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View Full Version : Plan-as-you-go, Feasible?



TJBaker
02-13-2007, 22:59
Greetings All,

Well lets see if I can remember what I wrote a few minutes ago. Apparantly I took too long to post and the system logged me out and dumped my message!! I hate it when that happens!!:( (as long as the trail doesn't log me out when I take too long!!)

How feasible is it to proceed more or less without an official 'itinerary' of any sort?? I'd like to go with only a couple weeks 'schedule' ahead, essentially deciding where to re-supply and when to call in maildrops from base as I progress. I'd prefer to handle re-supply personally, keeping maildrops in a last resort category. I'm just a do-it-myself kind of guy. I'm not a fan of hitching either, never been there actually, but it appears practically required here. I suppose I'll have to adjust my priorities I guess :-?


About hostels and the like,,,, With an early April start would they be full up quickly and likely unavailable to those flying by the seat of their pants, and coming in late in the day?? I'll primarily be sheltering, tenting, etc. unless there is a need such as re-supply or connection to a bouncebox that dictates an overnight in alternative lodgings.

Thanks,

TJ Baker

Lone Wolf
02-13-2007, 23:01
Greetings All,

Well lets see if I can remember what I wrote a few minutes ago. Apparantly I took too long to post and the system logged me out and dumped my message!! I hate it when that happens!!:( (as long as the trail doesn't log me out when I take too long!!)

How feasible is it to proceed more or less without an official 'itinerary' of any sort?? I'd like to go with only a couple weeks 'schedule' ahead, essentially deciding where to re-supply and when to call in maildrops from base as I progress. I'd prefer to handle re-supply personally, keeping maildrops in a last resort category. I'm just a do-it-myself kind of guy. I'm not a fan of hitching either, never been there actually, but it appears practically required here. I suppose I'll have to adjust my priorities I guess :-?


About hostels and the like,,,, With an early April start would they be full up quickly and likely unavailable to those flying by the seat of their pants, and coming in late in the day?? I'll primarily be sheltering, tenting, etc. unless there is a need such as re-supply or connection to a bouncebox that dictates an overnight in alternative lodgings.

Thanks,

TJ Baker

totally feasible to do with very little planning ahead.

Blissful
02-13-2007, 23:06
We're planning from Springer to our home in VA. Then I will work on the next section when I am home for a few days in May. Then we will plan New England while I am visiting relatives in NY. Makes it easier, esp with getting mail drops together. We're making a lot of our own food, so it helps us to plan.

Jester2000
02-13-2007, 23:07
TJ --
I think you'll find that it is entirely possible to do what you're suggesting. Unlike some other trails, the AT is logistically forgiving, as you're never more than a couple of days from a town.

Hostels, generally speaking, don't take reservations, so no problems there, and you'll be able to plan your arrival in town timewise if you so choose.

A couple pieces of advice:
1 -- Get a Companion. This can be ordered from the ATC. If you're not going to plan ahead, it will help you plan on the fly, particularly with maildrop locations.

2 -- Since you won't be sure when you're arriving where, I recommend having any maildrops you do have sent be shipped to businesses rather than post offices (you won't have to worry about hitting town when the (small!) PO is closed.

3 -- Get used to hitching. And always do an idiot check before exiting the vehicle.

Blissful
02-13-2007, 23:16
TJ --
3 -- Get used to hitching. And always do an idiot check before exiting the vehicle.

Idiot question - But I assume that means checking that you have all your gear including your trek poles?

I also have that bandana that says "Hiker to Town, Hiker to Trail"

ScottP
02-13-2007, 23:22
TJ--I'm pretty sure that's how most people do it. Just make sure you have all the information you need to plan as you go--the ALDHA companion pretty much covers it. On my first AT thru-hike I only planned from one resupply to the next.

Also, make sure that your gear is sufficient. April in the mountains can be colder than you might think. a good 20 degree sleeping bag/quilt will be nice.

TJBaker
02-13-2007, 23:23
L.Wolf: It was primarily your postings that led me to think that this was a workable option, Thanks.

