours at first, the interval became longer later in the hike.

I don't have good notes on the weather but remember mostly good weather except cold pouring rain hiking to Unicoi Gap (main reason we went to Helen) and 27* with light snow at Tray Mountain Shelter.

I'm currently planning my 2019 finish of the northern half of the trail, PA -> ME, working in lessons learned from this year.


RangerZ

As you can see Iím a planner too. This is great information. Everybody talks about starting slow and I get it but speed is relative and I just wanted to get an idea of how slow IS slow. Enjoy every moment...

I think I might go with the Yet Another Kevin.

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Mountain Soldier
12-20-2018, 08:59
Launching this coming Feb - interested in your mentioned documents (spreadsheets).

Thx

QiWiz
12-20-2018, 12:59
I’m doing a NOBO thru hike at 65 years old. I was wondering-if some of the experienced “ senior” hikers could share what they actually did on the first 100 miles of the AT. I’m starting at Springer ( pics w family etc) on March 29 th ( my birthday [emoji512]).
You might want to check out some "senior" trail journals for answers to your questions. Mine is at http://www.trailjournals.com/QiWiz/

RangerZ
12-20-2018, 13:57
Beyond the first 100 miles:

I didn't want to go far off the trail to resupply or stay at hostels.

I did a mix of mail drops to hostels and local buying where it was easy. I did plan out locations for all the resupplies. I did some six day carries which were heavy, I'm revising any six day carries out of the plan for next year.

I marked up my trail guide with the resupply points, either mail drop or local buy, and the required days of food, that became the hiking plan. I'd sit and look forward to the next resupply point and say "OK, X days, Y miles" and figure out the next camp locations and daily miles to make it there.

The mail drops worked for me, sending them to the hostels where I planned to stay worked. People are right, you can get tired of something that you packed, for me it was walnut oatmeal, but the raisin oatmeal was fine. I had a good variety of dehydrated dinners that I liked. I did local resupply with all of the typical hiker foods. I stopped making a hot breakfast to save time in the morning.

I tented 51%, sheltered 21%, hosteled 22% and hoteled 6% of the time. There were specific shelters (Overmountain, Tumbling Run, Quarry Gap, etc) and hostels (Top of Georgia, Kincora, Uncle Johnnies, Woods Hole, etc) that I wanted to see.

YMMV, HYOH

Dogwood
12-20-2018, 20:28
Do a current hike of at least several days before going down the road to extensive planning of an AT thru. Garlic's suggestion to make it a 100 miler is a good one.


Nsherry's and Soilman's advice is one of the most applicable for the most number of AT NOBO thru hiker wannabes of any age or persuasion...do not go too fast and too far for a week or two...find your own rhythm. Most ATers need 2-3 wks to get into backpacking condition. It takes most AT thrus additional time to get into thru hiker condition. One of the biggest physical causes for quitting are overuse injuries. What's too fast and too far you ask? You have to listen to your own body and mind to know that personally. That's another one of the reasons for the 100 mile hike suggestion. No two thrus are exactly alike. That's why it's also best not to compare your hike or yourself too rigidly to anyone else or what others necessarily do. It's your hike - HYOH. YOU have to create your own thru hiking blueprint, finding your own best rhythm. This has significant individual consequences on determining: Daily mileage ( and hours walked), camping sites, re-supply places, and when or if to take a Zero or Nero day.


Consider lightening the load by updating your gear. Gear wt's have decreased significantly since you experienced that CD to Harriman LD hike yrs ago. FWIW, you may not need to go deeply down the anal wt and bulk saving rabbit hole to achieve benefits. In combination reduce the consumables wt by not unnecessarily carrying extra H20(water wt is HEAVY wt!) AND resupply with food with greater frequency. Your body and psychology will appreciate it. Consider Slo-go-ens named three major resupply stops listed in post #9.



