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Biloxi
09-04-2006, 00:36
hello everyone I am trying to get as much info as possible for my upcoming winter hike, it should get underway around october 9th from springer,I know the weather will be variable from warm to cold and always possibility of snow.I feel I will be well prepared equipment wise, and have plenty of time. I would like to hear if any of you have winter expieriance..thx

rickb
09-04-2006, 07:41
Probabably obvious stuff, but FWIW:

Here is a link to hunting seasons along the AT. Blaze orange might not be a bad idea.

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/site/c.jkLXJ8MQKtH/b.1252301/k.3705/2005_Hunting_Seasons_Chart.htm

And here is a link showing hours of daylight by latitude.

http://www.davidcmartin.com/Nav/Sunrise/sunrise.htm

woodsy
09-04-2006, 07:43
Well I have winter hiking experience in the NE if you make it this far. Maine and NH to be exact. Ice is a serious problem some winters from Nov thru April- May. Crampons, cleated snowshoes, ice ax are often standard equiptment
as are winter tent, footwear, -0 deg. clothing and sleeping bag. It is not uncommon to have -20 to -30 deg temps at elevation overnight with winds howling 30-40 mph. It is serious recreation in the winter. A well thought out survival/emergency kit is mandatory. A hiking partner is also standard but not mandatory, just smart. Snow storms can leave you hunkered down for days so a weeks supply of food in many areas would be necessary.
You will be taking on a daunting challenge . Good luck

Crazy Larry #1
09-04-2006, 09:03
I suggest you carry two sets of Yak Traks with you until you start to run into heavier snows, then snowshoes are your next best bet unless the snow is navigable. I've did a good bit of winter hiking, but when the snow became too deep I got off the trail.

You need a good four season tent that will withstand wind really good, the key to staying warm is to keep the wind off of you. I suggest a tent like Mt Hardwear Kiva Midpole. This tent has no floor but what I used was and emergency blanket. These come with floor options, however I feel it is best to do without one because in the morning when you come out of your bag you will be moving rapidly to stay warm and you want a tent that you can break down and stuff in a compression bag fairly fast.

Next thing I suggest is a good Thermarest, thick. After you set your tent up, lay your emergency blanket on the ground inside, your Thermarest right on top of that, then your sleeping bag.

I would suggest you might carry two emergency blankets because on the coldest nights laying one over your sleeping bag helps keep the warmth centered close to your body. Don't go getting a cheap emergency blanket. The one I have cost about fifteen to twenty dollars a piece. These either have a red or blue backing and an aluminum with plastic lining and are three layered with a mesh of some sort.

When it comes to a sleeping bag, I suggest you get a zero bag with Polarguard or Hallofill as the filling. I don't care what people tell you on here about goose down, stay away from it. You want a bag that you can crawl into soaking wet or with ice hanging off of you and that you can warm up in fairly quick and that will dry you off. There has been a many nights I crawled into my bag freezing cold, wet with ice and awoke in the morning dry. A good bag will probably weigh 4-6 pounds.

Do not leave your boots or water bottles out! Put these things into your bag with you! But in case your hard headed and need to learn things the hard way, then leave them out there in the cold and you'll wake up to very frozen shoes and water bottles, not too much fun.

About the tent. It's big enough for two people with gear. So it's big enough to cook in and has good ventilation....

fiddlehead
09-04-2006, 22:09
I did a SOBO in 2001/2002 starting Oct 14.
You probably won't see any other hikers. (we saw 5 from Katahdin to Springer except for the 1st 2 weeks and the last 2 weeks)
Nights are very long. (i'd get a good sleeping bag) and carry a headlamp (i don't usually)
You'll love the solitude and views. (at least i did, this is the only time of year you can have solitude on the AT and the views are as good as they get)
You won't have a problem finding the trail (even in the snow, you can figure it out usually)
Most all hostels are closed, most of the state parks that you go thru are closed, many of the hotels along the way are closed.
Dry socks is your best friend. those long, cold nights your enemy.
Doing it northbound means you may get to New England before you can get thru.
Unless you go really slow, it may be really tough to get thru the ice and snow. (read up on Brian Robinson's NOBO winter attempt to start his triple crown one year)
You will love doing a winter hike as long as you can deal with the solitude.
(this is one time i wouldn 't carry a tent. Shelters will all be empty except perhaps sometimes on weekends)

