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jollies
09-01-2007, 19:07
Hello Whiteblazers,
I am looking for some advice on hiking the Long Trail Southbound in the month of October. What different preparation and gear should I expect to take with me as opposed to a normal summer Thru-hike? Thanks!

Jollies

7Sisters
09-01-2007, 19:59
I'm planning on being on the LT starting the first Friday in October. Here are the changes I am planning on making:

1 - 20 degree bag
2 - poly pro liner gloves
3 - fleece vest
4 - long sleeve base layer shirt
5 - light weight poly pro balaclava
6 - rain gear top & bottom - marmot dry precip

Other than that, I'll bring all the regular gear I bring for a summer trip. I won't be bringing pants other than my rain pants. It it's chilly out, I will still hike in shorts until I stop. Then my rain pants will go on.

I'm planning on starting at the AT splitoff and heading North. I've done a lot of fall backpacking in NH and Vermont on the AT, so I feel this will is more than appropriate for what the weather temps may throw at me.

The only additional piece of gear I may throw in is either an extra pair of gloves that are a little heavier or my goretex shell mittens. The mittens weigh very little, but will provide warmth (especially when combined with the polypro glove liners) and protection in case of rain and 40-50 degree temps. My major concern in fall is protecting against hypothermia.

1azarus
09-01-2007, 20:42
if you wear wool socks, and if you carry an extra pair, you can use those for outer mittens if it is cold... even if wet...

7Sisters
09-01-2007, 21:01
if you wear wool socks, and if you carry an extra pair, you can use those for outer mittens if it is cold... even if wet...

Agree, but if it's wet out and in the 40's / 50's you need to protect yourself from heat loss by staying dry. This won't keep you dry if you're backpacking for 7-8 hours. I wouldn't advise this unless it's an emergency plan.

jollies
09-01-2007, 21:58
So just some warmer clothes is all you are planning to bring? I think I'm probably going to end up doing it in the middle of October, possibly from the junction heading North. Not sure 100% what I'll be doing yet.

7Sisters
09-01-2007, 22:56
Yup that was all I was planning on bringing in the way of fall stuff. The rest of the gear is traditional gear I bring all the time.

What were your thoughts going into the trip?

emerald
09-01-2007, 23:21
I'd consider more clothing and possibly some blaze orange once I determined what if any hunting might be going on at the time of your hikes. If hunters are required to wear blaze orange, it might be wise for you to do likewise.

Be sure to visit GMC's website. You'll more likely than not find useful information there.

7Sisters
09-02-2007, 00:05
I'd consider more clothing and possibly some blaze orange once I determined what if any hunting might be going on at the time of your hikes. If hunters are required to wear blaze orange, it might be wise for you to do likewise.

Be sure to visit GMC's website. You'll more likely than not find useful information there.

Completely agree with the orange blaze. It's down right scary to backpack during hunting season.

oruoja
09-02-2007, 05:13
Just be prepared for the possibility of extended wet and cold (freezing) weather and don't let mileage become an obsession if conditions worsen. Trying to get up and over Camel's Hump or Mansfield in freezing rain and windy conditions would not be pretty. It's getting colder even right now as right now at my house at 0500 it's 38 degrees and I'm at 900 ft el about five miles west of the trail at Camel's Hump. Last week two hikers apparently had to be "rescued" after holing up at Puffer shelter after being wet and cold for several days. The views in October should be pretty good as the foliage for the most part will be gone from 2,000 feet and up. Enjoy the trip as in October you will definately have more solitude. On August 1st I finished my fourth end-to end of the LT and now am working on the side trails which in many cases are much nicer than the actual LT itself.

Cookerhiker
09-02-2007, 09:38
In addition to all the good advice above, don't forget that you have less hours of daylight in October. The evergreen forests (generally above 3,000') can be quite dark. I would definitely hike SOBO that time of year.

JAK
09-02-2007, 09:52
I do as much hiking in winter as summer up here in New Brunswick.
But I would definitely fear Pomola, and others, in their season.

7Sisters
09-02-2007, 10:55
But I would definitely fear Pomola, and others, in their season.

Can you explain further? I don't understand this.

Thanks

Lone Wolf
09-02-2007, 10:58
Can you explain further? I don't understand this.

Thanks

www.pantheon.org/articles/p/pamola.html

7Sisters
09-02-2007, 10:58
JAK,

I just googled it. Is this what you mean?

"A bird-spirit / night-spirit in Abenaki myth who causes cold weather. It allegedly lived on Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, and resented mortals intruding from below. Hence, the mountain was off limit to all peoples."

It would make sense in the context of the discussion, but had never heard of that before.