More significant to seniors: 1) Get a healthcare check up after the 100 mile shake down hike and before the start of the AT NOBO. This includes dental. This includes considering making on trail arrangements as you move forward for meds if prescribed as most Seniors are. It also includes having eyesight and hearing checked. If script eyeglasses are worn have spare sets at the ready. BTW, get a durable energy efficient light or headlamp that is bright and useful enough for your needs rather than choosing one based on the lightest wt! 2) Consider using trekking poles. One of the greatest hazards for a backpacker or hiker are slips, trips, and falls of any age, even more so for Seniors. So easy to ignore foot placement and balance, even if a rarity, for many backpackers especially those prone to being easily stressed, hurried, or impatient leading to an injury. 3) Some Seniors have circulation issues. This can show up in poor circulation to extremities. Pay added attention to extremity warmth especially hands and feet particularly during the first 4-5 wks. 4) Nutrition. Many in various hiking communities and indoctrinated with US culture have the mistaken notion nutrition does't affect on trail health, performance and well being. Athletes seeking to excel recognize nutrition can play a significant role for one of any age. For a Senior a junk food on trail diet may not optimally support or agree with the endurance goals of LD backpacking. On trail nutrition for a Senior should consider a wider nutritional profile than simply consuming calories. You might discuss this in greater detail with a qualified health care provider in context of a LD hike. The internet is not the best place to have this personalized discussion even among the general AT backpacking community.

Many hikers of all ages, but maybe more so in the younger generational thrus, have a hurried frantic get er dun often impatient turn the mind off to greater awarenesses this is the hike this 30" wide tread approach. This perspective may not suit you optimally. As you said earlier you want to stay in the moment - absorb, engage, connect, and let the thru-hike into your soul. Hold onto that despite the others that readily do not and might try to influence you to abandon it if it serves your hike and personality well.

Dogwood
12-20-2018, 21:04
"Wife is on board but I secretly think she is looking forward to getting rid of me for 6 months-lol."

Realistically, very likely this is not the case. There's a closeness and familiarity of a spouse or SO that grows when being physically present together for many yrs. Elders are a great treasure including the elder that is your spouse. Hope you don't disagree? LOL Check in, connect, let her know you care, share. Close that separation gap. Begin in that 100 miles. Have this conversation and come to some joyful medium before starting the AT NOBO. Missing the familiarity of loved ones is a reason given by some LD hikers for quitting their hikes. It's can also be a cause for strain on the non hiking spouse. Connecting with a spouse or loved one while one is hiking for months and the other is back at the white picket fence tending to off trail affairs can make a thru hike and back home experience more profound for both the hiker and the non hiker. Doing a LD hike is not an excuse for abandoning or ignoring off trail marital relationships IMO. It's still about having intimacy and nurturing and supporting each other even though physically apart. When that happens IMHO there can be less reason to quit a LD hike out of missing the loved one and the person at home having less emotional abandonment issues. Couples working this out to some executable degree pre thru hike makes for abetter relationship during and post hike for all parties.


You don't want to come back from the hike and be told to go sleep in your tent in the woods because that's what you temporarily did!;)

stephanD
12-21-2018, 16:33
My advice is consider flip-flopping, starting from Harpers Ferry NOBO because; (A) trail is less challenging the first 100 miles or so which is better for your body (and knees in particular) to adjust. (B) you will avoid the big bubbles, the pot heads and the drunkards. (C) you will meet plenty hikers of your age cohort, as flip-flopping seems to be more popular among those who are over 50.

MyMusclesHurt
12-25-2018, 10:13
My advice is consider flip-flopping, starting from Harpers Ferry NOBO because; (A) trail is less challenging the first 100 miles or so which is better for your body (and knees in particular) to adjust. (B) you will avoid the big bubbles, the pot heads and the drunkards. (C) you will meet plenty hikers of your age cohort, as flip-flopping seems to be more popular among those who are over 50.