I see you're from Mississippi. better make that a -10 deg. bag
when you do put out your water bottle, place it upside down. the ice freezes on top first.
learn about the hot water bottle trick. (search whiteblaze)
keep an open mind about the down vs. synthetic and see what the more experienced are using.
check out the trick using sheet metal screws instead of heavy crampons. I only had to use them once in the 2100+ miles. (and that was in the whites) (the smokies turned out to be beautiful and guess what: no hikers! except friends who came to visit us and folks one mile from newfound gap)

The Solemates
09-05-2006, 11:12
hello everyone I am trying to get as much info as possible for my upcoming winter hike, it should get underway around october 9th from springer,I know the weather will be variable from warm to cold and always possibility of snow.I feel I will be well prepared equipment wise, and have plenty of time. I would like to hear if any of you have winter expieriance..thx

dude...good luck in january and february in new england....i hope you know what you are getting in to. (we were in maine this past weekend and it was around freezing at night in the beginning of sept, and we had 70mph gusts during the day)

i assume you are aware you will have to have special permission to climb in baxter...

Wolf - 23000
09-05-2006, 17:30
I've done the whole AT in the winter - section hiked. The only months that counted were Jan & Feb.

It is possible to do what you attempting. If your trying to avoid real brutal temp then you need to make it past VT before winter really sets in. It will still get COLD but VT north is a step be on COLD in the winter.

Wolf

Biloxi
09-05-2006, 17:59
wolf thx for your reply. yea. I guess I would leave katahdin october 9th in order to hopefully avoid the brutal weather.I fully expect to be cold but am trying to avoid any MAJOR snowfall.how far and how quickly do you think I would need to get to avoid said circumstances..also if the huts are closed thru the whites and your not supposed to tent in certain areas then what? :-?

rickb
09-05-2006, 18:57
You are welcome to camp above treeline in the winter without breaking any rules, just so long as you pitch your tent on 2 feet of snow pack. :banana

(But plenty of people make it through the Whites in all seasons camping legally, without staying at a hut)

woodsy
09-05-2006, 19:29
Heavy snow in the NE usually arrives after Dec. However, icing on trails can make for difficult hiking in Dec., depending on rainfall, lack of snow. Snow can make for solid footing on steep trails. Last winter was treacherous hiking from Dec thru May due to icy trails and lack of snowfall. If you go SOBO in OCT, you may miss much of the worst winter here has to offer....a wise choice

weary
09-05-2006, 22:16
hello everyone I am trying to get as much info as possible for my upcoming winter hike, it should get underway around october 9th from springer,I know the weather will be variable from warm to cold and always possibility of snow.I feel I will be well prepared equipment wise, and have plenty of time. I would like to hear if any of you have winter expieriance..thx
I winter hiked in two or three night backpacks -- sometimes longer -- 2-4 times a year in Maine for 30 years.

All of New England is doable in those kinds of hikes in Winter. The difficulty comes when you are doing such things day after day, weeks at a time. Then you don't have easy escape routes or places to dry out and rest.

Also four of five people can snowshoe together as fast, or faster, than they could hike in summer. But it is exhausting for one person to be continually breaking trail. Mr. Clean (no not the White Blaze Mr. Clean) a powerful hiker found he couldn't do much more than 3 miles a day. Figure that into your plans.

Certainly try to get out of Vermont by mid-December or earlier. But be prepared -- and willing -- to take several days, maybe many days off if storms appear early. Noerthern New England can be dangerous in winter.

Weary

Wolf - 23000
09-08-2006, 16:07
wolf thx for your reply. yea. I guess I would leave katahdin october 9th in order to hopefully avoid the brutal weather.I fully expect to be cold but am trying to avoid any MAJOR snowfall.how far and how quickly do you think I would need to get to avoid said circumstances..also if the huts are closed thru the whites and your not supposed to tent in certain areas then what? :-?