Lone Wolf
09-02-2007, 11:00
yup. that's it

7Sisters
09-02-2007, 11:09
wolf,

Just tried your link and it didn't work for me. Anyway, it copied the definition I found, so people can understand the context.

Hope you're enjoying your three day weekend.

Regards

Peaks
09-04-2007, 18:48
I'd also recommend a heavier sleeping bag than summer. Expect nights below freezing.

7Sisters
09-04-2007, 20:43
I'd also recommend a heavier sleeping bag than summer. Expect nights below freezing.

agree - I normally don't carry a 20 degree bag in summer, but am planning on taking one for this trip.

JoeHiker
09-13-2007, 16:28
In 2005 I attempted the LT going Southbound starting on Oct 12th. It rained for the first 8 days. Then it was dry for 2 days. Then we got a foot of snow north of Kilington and I was done.

Lessons I learned:

1. Be very conservative in your mileage estimates in the northern section. You have no idea how difficult it is. Not so much any one particular place as it is just the fact that it never goes flat. Always up or down. And this is coming from someone who thinks nothing of running 100 miles in a week.

2. Do not forget your pack cover

3. Be very careful on mountain tops. At one point on Camel's hump, I slipped and fell down a small embankment for no reason. Did not misstep, was not hurrying, was looking where I was going, etc. Had it happened just 200 yards earlier today I would be dead now.

4. Do not forget your pack cover

5. Do not sleep in any shelters. Never again will I sleep in one of those mouse-infested hell holes.

6. Following on #5, the hiking hammock is the greatest invention ever.

7. Following on #6, bring a very warm sleeping bag/quilt (20 rating or better) and a very warm underquilt if you are using a hiking hammock in Vt in October. I brought the JRB Nest Down Under and it was not warm enough. Next time I'm bringing their warmer quilt.

8. Do not forget your pack cover.

9. Bring a good compass (duh). I brought one that I didn't trust very well. It got me through but next time I'll bring a better one.

10. The Breadloaf Wilderness is terribly marked. That's where the compass will come in handy.

12. Be sure to get both the waterproof Long Trail map that wildernessmaps.com sells as well as the End to Enders guide.

13. Do not forget your pack cover.

JoeHiker
09-13-2007, 16:31
14. On Camel's Hump, if the weather is bad, do not feel bad about taking the roundabout, safer trail around the summit (I forget the name of it).

I got as close as 15 feet from the summit but STILL turned around and went down and around because it was so icy and windy I was scared to death. Second smartest decision I made on the hike.

oruoja
09-13-2007, 17:03
The "bad weather" bypass to Camel's Hump is known as the Alpine Trail. However, you should actually also use the Monroe and Dean trail to Wind Gap at Montclair Lodge south of the Hump as the Long Trail is still pretty rough in this stretch. For solo cold weather hikes on the Long Trail I recommend having the guide book to know the locations of the various side trails and their destinations should the need arise to get off the trail itself.

Jester2000
09-13-2007, 17:24
Much good advice so far, I think, and some of your gear choices may depend on the weather outlook as you get closer. The Farmer's Almanac predicts a milder fall and winter than normal, so, you know, keep that in mind, but also know that the mountains make the weather, and it could get nasty. You'll also want to decide for yourself how comfortable you want to be and how prepared you want to be if things get nasty.

A couple points, some LT specific, and some just 'cause of the time of year.

If Southbounding and there's snow by then, plan on having a vehicle more rugged than, say, a Plymouth Reliant for getting to the trail that takes you to the trailhead.

As others have noted, be particularly careful on Camel's Hump, especially on your way down. True, you'll be on the Southern face, but if there's ice, I'd turn around.

Blaze orange is a good idea. If you don't want to carry extra weight, get a blaze orange hat & gloves, and if you want to go nuts, there are reversible blaze orange pack covers available.

If it's cold and you're not a hammock guy, a thicker sleeping pad might be a good idea, as well as wearing your hat at night. You definitely want a 20 degree bag at least.

Carrying slightly more fuel than usual isn't a bad idea.

Neither is making sure that you drink as much water as you can. Water sources will be lower, even if it does rain, and in colder weather it's harder to notice that you're getting dehydrated.

As noted, it gets dark earlier. So plan on getting up and out early, even if you're not a morning person, and consider bringing something to entertain yourself at night (book, porn, whatever).

Eat cheese before you go to bed.

If I were you, I'd also make sure that at least one disastrous non-fatal thing happens to you, so that you'll have a funny story to post here afterwards.

Good luck!

Cookerhiker
09-13-2007, 19:42
In 2005 I attempted the LT going Southbound starting on Oct 12th. It rained for the first 8 days. Then it was dry for 2 days. Then we got a foot of snow north of Kilington and I was done.

