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mountain squid
04-21-2006, 13:38
OK, I just got back from Forest Service Road 42 at the foot of Springer. I saw about 150 people begin their long distance journey to Maine (not including section hikers). Some observations/suggestions for those planning a long distance hike on the AT:

1. I’m sure this has alot of opinions, but the bottom line is that the approach trail is not part of the AT. Somebody is dropping you off somewhere. Add an extra hour to your driving trip and say your goodbyes at FS42. Stop at the State Park visitor center for directions, sign-in, weigh your pack, etc. Although FS42 is a dirt/gravel road, the preferred route that most people take is passable by cars.

2. Too many people with heavy packs. If your pack weighs more than 50 pounds, it weighs too much (30 pounds or less is desirable). If you are unable to get below 50#, ensure you have 2 crisp hundred dollar bills included in that weight. When you finally make it to Mountain Crossings @ Walasi-Yi (Neels Gap), find the nearest employee and hand him/her your 200 bucks. You’ll need it for a new backpack, sleeping bag or tent (possibly all three, not to mention resupply and the heavy box of gear that you‘ll be mailing home). It is highly likely that you will spend alot of money there.

**On this note, remember that ounces add up to pounds. While going over your gear, keep track of how many times you’ve thought “Hey, it is only a few ounces.”.

**Still on this note, I would suggest a pre-trip to Mountain Crossings, if it is at all possible. Preferably at least a year before you start and when there are likely to be hikers there. It would also be best to visit before making major gear purchases (backpack, sleeping bag, tent). Discussions with employees and hikers will help solidify your gear decisions and save you money. While there, ask what was the most any one hiker spent.

3. Many hikers start on or after the 1st day of Spring. Unfortunately, that does not mean instant warm weather. It will be cold and the possibility of snow still exists (don’t forget the Smokies). Ensure you have appropriate cold weather gear (including long pants). Another interesting thing about spring is that leaves don’t appear over night. Until the leaves arrive, when the sun is out you are exposed all day long. Bring some sunscreen.

**During your pre-trip to Mountain Crossings, observe sunburned hikers. OUCH!!

4. The weekends are busy on Springer. Start during the week. If you do start on the weekend understand that upwards of 60 other hikers will also be starting (on 4/1/06 and 4/2/06, I counted 29 (Sat) and 35 (Sun) at FS42). The shelters (and tent sites) will definitely be crowded (as well as the hostel at Neels Gap).

5. Climbing rope is extreme overkill for bear rope (you don’t need to haul your entire backpack up a tree). 50 feet of nylon cord (parachute cord or 550 cord - whatever you want to call it) is sufficient. Nor do you need those huge carabiners that usually accompany climbing rope. Although required in several places on the PCT, bear canisters are NOT required on the AT. Areas that have heavy bear concentrations have appropriate systems for hanging food (and other aromatic items). GA and GSMNP have cable pulleys. SNP has poles and NJ has metal boxes. A sil-nylon stuff sack will work for food bag.

6. Saws, axes, Rambo/hunting knives can be left at home (unless you plan on wrasslin’ a b’ar as part of the evenings entertainment at the shelter). A small knife (with tweezers for pulling out those tiny ticks up North) for slicing bagels and spreading peanut butter is perfect.

7. Another piece of useless gear is a camp chair/stool. A camp chair/stool is nice for camping. However, you’ll be hiking more than camping. When you stop for the day, you fix dinner (while talking gear with other hikers, who are also carrying too much) and then you go to sleep. If you stay at shelters (which most do) there will be somewhere to sit down.

8. Nalgene bottles. Almost everyone carries two or three of them (sometimes clipped to back of pack with large carabiners). Nalgenes are heavy and bulky. Consider a collapsible water reservoir which is lighter, holds more water and can be rolled up when empty. Of course, for drinking on the go you will also have a water bladder with a drinking tube.

9. Crocs/Waldies. Very comfortable and very lightweight. Enough said. Buy them before your hike and save the money it’ll cost to mail home your heavy sandals.

10. It takes approximately 4 days to get to Neels Gap (30.6 mi) from Springer. That means you only need enough food for approx 4 days. Anymore more than that only increases pack weight. Of course, err on the side of caution. If you are uncertain of your daily mileage, carry an extra day of food.

Anyway, these tips have absolutely no bearing on whether or not you make it to Katahdin. Hopefully, they will make your first week a little more enjoyable and save you some money. I’m sure you don’t want to blow half of your budget on day 4.

See you on the trail,
mt squid.

Pacific Tortuga
04-21-2006, 18:12
MT. Squid your tread is very nice for the 'Bill Bryson's' out there and I qualified 5 years ago . If your out to hike, another 8 miles should be a beautiful warm up. I read where many Katahdin finishers wish they would have started that way. Mountian Crossings should open stores after 30 or so miles on every long distance trail,I can dream of their class act out west. It is hard to believe backpackers are humping 50+ packs still with the quality info out there but I here some even make it all the way .

Your first thread, :welcome Your passing on good, honest thoughts do not get taken off gaurd if the kitchen here gets to hot,thanks.

ShawnR80
04-21-2006, 18:24
Thanks for the great info!!! The idea of starting on the weekdays was excellent! My start day was going to be on a Sat. but, I am rethinking it now, thanks so much ShawnR80, planning for 2008

fiddlehead
04-21-2006, 22:31
great advice. Thanks for the entertaining post.

stickman
04-22-2006, 22:45
I agree, this is a good post. Thanks, Mt. Squid.

Stickman

sliderule
04-23-2006, 00:12
There can definitely be some good entertainment had at Neel's Gap. It's almost as good as watching the return of the mule riders at the Grand Canyon.

Blissful
04-24-2006, 19:27
Wow, and I thought starting this late you would avoid the crowds! Guess it doesn't matter whether you start in March or April as far as that's concerned. (?)

Booley
04-24-2006, 20:06
There can definitely be some good entertainment had at Neel's Gap. It's almost as good as watching the return of the mule riders at the Grand Canyon.

....Or after they take a huge swim at Lava Falls rapid on the Grand Canyon (big eyes, seeing Elvis while underwater) LOL.

Peaks
04-25-2006, 08:10
Wow, and I thought starting this late you would avoid the crowds! Guess it doesn't matter whether you start in March or April as far as that's concerned. (?)

Based on some old data, the majority of thru-hikers start between March 15 and April 15. Start any other date, and you avoid the rush, especially if you start during the week.

Myself, I started April 22, and shared a shelter the first night with one other hiker. That's certainly not a crowd.

briarpatch
04-25-2006, 09:02
Another bit of advice would be to not use Suches as a maildrop, use Neels Gap instead. Its only one day further, but you avoid the off trail side trip to Suches. I've taken lots of hikers down to the post office from Woody Gap, but it can kill the better part of an afternoon to walk there and back when rides aren't available. I would carry an additional days food and head on into Neels Gap for the first maildrop.

Sly
04-25-2006, 15:56
The only thing a thru-hiker should be buying at Mountain Crossings is ice cream!

Blissful
04-25-2006, 19:36
Based on some old data, the majority of thru-hikers start between March 15 and April 15. Start any other date, and you avoid the rush, especially if you start during the week.

Myself, I started April 22, and shared a shelter the first night with one other hiker. That's certainly not a crowd.

But this hiker supposedly just posted about seeing 150 people (doubt it WAS 150 but it was probably a lot) on or near April 21st heading up Springer. To me, that sounds like plenty for late in the season...

maybe they all gave up at the summit... (?)

Anyway, I'm glad for my tent in 2007 whether there's one hiker in the shelter or 20.

Pacific Tortuga
04-25-2006, 20:02
The only thing a thru-hiker should be buying at Mountain Crossings is ice cream!


You forgot the "drinki'n free Bubble-Up and eatin that rainbow stew" too.

mountain squid
04-25-2006, 21:25
To clarify, from 01 APR to 10 APR, I counted 168 “thru” hikers after they summitted Springer as follows:

01 Apr - 29
02 Apr - 35
03 Apr - 21
04 Apr - 18
05 Apr - 14
06 Apr - 9
07 Apr - 10
08 Apr - 14
09 Apr - 13
10 Apr - 5

Again, this does not include “section” hikers. My tick marks for section hikers adds up to only 88 (I know I missed a bunch of them). I only saw one quit on the top of Springer.

I agree with Peaks concerning start dates. If you look at the Class of 2006 (Whiteblaze thru-hikers) you can see when most began their hike. After the second weekend of April, things start slowing down.

I don’t know why most start in March. Not only do you have to take a number to summit, but it is also cold and will likely be cold for another month. I started my hike on 20 APR 04. Had great weather (even in the Smokies) and although it was busy at the shelters (actually, the shelters themselves were mostly empty - most were tenting), they were not over-crowded (except in the Smokies, where, for some reason, 80 Marines were hiking).

See you on the trail,
mt squid.

Michele
04-25-2006, 23:37
In response to your thought about why people would start hiking in March. Well, for me, I'm trying to build in a safety net of time. I'm going to be a slow hiker, and I want to make sure that even if I get ill or minorly injured, I'll have enough time to recover off the trail and then get back on w/plenty of time to reach the Big K by 10/15. I don't want to start on Apr. 15 and just have the "average" amount of time to finish.

dannybuzzell
05-02-2006, 13:43
I met you in two places: Springer and Neel's. I started on the 9th of April with the plan to section to Nantahala. My hike went far better than anticipated and I reached Neel's in 2 days; NOC in 9 days. Therein lies another caution: the weather was very hiker friendly during that time and I was literally drawn into longer, faster days than anticipated. The sunshine/lack of shade induced some dehydration issues that I didn't monitor well and nearly became a serious problem. I have a lot of hiking time in the Whites,NH and am in decent shape for a 60 year-old, but still didn't pay close enough attention to the effects of the constant sun exposure - it could have been ugly. A day of hydrating in Hiawassee fixed me up and that section is in the books for me. Good to have met you. Thanks to all of you folks for the support offered to me and all the hikers.

dan buzzell

mountain squid
05-05-2006, 14:06
Good point dannyb. Stay hydrated. At Woody Gap, I saw a younger guy who was getting off the trail possibly because of heat stroke/exhaustion. When I saw him he was doing ok, but I think he had had a few rough nights.

Long term sun exposure and physical exertion can certainly be a recipe for dehydration (or worse). Especially if you are coming straight from the couch (as I'm sure many are). Stay hydrated (and, of course, don't wait until you are thirsty - drink, drink, drink).

Otherwise, glad that you are ok and that you had a good hike...

mt squid

Programbo
05-05-2006, 20:55
As someone who sold backpacking equipment for 11 years may I add that don`t let the weight of a certain backpack be your deciding factor in your purchase..It is very important how the pack distributes the weight and transfers it to your hips and legs etc..You might carry the exact same load in 2 pack and one of the packs weighs 3 pounds and the other weighs 7 pounds but the weight will feel much lighter in the heavier pack and you will conserve more energy and walk more naturally.....Also make sure you get the correct size and adjust the stays and misc straps correctly..Try and load heavier objects higher up and in towards your body

mountain squid
04-20-2007, 17:32
Spent the last weekend of Mar and the first weekend of Apr at FS42 and saw much of the same as last year. If your pack is too heavy, be aware that YOU have to carry it at least to Neels Gap. It is NOT acceptable to discard unwanted items at a shelter or to the side of the trail...

A few more observations to share:

1. Books. If you think that you absolutely must have something to read, bring no more than one tome. Personally, I would suggest foregoing a book, at least in the beginning. At the onset of your long distance journey, you might find yourself a) too tired to read or b) too busy meeting and talking with fellow hikers. Once your body is used to the daily routine of walking all day long, then consider carrying one book (not two, not three, ONE).