Going thru the white, most of the huts will be close for the season. You are allowed to camp above tree line but have to practice good trail ethic still. On top of the presidentals most people will sleep in a snow cave, tenting out can be very risky considering how strong the winds can get at night.

Each day it will get colder and colder. I would plan to make it pass VT no later then December 1. It still going to be cold but New England north of Mass. has a different weather pattern.

Here are some of the problems I ran into and work through:

Water. As winter hits, your water sources are going to freeze up. If
you don't drink enough water even if you don't feel thrusty, you will
become weaker and weaker, I made it a point to stop around mid-
day for lunch and to make water. You will need extra fuel to make
water when winter sets in.

Snowshoes. You want small snow shoes up until around NY. South of
NY the snow was deep enough.

Snow fall on top of you as you hike. This may sound silly but as I was
hiking through southern NH, VT, Mass, & CT, the snow would fall right
on top of me as I brush through the trees. It would then freeze
making me look like a walking ice man. The solution was a $10 rubber
poncho.

I'll post more when I get a chance but I hope this helps.

Wolf

Just a Hiker
09-08-2006, 17:08
I am a bit confused. Are you going SOBO or NOBO? I pretty much hike the AT year round and a winter hike isn't as hard as you think. I am currently SOBO near Harpers Ferry, but I would start over again if you are going SOBO and are interested in a partner. The AT in New England in Oct and Nov is amazing......it's cold, but amazing!! I am taking a week or so off to get a cortizone shot in my foot for bone spurs, but if you are serious and want a partner, let me know.

Biloxi
09-08-2006, 17:56
ok...let me update a bit..I have decided to do a sobo instead of a nobo.as to hopefully avoid any major problems through the whites and with lots of informed opinions from lots of you. it just seems the wise decision..so thats the plan now. it wont be finalized till after the 21st of september..but if all goes as planned I will begin my climb up katahdin on the 9th or 10th of october and then off into the great unknown..lol... my only goal..FINISH.. and be safe doing it..I am not in a great hurry..and feel I will be well prepared. but as always I welcome any and all information and advice from"knowledgeable" hikers..thx

MedicineMan
09-08-2006, 21:14
this guy did a SoBo winter hike, his trailjournal reflects his experiences....i dont remember a lot but seems like he started south just before Mt.K closed and hammocked the entire way....he finished at Springer in time to go begin the PCT which he did and completed all but 50 miles of the PCT before finding out his dad has passed away. He returned home immediately, and the next Spring did the CDT.....

StarLyte
09-08-2006, 21:21
this guy did a SoBo winter hike, his trailjournal reflects his experiences....i dont remember a lot but seems like he started south just before Mt.K closed and hammocked the entire way....he finished at Springer in time to go begin the PCT which he did and completed all but 50 miles of the PCT before finding out his dad has passed away. He returned home immediately, and the next Spring did the CDT.....

I am very much impressed by him, a very passionate hiker, realist. Glad you brought him up MM.

Biloxi
09-08-2006, 23:41
yes..I found his journal..pretty interesting guy, but his journal is very scketchy and confusing and he doesnt exactly go into detail.. it seems to start then stop and jump from here to there. but very impressive mileage wise. he has done most of the long trails ..which I also aspire to do..I guess I am looking for journals from the winter..seems I read 1 not long ago..but cant seem to find it now?? if anyone knows of any..especialy south bound..could you let me know..thx

Tinker
09-09-2006, 00:23
hello everyone I am trying to get as much info as possible for my upcoming winter hike, it should get underway around october 9th from springer,I know the weather will be variable from warm to cold and always possibility of snow.I feel I will be well prepared equipment wise, and have plenty of time. I would like to hear if any of you have winter expieriance..thx

Can I buy a life insurance policy on you?:eek:

Be very careful, and don't be afraid to "chicken out" if the conditions look bad.

I "chickened out" on a solo winter climb up the Bigelows when it started to rain. I knew that, sooner or later, the rain would turn to ice. It did. I didn't make it back to my car and had to camp next to the trail. Next day I had to use crampons on the road walk back to my car. It was too risky to try driving down the ice covered back road, so I hoofed it, with crampons still on, two miles back to the nearest house and called a towing station to come rescue my car. Had I continued my attempt, I probably would've made a bad decision due to dehydration and hypothermia which might have caused me to fall to my death, bouncing off of trees and rocks sliding down the Fire Warden's Trail.