You probably right and flip flopping makes lots of sense. I, however want the feeling and experience of starting in one place and finishing in another. Iím kind of looking forward to the ďbubbleĒ with all the craziness it entails. So, Iím NOBO 3/29/2022


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oldwetherman
12-25-2018, 22:05
This might sound a bit ridiculous....but I suggest that the best plan is no plan other than to bring the gear you feel comfortable with, a cell phone and enough food to get you the 30 or so miles to Neels gap. By that time you'll start to develop a feel for what your hike is going to be like. You'll have developed a sense of what hiking all day is like physically, mentally and emotionally. You will have a bit of experience with what influences the weather, the terrain, what it's physically and mentally like to hike all day and be around other hikers is all about. Take a zero at Neel's gap and reevaluate.....then formulate a plan to your next resupply. My experience is/was that there are just too many variables to effectively plan too far in advance. The Army convinced me that "the plan is the plan until the first shot is fired". IMHO there are too many variables involved in long distance hiking too plan very far ahead.

lonehiker
12-26-2018, 09:33
This might sound a bit ridiculous....but I suggest that the best plan is no plan other than to bring the gear you feel comfortable with, a cell phone and enough food to get you the 30 or so miles to Neels gap. By that time you'll start to develop a feel for what your hike is going to be like. You'll have developed a sense of what hiking all day is like physically, mentally and emotionally. You will have a bit of experience with what influences the weather, the terrain, what it's physically and mentally like to hike all day and be around other hikers is all about. Take a zero at Neel's gap and reevaluate.....then formulate a plan to your next resupply. My experience is/was that there are just too many variables to effectively plan too far in advance. The Army convinced me that "the plan is the plan until the first shot is fired". IMHO there are too many variables involved in long distance hiking too plan very far ahead.

Valid points for sure. I think of my "plan" as a framework for the hike. At a base level it is simply a listing of resupply options with no specifics on how you will get there. So total flexibility. I did include day/dates in my spreadsheet but this was only to see if I had potential issues with weekend/holidays i.e. although limited to 2 I did have maildrops and the potential of lack of motel rooms because of higher volume dates. Being a logistician this all made sense to me. In hindsight I probably would have deleted that column although even today when exporting from Craig's PCT planner I still opt to include dates. My main point of emphasis is that I can plan a 500-3000 mile trip in just a couple of hours.

MyMusclesHurt
12-27-2018, 10:42
So it appears to me, based on all your incredible responses, a very strict plan is bad and no planning is bad. So someplace in between is the sweet spot. Get an idea how long it will take to get to Neelís Gap, have enough food to get there, be flexible with the time, start slow and be open to change. Sounds like pretty good advice to me. Thank you all...


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MtDoraDave
01-02-2019, 08:42
Not yet a senior, though my muscles and joints are trying to convince me I am - My advice is to pay more money for the lighter equipment that you may think is overpriced. A few ounces saved here and there, a pound lighter sleeping bag, a two pound lighter backpack (although fit and comfort are very important), a two pound lighter tent - the weight savings add up!
My first section hike was with a 47 lb pack, carrying too much water and 8 days of food. My last section hike was with a 27 lb pack, carrying 1 liter of water and 4 days of food. There is a HUGE difference in how I feel at the end of a 12 hour hiking day. I am much less likely to hurt myself when (not "if") I stumble/trip, I can go more miles in the same amount of time (which I agree shouldn't really be a concern the first 100)

shelb
01-02-2019, 12:01
There is so much good advice above! The only thing I can add (sorry if I missed seeing it mentioned by anyone else) is to take care of your knees. I have section-hiked the AT with four different friends (ages ranging from mid-30's to mid-50's) who had difficulty with their knees: three of them had to get off the trail.

Two summers ago, even though I was in the best shape of my life (running half marathons and doing a lot of trail-running), I started noticing some knee pain on descents. Since then, I have started wearing Cho-ban knee braces on trails that have significant elevation changes, and this has eliminated my knee pain.

Good luck to you!

Slumgum
01-02-2019, 12:35
Consider shortening it to the acronym "YAK". Given the relationship to Sherpas it could sort of hold a double meaning.