View Full Version : Starting In Winter?

07-14-2003, 11:33
I am planning on beginning my AT thru-hike on the first day of the new year - Jan. 1 2004. I've got top-notch winter gear and once, in my youth, worked a ski season at mount bachelor, oregon. During that time i accumulated some moderate experience with snowshoeing, basic mountaineering w/ crampons & ice-axe, and snow camping during multiple overnight hikes (alone) in the mountains.

Anyway, my question is - is it just completely crazy to begin a thru-hike in January? Is it completely unheard of? Do you know anyone who's done it before? Any websites with general information on winter thru-hiking?

Although I had this one winter season at mount bachelor to gain some experience, i've lived all my life in Houston and Austin Texas. So, i'm trying to figure out if i'm just completely crazy or if my dream of beginning on Jan. 1 is reasonable albeit challenging.

Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Oh yeah - i will of course be starting in Georgia heading north. I'm not *that* crazy. :-)

07-14-2003, 11:56
Check out some trail journals. Rocket started this year on Jan 1, and Bono a couple days before. It's certainly doable if you have the equipment and experience. But plan your early mileage appropriately.

07-14-2003, 12:06
Please forgive my ignorance but i am new to this website. How exactly do i find Bono and/or Rocket's online journal? I did a search on this site for "Bono" but only found forum references to him, not his actual online journal.

07-14-2003, 12:41
Look @ Trailjounals.com, then under Rocket or Bono. I would start the earliest around March 1 no sooner. But that's my opinon.

07-14-2003, 12:48
Rockets specific journal is found at site below.

Between Whiteblaze and Trail Journals one can find a wealth of information.

Also check out Nocona's 1998 journal for pure reading pleasure. Zipdrive also has some great pictures.

Journals are cited by year and listed alphabetically by author's trail name. Also has nice photo gallery that can be sorted alphabetically by picture name or by author.


07-14-2003, 16:03
Here are some other Trailjournals.com journalists who started in January & early february

Comer & Jean 2001:


Sweeper 2001:


Bluevist 2002:


Bramble & Bushwack 2001


07-14-2003, 21:20
Cool. Thanks a lot for the info. I've been reading Bono's journal during breaks at work. Have read up through Jan 31. That's great info. Sounds pretty much like what I was hoping for - cold challenging conditions but nothing that can't be reasonably handled with good gear, physical fitness, and a modicum of winter camping experience. Certainly not a death-wish.

Great! I'm psyched! Looking forward to my Jan.1 start!

steve hiker
07-15-2003, 13:18
Go for it. I haven't read of any particular problems faced by early starters, and the beauty of hiking at that time of year is unsurpassed. Bono in particular comments on this. When I do a thru-hike I'm going southbound, which will put me in the southern mountains about the same time of year. Winter hiking rocks!

07-15-2003, 13:34
FYI, there is another thread (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2060) on this very topic that was started a week ago.

07-16-2003, 10:27
I am inspired. Jan 01, 2004 doesnt seem so bad. Is there an upside to it...like....the bears will be hibernating or something? :D

07-16-2003, 10:51
You'll probably need to carry an extra 3-5# of gear (down coat for camp, fleece pant, down booties, snowshoes??, big gators, etc.) until March.

07-16-2003, 10:55
I am inspired. Jan 01, 2004 doesnt seem so bad. Is there an upside to it...like....the bears will be hibernating or something? :D

07-16-2003, 15:07
Yes. I'm expecting to have to carry extra weight for all my winter gear: crampons, snowshoes, Patagonia Das Parka (kinda heavy), lots of fleece layers, 4-season tent (but it's a light Bibler), -20 sleeping bag. I'm expecting a 50+ lb. pack, but i got used to snowshoeing w/ that weight @ mt. bachelor. Also, i'm short, squat, 200 lbs., and mostly all muscle. Sort of built like a little pack animal. So, i'm hoping i'll be alright.

Actually, after reading several trailjournals i'm starting to realize that i might not be all alone as i was hoping. In some ways that makes me happy (i.e. safer) but in other ways sad (hoping for 100% winter solitude).

Anyway, i'm just so excited about starting. My parents will drive me up from Austin the day after Christmas and drop me off at the trail-head.

Quebec, Canada - here i come! Yiipeeeeeee!!!!

Ok. back to work. Can't get fired in the next 5 months.

07-20-2003, 13:08
There have been quite a few who have started their hikes in Jan. I choose to begin my 2001 hike on Feb. 10 so I could celebrate my birthday on the trail. After talking with Gary at the Blueberry Patch, the decision was easier. He told me that the weather in Georgia is "generally" milder in Feb. than in March. Since I had began my 99 hike on March 10, I knew it couldn't get too much worse. I found that he was right on the money for Feb. of 2001. There wasn't any snow until the Smokies and although it was cold, we didn't experience the sub-zero temps, freezing rain, sleet and wind blasts that we did in the beginning of March.

I'm again, contemplating beginning my 04 Thru-hike in Feb.

I think you take a risk no matter what month you begin between Jan. and April. The weather does what it wants in the mountains.