Lessons I learned:
....
5. Do not sleep in any shelters. Never again will I sleep in one of those mouse-infested hell holes.
.....

Does that depend on the time of year? I just finished the entire LT (I flipflopped, hiking Rt. 4 to Canada, then Rt. 4 to Mass.) and stayed in shelters most nights. Except for last night at Seth Warner shelter where there's bear activity causing me to hang my food in a tree, I hung the food bag in the shelter every night and didn't have a single mouse problem.

oruoja
09-13-2007, 20:34
I don't think the time of year so much matters. It's just maybe the year. I have done the Long Trail four times and frequent many areas on multi-day trips. I have been in shelters from March to November and it's hit or miss on the rodent and bug issues. With limited exceptions I have few issues in Vt shelters when I do use them. Last weekend I spent a night at William Douglas shelter in the Lye Brook Wilderness and had no problems. The shelter journal even had entries from others being surprised at the lack of problem pests. Just a few miles north at Spruce Peak shelter it has been mouse hell this year.

Rainbow_Brite
09-13-2007, 22:20
I flip-flopped on the AT last year, and went southbound through Vermont in mid-late October. I can't speak for above the Maine Junction, but below it last year I ran into freezing temperatures, winter storms, and snow up to almost a foot in places. The norm was probably a few inches of snow covering the mud. The one thing I'd think hard about it how to keep your feet warm/dry. I used full leather boots, so my feet very rarely got wet, but my hiking partner - and others out there - used only cloth boots or trail runners and had issues with cold/wet feet. If it does snow, you'll be tramping through the snow and mud and frozen puddles which you'll break through all day. At least that was my experience. Hope you have fun!

JoeHiker
09-14-2007, 15:03
Does that depend on the time of year? I just finished the entire LT (I flipflopped, hiking Rt. 4 to Canada, then Rt. 4 to Mass.) and stayed in shelters most nights. Except for last night at Seth Warner shelter where there's bear activity causing me to hang my food in a tree, I hung the food bag in the shelter every night and didn't have a single mouse problem.


I had no problem hanging my food in the shelters. I just used one of those mouse baffles (read - a really big tuna can on a string) to keep them away. But I stopped sleeping in them myself after the 3rd night.

JAK
09-14-2007, 15:07
What's the difference between the Long Trail and the IAT?
Is the Long Trail the portion of the IAT that ends at the Canadian border?

Lone Wolf
09-14-2007, 15:09
What's the difference between the Long Trail and the IAT?
Is the Long Trail the portion of the IAT that ends at the Canadian border?

the LT goes from the Mass. border to the Canada border. Solely in Vermont

JAK
09-14-2007, 15:18
So I was way off then.
So if I ever do either I guess I should bring a map eh.

emerald
09-14-2007, 15:26
JAK, you can learn more about The Long Trail by visiting GMC's website (http://www.greenmountainclub.org/page.php?id=2). The A.T. follows the LT from Mass through southern Vermont until it bears east toward New Hampshire at The Maine Junction.

jollies
09-14-2007, 15:44
Lots of good stuff and opinions, everyone. Thanks for all of the insight. I hope to be prepared to do this trip. I think two things I am really going to emphasize in my gear are a down jacket (instead of my fleece) and a bear cannister so that I don't have to worry about my food being disturbed. Other than that, warmer clothes are a definite.

oruoja
09-14-2007, 16:03
Lots of good stuff and opinions, everyone. Thanks for all of the insight. I hope to be prepared to do this trip. I think two things I am really going to emphasize in my gear are a down jacket (instead of my fleece) and a bear cannister so that I don't have to worry about my food being disturbed. Other than that, warmer clothes are a definite.

The bear cannister in my opinion and experience in Vt is overkill. Fleece would work fine as long you layer and a good rain shell in case of cold rain and windy conditions.

JAK
09-14-2007, 16:10
Thanks Shades of Gray.
I noticed from GMC site, or someplace I googled Long Trail, that there are more deer in Vermont than New Brunswick, but fewer Black Bear. So that would make sense not to bother with the bear cannister, as I would not here. I would still hang though, except in winter. I don't hang in winter. Hmmm. Should I?

JoeHiker
09-14-2007, 16:51
I bear bagged once or twice in VT but never needed to. Some shelters are 4 sided so you can leave your food in there. At least I did. But then again, I was sleeping outside. I actually left my food hanging in all shelters, 3 and 4 sided.

jollies
09-14-2007, 17:14
So I am gathering from you folks that you don't think I need to worry about foraging wildlife like bears? I am planning to stay mostly in shelters, so do I need to worry about cooking before I get to the shelters to discourage wildlife from being drawn there? I have a really nice Patagonia R4 fleece, but I was thinking to cut some weight via a Montbell Down Inner Jacket instead.

