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1hammer
04-23-2019, 09:19
Hi - I am interested in attempting a thru-hike starting at Harpers Ferry going Northbound to avoid the worst of the 'bubble' on a NOBO hike. On most reports that I have read, most people seem to return to Harpers Ferry to hike Southbound to Georgia. Is there any particular reason for doing this? I would prefer to do the second half of the hike Northbound from Georgia up to Harpers Ferry as I think it would be nice to finish where I started.

With a mid to late April start Northbound from Harpers Ferry, is there any weather or logistical problem with doing both legs of the journey Northbound (with the second half of the hike possibly starting sometime in July or August)?

Thanks

tdoczi
04-23-2019, 10:49
Hi - I am interested in attempting a thru-hike starting at Harpers Ferry going Northbound to avoid the worst of the 'bubble' on a NOBO hike. On most reports that I have read, most people seem to return to Harpers Ferry to hike Southbound to Georgia. Is there any particular reason for doing this? I would prefer to do the second half of the hike Northbound from Georgia up to Harpers Ferry as I think it would be nice to finish where I started.

With a mid to late April start Northbound from Harpers Ferry, is there any weather or logistical problem with doing both legs of the journey Northbound (with the second half of the hike possibly starting sometime in July or August)?

Thanks
i wonder this at times too. my guesses at answers are heat in the south in july/august (though the area south of HF is no picnic that time of year either) and some small-ish chance of hitting winter weather in the smokies in say november if you start south from HF in august and hike on the slower side.

trailmercury
04-23-2019, 10:51
the simple answer is Heat. it will be a relatively cooler average hiking temperature going SOBO after the flip. Hiking in Georgia is generally more pleasant in September than in July...or so they say.
YMMV

bigcranky
04-23-2019, 10:52
Nope, no reason at all why this wouldn't work.

I think some folks go southbound on the second part so they can finish at one of the termini. That's all.

1hammer
04-23-2019, 11:12
Thanks for the replies. In an ideal world I think it would be nice to finish at Katahdin so an option I have looked at (although it would require an additional flight) was Harper Ferry up to somewhere like Hanover NH, bus to Boston then fly down to Atlanta, hike back to Harpers Ferry, then flight from Washington DC to Boston and rejoin the trail at Hanover...
It would still need to be completed before winter, but to me an itinery like that would avoid the crowds but still finish at what many deem to be the real 'end' point. Just an idea.
Transport links from Hanover to Boston and Harpers Ferry to Washington DC are prety good.

ldsailor
04-23-2019, 11:21
During the last three years, I did LASH's NOBO and met a lot of southbound hikers, including quite a few flip floppers, as I progressed further north. Many if not all were hoping to finish their thru-hike by Thanksgiving. By my calculations, a large portion of those hikers would not make it until December. Even if they finish at the end of November... Well, let's put it this way. Where would you rather be in late November or early December - Georgia or North Virginia?

1hammer
04-23-2019, 11:50
Good point, however do you know when those southbound /flipfloppers started? If I started in April it would still give 6 months to finish. (If my progress was slow on the first leg, it still leaves me the option of continuing on to Katahdin before 'flopping', if progress is OK then I would continue with the original plan.
Was just curious why most people do the 'flop' southbound.

peakbagger
04-23-2019, 12:03
Thanks for the replies. In an ideal world I think it would be nice to finish at Katahdin so an option I have looked at (although it would require an additional flight) was Harper Ferry up to somewhere like Hanover NH, bus to Boston then fly down to Atlanta, hike back to Harpers Ferry, then flight from Washington DC to Boston and rejoin the trail at Hanover...
It would still need to be completed before winter, but to me an itinery like that would avoid the crowds but still finish at what many deem to be the real 'end' point. Just an idea.
Transport links from Hanover to Boston and Harpers Ferry to Washington DC are prety good.

No matter what you plan, make sure you are ending up at BSP no later than Oct 1st. Yes the park is open until Oct 15th but that doesn't mean the trails up Katahdin are open. There is usually a sharp transition to late fall conditions (snow/ice/rain around the Oct 1st. in the last decade or so this has shifted somewhat into later October but not reliably. The park is open to day use and some very limited campgrounds after the 15th depending on weather conditions but the only access is via the Togue Pond gatehouse which is off the AT. The other reason is the fall foliage in the region tends to peak before or near Oct 1st and a good stiff wind can get rid of a lot of the leaves overnight.