2. Warm weather in Mar/Apr (or Jan/Feb for that matter) is not likely to last long. You might get lucky and avoid snow but COLD weather will definitely be in your future. NEVER, ever, ever get rid of your cold weather gear or sleeping bag to lighten your load or to create space in your backpack. Also, ensure you have a shelter of some sort and those with hammocks ensure you know how to stay warm inside your cocoon.

3. Ensure the stuff that ‘should’ fit inside your backpack (sleeping bag, tent) does indeed fit inside your bp. If your sleeping bag and tent do not fit, you either have too much bulky stuff or your bp is too small.

**On this note, suggest utilizing sil-nylon stuff sacks for keeping things organized. Opening a side/lid pocket should not allow things to spill out...

4. Hiking with a handcart on a trail is not a good idea (it is probably not even a good idea on a paved surface).

5. Instead of a taxi, consider staying at the Hiker Hostel. Josh and Leigh have an outstanding hostel and provide superior service. During ‘Hiker Season’ they make a daily trip to FS42 and then to the Approach Trail. I’m sure the cost of a shuttle from Atlanta or Gainesville and an overnight stay is a fraction of what a taxi costs (plus you get to start your gear envy a day before you actually begin your hike)...

6. I know this will be difficult for some, but don’t start off too fast. Take it slow. It actually might not hurt to have an itinerary for the first few days (and actually stick to it). If you get to a shelter after only 8 miles, yes, it might be just after noon and you might still feel good, but stop anyway. Gather wood for a fire, watch the rest of the hikers roll in, relax, let your feet air out, fiddle with your gear, figure out a better way to pack your gear, etc...(yes, I realize this might be a good time to have a book, but the flow of hikers will be so great that you probably won’t even notice...).

7. There doesn’t appear to be any ‘reliable’ water sources between Hawk Mt Shelter and Justus Crk, which is about 6 miles. In between you climb Sassafras Mt and Justus Mt. If you attempt this stretch in the afternoon and especially during a ‘heat wave’, ensure you have plenty of water.

For those with aspirations of a long-distance hike in your future, GOOD LUCK and HAVE FUN!!!!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

PS. This year I saw 217 hikers begin their long distance journey...

Nightwalker
04-21-2007, 01:53
Good thread. Seems a good time for my "three rules for a successful GA thru."

1. Eat more than you think that you should.
2. Drink more than you think that you should.
3. Go slower than you think that you should.

I'm no thruhiker, and probably never will be, but I've done Georgia four times. These are some very good rules of thumb, at least for me.

As always: YMMV; professional driver, closed course; HYOH.

rjridgely
04-21-2007, 09:37
As someone who sold backpacking equipment for 11 years may I add that don`t let the weight of a certain backpack be your deciding factor in your purchase..It is very important how the pack distributes the weight and transfers it to your hips and legs etc..You might carry the exact same load in 2 pack and one of the packs weighs 3 pounds and the other weighs 7 pounds but the weight will feel much lighter in the heavier pack and you will conserve more energy and walk more naturally.....Also make sure you get the correct size and adjust the stays and misc straps correctly..Try and load heavier objects higher up and in towards your body

I totally agree with you, having about 20 full & part-time years as an outfitting pro, fit, fit, fit & load distribution is the most important. NOT the color or the recient trend nor the lightweights. Personally would not trade my old Lowe Contour IV or my Vaude Terkum. And......I have never ever used a scale to pack what i carry on my back...my brain is the scale and common sense is my forte.

Egads
04-21-2007, 11:35
Would you run a marathon without training?

Of course not.

Why would anyone consider embarking on a thru hike of the AT without training?

I've seen it too, a newby dragging 75 lbs up the approach trail.

Get out & hike before you start your thru. Give yourself a fighting chance to finish. You need experience, fitness, and mental preparation to keep your ass alive and on the trail.

My 2 cents

Rain Man
04-21-2007, 12:31
Would you run a marathon without training?

Of course not.

To be fair, a marathon is a race and the point is how fast you can get to the finish line, so the analogy might be questionable. I have heard a thru-hike compared to singing a song, not a race. That's an analogy I like.

Having said that, I'd certainly advise a few "shake down" hikes before attempting a thru-hike, yes. Practice that song? ~wink~

Rain:sunMan

.

Rain Man
04-21-2007, 12:32
OK, I just got back from Forest Service Road 42 at the foot of Springer.

They moved FS 42 to the foot of Springer?!!! ~wink~

Just had to pull your leg a tad for that one!

Rain:sunMan

.

digger51
04-21-2007, 14:07
Excellent observations. In six years hiking the southern sections last years was the first I didn't mail anything home from Neels Gap.

Ewker
04-21-2007, 18:26
I would be careful about sending a mail drop to Neels Gap. Last week a friend and I sectioned hiked from Springer to Dicks Creek Gap. She sent a mail drop to the gear store 8 days before she would get there. She sent it 2nd day Priority Mail. It never showed up. We meet one guy who had sent his winter clothing to Neels gap (still haven't figured that one out) well it never showed up either.
My friend had to buy food for the rest of the trip from them. Needless to say it is expensive. My friend told the folks there to put her mail drop in the hiker box if it ever showed up.
I feel for the guy if he had to buy winter clothes there.

IMO If I was sending a mail drop there I would send it 2 weeks in advance then call a few days before I started just to make sure it made it.

DavidNH
04-21-2007, 21:20
Hi,

I would add, include lining Your pack with a waterproof plastic bag. If it is rainy, that is more than worth the weight.. else stuff gets wet.

One thing has been puzzling me.. exactly why is it that the AT is so crowded at the start? I mean.. I heard of reports of up to 100 people a day starting at Springer. Man... I wish this trail wasnt so advertized!

David

digger51
04-22-2007, 02:08
The food at Neels Gap is expensive. I would stop on the way to the start and drop off a food resupply box so I wouldn't have to buy it there.

Nightwalker
04-22-2007, 20:42
The food at Neels Gap is expensive. I would stop on the way to the start and drop off a food resupply box so I wouldn't have to buy it there.

Look in the hiker box in the hostel. There's always some sort of goodies in there, especially this time of year. Heck, I've even got stuff from the hiker box in December!

superman
04-22-2007, 21:05
Excellent thread. Good job.

Miner
04-23-2007, 16:25
If people would actually try their gear on a few days backpack trip before leaving, I suspect that less people would show up and those that did would be lighter and not leaving gear along the side of the trail.

I'm still amazed that people even consider starting a long hike having never backpacked before or going with a lot of untried gear. I know that people have successfully done it, but even more quit.

Earl Grey
04-24-2007, 12:20
50 lbs? See if these people would have went to google.com and typed in appalachian trail gear or something similar they would have found this site and figured out what to do. I dont understand people who have these massive packs that tower over their heads for east coast hiking. Im staying under 30lbs and its because of this site.

bigben
04-28-2007, 15:19
Not to start a argument with you about pack weight, but what's intrinsically wrong with a 50 lb pack in and of itself? There are many more variables to take into consideration before "automatically" assuming someone must not know what they're doing if they're carry a 50 lb pack. Is it WRONG to carry a 2lb2oz Prolite 4 large just because there are lighter alternatives? Is it WRONG to carry a 4 1/2 lb tent just because there are lighter alternatives? What if the person is a offensive lineman-size XXXL and all his clothes, sleeping bag, food all weighs more?

With my pack, 50 lbs is nothing, and I've carried up mountains and done 14 mile days on the AT with 50 lbs without any problems whatsoever. I know where you're coming from, though. Put my pack on a 175 lb guy who's not in great shape and who hasn't backpacked in the mountains for years and you'd be setting him up for failure. BUT, don't merely assume a 50 lb pack is just plain dumb. Sure, I could live without a good 10 lbs of stuff I take, and I could probably shave another 10 lbs by replacing items with lighter ones, but WHY? Just to be lighter for lightness's sake? If 50 lbs caused me any problems whatsoever, I'd fix them. But it doesn't so why spend all the extra money OR merely go without thus sacrificiing MY comfort?

Bigben
(and seriously, I'm not trying to pick a fight, merely offering another point of view)

rafe
04-28-2007, 15:44
Not to start a argument with you about pack weight, but what's intrinsically wrong with a 50 lb pack in and of itself?

Nothing, really. But I'm gonna guess that anyone making that argument has never hiked significant distances on the AT.

When I was about 30 years younger than I am now, the weight on my back was never much of a concern. But I was rarely out in the woods for more than one or two nights, and I rarely hiked more than eight or ten miles a day.

When I made my thru-hiking attempt in 1990 (at age 37) I knew that wouldn't cut it, and I felt proud (at the time) in achieving a base weight of 24 lbs.

In the years since then, and especially over the last year, I've cut the weight even more, to a base of around 15 lbs. I can walk faster, more comfortably, and with less fatigue than ever before.

The way I see it, if the emphasis is on camping, go ahead and load up your pack -- but don't expect to cover a lot of miles in comfort. OTOH, if the emphasis is on hiking (as it must be, for thru-hikers, or section-hikers on a schedule) then it makes sense to keep pack weight down.

There's just no arguing with the physics of it. Humans have a finite limit as to energy output, and hauling weight over distances takes energy.

Brrrb Oregon
04-28-2007, 17:51
Not to start a argument with you about pack weight, but what's intrinsically wrong with a 50 lb pack in and of itself? There are many more variables to take into consideration before "automatically" assuming someone must not know what they're doing if they're carry a 50 lb pack. Is it WRONG to carry a 2lb2oz Prolite 4 large just because there are lighter alternatives? Is it WRONG to carry a 4 1/2 lb tent just because there are lighter alternatives? What if the person is a offensive lineman-size XXXL and all his clothes, sleeping bag, food all weighs more?

With my pack, 50 lbs is nothing, and I've carried up mountains and done 14 mile days on the AT with 50 lbs without any problems whatsoever. I know where you're coming from, though. Put my pack on a 175 lb guy who's not in great shape and who hasn't backpacked in the mountains for years and you'd be setting him up for failure. BUT, don't merely assume a 50 lb pack is just plain dumb. Sure, I could live without a good 10 lbs of stuff I take, and I could probably shave another 10 lbs by replacing items with lighter ones, but WHY? Just to be lighter for lightness's sake? If 50 lbs caused me any problems whatsoever, I'd fix them. But it doesn't so why spend all the extra money OR merely go without thus sacrificiing MY comfort?

Bigben
(and seriously, I'm not trying to pick a fight, merely offering another point of view)

I have seen off-duty firefighters practically run up Mt. Hood's Cooper Spur, literally carrying tables and crowd-feeder-sized cast iron skillets on their backs with less trouble than I would have with nothing but my shoes.

There are those of you who can choose to pack that cast iron skillet that you just cannot live without, yes, but you animals probably know who you are! You are right, though: there is no reason to forego comfort in an effort to appear modest.

bigben
04-29-2007, 06:44
I'm a full-time firefighter myself. We do what we do wearing 35 lbs of turnout gear, "fire clothes" that is, wearing a 35 lb air pack on our backs and carrying a good 20 lbs of hand tools, sometimes in addition to dragging a charged hoseline. 50 lbs of pack weight doesn't bother me one bit.

That being said, I won't be running up Mt hood anytime soon.

Marta
04-29-2007, 07:06
I'm a full-time firefighter myself. We do what we do wearing 35 lbs of turnout gear, "fire clothes" that is, wearing a 35 lb air pack on our backs and carrying a good 20 lbs of hand tools, sometimes in addition to dragging a charged hoseline. 50 lbs of pack weight doesn't bother me one bit.