GPK
09-14-2007, 17:24
Jollies -

I'm the one who contacted you for a shuttle. I've hiked the LT each month, June, July, August, Sept and October. I've sectined hike in November ( north to south) - but it took seveal years because of the weather. Every year is different. You cannot predict the weather. August and September are my favorites. You're either lucky or not. JoeHiker and Pedxing were 2 of my shuttles who post here, but there are many more who don't. If October is your time then I say try it as opposed to not - you can never tell, but odds are aginst you in October.

Good Luck - GPK

Cookerhiker
09-14-2007, 17:57
Lots of good stuff and opinions, everyone. Thanks for all of the insight. I hope to be prepared to do this trip. I think two things I am really going to emphasize in my gear are a down jacket (instead of my fleece) and a bear cannister so that I don't have to worry about my food being disturbed. Other than that, warmer clothes are a definite.

I don't think a bear cannister is worth the weight.

Jan LiteShoe
09-14-2007, 18:00
I don't think a bear cannister is worth the weight.

Ditto. Not in Vermont, anyway. Maybe in the Sierras.

Cookerhiker
09-14-2007, 18:19
Ditto. Not in Vermont, anyway. Maybe in the Sierras.

The Park Service and Forest Service require bear cannisters on the John Muir Trail and for all I know, other parts of the Sierra as well.

Lone Wolf
09-14-2007, 18:26
So I am gathering from you folks that you don't think I need to worry about foraging wildlife like bears? I am planning to stay mostly in shelters, so do I need to worry about cooking before I get to the shelters to discourage wildlife from being drawn there? I have a really nice Patagonia R4 fleece, but I was thinking to cut some weight via a Montbell Down Inner Jacket instead.

me and gypsy hiked quite a bit of the LT last month. we tented every nite. kept our food in the tent with us. had 1 mouse screw with us. he died

Cookerhiker
09-14-2007, 18:42
me and gypsy hiked quite a bit of the LT last month. we tented every nite. kept our food in the tent with us. had 1 mouse screw with us. he died

Horrors! Murderer! Call PETA!

I guess I'm assuming the worst. Innocent until proven guilty.:D

jollies
09-14-2007, 18:48
Okay, so since I have so much expert advice here on colder weather backpacking, which I am not super familiar with, I would like some critique on my clothing gear list if possible. I but advice in parenthesis if I would like some clarification.

While Hiking:
+Base Layer - Patagonia Mid-Weight or Silk Weight (advice)
+Patagonia R4 Fleece Jacket (or should I substitute a Montbell Inner Liner Jacket instead?)
+Ex-Officio Convertable Nylon Pants
+OR Seatle Sombero Hat
+Gloves (advice and suggestions for ones to purchase as I don't have any)
+Wrightsock Double Layer Socks
+New Balance 872 Trail Runners
+Leki Super Makalu Poles

Sleeping:
+Western Mountaineering Alpinlite Super - 20 degree Bag
+Silk Weight Sleeping Clothes
+Fleece Cap
+Dahlgren Alpaca Wool Socks

Rain:
+North Face Diad Jacket
Do I need pants?

Any thoughts?

Lone Wolf
09-14-2007, 18:51
Horrors! Murderer! Call PETA!

I guess I'm assuming the worst. Innocent until proven guilty.:D

friggin thing assaulted me. i fought back. self defense

emerald
09-14-2007, 19:09
I am planning to stay mostly in shelters, so do I need to worry about cooking before I get to the shelters to discourage wildlife from being drawn there?

Cooking before you reach a shelter and after you leave it is an excellent idea! Keeping food somewhere other than in shelters would also likely help to reduce the number of mice and other wildlife issues associated with them about which people are always complaining.

Unfortunately, there's one problem with your strategy. You'll probably be the only person following it, but just because you may be the only participant should not deter you if you are a firm believer.

I commend you for coming up with your idea and wish you all the strength you'll need to win over everyone to your way of thinking.:)

GPK
09-15-2007, 19:52
In October there's active hunting seasons that you should be aware of. Look at VtFishAndWildlife.com for details, but if you're a bear, squirrel, rabbit, grouse or raccoon then you should fear rifles. If you're a deer then I'd keep an eye open for bows & arrows. Just to be safe get some orange for you, your pack and your dog.

Good Luck - GPK

JoeHiker
09-17-2007, 15:16
Jollies -

I'm the one who contacted you for a shuttle. JoeHiker and Pedxing were 2 of my shuttles who post here, but there are many more who don't. Good Luck - GPK


Hey that was YOU? Cool? Thanks again for the ride. That was a lifesaver.

I got knocked out by the snow just north of Kilington as I mentioned but I think I'm going to try it again in 2008 or 2009.