Blissful: I'll be tossing my belongings into storage, leaving car near Dahlonega and basically just going for it. Funny thing a few moments ago back. I'm sitting here reading about the re-supply opportunities in Fontana. Suddenly dawned on me, why am I reading about this in a book, I could drive there in 45 minutes!! DUH!! (I'm just west of GSMNP)

Jester2000: Got the Companion and Data book. Getting second copies to leave with base person, a sister. Will likely get maps as well in some form, thanks to a posting of L.Wolf that reminded me how much I have used maps in the past.

rafe
02-13-2007, 23:25
Lone Wolf and Jester are correct, in spite of the fact that many of us are anal to the extreme. I planned out my gear to the N-th degree, but an itinerary never once crossed my mind. Just go with the flow....

TJBaker
02-13-2007, 23:30
TJ--. April in the mountains can be colder than you might think. a good 20 degree sleeping bag/quilt will be nice.

Western Mountaineering Sycamore MF (20)

Jack Tarlin
02-13-2007, 23:35
*You'll be fine. Most people probably OVER-plan.

*Maildrops aren't necessary, tho they may be advisable in a few select places. Check the "Articles" section of this website; it has all sorts of information on where to buy food/supplies/gear while en route.

*Most hostels are first-come, first served, and many don't take reservations
(because in many cases the hiker is delayed or doesn't show up, thus
costing someone a bunk). You might be out of luck at some of the smaller
hostels that are limited to ten or 12 guests, but in most cases, you'll
probably be OK, tho you are correct in thinking that places might be full up
if you arrive at the end of the day. A lot of folks will camp close to a town
they plan to stay in; the advantage of this, is they get in early, they're
pretty much guaranteed space in a hostel, they have lots of time to do all
their town errands, plus they have some time to enjoy the town and get
some R&R.

SalParadise
02-14-2007, 00:26
I didn't do any maildrops and got by just fine (as have others), so if you don't really feel like doing them then don't sweat it. But definitely check Jack's resupply article and it's possible you may change your mind in a couple of places, but it won't be too many.

I remember the hostels at the NOC, Hot Springs and Erwin filling up very quickly when I was through, but past Damascus you may find that the Trail has thinned out some and it becomes less of a problem finding hostel space. still, if you get a No Vacancy that means others have, too, so you'll have opportunities to split motel costs.

hitching gets slightly more comfortable as you do it more, and remember that you're not obligated to take a ride from someone just because they stop if you find you're hit by a wall of pot smoke when they roll down the window or you see they've been drinking, which you're bound to come across.

hammock engineer
02-14-2007, 00:33
I plan on doing just that. I'll have the companion, my parents will have my spare gear, last year's companion, food, and map/guide book sections. They are just a phone call or email away.

I am just going to go with it and figure it out as I go.

Jim Adams
02-14-2007, 01:23
Itineraries can ruin your hike. I've seen alot of hikers confused, depressed and totally losing it because they were 2 or 3 days behind their schedule.

If you don't have a certain date to get back to the real world, pick a date that is realistic and you can live with, say September15. It can be a given day so you know where you stand within the hiking season. Then, even if you are close to hitting that date to finish on schedule, say by Glencliff, realize that the true season doesn't end until October 15. If you don't have to be back and you know that you are close enough to finish then you can slow down even more if you want and NEVER be behind "schedule".
Enjoy the process, not the end.
geek

Blissful
02-14-2007, 10:48
Itineraries can ruin your hike. I've seen alot of hikers confused, depressed and totally losing it because they were 2 or 3 days behind their schedule.