I hiked for a number of weeks with a guy who lays concrete block for a living. He started with a 65-lb. pack. It didn't bother him at all. He could pick it up with one hand. (This probably doesn't impress you, but I sure couldn't do that myself.) Way down the Trail, about 3/4 of the way along, he did his first slack-packing. We hiked two consecutive days in Virginia (we were going SOBO), one with our full packs and one with day packs. In the same amount of time, we did 24 miles with light packs and 20 miles with full packs. The lightbulb went off--carrying less stuff makes every mile easier and faster. No matter how strong you are.

He's less than half my age, male, and much stronger. When I was carrying a 20-pound pack and he was carrying 65, I hiked quite a bit faster than he did. He sent a bunch of stuff home from Damascus, making our pack weights close to even. He suddenly became faster than I was. I think I need about a 20-pound packweight advantage to make our speeds about even. Like handicappping horses.

That said, what you carry is absolutely your own choice. I carried at least five pounds of stuff that I could have gotten rid of, but I wanted to have along just because I wanted to. My choice.

Marta/Five-Leaf

SGT Rock
04-29-2007, 08:56
I'm a full-time firefighter myself. We do what we do wearing 35 lbs of turnout gear, "fire clothes" that is, wearing a 35 lb air pack on our backs and carrying a good 20 lbs of hand tools, sometimes in addition to dragging a charged hoseline. 50 lbs of pack weight doesn't bother me one bit.

That being said, I won't be running up Mt hood anytime soon.
I wore 35 pounds of body armor, carried a few pounds of weapons and ammo, then some more of water, food, maps, radios, etc.

That said, I still would rather cary less than 30 pounds on the trail. Think of it this way: if you spend your time hiking instead of camping, what do you really need? And if your pack weighs less than that 35 pounds of stuff you normally wear, then you will not notice the pack at all - backpacking will be like day hiking for you.

Smart hikers are better than strong hikers. But hikers that are smart and strong are the best ;)

Kerosene
04-29-2007, 10:09
I can easily lug a 40+ pound pack up and down rough trail all day long and crank out 15+ miles in the process. I can even keep up a pretty good pace with that weight. For me, though, after carrying a 25-pound pack all day long my feet and back are much less sore. In addition, the ligaments in my body just aren't as flexible as they once were, so less weight on my back translates to less chance of screwing something up when I step on that rock the wrong way.

trail ronin
04-29-2007, 10:41
[With my pack, 50 lbs is nothing, and I've carried up mountains and done 14 mile days on the AT with 50 lbs without any problems whatsoever. I know where you're coming from, though. Put my pack on a 175 lb guy who's not in great shape and who hasn't backpacked in the mountains for years and you'd be setting him up for failure. ]

Hey Bigben, What pack are you carrying? Just curious.I'm a big guy who carries a big pack myself (mystery ranch g-5000 (7lb. pack).

mountain squid
04-29-2007, 12:50
terrapin_too nailed it on the head... Great post tt and THANKS to everyone for sharing your experiences!!!

bigben, You can carry as much as you want to, it is no sweat off my back. I’m sure plenty of hikers have carried 50# or more all the way to (or from) ME (reread my final thought on post #1). I’m just posting ‘observations’ and trying to encourage prospective ‘thru-hikers’ to thoroughly research gear options prior to making that ‘final’ decision. And, then, to seriously rethink some of the items they intend to carry (reread items 5-10 on post #1) prior to hitting the trail for a long distance trek.

If someone hasn’t done any gear research prior to starting a ‘thru-hike’ in GA, and simply intends to start off with what they have used on other backpacking trips, they will likely be surprised on Day ONE. Gear envy might start at the shelter that night (if not sooner). By the time they make it to Neels Gap, they will have plenty of ideas of how to lighten their own load. Some hikers wont do anything except resupply and continue hiking. Some hikers will only need to mail something home, but many others will purchase new gear. There is nothing wrong with that, but wouldn’t you rather be prepared ahead of time and not worry about unintended purchases on Day FOUR.

As I’ve posted, take a trip to Mountain Crossings during ‘thru-hiker’ season. It will be an eye-opener. Per their webpage, they mail home over 3000# of stuff per year. ATC’s webpage states that just over 1000 hikers made it to Neels Gap last year. That is 3# per person. That is alot of stuff. Draw your own conclusions.

Again, you and everyone else can (and does) carry what they want to. But, remember, just because you physically can, that doesn’t mean that you should. I just hope that someone might benefit from others experiences and lighten their load in some way...

See you on the trail (& at Trail Days),
mt squid

bigben
04-29-2007, 16:22
My pack is a Gregory Shasta in large.

Don't get me wrong, I don't and won't carry 50 lbs just because I can. And I have made some good gear choices: Golite Doze bag(3#3oz and I actually fit in it), SD Clip Flashlight tent(1 man tents just don't do it for me and I don't like bug bites or tarp camping if I can help it which I can), Snowpeak Giga stove and Ti 1L pot, etc. I actually buy lightweight stuff and both use and love it. But 5 days of food for me is a GOOD 12 lbs and I carry a minimum of 2 liters, usually 3 liters as I start each day, of water. Right there is 18-20 lbs. Why? I'm big(6'3" 285lbs) so I eat a lot and I sweat like a prostitute in church, so I drink a lot. I carry a larger than normal 1st aid kit(cause I'm a paramedic and can use all that stuff if I came across a hiker in peril - you'd thank me for carrying it if you were hurt), I filter my water and I won't budge on the MSR Miniworks, and I won't carry less of a sleeping pad than my Prolite 4 large. I don't overdo it on clothes, I carry Crocs, Frog Togg jacket. My clothes ARE all 2X or 3 X so they do weigh more.

I section hike and train with 50 lbs. If I was or could thru-hike, I'd think harder about lightening the load. But big miles aren't what I do right now. My AT hikes are VACATION, so I shoot for 10 mile days in 1-2 week shots. That's plenty for me right now.

Bigben

max patch
04-29-2007, 16:54
This whole thread can be summarized in 2 bullet points.

1. A lighter pack is easier to carry than a heavier pack. Duh.

2. Anyone who says that you can't do a thru carrying a 50 pound pack is just flat out wrong. Waay wrong.

SGT Rock
04-30-2007, 21:40
This whole thread can be summarized in 2 bullet points.

1. A lighter pack is easier to carry than a heavier pack. Duh.

2. Anyone who says that you can't do a thru carrying a 50 pound pack is just flat out wrong. Waay wrong.
That is about it.:cool:

mountain squid
04-08-2008, 16:46
Some stats from this year (3/29/08 – 4/7/08):

226 with the intent of going all the way to Katahdin
95 going to somewhere in between
149 started from fs42
40 WhiteBlazers (I’m sure I missed a few)
36 thrus and 10 sectioners started on April Fools Day
1 bear torn-up backpack at Three Forks (if you plan to camp there, be aware…)
3 flat tires (one was mine – DOH!!!)
2 days of sunshine (hikers still managed to get sun burned)
8 days of fog, wind and rain (could barely see the other side of the parking lot at times)

As of 4/6/08 (and since 2/29/08), Many Sleeps had counted 594 going all the way (I’m not sure if 3/1/08 was the busiest day, but he said he counted 51). As of 4/3/08, 548 had signed in at Amicalola Falls SP. As of 4/7/08, Neels Gap was over 500+ (I don’t remember exact #).

Although, the weather was rather lousy, still had a great time. At least there weren’t many bugs (actually the days of sunshine brought the gnats out with a vengeance). Hopefully everyone is still doing well out there. See you when you make it up here to TN or at Trail Days or Hard Core or somewhere further North…

See you on the trail,
mt squid

ChinMusic
04-08-2008, 17:39
As of 4/3/08, 548 had signed in at Amicalola Falls SP.
When I did the Approach Trail a couple weeks ago I was told to sign in "since I was leaving the park and not coming back". My wife was picking me up at FS42.

warren doyle
04-08-2008, 21:39
Feel free to download my one-page 'book' on this subject at my website below.

futureatwalker
05-02-2008, 15:15
Some stats from this year (3/29/08 – 4/7/08):

95 going to somewhere in between
149 started from fs42
40 WhiteBlazers (I’m sure I missed a few)
2 days of sunshine (hikers still managed to get sun burned)

mt squid

Hi Mtn. Squid -

1) I ("Paul-from-Scotand") was one of your "going somewhere in between" whom you gave a ride to FS42 on April 2 of this year. Thank you! It's really generous of you to run people up to the trail... it is very much appreciated!

2) I second the recommendation of Josh and Leigh's Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega. Really friendly people - and a wonderful hostel.

3) I agree with your advice concerning pack weight, etc. My pack was heavy (~ 6 lbs empty), although my weight, fully loaded at Neel's gap, was 38 lbs. I'm not able to spend unlimited money on gear, but have ordered a new pack. There were many people out there with heavier loads. Most were bigger guys than me - I'm around 6 foot and weigh around 150. Even with this, my knees were pretty tender on some of those long Georgia mtn descents.

4) I wore relatively sturdy trail runners. I will definitely do this again. 1 lb of the feet is like 5 lbs off the back. I didn't even carry alternative footwear.

5) I met an experienced thru-hiker by the name of "Reststop". He was strong, and his pack didn't look too large. We chatted for a bit. He made an excellent point: thru-hiking isn't the same as backpacking. Although I was only out to do the GA section of the trail, I was on the same pace as a number of thru-hikers. Basically, we were walking 8-10 hours a day. Camping was great, but for most of your active waking hours, you are walking. The great affair is to move... and a light load makes every day easier.

6) At Neel's Gap I bought a waterproof bag for my sleeping bag, and a waterproof bag for hanging my food. Garbage bags didn't cut it in either situation.

mountain squid
04-06-2009, 19:45
Some stats from this year (3/28/09 - 4/5/09):

206 heading to Katahdin
117 going to some place in between
108 started from fs42
18 WhiteBlazers
49 thrus and 21 sectioners started on Sunday, 3/29 (very cold and windy)
39 thrus and 2 sectioners started on April Fools Day
alot of Matts and Steves out there needing trailnames

The weather was a little better than last yr, but not by much. Per Many Sleeps, it was 7F on 3/3/09 - that is cold - brrrrrrr. Bear problems reported around Neels Gap. No flat tires this yr (I was prepared with an air compressor, just in case).

Many Sleeps was about 30 over last years #s on 3/28/09. I didn't get an update before leaving, but I am sure he was over 600.

Hope everyone is doing well. It is supposed to be cold and snowy tonight and tomorrow.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

ryanwheeler007
04-06-2009, 22:52
Yup, good observations mountain squid... I second every one...

stranger
04-10-2009, 19:53
Don't know about 4 days to reach Neels Gap, it's only 30 miles, many people reach Neels Gap on day 2.

Dances with Mice
04-10-2009, 20:10
Don't know about 4 days to reach Neels Gap, it's only 30 miles, many people reach Neels Gap on day 2.Many do. Most don't.

Egads
04-10-2009, 20:16
Some make it a day hike

Dances with Mice
04-10-2009, 20:19
Some make it a day hikeThen they won't be hanging food at night, will they?

Dances with Mice
04-10-2009, 20:21
Then they won't be hanging food at night, will they?Oops. Wrong thread. Disregard.

But, yeah, some pull marathon mileage righ out of the box. Most don't.

Blissful
04-10-2009, 20:45
Don't know about 4 days to reach Neels Gap, it's only 30 miles, many people reach Neels Gap on day 2.


Not at the bottom of the approach they don't...

And I don't know many hikers booking it at 15 miles a day starting out.