LittleRock
04-23-2019, 12:15
Was just curious why most people do the 'flop' southbound.
Simple answer is weather. July and August are downright miserable times to be out hiking in the southeast. Trust me, the mid-day conditions here in the summer suck the energy right out of you. It's not the heat so much as the combination of heat and humidity (and bugs). You'll sweat a ton every day, and dehydration becomes a real concern. It's still an issue even if you go southbound but my guess is it's slightly more tolerable.

ldsailor
04-23-2019, 13:30
Good point, however do you know when those southbound /flipfloppers started? If I started in April it would still give 6 months to finish. (If my progress was slow on the first leg, it still leaves me the option of continuing on to Katahdin before 'flopping', if progress is OK then I would continue with the original plan.

Good question. I'll use an example. I met up with two flip-floppers heading north in Connecticut last year in June. They started after the Flip-Flop Festival at Harpers Ferry, so that's mid-April, I believe. We crossed paths many times and eventually hiked together in VT and NH. I was ahead of them in the White Mountains where I got hurt and had to quit. I kept in touch with one of them by texting as they continued on. They both summitted Katahdin on August 20 and then took some time off. They restarted at Harpers Ferry on September 10 going SOBO. Then I heard one quit in central Virginia. It had rained for three straight weeks. While he didin't say so, I'm sure there were quite a few zero days taken due to the rain. He told me he didn't want to continue since there was no way to finish before December. The other hiker continued on and was expected to finish in December. I never heard if he finished.

Things happen out there. They both took five days off on their way to Katahdin plus the normal amount of zero days. Both had their health issues not much different than a lot of hikers, myself included, which caused some multi-zero days.

Hope that helps. Just remember. It's hard to start an early flip-flop because of the weather up north and the infamous muddy condition of the trail in the far northern states as snow melts. I bet the early SOBO thru-hikers are going to have fun this year with the amount of snow melt in Maine and NH after a big snow year this past winter.

Dogwood
04-23-2019, 14:09
Hi - I am interested in attempting a thru-hike starting at Harpers Ferry going Northbound to avoid the worst of the 'bubble' on a NOBO hike. On most reports that I have read, most people seem to return to Harpers Ferry to hike Southbound to Georgia. Is there any particular reason for doing this? I would prefer to do the second half of the hike Northbound from Georgia up to Harpers Ferry as I think it would be nice to finish where I started.

With a mid to late April start Northbound from Harpers Ferry, is there any weather or logistical problem with doing both legs of the journey Northbound (with the second half of the hike possibly starting sometime in July or August)?

Thanks
Being international a HF makes the start and finish easier in & outs from DC area AP's. Plus, understand thru hiking is not just about hiking. You get to explore DC potentially twice. I went into DC on July 2-5 on an AT NOBO from HF finding highly enriching to the AT thru hike. Smithsonian, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Native American Museum. Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. WA Monument playing frisbee underneath it with about 100 other people, US. National Botanical Garden, stayed at a DC International Hostel for two nights with me being the only US citizen(GREAT!). DC is a cool large US city not just popular for US citizens. It's one of the world's GREAT cities.

That itinerary is going to be experienced under notably different weather scenarios. Your NOBO first half is going to be cool weather, maybe something similar to Scotland's weather. The Flop is going to be a heat and humidity festival. Bring your kilt. :cool:

1hammer
04-23-2019, 15:37
Thanks - cool is good for me (although what you call cool is probably warm for me!). Hot and humid will definitely add to the difficulties...

Paul C
04-29-2019, 12:47
I have wondered why more people dont do this my self. I am planing a thru hike nobo, starting just a little south of the VA. border. If you go northbound the whole way is it still called a flip flop?

colorado_rob
04-29-2019, 13:04
I have wondered why more people dont do this my self. I am planing a thru hike nobo, starting just a little south of the VA. border. If you go northbound the whole way is it still called a flip flop? Yes, pretty sure it's a "flip-flop" no matter how you combine some big sections, no matter where you start, no matter what directions, assuming you eventually do the entire trail in some combination. As said below, the most common way, Harpers->Katahdin then Harpers->Springer is best to avoid the heat as much as possible (though starting near the VA border heading north, then again at the VA border and heading south would make not much difference in heat at all. Seems like enough of a reason for me.