If you don't have a certain date to get back to the real world, pick a date that is realistic and you can live with, say September15. It can be a given day so you know where you stand within the hiking season. Then, even if you are close to hitting that date to finish on schedule, say by Glencliff, realize that the true season doesn't end until October 15. If you don't have to be back and you know that you are close enough to finish then you can slow down even more if you want and NEVER be behind "schedule".
Enjoy the process, not the end.
geek

Yeah, this is probably the toughest thing for us - we need to be back by mid August so Paul Bunyan can go to college. And I am a stickler for time. Sigh. If I had my way, I would leave April 1st and take my time. But I'm just glad I have the opportunity to do it this year. Better than not doing it at all. And the sections I breeze through or the mtn summit side trail I may have to forego, I plan to do again with my hubby so he becomes a 2,000 miler.

bfitz
02-14-2007, 11:17
What everyone else said. Of course it's feasible. More than that, it's necessary.

Crazy Larry #1
02-14-2007, 11:25
Greetings All,

Well lets see if I can remember what I wrote a few minutes ago. Apparantly I took too long to post and the system logged me out and dumped my message!! I hate it when that happens!!:( (as long as the trail doesn't log me out when I take too long!!)

How feasible is it to proceed more or less without an official 'itinerary' of any sort?? I'd like to go with only a couple weeks 'schedule' ahead, essentially deciding where to re-supply and when to call in maildrops from base as I progress. I'd prefer to handle re-supply personally, keeping maildrops in a last resort category. I'm just a do-it-myself kind of guy. I'm not a fan of hitching either, never been there actually, but it appears practically required here. I suppose I'll have to adjust my priorities I guess :-?


About hostels and the like,,,, With an early April start would they be full up quickly and likely unavailable to those flying by the seat of their pants, and coming in late in the day?? I'll primarily be sheltering, tenting, etc. unless there is a need such as re-supply or connection to a bouncebox that dictates an overnight in alternative lodgings.

Thanks,

TJ Baker

You can plan the plan, but you can never plan the results. I think what your proposing and asking is totally feasible and that is the way a person should hike. Forget about a schedule and where you are suppose to be this time next week, just go for a walk.................

Footslogger
02-14-2007, 11:28
Assess ...Adapt ...Overcome !!

'Slogger

max patch
02-14-2007, 11:37
Thats exactly what I did and it worked well for me.

When I reached town I pulled out my Philosophers Guide and Data Book and figured out where I would be in 2 weeks. I then saw where I planned my next stop after that and called my wife and told her how many days of food to send and where to send it to.

I did no advance planning; when I left home I knew my first resupply would be at Neels Gap and my 2nd in Helen. That was the extent of my planning.

However, next trip will be buy as you go. Maildrops are not necessary.

Jim Adams
02-14-2007, 12:38
Yeah, this is probably the toughest thing for us - we need to be back by mid August so Paul Bunyan can go to college. And I am a stickler for time. Sigh. If I had my way, I would leave April 1st and take my time. But I'm just glad I have the opportunity to do it this year. Better than not doing it at all. And the sections I breeze through or the mtn summit side trail I may have to forego, I plan to do again with my hubby so he becomes a 2,000 miler.

Blissful,
That still works just fine. Go and have lots of fun!

What I meant was that if you know where you are supposed to be next tuesday and then the sunday after that and the friday after that and the monday after that....add bad weather, sore knees, a hot meal in town, running into other hikers that you haven't seen for a while....suddenly your hiking "schedule" starts to sound like a job.
Go day to day...tomorrow will always be a surprise!:sun
geek

BirchBark
02-15-2007, 10:40
How feasible is it to proceed more or less without an official 'itinerary' of any sort?? I'd like to go with only a couple weeks 'schedule' ahead, essentially deciding where to re-supply and when to call in maildrops from base as I progress.


I don't know how feasible it is, but I'm doing it that way too. In my mind, schedules, deadlines and itineraries are best left @ home. There are too many variables and potential sidesteps along the way to plan more than a few days in advance- cruising on sailboats taught me that. Hell, even my start date will be decided on-the-fly (weather). Itineraries may work for some, God bless 'em, but for impulsive morons like myself there is no substitute for freedom.

Jester2000
02-16-2007, 18:57
I actually planned out my entire hike. Like, to the day. Then I intentionally left that schedule at home so I wouldn't worry about being "behind schedule," as if that was even possible.

It's a good thing I didn't have that schedule with me, 'cause MAN was I slow.