Mongoose2
04-10-2009, 20:49
Great observations Squid, very nice

BobTheBuilder
04-10-2009, 21:19
Squeaky made it as a day hike in December 2005. Sorry, just wanted to bring Squeaky back up again.

mountain squid
04-06-2010, 13:14
Some stats from this year (3/27/10 - 4/5/10):

230 currently on their way to ME
168 to places in between
160 started from fs42
31 WhiteBlazers
35 thrus and 15 sectioners started on April Fools Day

Except for the first couple of days the weather was great. Saw lots of burnt hikers. Someone here influenced a hiker not to bring sunscreen because it is 'a long green tunnel'. Unfortunately, it is not a long green tunnel until the leaves appear and said hiker was burnt. DOH! I've said it before - Don't forget some sunscreen. .

Forest Service Road 42 is passable, just drive slowly. There are a few times where you might bottom out, but plenty of cars have made the drive.

It might not be a good idea to bring a bird on a long distance hike. You never know, someone else might be bringing a cat (I did not see a cat nor hear of a terrible demise to the bird . . . I'm just saying . . . ) Someone else was carrying a dog though. . .

No flats this year but one drained battery . . . thought I was gonna have to start hiking . . .

Hope everyone is having a great time. Don't let the nice weather fool you. Keep that cold weather gear until into VA.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

Doc Mike
02-25-2011, 09:56
Looking forward to this years numbers...
Thanks Mt. Squid

Lugen
02-25-2011, 14:42
How much money do you bring if you plan on going all the way thru? How much cash? Are credit or debit cards accepted readily? Other than food, what will you purchase along the way?

Jeff
02-25-2011, 16:14
Some stats from this year (3/27/10 - 4/5/10):

230 currently on their way to ME
168 to places in between
160 started from fs42
31 WhiteBlazers
35 thrus and 15 sectioners started on April Fools Day

Interesting...based on these stats 85% of hikers heading north don't know us here at Whiteblaze. How do they ever manage ??? :D

mountain squid
02-26-2011, 18:39
How much money do you bring if you plan on going all the way thru? How much cash? Are credit or debit cards accepted readily? Other than food, what will you purchase along the way?The amount of money needed is directly related to the amount of time you spend in town and the amount of money you spend while in town. Several thousand dollars possibly . . .

If you're just talking about cash on hand at any given time, a couple hundred dollars, maybe . . . credit/debit cards are readily accepted, however, . . . some hostels may only take cash, shuttles might charge, you might want to tip someone who gives you a ride, you might chip in for a pizza or two or five, at some shelters you can order a pizza, some shelters charge a nominal fee (VT and the Whites), coin laundry, etc . . . you'll need some cash on hand.

Food is probably the main purchase. Not only resupply food for the trail, but also town food and lots of it. Alcoholic beverages can also be a large drain on the wallet, if you drink them. If you take alot of zeroes (no hiking for the day) in town, lodging and town food expenses can add up quickly.

Other than food you might need to get new gear at some point, probably shoes. And that can add up too.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-05-2011, 20:39
Some stats from this yr (3/26/11 - 4/4/11):

284 hikers currently on their way to ME
236 hikers to places in between
198 hikers got dropped off at fs42
40 WhiteBlazers
49 started on Fri, 4/1
55 started on Sat, 4/2 (not to mention the 94 sectioners . . . it was busy)
3/26, Sat night, had horrific t-storms all night - I was sure Springer had exploded, as well as many trees
fog and rain and cold all last week
5 cuben fiber packs (cuben fiber might be the next sil-nylon - evidently it is lighter and stronger)
3 hikers returned
1 bear scratched vehicle (that is my new story and I'm sticking with it - a bear scratched story is way better than what actually happened)
1 electric cello and amp

The State Park was over 600 and Neels Gap had 553 as of 4/4/11.

As I stated in the original post of this thread, the weekends are very busy, and if the weather is nice . . . . Consider starting during the week to avoid the huge numbers and overly crowded shelters and campsites.

I enjoyed meetin' and greetin' everyone. Hope everyone is having a great time despite all that bad weather. Good Luck and Have Fun!!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

Storm
04-05-2011, 21:00
Very nice post. Maybe should be included in articles. One observation. I stopped by mountain crossings while on vacation in Ga. last month. I found their food supply to be sort of slim. Is it always this way and would a mail drop there be better.

True Blue
08-27-2011, 21:23
Mountain Squid recommends starting during the week rather than the busier weekends. Have you made any observations as to which day (Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs Fri) has less hiker starts? My guess would be Thurs or Mon.

mountain squid
08-29-2011, 12:33
Thursday.

Thursday is the least busy day . . . at least from my observations from the last several yrs. I crunched the numbers and Thu was the day, then Wed and then Tue. It might change from week to week though, who really knows.

Some dates to avoid, regardless of what day of the week, are the 1st of Mar, 15th of Mar, 1st day of Spring and April Fool's day. Per the 'Class of 20XX' spreadsheets I maintain these are usually very busy days.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

Longshot
08-29-2011, 13:29
This is an excellent thread. I began my thru hike with 50lb on my back. Lightened out at neals gap. My most useful gear change was in the cooking department. I switched a whisper stove for an alcohol stove total weight of my kitchen including pot and fuel approximately, 8 oz. Guess how I got my trail name, I guess that their were some naysayers among my friends who hiked the first section with me. I got my pack down to <30lb including a book to enjoy during afternoon siesta time. Began my hike 3/10 and topped Katadin on 9/10 so I wasn't the fastest hiker in the the group, but the journey will never be forgotten, a game changer for me.

Longshot

mountain squid
04-09-2012, 15:41
Some stats from this yr (3/31/12 - 4/8/12):

287 hikers currently on their way to ME with 115 starting at FS42
264 hikers to places in between with 101 starting at FS42
62 started on April Fools Day (the most I've ever counted on any one day)
53 started on 4/2
32 WhiteBlazers (incl Swamp Dawg whom I summitted with in 2006!)
12 bear incidents North of Neels Gap (per Forest Service Ranger)
5 from Germany
3 flat tires including one from the Hiker Hostel
2 returned to lighten their loads and then returned to resume hiking
several guitars and ukuleles but no cellos
1 hiker was carrying only 15 pounds
and the usual excessively heavy packs

The weather was great this year. Only had one day of fog (Fri) - completely opposite from last yr. Obviously, many hikers did not heed advice to avoid starting on the 1st . . . it was very busy (there were also 27 section hikers).

The State Park had 801 signed in and Neels Gap had 556 on the 8th.

It was a good time. Hopefully the nice weather doesn't encourage anyone to send cold weather gear home too soon. We have some cold nights forecast this week in NE TN (think Roan Mountain).

Good Luck everyone!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

BarFight
04-12-2012, 21:05
Squid, I enjoyed reading through this thread again, it makes me nostalgic. Let me agree with you on the sunblock recommendation, or wearing a hat. On my through-hike I got myself burned in North Carolina, because I didn't think you could get sunburned in March. It was so cold that week that I was hiking with everything covered except my face and hands, and then I thought my hands were just red and cold. Wrong. Sun poisoning on my face to boot. After that I wore a hat all the way to Pearisburg. People from northern parts should beware the Georgia sun!:)

Odd Man Out
04-12-2012, 23:36
several guitars and ukuleles but no cellos

My cello was made by the Gibson Guitar Co, Kzoo MI (ca. 1940). If I hiked with that how would you count it?

seadawg
04-25-2012, 18:25
In response to your thought about why people would start hiking in March. Well, for me, I'm trying to build in a safety net of time. I'm going to be a slow hiker, and I want to make sure that even if I get ill or minorly injured, I'll have enough time to recover off the trail and then get back on w/plenty of time to reach the Big K by 10/15. I don't want to start on Apr. 15 and just have the "average" amount of time to finish.

My thoughts exactly Michelle. I would encourage the older hikers (50's & 60's...like myself) to start early...1st week in March....I plan to start Feb. 27. We are slower and more prone to injury than the younger hikers. Six months from Feb. 27 would be the end of August which would give me a month and a half pad before mid Oct.

Moose2001
04-25-2012, 18:52
My thoughts exactly Michelle. I would encourage the older hikers (50's & 60's...like myself) to start early...1st week in March....I plan to start Feb. 27. We are slower and more prone to injury than the younger hikers. Six months from Feb. 27 would be the end of August which would give me a month and a half pad before mid Oct.

Really! My last AT hike was when I was 56. Started April 20 and finished on Katahdin Sept 28. Never felt like I was really pushing hard. Could have easily finished 7-10 days earlier but why rush through New England? I've seen lots of 20 somethings that were WAY slower than 50/60 somethings! It's not about age. It's all about how fit and conditioned you are.

Red Hat
04-25-2012, 20:09
Michelle and Seadawg, you don't need to start in February!!! That just means more cold nights to head into town. Mid March still gives you seven months to Katahdin. I'm old and I only needed 6 and a half.

seadawg
04-30-2012, 07:54
Been hiking and observing thrus for 10 years.....and my opinion stills stands.....Start early (1st week in March) .....brave the cold initially, beat the heat and the bugs....allow a pad for slowness and injury....and enjoy the journey.

seadawg
04-30-2012, 10:40
Really! My last AT hike was when I was 56. Started April 20 and finished on Katahdin Sept 28. Never felt like I was really pushing hard. Could have easily finished 7-10 days earlier but why rush through New England? I've seen lots of 20 somethings that were WAY slower than 50/60 somethings! It's not about age. It's all about how fit and conditioned you are.
Whereas I wholehearted agree that being in good physical shape is very important before attempting an A.T. thru, however, if you are asserting that a fit 60 year old can out-hike a fit 20 year old you are simply delusional .

seadawg
04-30-2012, 10:52
Michelle and Seadawg, you don't need to start in February!!! That just means more cold nights to head into town. Mid March still gives you seven months to Katahdin. I'm old and I only needed 6 and a half.

I'm not advocating a February start but rather a first week in March start (Feb. 28 is the last day of Feb.)......and I very rarely ever leave the trail ....and never because of weather. Remember even the higher elevations of the trail in NC/TN are still in the south...so a 6 inch snowfall will melt down to a very hike-able 1-2 inches in about a day. And there is nothing more beautiful than hiking in the snow. March and April snows are very rarely more than 1-2 inches. I usually find a shelter if the snowfall is heavier and just wait for it to melt down to a hike-able depth.

seadawg
04-30-2012, 11:02
To re-iterate....my advocacy of a first week in March start is to allow for the unforseen, namely injuries, and personal problems at home that might cause one to temporarily leave the trail. In my view, it is wise to give yourself a 6 weeks pad to allow for such occurrences.

double d
04-30-2012, 11:14
Some stats from this yr (3/31/12 - 4/8/12):

287 hikers currently on their way to ME with 115 starting at FS42
264 hikers to places in between with 101 starting at FS42
62 started on April Fools Day (the most I've ever counted on any one day)
53 started on 4/2
32 WhiteBlazers (incl Swamp Dawg whom I summitted with in 2006!)
12 bear incidents North of Neels Gap (per Forest Service Ranger)
5 from Germany
3 flat tires including one from the Hiker Hostel
2 returned to lighten their loads and then returned to resume hiking
several guitars and ukuleles but no cellos
1 hiker was carrying only 15 pounds
and the usual excessively heavy packs

The weather was great this year. Only had one day of fog (Fri) - completely opposite from last yr. Obviously, many hikers did not heed advice to avoid starting on the 1st . . . it was very busy (there were also 27 section hikers).

The State Park had 801 signed in and Neels Gap had 556 on the 8th.

It was a good time. Hopefully the nice weather doesn't encourage anyone to send cold weather gear home too soon. We have some cold nights forecast this week in NE TN (think Roan Mountain).