Again, be very, very careful.

Biloxi
09-09-2006, 01:38
wow..what an experiance. good thing you were not far..well I done some freezing rain hiking in my time...not by choice mind you, but you cant pick your weather either so.... move with a purpose and find shelter, conserve resources, know your options, be prepared, do something...I am not going to make any trail nazi mistakes..I'll wait ..thats why I always carry extra fuel and extra food and over rated bag..just incase..long as I make it to a shelter of some sort. i will live .. and thats all that matters..now I know anything can happen..but on the AT you are gonna come across some kinda shelter at least within a maximum of 15 miles..I think the avg. is actually like 8..dont quote me on that...but anyway..so if you was half way between any point, its only 7 to 4 miles..one way or the other..if "possible" go on or go back and wait..dont just walk of in a freezing rain ...wait...I would rather them find me dead from starvation, then a freezer pop with a pack full of food:-?

MedicineMan
09-09-2006, 02:41
and thats probably from a healthy respect of hypothermia....in true winter hypothermia is easier to avoid than in 42-58F temps with rain...snow will wet you but much slower and often will slide off your jacket, same with ice...there's lots of tricks to winter hiking. here's one that i use:
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=3000&catid=member&imageuser=163
for boots and water bladder
Dont forget to leave the huge parka at home...you'll hike from sunup to sundown and then get in the sleeping bag and a light down or primaloft jacket will be plenty

MOWGLI
09-09-2006, 05:36
..but on the AT you are gonna come across some kinda shelter at least within a maximum of 15 miles..

There is an area in Jersey just north of DWG with no shelter for about 26 miles. There is an AMC facility in that gap (Mohican Outdoor Center) however. Donno if they are open in winter. I suppose if you are still on the trail in New Jersey, that will be a non-issue.

Most people wouldn't consider turning around and walking 7 miles BACK. They would carry a tent and setup. If you find yourself in a whiteout or ice storm - it is probably best to stop - not turn around and continue hiking.

STEVEM
09-09-2006, 08:14
My daughter chose to attend a college in central New Hampshire. Unfortunately, she became very homesick and as a result my wife and I ended up driving from NJ to NH nearly every weekend for two years to visit her.

It begins to snow in NH by the end of October and continues until April. By the end of Dec people have dug tunnels to their homes, or are using ladders to enter thru second floor windows. Temps are at or below zero and winds of 30-40 mph are common. Snow does not melt, but accumulates to depths of 4-6 ft or more, not to mention drifting. You simply cannot break trail solo thru these conditions. Even working in a team of 3-4 with skis and snowshoes progress would be very slow.

Keep in mind, the condition I describe were in town below 2000FT. condition at elevation are far worse as others have described.

I someday hope to attempt an AT thru hike by one of the traditional schedules. Even on these traditional schedules the chance of success is only 30% at best. I dont know you, or your abilities or determination, but
feel your plan will almost surely fail and potentially lead to serious injury.

I would hate to see people wagering on this site as to where or when your body will be found.

Try one of the traditional NOBO or SOBO hikes, succeed at that, then try the extreme adventure you are now considering.

Good Luck

Sly
09-09-2006, 12:36
this guy did a SoBo winter hike, his trailjournal reflects his experiences....i dont remember a lot but seems like he started south just before Mt.K closed and hammocked the entire way....he finished at Springer in time to go begin the PCT which he did and completed all but 50 miles of the PCT before finding out his dad has passed away. He returned home immediately, and the next Spring did the CDT.....

from roni's journal..

http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=1323

I flew to N.Y. and starting hiking north along the a.t. starting June 21st. I sumitted Katahadin on August 31st, then hitched to the Canadian border on the northen end of the Long Trail in Vermont and from there I've been continuously hiking south along the L.T. and the A.T. Ive been hiking through this winter - an experince that definitely wouldn't be best described by the word warm. I've been hiking extremely slowly, hammocking in shelters on the way, timing myself to reach Mount Springer by mid April, when I plan to take a bus to California and start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I must say that I am no big fan of the A.T. - I think it has too many climbs and not enough views. I always like to say I don't usually enjoy hiking the A.T.. I enjoy the hiking experience. Indeed - if you read my journals, I'm usually more interested in the people and the culture around the trail than in the trail itself.

