View Full Version : when to start

06-22-2003, 12:34
hi...I want to do my first thru-hike next year after I graduate from highschool, but that means I wouldn't be able to start my hike until late may - early june...I WANT to go north, but I dont know how much harder that would make things seeing how late I'll have to be starting...I still want to be around other thru-hikers though and finish before november...and starting college a simester late or so...do you think this is at all possible? I can't think of a better way to start off college than with the experiance of a thru-hike under my belt and I dont really want to have to put the whole thing off untill after college graduation instead....any input would help..thanks!!

06-22-2003, 18:01
It sounds like you have decided when to start. The question is where and how.

You have allowed about 5 1/2 to 6 months, which is good. You want to hike with other thru-hikers, which generally means going north bound. You need to do Katahdin before weather closes it, usually by mid October.

So, my recommendation is to do a flip flop. About Memorial Day, the pack of thru-hikers is in southern Virginia. You probably want to start somewhere in Virginia, and hike north, and then go to back and hike the remainder.

If you start in Northern Virginia (maybe Harpers Ferry) at this time frame you will join the head of the pack. These are the hard core guys who got an early start in Springer. They are a great bunch. Most of the party crowd is either behind them, or has dropped out.

Flash Hand
01-07-2004, 04:22
I am glad to find this thread because I don't really want to create similar thread. So, I might plan to start northbound thru-hike between first and third week of April?. What is my chance of get acquainted with other northbound thru hikers?

Hope to get some replies from you guys!

Happy Hiking!

Flash Hand :jump

01-07-2004, 06:53
...I might plan to start northbound thru-hike between first and third week of April?. What is my chance of get acquainted with other northbound thru hikers?


I started on Springer Mountain on April 10th and met new northbound thru hikers every day, some were catching up to me, others I was catching up to and some were hiking with me. The trail can still be quite busy for April starters.

Moon Monster
01-12-2004, 00:19
If ATC's estimated statistics were accurate and up-to-date, several hundred prospective NOBOs left Springer after mid-April in 2003 (~12-1300 starters were listed by mid-April and now over 1700 are listed for 2003).

Beside that, I'd like to say something about college. It is absolutely unneccessary to go to eight continuous semesters right after high school unless you have some scholarship or other requirements to keep. I implore you to do things with your college years that are for yourself and not for maintaining an image of what you may now think college should be. Take it slow and come out happy with the time you spent there and you will be much less likely to enter crisis mode later in life and wind up on a thru-hike then just to compensate for doing the seemingly standard thing when you were 18-22.

I went to law school with folks who were in their 60s and maybe a full third of my fellow students there were in their mid 30s or older. All of those folks have changed directions in life multiple times, and surely for none of them would six months off from college to chase a dream have been more than a fleeting time-out in their professional timelines. Employers, grad schools, friends, and hopefully family will all look favorably on a thru-hike and none of them will mind that it delayed graduation by six months. My law school was way more likely to accept people who have done things like thru-hikes or traveling abroad and are 25 years old when they graduate collge than kids who are 22 and have done nothing but the standard.

With all of the above, I am just trying to suggest that you consider starting college and then taking a semester off one year to go northbound when you want and taking as much time as you want. There are many ways of altering your college schedule to do this, including taking a Spring semester off and making the time up gradually over summer sessions or with longer schedules in other semesters. Or, you could simply take five years to graduate. Or six. Or, you could start college a semester late.

Whatever you do, good luck and have fun, and congrats on graduating high-school and going to college.

01-12-2004, 15:36
Go South. I understand the draws of going North but if you want solitude and a harder physical challenge, consider going South.

01-12-2004, 17:54
Go South. I understand the draws of going North but if you want solitude and a harder physical challenge, consider going South.

To quote the music of Takoma Ted, the people are the trail. Going north gets my vote.

Former Easy
01-13-2004, 01:11
Doing a flip is your best bet, or just do half the trail or section hike some. To say you did the whole trail in one year has no meaning anymore. Yeah you get a patch and your name is listed in such small ink that ............ well you get the picture. Its better to say you did it over many years, because those folks (section hikers) are usually honest and make up for more than 98% or more of hikers on the trail.

Hike for fun, if your not part of the the college weed smoking crowd, maybe north bound is not for you, however many older retired gentelman do hike north and your safe around them sense they usually worked for the goverment in some capacity.

However if you would like a fun hike and not be in the crowds e-mail me through my profile. I'm hiking Harpers Ferry south this year, if I just nail off Virgnia this year i'll be happy. Hike with me and i'll have you pisssing in your pants....................... from laughter :banana