Good Luck everyone!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)


Very cool information that you provide each year Mt.Squid. Has there been much rain this April?

mountain squid
04-09-2013, 17:30
Some stats from this year (3/30/13 - 4/8/13):

361 hikers currently on their way to Katahdin (184 started from FS42)
271 hikers to places in between (163 started from FS42)
180 Little Hug Fruit Barrels distributed
58 hikers started on April Fools Day not including 34 section hikers
26 WhiteBlazers
10 dogs annotated but I am sure there were more
3 hikers carrying bear canisters
1 abandoned tent at Springer Mountain Shelter
1 hiker with a stated 75# pack after getting rid of 12#
1 hiker with the largest volume pack I've ever seen
only 1 bear incident reported which was North of Neels Gap

It is still surprising how many hikers start off with excessively heavy loads . . . 361 is the most hikers that I have seen. Either hikers decided that Apr was a better month to start because of weather or they had to delay because of the lousy Mar weather this year.

The weather was fairly typical with Thu (4/4) probably the coldest I've seen at Springer. In the morning it was 38f with extreme winds and little rain. At noon it was 32f, still very windy with a mixture of rain/sleet/hail and maybe even some snow thrown in for good measure. The tops of the trees were frozen. It was a very miserable day to be hiking or starting the trail. As far as I know everyone survived . . .

Amicalola Falls State Park had 840 signed in as of 4/4.

Hope everyone is having fun!

Good Luck!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

RED-DOG
04-09-2013, 18:42
This is a great thread,I started on Febuarary 14 on all three of my Thru-Hikes, ( Flip-Flop 96 & GA-ME 06 & GA-ME 2012 ), my pack on all three weighed 30lbs and it took me three days from AFSP and yes it's cold at first but i would rather beat the Crowds the heat of mid summer and the bugs, I think a mail drop at Neel's Gap would be better than buying your food their. When i do it again i think i would start at the same time.:dance

MuddyWaters
04-09-2013, 21:57
Some stats from this year (3/30/13 - 4/8/13):

58 hikers started on April Fools Day not including 34 section hikers


I imagine 92 hikers would overcrowd a shelter or two. Good lord.
Apparently they never heard to start mid-week.

Great data. Thanks.
How do you get this , do you live in FS42 parking lot?

Perhaps the "real" unemployment rate , which is due to the large # of people that gave up looking, is partly responsible for this.

One way to look at it:
Assuming half started from Amicalola, and half from FS42
Also assuming the average distance covered was 10 miles, and everyone started between 7-1pm or so, they would be spread out over a potential 15 mile stretch or so.

Thats a hiker every 150 yds, for 15 miles.

Venchka
04-10-2013, 13:33
...
One way to look at it:
Assuming half started from Amicalola, and half from FS42
Also assuming the average distance covered was 10 miles, and everyone started between 7-1pm or so, they would be spread out over a potential 15 mile stretch or so.

Thats a hiker every 150 yds, for 15 miles.

Paraphrasing... "The Rocky mountains are calling and I must go." :cool:

21033

Wayne

perdidochas
04-10-2013, 15:04
Would you run a marathon without training?

Of course not.

Why would anyone consider embarking on a thru hike of the AT without training?

I've seen it too, a newby dragging 75 lbs up the approach trail.

Get out & hike before you start your thru. Give yourself a fighting chance to finish. You need experience, fitness, and mental preparation to keep your ass alive and on the trail.

My 2 cents

Do people seriously thru hike the AT as their first backpacking experience? I'm a novice backpacker (experienced car camper), and can't fathom that.

RED-DOG
04-10-2013, 15:30
Yes every year their are people that thru-hike the AT with no experience what so ever.

ChinMusic
04-10-2013, 15:43
Do people seriously thru hike the AT as their first backpacking experience? I'm a novice backpacker (experienced car camper), and can't fathom that.
I've seen this one kid from LA often over the past week that had never heard of the AT, nor backpacked, until 6 weeks before his start. Still going strong at Erwin.

max patch
04-10-2013, 16:30
Do people seriously thru hike the AT as their first backpacking experience? I'm a novice backpacker (experienced car camper), and can't fathom that.

Yup. My year it was 20 something female who maybe weighed 110 pounds soaking weight. Showed up at Springer with a 50 pound pack; made some adjustments at Neels Gap, and off she went. Cute girl; didn't suffer from lack of attention lol.

bigcranky
04-10-2013, 16:33
Do people seriously thru hike the AT as their first backpacking experience?

Yes, there are always some who do this. It's not a marathon, it's just walking interspersed with camping. Humans have been doing that since the dawn of human history.

Not sure there is any significant difference in the completion rates for raw noobs versus hikers with some backpacking experience.

MuddyWaters
04-10-2013, 19:01
Do people seriously thru hike the AT as their first backpacking experience?

Yep.
And for many of them , even successful ones, its also their last and only.
Go figure

Razor
04-10-2013, 19:41
MS sorry I missed you this year. Observations over the last four years confirm your facts and opinions. I would emphasize that pack weight is the single most factor to determine if you make it out of Georgia. Of course it is different for each individual and their is no standard. As far as numbers go,a trend to earlier starts is happening every year( 3-1 through 3-7 has been a hugh week until this year,because of teen temps). Also there are more waves on leaving created by the festivals and special dates (ie-soltice and 3-1). Thanks for your yearly support at the start .

mountain squid
04-11-2013, 09:58
Hi Razor. Hope you are not having to haul out too much abandoned stuff, but you probably are . . . (I did convince someone not to carry a camp chair at the trailhead, so at least you didn't have to haul that out . . . )

Razor is one of two GA Ridgerunners, Nachita is the other. Unfortunately many hikers that start off with heavy packs, decide that they don't want to carry something. That something might be left in a shelter or tossed to the side of the trail. Someone has to haul that stuff off the trail and Razor and Nachita usually do that. Not to forget the trash also . . . for some reason some hikers don't want to carry their own trash either . . . Thanks for all the hard work, Razor and Nachita!

Pack it in, Pack it out everyone!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

maintenance videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/mountainsquid04/videos)

mountain squid
04-07-2014, 16:15
Some stats from this year (3/29/14-4/6/14):

430 hikers currently on their way to ME with 198 starting from FS42
275 hikers heading to places in between with 101 starting from FS42
65 hikers started on Tuesday, April Fools Day (the most I had counted on any one day . . . . until Thursday . . . when I counted 71 hikers!!)
18 WhiteBlazers
18 four-legged companions

5 yellow taxis
5 returners
4 hand axes incl 2 that started together (I guess they don't share hatchets)
2 lost wallets and 1 lost phone
2 families
2 blind hikers (one on the BMT who did the AT in 2008)
1 75 pound pack, but was able to get into town and return with a 45# pack
1 5 pound pack*
1 seabag/duffel bag (no waist belt)
1 camp chair
1 hiker who has hiked from Key West
1 hiker who forgot a tent . . . but is having it sent to Neel Gap
1 bear sighting for the season, so far

Quite a few Germans, as well as hikers from Canada, Nova Scotia, England, China, Russia, Korea and Switzerland (also saw some locals from TN - 2 from Johnson City and 1 from Kingsport!).

It was 27f on Sunday morning (3/30) and all the trees were ice covered, as well as numerous tents I am sure. The rest of the week, the weather was pretty good, so there were numerous burned hikers . . . all it takes is one full day in the sun . . . OUCH!! Don't forget the sunscreen!

The 'preferred' route to FS42 parking area was in worse condition than recent years. There were quite a few potholes to maneuver around. I did see 2 Prius', a Yaris and a Mini-Cooper though, so it is manageable. Just drive slowly!

Amicalola Falls State Park had 1029 signed in as of 4/6.

Hope everyone is still having Fun!! Good Luck!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)


* She was 7 and carrying probably the cutest little cuben fiber pack you'll ever see!

Old Man Joe
04-07-2014, 17:12
Kudos to the one person who hiked from Key West for he truly did the Approach Trail.

ChinMusic
04-07-2014, 17:36
Kudos to the one person who hiked from Key West for he truly did the Approach Trail.
I think I might have met this guy while he was still on the Florida Trail in February. A hiker with that plan was hiking with Acorn when I brought her some pizzas.

flemdawg1
04-07-2014, 17:55
Ah the Seabag duffle, the ultimate newbie gear.

daddytwosticks
04-08-2014, 07:19
Ah the Seabag duffle, the ultimate newbie gear.

I had a hard time walking through an airport with my fully loaded seabag back in the stone age. Can't imagine carrying one of them for miles, especially if it starts raining and it gets wet. :)

mountain squid
04-08-2014, 18:53
I also saw several Alice Packs . . . . but the seabag definitely has to be just about the worst for carrying anything for any length of time. I reckon, if your shoulders get too sore, you can at least use the handle and carry it that way . . . :rolleyes::eek:

See you on the trail,
mt squid

norovirus awareness (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?100363-2014-Norovirus-Awareness)

4shot
04-09-2014, 07:26
Do people seriously thru hike the AT as their first backpacking experience? I'm a novice backpacker (experienced car camper), and can't fathom that.

I had never backpacked before deciding to thru hike. But I had spent plenty of times outdoors hunting, fishing, camping, etc. so I was comfortable being outside. I would say after 2 weeks the routine is pretty well figured out and I made some tweaks to my gear along the way which is easy enough (but a bit pricey) because you pass by an outfitter every few days it seems, especially if hiking NOBO. It wasn't a big deal (however, adapting physically to the trail was challenging).

Abatis1948
04-10-2014, 13:34
When I did the Approach Trail a couple weeks ago I was told to sign in "since I was leaving the park and not coming back". My wife was picking me up at FS42.
I also signed in on my section hike to Neel Gap last year. Four days of rain!!!! I also had to write in my destination.

mountain squid
04-24-2014, 18:36
* She was 7 and carrying probably the cutest little cuben fiber pack you'll ever see!:-? hmmm I wonder who has the 5# pack (http://kallinfamily.com/2014/04/18/april-17-some-days-are-perfect/)? :) (see the picture)

They seem to be having fun! (mostly)

See you on the trail,
mt squid

maintenance videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/mountainsquid04/videos)

Nooga
04-29-2014, 18:38
Ah the Seabag duffle, the ultimate newbie gear.

He was still on the trail at Stecoh Gap, with his machete and 2 qt plastic thermos.

mountain squid
04-06-2015, 13:02
Some stats from this year (3/28/15-4/5/15):

443 hikers currently on their way to ME with 266 starting from FS42
281 hikers to destinations somewhere between GA and Me with 148 starting from FS42
70 hikers started on 3/28 and 3/39 (Sat and Sun) (70 each day!)
63 started on 4/1 - April Fools is still a busy day and it was on Wed this yr
22 dogs
11 WhiteBlazers - where was everyone?

3 guys picking up trash on their journey (brought two big bags down incl a heavy, rectangular sleeping bag)
2 families with small children (Biff Network and Hiker Family - 15 hikers total)
1 barefoot hiker
1 hiker from Key West doing Eastern Continental Trail and another that started in FL
1 hiker/runner with 45 days to do the trail with support - said he was not going for the record though

There was one bear sighting near the summit of Springer. One night some hikers camped at the summit but were not visited by bear.

Josh from Hiker Hostel counted 44 cars on 3/28. It was very busy.

No flat tires this year but did see one with a busted transmission pan. 4x4 wrecker retrieved car for $125. Driver of the car said he wasn't driving too fast but he hit a pothole and leaked transmission fluid all the way to the parking area. Later in the week, one of the shuttlers informed me that the car was repaired and back on road by the end of the same day.