The Solemates
09-11-2006, 09:15
wow..what an experiance. good thing you were not far..well I done some freezing rain hiking in my time...not by choice mind you, but you cant pick your weather either so.... move with a purpose and find shelter, conserve resources, know your options, be prepared, do something...I am not going to make any trail nazi mistakes..I'll wait ..thats why I always carry extra fuel and extra food and over rated bag..just incase..long as I make it to a shelter of some sort. i will live .. and thats all that matters..now I know anything can happen..but on the AT you are gonna come across some kinda shelter at least within a maximum of 15 miles..I think the avg. is actually like 8..dont quote me on that...but anyway..so if you was half way between any point, its only 7 to 4 miles..one way or the other..if "possible" go on or go back and wait..dont just walk of in a freezing rain ...wait...I would rather them find me dead from starvation, then a freezer pop with a pack full of food:-?

you are not carrying an overrated bag, but at 20-degrees, an underrated one for a winter thru hike in my opinion.

additionally, a shelter at a maximum of 15 miles away is a long way to hike in 3 feet of snow when you are postholing. Even at the average of 8 miles, like you say, 8 miles is still a long way to hike while postholing through a blizzard. believe me, we've done it.

The Solemates
09-11-2006, 09:18
Try one of the traditional NOBO or SOBO hikes, succeed at that, then try the extreme adventure you are now considering.

Good Luck

this is the best advice I've seen so far.

weary
09-11-2006, 09:24
you are not carrying an overrated bag, but at 20-degrees, an underrated one for a winter thru hike in my opinion.

additionally, a shelter at a maximum of 15 miles away is a long way to hike in 3 feet of snow when you are postholing. Even at the average of 8 miles, like you say, 8 miles is still a long way to hike while postholing through a blizzard. believe me, we've done it.
Mr. Clean (not the White Blaze version) attempted a winter hike in 2000. He left Abol Bridge on Jan. 1 and some days managed to do but three miles in deep snow.

Biloxi
09-11-2006, 09:29
hey guys.. yes I know it is hard to make very much progress in a snow storm. but my point was its not like CDT or PCT where your only option for shelter, mostly is whats in your pack..well I do have a -20 bag and a thermolite bivy sack as well as my mountain heardwear tent. and plenty layers and a set of warm camp clothes.. -45 insulated boots..besides if it gets to bad I will bail..outside of being stranded in a shelter for more than a week I'll make it . planning this thing to death..finding exact milage from point to point and where I will be in accordance with nearest town.. any other advice will be welcome:)

Biloxi
09-11-2006, 09:33
yes I knew that but there is a pretty good difference between jan1 and oct9..so I am hopeing to be pretty far along by jan1..maybe I can miss the heavy snow till beyond the whites...do you think it can't be done?

STEVEM
09-11-2006, 11:06
Hiking the AT in NY and NJ during winter should present little problem. It can get cold, occasionally there is deep snow, rarely blizzards. Unlike New England, conditions will rarely be life threatening unless you were injured.

You have many road crossings, usually you can see homes or roads from the trail. You can almost always hear traffic on nearby roads.

The AT in NY & NJ in my experience is used extensively by deer hunters in early winter. You should consider blaze orange vest, hat and gloves. You should review the hunting seasons in New England as well. PA is an absolute war zone during deer season.

Biloxi
09-11-2006, 13:01
thanks for the info..I had already planned on the blaze hat and gloves aswell as a blaze vest to put on my pack..seems I will be following hunting season most of the way..sure hope they break some trail for me :p

bigben
09-11-2006, 13:47
There's a couple of hometown boys from here in Cincinnati who just embarked on a potential winter thru-hike. Read a piece on them in the newspaper. I believe their journal is www.atwishhikers.org (http://www.atwishhikers.org).

Bigben