View Full Version : Thru-Hike Southbound

07-24-2003, 23:44
I've noticed that most thru-hikers hike north. Why? I am just looking into a thru-hike of AT and I would rather start in June or July and head south. I understand that starting in Maine is some of the toughest hiking. Is this the main reason most go north, or am I missing something? Thanks.

07-25-2003, 00:03
Two reasons - maybe 3.

Getting conditioned to trail (again) is easier on less rugged southern end than in Maine.

Black flies in Maine in spring

If you are impatient adn still want decent weather - not winter - spring comes sooner in GA than ME.


Lone Wolf
07-25-2003, 00:29
Go south young man. More challenging. More fun.

07-25-2003, 08:27
From one SOBOer to a future one. SOBO is awesome! Look at a a map - all down hill. I left June 12 '01 from Katahdin. Just bring a bottle of DEET for the 100 mile wilderness. If you make it through the first 3-4 days of skeeters you'll never be bothered by bugs again.

08-09-2003, 23:24
Keep in mind how many people leave GA between the end of Feb and early April...that alone would make me go south these days, or leave GA in early May.

08-10-2003, 12:40
I left March1 and it really wasnt bad. Some people dropped out early and it never seemed overly crowded, plus some people like the company. The only problem was the log-jams that seemed to form in towns. Got tired of that, but after Damascus that never happened again.
I would go SOBO if i could go again. But that would be to add some flavor.

Moon Monster
08-10-2003, 17:49
As to crowds going North: I left Springer this year on March 9. My first night completely alone in a shelter was in Georgia and I had enough nights completely alone in shelters to loose count of them. On many more nights, I was the only thru-hiker around. I hiked the whole state of Maine without seeing another NOBO, and the last time I met a new NOBO was in Massachussetts. The last time a NOBO came up from behind me was in Pennsylvania. Perhaps I was in small pockets of few thrus from time to time, but I beleive that over the whole Trail, what I experienced was simply a dirth of NOBOs to begin with.

The NOBO count was significantly down this year (see the ATC's website) and several hostel owners in New England were observing a higher than average (if not record) number of SOBOs this year. I personally ran into at least 200 of them in NH and Maine and that was well more than the total number of NOBOs I met accross the whole Trail. At peak, I passed 15 SOBOs and there were at least 10 each day before and after. I only had one day seeing that many NOBOs so close to each other and it was in a town (Atkins, VA). Of course the 2003 SOBOs will thin out and spread out as they move south, but I still heard a story from an '02 SOBO who never had a single night alone or without another SOBO thru-hiker around him. Also, the largest crowd I ever saw in a Katahdin or Springer summit photo was a group of 20-25 SOBOs in a Springer shot.

So, if what I experienced was not a fluke, then heavy crowds can be seen going in both directions. But, aloneness can be had both ways also.

08-10-2003, 20:36
I left Springer on March 2nd 1995 and I was one of about 10 who started that day...and that was a long time ago. I would imagine that crowds are worse these days...although I'm sure there are years and times when the trail has less people on it.

In 2001 I left Waynesboro around May 20th heading north and the crowds were crazy...many shelters were full, towns were packed, hostels full etc...I still had a great time but I managed to avoid the shelters and hostels. Heading north the crowds definitely thinned out a little, northern PA, NJ and NY were less crowded...I guess it comes in clusters.

08-11-2003, 23:50
The numbers were way down for NOBOs this yr, but i spent one night in 5 months alone on the Trail. I guess thats just cause i chose to hike with people.
There are weird pockets where you can go days without seeing anyone, as Moonmonster did, and have crowds just a day or so ahead and behind. I took 9 days off the Trail in Glencliff and was totally alone as far as NOBOs for 10 days or so when i returned.
I suppose in the long run its up to you whether you want to have company or not. Its easy to have it either way. Towns are the only problems. And yeah, SOBO isn't what it used to be. Tons of people going south this year. They didn't seem to isolated for sure.
Moonmonster-no NOBOs at all in Maine? Thought you hiked with Rise n Shine, Talon and Freeman? I could be way wrong tho.