FS42 did have alot of potholes but driving slowly should avoid most. GPS seems to send most to the parking area via FS77. FS77 is not the preferred route for access. Everyone seems to make it ok, but it is steep and usually deeply rutted in places. Highly suggest to do research prior to arriving and take FS42 instead (most drivers leave the parking area via FS42 . . . . ).

I did see numerous hikers that had registered with ATC prior to starting. They had a placard (AT on one side and Leave No Trace ethics on the other) attached to their packs identifying them as such. I didn't know what it was initially. If it is used again next yr, I'll try to pay more attention to it. Some hikers did not receive it in time though.

On Friday, 3/27, there were 802 signed in at Amicalola Falls SP Visitor Center. On Sunday, 4/5, there were 1028 signed in. My stats from this year have 60% starting from FS42. I'm sure someone can come up with a formula for that, but I figure approx 2200-2300 are heading to ME.

Although I think I had the two coldest nights since I have been going down, overall the weather was really good this year. It was 22f (per vehicle) in the morning on 3/28 and 3/29. Very cold days but the sun was out. It rained most of the day on Thu, 4/2 and there were a couple of nights with thunderstorms. Otherwise the sun shined quite a bit. I'm sure more than a few hikers were not prepared for 20f nights though! brrrrr

Good Luck to everyone that is still out there! See you when you get to TN.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

norovirus awareness (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/109322-2015-Norovirus-Awareness)

Dholmblad
04-13-2015, 13:54
4 days to get to kneels gap? Are you guys crawling?..

mountain squid
04-28-2015, 17:33
In 2007 (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/109842-Considering-starting-the-trail-this-year-or-next) I attempted and got just outside of front royal. I had to stop because I was doing too many miles in too short of a time and my already 'bad' knees didn't want to do anymore. I was 19 at the time, and now I am 27.So, after almost 1000 miles you got injured but you would suggest inexperienced hikers (who have zero miles) to hike more miles than they comfortably can . . . especially at the beginning when very few hikers have 'hiker legs'?!?

At the beginning of the trail, the hikers that can make big miles without getting injured or being sore all over, are hikers that KNOW they can do the miles. And that is very, very few hikers. The guy this year that has 45 days to do the trail, I'm sure he KNOWS his abilities and probably made it past Neel Gap on day One.

Hikers should take it slow in the beginning. When I ask how far someone plans for the day, frequently I'm told "I'll get to Hawk Mountain Shelter and see how I feel . . . ". I wonder how many regret the decision to move on after climbing Sassafras, in the heat of the afternoon and without water . . .

I usually suggest to hikers that if they get to the shelter or campsite early, to set up camp, and just enjoy watching all the other hikers arrive . . . They can ease their body into the everyday rigors of hiking all day, every day . . . it probably takes most hikers 2-3 weeks before they get their 'hiker legs'.

Good Luck with the rest of your hike.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

(http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?100363-2014-Norovirus-Awareness)how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

g00gle
07-05-2015, 04:00
Thanks much for all the info and advice from everyone (and especially all the info from mountain squid!) Starting to think I might adjust my start date by a few days.

All of a sudden Thursday's are sounding really good. :D

mountain squid
07-14-2015, 19:06
Tue, Wed or Thu are probably the least busy days to start. Unless it is the 1st, 15th, 20th of Mar or April 1st. Those days are always busy regardless of the day of the week.

Of course, after 'The Movie' comes out it might be busy every day . . . :rolleyes:

See you on the trail,
mt squid

(http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?100363-2014-Norovirus-Awareness)maintenance videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/mountainsquid04/videos)
how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

mountain squid
04-06-2016, 16:51
Some stats from this year (3/26/16-4/2/16):

331 hikers currently on their way to ME with 151 starting from FS42
404 hikers to destinations somewhere between GA and ME with 219 starting from FS42
128 sectioners started on 4/2 (Saturday and I think that's the most I've seen start on one day)
52 thrus started on 4/2
40 thrus started on 4/1 (fewest since 2010)

33 blue tags indicating prior registration with ATC
17 dogs
3 skipped the top of Springer
only 3 WhiteBlazers
1 barefooter (I heard there was another one on the Approach with very heavy pack)
1 hiker attempting to be the youngest solo hiker
a whole bunch of military type ALICE packs
zero bear incidents

Thru hiker numbers were way down this year (not overall, just during my time there) but section hiker numbers were up. I suspect the ATC Registration process was successful in evenly distributing everyone. Very surprised that only 40 started on April Fools Day. The section hiker total for 4/2 makes me wonder how many stayed at Hawk Mountain Shelter or the new tent sites .5 mile before. (I left a day early because I wasn't feeling well on Sunday, so my numbers would have increased some.)

On 3/31, at 1600, 1151 had signed in with Amicalola Falls SP. Last year on 4/5 there were 1028 signed in, so definitely an increase overall.

The weather wasn't too bad. A couple of cold mornings in the 30s, a couple of rainy days, some typical thick fog. The wind was the worst however, especially on 4/2 (Saturday and Saturday night). I don't recall it being worse.

The parking area had some new signs including a 14 day parking limit. Not sure how they'll monitor that. Counted 43 cars on 4/2, Sat ... it was very busy!

Hope everyone's hike is going well ... Good Luck and Have Fun!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

(http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?100363-2014-Norovirus-Awareness)how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)
twitter (https://twitter.com/mountainsquid04)

If you struggle to put on your backpack, you're (probably) carrying too much!

WingedMonkey
04-06-2016, 17:57
404 hikers to destinations somewhere between GA and ME with 219 starting from FS42
128 sectioners started on 4/2 (Saturday and I think that's the most I've seen start on one day)

I just don't get it.

2,000 miles of trail (except what is still closed), why does everyone what to be part of a mob in Georgia?

mountain squid
04-06-2016, 19:45
I'm always scratching my head over why hikers choose to hike GA during the busy time. And every year there are several large groups.

There must be some unknown convenience factor ....

See you on the trail,
mt squid

Slo-go'en
04-06-2016, 21:50
I'm always scratching my head over why hikers choose to hike GA during the busy time. And every year there are several large groups.

There must be some unknown convenience factor ....

See you on the trail,
mt squid

It's all about the timing and the weather. There are good reasons the traditional thru hike is NOBO starting in late March or Early April. The only disadvantage is that so many other people also want to do a thru hike in recent years. Maybe we should have kept it a secret.

mountain squid
04-07-2016, 08:56
It's all about the timing and the weather. There are good reasons the traditional thru hike is NOBO starting in late March or Early April. The only disadvantage is that so many other people also want to do a thru hike in recent years. Maybe we should have kept it a secret.Uhhh, yeah. I know why thru hikers start in April. I was referring to the 128 section hikers as WingedMonkey did in the previous post. With so many places to hike, why do so many section hikers still choose to hike during the busy time for thru hikers in GA? Probably most of the section hikers don't realize how crowded it will be during this time frame...

See you on the trail,
mt squid

tdoczi
04-07-2016, 09:07
Uhhh, yeah. I know why thru hikers start in April. I was referring to the 128 section hikers as WingedMonkey did in the previous post. With so many places to hike, why do so many section hikers still choose to hike during the busy time for thru hikers in GA? Probably most of the section hikers don't realize how crowded it will be during this time frame...

See you on the trail,
mt squid

or they wan to join the party, for some reason. or they somehow feel like at the beginning at the time when people begin is the "right" way to start a section hike for some odd reason. people who insist on beginning their section hikes (ie, as their first AT section hike of a possible planned eventual completing of the trail) at springer (or katahdin) are curious to me in general. i wonder how many people who go to springer to hike the first however many miles one weekend ever go back for a second weekend, let alone ever finish the whole trail by any method and in any sequence. seems to me like a severely overused section of the trail for no real good reason.

Auto Draft
04-07-2016, 11:09
Mountain Squid, I love your statistics and it was really nice meeting you on my first day last year (I'm one of the April 1st people). Thanks for the honey bun! The statistics are really interesting to me.

A lot of section hikers may start out on Springer in the busiest days to support their friends who are attempting a thru. I had a few section hiker friends early on the trail last year where that was the case.

Slo-go'en
04-07-2016, 11:31
I've joined the wannabe thru hikers in April to do the Springer to Marion VA section a number of times. I think it's the best time of year to do that section with the cool temps, no worries about water and with all the wild flowers and trees blooming. I suppose many of the other section hikers go there at that time for the same reasons. I was lucky enough to do all those hikes before it got so totally crazy and now that it has, I may not ever do that trip again as it would just add to the chaos. Too bad since spring in New England isn't nearly as good, fall is when you want to be up here.

daddytwosticks
04-07-2016, 20:35
I did a section hike from AFSP to Neels back in mid April 2010. I think I met Mr. Squid in the Springer Mtn parking lot. I just wanted to "experience" the craziness. I wasn't disappointed. Quite a mix of "interesting" hikers. Athough I'm sure I was just as "interesting" to many of them. I had a blast despite the crowded shelters, overflowing privvys, and circuis-like atmosphere. :)

WingedMonkey
04-07-2016, 20:49
I did a section hike from AFSP to Neels back in mid April 2010. I think I met Mr. Squid in the Springer Mtn parking lot. I just wanted to "experience" the craziness. I wasn't disappointed. Quite a mix of "interesting" hikers. Athough I'm sure I was just as "interesting" to many of them. I had a blast despite the crowded shelters, overflowing privvys, and circuis-like atmosphere. :)

Thank you, at least you are honest in why you were there.

egilbe
04-07-2016, 21:59
:-? hmmm I wonder who has the 5# pack (http://kallinfamily.com/2014/04/18/april-17-some-days-are-perfect/)? :) (see the picture)

They seem to be having fun! (mostly)

See you on the trail,
mt squid

maintenance videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/mountainsquid04/videos)

My gf and I met the Kallin family at a Maine Huts and trails event Sponsored by the Nature Conservancy last year. I wish I had known they were through hikers. I should have known by how fast they all hiked. The weekend was interesting. Next day I watched one of the videos by Squatch and he interviewed them and I almost fell out of my chair when I recognized them. They were also in a series of photograghic portraits taken in New York that was being promoted by the ATC on Facebook tonight, and now this post. It's getting too weird.

mountain squid
04-05-2017, 18:34
Some stats from this year (3/24/17-4/3/17):

493 hikers currently on their way to Maine with 230 starting from FS42 (47%)
353 hikers currently on their way to somewhere in between GA and ME with 205 starting from FS42 (58%)
283 day hikers (I'm sure this number is way off ...)
105 section hikers started on 4/1
73 thrus started on 4/2
72 thrus started on 4/1 Saturday
65 thrus started on 3/28 surprising for a Tuesday
3 SOBOs finished their hikes - Congrats!

88 yellow tags indicating prior online registration with ATC (I'm sure there were more)
21 dogs including 1 chihuahua
11 WhiteBlazers
9 German hikers
5 Swiss hikers
2 from Denmark, Canada and Australia and 1 from England
2 abandoned backpacks at various places
2 hikers with one leg and 1 hiker with one arm
1 barefoot hiker
1 skateboard - don't ask me?!?
1 school bus - I guess they made it ok

It was very busy on April 1st, not only did 177 hikers begin their hikes, but 'A Walk in the Woods, part 2' began filming near Stover Creek Shelter .... :-? :rolleyes:

No major vehicle problems but one hiker locked his keys in the car. After unsuccessful attempts to open door with cars antenna had to be rescued by parents with spare key. Another vehicle thought he might run out of gas.

