View Full Version : Is a Jan start date too early

06-30-2003, 14:55
Hi everyone,
I am trying to thruhike before I start medical school in August. This fall I am doing a NOLS course in Washington, mountaineering, backpacking, etc so fall SOBO is out. I don't want to jam it all in either so I was thinking of starting in early to mid Jan. I would have experience winter hiking as I am spending the fall on glaciers in Washington. Do you think it is a bad idea to start then? If so do you have any suggestions as to getting in a thru hike between Jan and mid June?
Any advise would be great :)
Happy Trails,
"In the end we only regret those things which we do not attempt to do......"

Blue Jay
06-30-2003, 15:04
I think it's a great idea for someone with winter camping experience. Bring snowshoes. I started in in February and was very glad that I did.

06-30-2003, 16:36
Flying Brian started in early January. So, it's been done before. However, for us mear mortals, just be prepared for winter conditions. Bring snowshoes, crampons, or be prepared to hold up until things melt. Reduce mileage accordingly.

06-30-2003, 20:10
Take a look on Trailjournals.com and read Bono's and Flying Scotsman's journal. They both experienced January starts this year!

07-01-2003, 08:47
Originally posted by Peaks
Flying Brian started in early January. So, it's been done before. However, for us mear mortals, just be prepared for winter conditions. Bring snowshoes, crampons, or be prepared to hold up until things melt. Reduce mileage accordingly. I think he had to stop once he reached VT in March. The snow was just too deep (which meant he had to hike thru the tree tops even on snow shoes) and he couldn't find the trail. Which is why he jumped to New Mexico to finish off that state in less than a month, before he started his PCT in April. Check out the last couple of entries from his March journal (http://royrobinson.homestead.com/TrailLogs_Mar.html) for details.

But I seriously doubt you'll do 30+ miles per day like Brian, so you should be able to avoid this type of snow. Also, Baxter State Park is usually closed until late May and into mid-June. So, pace yourself to finish sometime early to mid June.

BTW, you can get special permits to hike in BSP in the winter. But I'm not sure what sort of requirements they expect.

07-01-2003, 16:34
True, Flying Brian got stopped by snow at Bennington Vermont. He went west and did the other two, and then returned to Bennington in October to finish up.

His trip was also blessed with favorable weather in general. Almost any other year and he would not have been able to do the trails out west in the time frame he did. Plus Katahdin stayed open late that year also.

Don't fool yourself about being prepared for deep snows down south. The trail is high and strenous in the deep south. If you go in the early months, then you need to be prepared to deal with heavy snows, maybe a severe snow storm a week until mid March or so.

07-01-2003, 17:25
I section hiked for a week in Ga-N.C. in February this year and had a great time. The weather can change quickly though. On Standing Indian Mountain, I hiked in with a storm on the way and 61 degree weather. Through the night the trees howled and the wind gusts were up to 65 mph according to my weather radio. In the am, the temp was down to 19 degrees and it was snowing! Talk about drastic changes! It was great!

07-06-2003, 23:18
thank you all so much for your advise and suggestions. i will check out the journal entries. i expected to have to use the snowshoes and crampons, ill have plenty of experience with them by then :) i really appreciate all the info.....
have a great weekend

07-07-2003, 12:01
Full size mountaineering crampons are useful for exposed snow fields and glaciers (with an ice ax), but are an overkill for the AT south of New Hampshire. Flying Brian used a trick that some winter runners use, where you put a few screws into the bottom of your shoe, to better grip icy trails. You can search the web for a more detailed description, but basicly you put about 8 very short screws with hex heads into the bottom of your shoe, around the edges with the head facing down. You can put them in when needed, and take them out the rest of the time.

07-07-2003, 12:25
Check out http://www.stabilicers.com, http://www.yaktrax.net/ and instep crampons (such as these (http://wildernet.altrec.com/shop/detail/11074/0)).

I used stablicers on a trip through the smokies Jan 2-5, 2003. They worked great on the ice. Once I was back into the rocks or snow only, I took them off. They are a bit heavy 1.25# for a pair (I'll weigh mine tonight if I remember). Stablicier use to make a "sport" model that would slop over your shoes (for trail running) that were lighter.

Finally got around to weighing my Stablicers...

For a Size M they weigh 712g, or 25.12 oz for a pair.

07-07-2003, 20:53
Keep in mind that when hiking in snoeshoes your mileage will go down considerably, 7-8 miles in deep snow is a big day for alot of people. But showshoeing is great and the south doesn't get extremely cold, but it will be cold. Be prepared for sub-zero temps (not counting wind chill) consistantly, but atleast your coffee cools quickly.