Outside Magazine was doing some interviews and research for an article. There was also a couple of photographers taking photos and videos of hikers. They may show up at Trail Days. There was also a 70 mile, 24 hour, race through the mountains nearby. I heard Karl Meltzer came in 3rd...

Saw the typical heavy packs with numerous items dangling from the outside. The lightest claimed weight was 18#.

On 3/24, at 1700, there were 1200 signed in at Amicalola Falls SP. On 4/3, at 1345, 1522 had signed in at Amicalola Falls SP.

Overall it was a good time down in GA. The weather was also typical - several nighttime thunderstorms, very foggy days, low temps were in the 50s (no real cold nights) with a few days in the 70s.

Good Luck and Have Fun everyone! See you in TN and at Trail Days!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

twitter (https://twitter.com/mountainsquid04)

daddytwosticks
04-06-2017, 08:00
...A Walk in the Woods part 2? Are you kidding?

MuddyWaters
04-06-2017, 08:20
177 hikers on april 1

Remember when no one could believe 50

Georgia permits coming

Slo-go'en
04-06-2017, 11:57
What the difference between the 353 hikers going somewhere between GA and ME and the 105 section hikers? Oh, I think I just answered my own question, 105 of those 353 started on the 1st.

21 dogs, seem to be about average. Good thing most of them won't last long. Same with the barefoot hiker.

In 2 weeks I'll be down there too. It will be interesting to be following behind 1600 (rounding up a little) people. I wonder how trashed the trail, shelters and privies will be?

Zed
04-06-2017, 13:16
In 2 weeks I'll be down there too. It will be interesting to be following behind 1600 (rounding up a little) people. I wonder how trashed the trail, shelters and privies will be?

Exactly my thoughts. I'm starting NOBO in 1 week and trying to remain positive, but the sheer numbers are overwhelming.

colorado_rob
04-06-2017, 13:45
Exactly my thoughts. I'm starting NOBO in 1 week and trying to remain positive, but the sheer numbers are overwhelming.Having first hiked the AT in 2013 (1000 miles of it), then repeating the first 280 miles just this March, I can say that the look of the trail is quite different in only 4 short years. It truly is way more crowded and the shelters were completely full and overflowing every night. Perhaps it will have dropped off a bit when you start; we started on March 9th. So basically, I advise even more than before, avoid the shelters! Total zoos last month. One bad thing that won't apply to those starting now: we kept running into huge (10-20 kids) high school and college groups on spring break doing week-long sections, this added greatly to the crowded mess.

And when approaching a town and wanting accommodations, think about booking ahead; we found things to be mostly booked up.

On the actual trail though, no changes in the last 4 years, folks spread out nicely of course, I noticed no difference on trail.

Zed
04-06-2017, 13:56
Thanks for the info. Having already completed the Ouachita Trail and a late season Colorado Trail thru hike, camping alone and avoiding shelters is not something I will have a problem with. It's more the signs of impact that I'm going to have to work on not getting me down. Trashed out fire rings, toilet paper blooms, large groups taking a break directly on the trail, audible music. This is what I've experienced in the past, and gets me down. I've gotten better about not letting it effect me, but it's a work in progress.

colorado_rob
04-06-2017, 15:02
.... Trashed out fire rings, toilet paper blooms, large groups taking a break directly on the trail, audible music. .... Definitely at a lot if not all of the shelters and popular campsites, like Justice creek (mile 15 on the trail), a real mess in spots, at least as of 3 weeks ago and it could probably only be worse now, but really, on the trail itself, I saw no signs of overuse. It is a BIG trail!

PennyPincher
04-06-2017, 15:34
Definitely at a lot if not all of the shelters and popular campsites, like Justice creek (mile 15 on the trail), a real mess in spots, at least as of 3 weeks ago and it could probably only be worse now, but really, on the trail itself, I saw no signs of overuse. It is a BIG trail!

I've already heard reports of contaminated water at one shelter and noro outbreak.

colorado_rob
04-06-2017, 15:41
I've already heard reports of contaminated water at one shelter and noro outbreak. If it's a flowing source, how does it become "contaminated" ?? I've no doubt Noro is being passed around through all sorts of contact, but I personally doubt if it has anything to do with a flowing water source. People make assumptions based on emotions.

PennyPincher
04-06-2017, 15:45
If it's a flowing source, how does it become "contaminated" ?? I've no doubt Noro is being passed around through all sorts of contact, but I personally doubt if it has anything to do with a flowing water source. People make assumptions based on emotions.

Not sure which source it was but yes flowing water can be contaminated. Not saying what it was contaminated with. That report was separate from the noro report.

Zed
04-06-2017, 15:50
I saw a post on Facebook a couple of weeks ago about contamination somewhere around Gooch gap. Another post followed up saying it was a hoax. Notes were being signed by a "ridge runner" but the ridge runner for that section said it wasn't them.

colorado_rob
04-06-2017, 15:51
Not sure which source it was but yes flowing water can be contaminated. Not saying what it was contaminated with. That report was separate from the noro report. Flowing water can only become contaminated briefly, like if a guy with the virus was puking his/her guts (or pooping) upstream, hopefully a very rare event. "Contamination" would quickly be washed away. HOW on earth would anyone have any idea that a water source is "contaminated???

Please don't imagine problems. Just don't touch stuff around shelters. I would bet those shelter registers are the #1 source of noro (and other viruses) being passed around.

Sarcasm the elf
04-06-2017, 15:52
After reading the most recent of Mountain Squid's hiker updates, I thought I'd go back and look at the first set of numbers reported in 2006. It's a start contrast.


To clarify, from 01 APR to 10 APR, I counted 168 “thru” hikers after they summitted Springer as follows:

01 Apr - 29
02 Apr - 35
03 Apr - 21
04 Apr - 18
05 Apr - 14
06 Apr - 9
07 Apr - 10
08 Apr - 14
09 Apr - 13
10 Apr - 5

Again, this does not include “section” hikers. My tick marks for section hikers adds up to only 88 (I know I missed a bunch of them). I only saw one quit on the top of Springer.

I agree with Peaks concerning start dates. If you look at the Class of 2006 (Whiteblaze thru-hikers) you can see when most began their hike. After the second weekend of April, things start slowing down.

I don’t know why most start in March. Not only do you have to take a number to summit, but it is also cold and will likely be cold for another month. I started my hike on 20 APR 04. Had great weather (even in the Smokies) and although it was busy at the shelters (actually, the shelters themselves were mostly empty - most were tenting), they were not over-crowded (except in the Smokies, where, for some reason, 80 Marines were hiking).

See you on the trail,
mt squid.



Some stats from this year (3/24/17-4/3/17):

493 hikers currently on their way to Maine with 230 starting from FS42 (47%)
353 hikers currently on their way to somewhere in between GA and ME with 205 starting from FS42 (58%)
283 day hikers (I'm sure this number is way off ...)
105 section hikers started on 4/1
73 thrus started on 4/2
72 thrus started on 4/1 Saturday
65 thrus started on 3/28 surprising for a Tuesday
3 SOBOs finished their hikes - Congrats!

88 yellow tags indicating prior online registration with ATC (I'm sure there were more)
21 dogs including 1 chihuahua
11 WhiteBlazers
9 German hikers
5 Swiss hikers
2 from Denmark, Canada and Australia and 1 from England
2 abandoned backpacks at various places
2 hikers with one leg and 1 hiker with one arm
1 barefoot hiker
1 skateboard - don't ask me?!?
1 school bus - I guess they made it ok

It was very busy on April 1st, not only did 177 hikers begin their hikes, but 'A Walk in the Woods, part 2' began filming near Stover Creek Shelter .... :-? :rolleyes:

No major vehicle problems but one hiker locked his keys in the car. After unsuccessful attempts to open door with cars antenna had to be rescued by parents with spare key. Another vehicle thought he might run out of gas.

Outside Magazine was doing some interviews and research for an article. There was also a couple of photographers taking photos and videos of hikers. They may show up at Trail Days. There was also a 70 mile, 24 hour, race through the mountains nearby. I heard Karl Meltzer came in 3rd...

Saw the typical heavy packs with numerous items dangling from the outside. The lightest claimed weight was 18#.

On 3/24, at 1700, there were 1200 signed in at Amicalola Falls SP. On 4/3, at 1345, 1522 had signed in at Amicalola Falls SP.

Overall it was a good time down in GA. The weather was also typical - several nighttime thunderstorms, very foggy days, low temps were in the 50s (no real cold nights) with a few days in the 70s.

Good Luck and Have Fun everyone! See you in TN and at Trail Days!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

twitter (https://twitter.com/mountainsquid04)

Zed
04-06-2017, 15:55
I would bet those shelter registers are the #1 source of noro (and other viruses) being passed around.

I can't count the number of times I've seen on YouTube someone eating while flipping thru the register. Nasty!

Sarcasm the elf
04-06-2017, 15:56
The 105 sections hikers listed starting on 4/1 really does surprise me. I have now been down to Georgia to hike twice, once in May and once in Early October. Both of these times of year provided ideal conditions and the the trail had a moderate number of people on it, not empty, but certainly not crowded.

My advice to my fellow section hikers is to avoid Georgia in March and April if possible.

Sarcasm the elf
04-06-2017, 16:01
I've already heard reports of contaminated water at one shelter and noro outbreak.

It is far more common for Norovirus to be spread by contact with people or contaminated surfaces than it is to be contracted through "bad" water.

Unfortunately hand sanitizer is not completely effective against Norovirus, the best advice is for hikers to resort to hand washing using soap and water, and as stated by others above, Avoid things that are heavily handled by others like Log books and picnic tables.

soilman
04-06-2017, 18:02
The 105 sections hikers listed starting on 4/1 really does surprise me. I have now been down to Georgia to hike twice, once in May and once in Early October. Both of these times of year provided ideal conditions and the the trail had a moderate number of people on it, not empty, but certainly not crowded.

My advice to my fellow section hikers is to avoid Georgia in March and April if possible.

I agree. I have a hard time understanding why someone would start a section hike at this time, especially if they truly want to help reduce the impact of numbers on the trail.

MuddyWaters
04-06-2017, 19:25
I agree. I have a hard time understanding why someone would start a section hike at this time, especially if they truly want to help reduce the impact of numbers on the trail.


Obviously...they dont
For some reason they want to be part of the scene

PennyPincher
04-06-2017, 19:37
Obviously...they dont
For some reason they want to be part of the scene

I'm doing a section starting Wednesday and starting from Springer. It's not that I wanted to be "part of the scene." Part of it is my OCD (must do things from the start) but more importantly it was originally to help get my friend back on the trail from last year. She started at HF and hiked about 350 miles. I had originally suggested we start nearer the end of April, I would stick with her 2-4 weeks. She would continue to HF and then flip to K and go SOBO, finishing her hike. Then plans changed. I decided I wanted to try to spend 30 days on trail AND be home for my anniversary. At the same time, her plans changed and she wasn't sure if she was going and we agreed to make our own plans. So I made my plan and then she decided she could go with me. I have no idea if I will do the whole 30 days I planned on or how far I will make it. I really miss my husband when we are apart. No idea how long she will hike either or if she will attempt to complete the trail this year as she has so many new things going on in her life.

bigcranky
04-06-2017, 19:48
We're starting a section Saturday. Why? Because it's when I can get the time off work. Yeah, it'll be crowded. OK. Done the GA section three times now, twice in March and once in June, and there are always people out.

capehiker
04-06-2017, 19:57
I started 4/2. It was great to meet Mountain Squid finally. Really great guy!

To clear up the Norovirus issue-I'm currently off trail due to contracting it. Everyone but one in the group of six I'm with is doubled over the toilet right now. I know of an additional 4 people who are in Neel Gap with the same. We all think is was from the trail magic at Woody Gap on Tuesday as that is the only common denominator. Some are saying it was the water buffalo at Cooper Gap but nobody from my group got water from there. I think it's really easy to place blame on water, but I truly believe it was the mass gathering of hikers with dirty hands digging into food and signing their register (interestingly the one person who is not sick did not sign the register).

I have heard what having Norovirus feels like but hopefully you'll never have to experience it. At 3am all I wanted to do was die. It is the worst. It sucks this happened so early into my hike but I'm still pumped to get to Maine. On the plus side, the weather hasn't been ideal so by the time I'm back hiking, it'll be sunny.

Christoph
04-06-2017, 20:11
I started April 19th, 2015. The trail was very clean (surprisingly from what I've read on here) and while the shelters had a few people in them, they weren't crowded by any means. I hike fairly fast and passed a few "crowds" of the party animals trying to get to Damascus. Still, nothing to be concerned about. This year I'm headed out on the 11th (5 days to go woohoo!!!) and suspect the trail should be about in the same condition. Haven't heard too much on Noro or anything crazy yet, but taking proper precautions. I'll filter more (I hardly filtered last time and got lucky) and hand sanitizer, etc... As for the crowds, I didn't experience too much but maybe my definition is different than others. Never could I not stay in a shelter except in the Smokies, but it was clean and organized. Hopefully this year is the same.

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 20:14
...A Walk in the Woods part 2? Are you kidding?

Reconsider the date ..... and think about it ... :D

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 20:24
177 hikers on april 1

Remember when no one could believe 50

Georgia permits comingYeah, that might be. I don't think too many (if any) of the section hikers pre-registered online and the thru hiker total surpassed the 60 hiker threshold per day (30 on Approach Trail and 30 from FS42). It is also possible that pre-registered thru hikers changed their start date without updating online. Not sure what can be done.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 20:40
What the difference between the 353 hikers going somewhere between GA and ME and the 105 section hikers? Oh, I think I just answered my own question, 105 of those 353 started on the 1st. You did answer your own question!


In 2 weeks I'll be down there too. It will be interesting to be following behind 1600 (rounding up a little) people. I wonder how trashed the trail, shelters and privies will be?

If you're considering 1600 thru hikers, I would say it would be more like 2500-3000. It is almost 50/50 between starting points. So if Amicalola has 1600 starters, almost double that to include starters at FS42. (Some FS42 starters do sign in at Amicalola though.) The Springer Mountain Shelter privy was already pretty nasty ... hopefully it'll be cleaner by then.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 20:48
Exactly my thoughts. I'm starting NOBO in 1 week and trying to remain positive, but the sheer numbers are overwhelming.I suspect it should start to slow down, but clearly there are alot of hikers ahead of you. I know that the ATC Ridgerunners (and probably the GATC Ambassadors, as well) have been hauling out trash and abandoned gear.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 20:52
One bad thing that won't apply to those starting now: we kept running into huge (10-20 kids) high school and college groups on spring break doing week-long sections, this added greatly to the crowded mess.I did see several Boy Scout groups.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 20:55
I saw a post on Facebook a couple of weeks ago about contamination somewhere around Gooch gap. Another post followed up saying it was a hoax. Notes were being signed by a "ridge runner" but the ridge runner for that section said it wasn't them.That is what I heard ... and there was no confirmation.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 20:59
After reading the most recent of Mountain Squid's hiker updates, I thought I'd go back and look at the first set of numbers reported in 2006. It's a start contrast.Very interesting...I hadn't even compared the numbers. Quite the contrast indeed! Thanks for the comparison.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

PennyPincher
04-06-2017, 21:07
I suspect it should start to slow down, but clearly there are alot of hikers ahead of you. I know that the ATC Ridgerunners (and probably the GATC Ambassadors, as well) have been hauling out trash and abandoned gear.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

Let them know we all appreciate their efforts. And yours.

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 21:10
I started 4/2. It was great to meet Mountain Squid finally. Really great guy!

To clear up the Norovirus issue-I'm currently off trail due to contracting it. Everyone but one in the group of six I'm with is doubled over the toilet right now. I know of an additional 4 people who are in Neel Gap with the same. We all think is was from the trail magic at Woody Gap on Tuesday as that is the only common denominator. Some are saying it was the water buffalo at Cooper Gap but nobody from my group got water from there. I think it's really easy to place blame on water, but I truly believe it was the mass gathering of hikers with dirty hands digging into food and signing their register (interestingly the one person who is not sick did not sign the register).

I have heard what having Norovirus feels like but hopefully you'll never have to experience it. At 3am all I wanted to do was die. It is the worst. It sucks this happened so early into my hike but I'm still pumped to get to Maine. On the plus side, the weather hasn't been ideal so by the time I'm back hiking, it'll be sunny.It was great to meet you too!

Sorry you got sick. Being sick on the trail is not fun ... get well soon!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-06-2017, 21:15
Let them know we all appreciate their efforts. And yours.

They definitely work hard! Thanks!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

soilman
04-06-2017, 22:38
The 105 sections hikers listed starting on 4/1 really does surprise me.

This number is low. About 75% of those heading to ME are section hikers, they just don't know it yet.

mountain squid
04-04-2018, 10:35
Some stats from this year:

441 hikers currently on their way to ME with 148 starting from FS42 (34% - I think the lower % might be because ATC has been encouraging to start from the Approach Trail.)
401 hikers currently on their way to places between GA and ME with 198 starting from FS42 (49%)
90 sectioners began 3/31
63 thrus began 3/25
25 international hikers (8 Germans, 4 Australians, 3 Swiss, 2 New Zealanders, 2 Swedes, 2 Canadians, and 1 from Bulgaria, Denmark, Norway and England)
14 hikers got off trail for various reasons (7 on 3/26, Mon - a very cold, windy day)
2 SOBO Flippers completed their long distance journey
2 planning to hike CDT after completion
2 hiked from Key West
1 barefoot hiker
1 cart

I have finally seen another hiker with a cart. This hiker made it further than the first one I saw, but I believe he finally got rid of it. It only took him 5 days to do the Approach Trail ...

April 1st was not as busy as I thought it would be, given that it was on a weekend (it was also Easter Sunday so maybe that had something to do with only 55 thrus and 44 sectioners).

I did see lots of orange hang tags from ATC. They were giving them out at the Approach Trail after the hikers registered. ATC was also giving information classes for those beginning their long distance journey. On 3/23 at 1500, 1443 hikers had registered and on 4/2 at 1500, 1823 hikers had registered at Amicalola Falls State Park.

In the past, the Hiker Hostel would drop off 10-15 hikers everyday between 0900-1000. As you may know, they sold it last year and now it is Barefoot Hills resort. I saw them drop off only 6 hikers. I don't think NOBO long distance hikers are their clientele ...

It was another good year with typical weather. Cold, windy, foggy .... the sun made a few brief appearances.Hope everyone's hike is going well ... Good Luck and Have Fun!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

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4shot
04-05-2018, 21:22
squid...thanks for your annual reports. I always look forward to your post because it's one of two things (along with the Masters golf tournament) that (imo) signifies the 'official" start of spring. I had the pleasure of meeting you up there on the mountain when i started my hike a few years ago.

Ethesis
04-06-2018, 15:13
Hi Razor. Hope you are not having to haul out too much abandoned stuff, but you probably are . . . (I did convince someone not to carry a camp chair at the trailhead, so at least you didn't have to haul that out . . . )

Razor is one of two GA Ridgerunners, Nachita is the other. Unfortunately many hikers that start off with heavy packs, decide that they don't want to carry something. That something might be left in a shelter or tossed to the side of the trail. Someone has to haul that stuff off the trail and Razor and Nachita usually do that. Not to forget the trash also . . . for some reason some hikers don't want to carry their own trash either . . . Thanks for all the hard work, Razor and Nachita!

Pack it in, Pack it out everyone!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

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Ive been amazed at the things I’ve seen. Steel car cup (with ice still in it), yoga Matt’s, etc.


Not to mention the stories I’ve heard.

Or the mail drops of mail more than more than a year old sitting on a shelf at a hotel with the hiker box.

MuddyWaters
04-06-2018, 17:16
Ive been amazed at the things I’ve seen. Steel car cup (with ice still in it), yoga Matt’s, etc.


Not to mention the stories I’ve heard.

Or the mail drops of mail more than more than a year old sitting on a shelf at a hotel with the hiker box.

Coolers are very common. Soft sided, and occassionally hard sided small ones. Pillows, Frying pans, lanterns, folding shovels, camp chairs, flashlights, radios, books, heavy water bottles. It doesn't take many miles at all before some people realize "I've made a huge mistake".

Zed
04-06-2018, 17:19
Interesting that over 1800 have registered by 4/2. I was #1775 on 4/13 last year.

mountain squid
04-06-2018, 19:28
squid...thanks for your annual reports. I always look forward to your post because it's one of two things (along with the Masters golf tournament) that (imo) signifies the 'official" start of spring. I had the pleasure of meeting you up there on the mountain when i started my hike a few years ago.You're Welcome, 4shot. I always enjoy going down there.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-06-2018, 19:36
Interesting that over 1800 have registered by 4/2. I was #1775 on 4/13 last year.They've been encouraging hikers to hike the approach trail. As mentioned, I saw a lower percentage start via FS42 than in years past. Plus February had pretty good weather.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

mountain squid
04-14-2019, 11:00
Another good time down at Springer Mountain this year. Some stats:

354 hikers currently on their way to ME (104 started from FS42)
316 hikers hiking to destinations between GA and ME (152 started from FS42) - quite a few headed to GA/NC border
51 thrus and 62 sectioners started on 3/31
39 international hikers including 10 from Canada, 9 from Germany, 8 from England, 3 from South Africa, 2 from Taiwan and Australian and 1 from New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Slovenia.

April Fools Day was not very busy this year. 42 thrus and 36 sectioners. 62 thru-hikers were online registered with ATC. Many of them must have either changed their start date or did not start at all.It was probably 20 degrees on Springer on April Fools morning. I am sure there were many very cold hikers that night.

By the end of the week temps were in the 70s. Nevertheless, NEVER get rid of your cold weather gear until at least past Mount Rogers in VA. Don't even think about it!

The color of choice for the ATC Registration Tag this year was Red. I saw many of them attached to backpacks. Hikers receive them from the Amicalola Falls SP Visitor Center after registering their hike. I think primarily it is for thru-hikers but I did see some section hikers with them. Ridgerunner Nick has been giving a talk to hikers which includes a demonstration of the PCT bear hang method.

Given the Bear Canister Required zone between Jarrard Gap and Neel Gap there are some hikers that do carry a bear canister. If you camp in this zone, you are required to have one. It is 5 miles, so most hikers will not camp in this area and therefore do not carry a canister. USFS Rangers do patrol here so don't get caught camping without a canister. I think it is an $80 fine ... and you will probably have to pack up and hike out in the middle of the night.

On 3/29 at 1700, 1631 hikers had registered at AFSP and on 4/7, at 1421, 1991 hikers had registered.Fewer thru-hikers are starting via the FS42 parking area (29%).

As I mentioned last year, ATC is encouraging hikers to hike the Approach Trail. I also wonder, though, how much the Hiker Hostel not operating anymore influences this. The FS42 percentage would be higher if the Hiker Hostel was still dropping off 10-15 hikers/day at FS42. (Assuming 10 extra hikers/day would boost the percentage to 54%.) Although some of the ones I did see had their Red Tags, indicating that they stopped by the Visitor Center first.

Hope everyone's hike is going well. Good Luck and Have Fun!

See you on the trail,
mt squid
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