View Full Version : When's a good time to send your winter gear home?

01-30-2004, 01:21
I've always heard and read on a NOBO hike, don't send the winter gear home until after Mt Rogers, VA. At 5700+ ft, VA's highest peak can get right wintry even into May. During my hike through there with my dad in May of 2002 we read journal entries of how Big Red and others turned back to Damascus to await snow and sleet and high wind to pass before going through the high country. They were 2 days ahead of us so you could hit it on a beautiful day and not need winter gear - but we've all heard "better safe than sorry". As far as having it returned to you somewhat depends on whether you're flip-flopping, how late in the season you're approaching the Greens and Whites, etc. I spoke to a SOBO "Slow Ride" in 2001 who said as he crossed Mt Washington, "It was a beautiful morning with hardly a cloud in sight. 15 minutes later I was crawling on my hands and knees to keep from being blown off the mountain and it was lightning and hailing and visibility was near zero." I pooped my shorts just hearing about it! :eek:

Lone Wolf
01-30-2004, 07:46
Send it home at Atkins, Va. or Pearisburg.

01-30-2004, 09:10
It depends on what time of year that you start. I sent all my cold weather gear home at Damascus (and hadn't needed it for a while), but I also didnt start until mid-April.

01-30-2004, 15:26
If you're heading to Maine, I'd say a good guide would be Pearisburg, VA or May 1st, whichever comes first.

Of course, use you're own judgment and don't put yourself in any peril.

Pearisburg is a great place to do everything. There is a hostel within easy walking distance of a Super Wal*Mart and the PO is on your way back out of town. On the way in, stop by the PO to get your summer stuff, change and resupply at the hostel, and then on your way out, mail what you don't need back home.

I have fond memories of Pearisburg because it is one of two times that my pack really lost weight on the trail. Here is part pf my journal from the day I walked out:

"While in Pearisburg, I switched from a tent to a tarp, and from boots to trail running shoes. This, along with sending home some winter clothes, dropped my pack weight to 34 lbs. with 6 days of food and 3 liters of water. Needless to say, 19.1 miles after resting in a town with only as much weight in my backpack as Id normally carry going into town wasnt too bad. Considering I switched boots, my feet are also in good condition."

I eventually got my full packweight under 30 pounds on the trail. After I got home, I made a few purchases (like swapping out my monster pack for a smaller one) and got that weight down under 20. Man....I wish I'd done that while on the thru... Oh well.


01-30-2004, 15:56
Definately depends when you start, how the weather is that year and how fast you are moving. I started 3/1 last year. I don;t really know the definition of summer and winter gear. I kept my 20 degree down bag for the whole trip minus a couple weeks from NY to NH. I changed out my heavy 2 lb fleece in pearisburg for a lighter one and eventually sent home my fleece gloves at some point in virginia. I had a winter hat the entire hike I believe.
We kept waiting for summer to come, and it really never did besides one week of warm temps in NH. By late June i was in the Whites so I spent the rest of my hike (july) in the mountains at higher elevations where there were so very cool nights in maine.
Just use common sense and decide based on how you are progressing. Many folks took chances and regretted it, so just be on the smart side. Always better to tote a coulpe extra pounds than have a sleepless shivering night IMO

Jack Tarlin
01-30-2004, 16:46
Chomp is right-----a great deal depends on when you start. But the folks who suggest you hold onto some cold-weather gear til at least Bland or Pearisburg are right on the money----every year, a lot of folks dump their warmer clothes at Damascus and live to regret it; a few years ago it snowed quite late into May and a lot of hikers had a very unpleasant time; the area around Mt. Rogers is quite high up, and it can get very cold there. If you're starting at peak season, i.e. 15 March to 10 April, you definitely want to keep some warm clothes with you til you're well into Virginia.

01-30-2004, 17:13
I guess it all depends on when you start, but I kept my 0 degree bag until Harpers Ferry (I started at the end of Feb.). Just be careful and don't be to quick to get rid of it. I had friends who traded out for 40 degree bags in Perisburg and then we had snow and ice the VERY next day. The extra pound will be worth it until you are sure you are safe getting rid of it.
Good Luck!

Cedar Tree
01-30-2004, 19:40
I carried the same 20 degree bag for my whole hike. I started Feb. 13th. I sent my winter clothes (longjohns, socks, extra fleece....) home at Waynesborro, VA. As things warmed up, there were only a couple of nights I was too hot in my bag, but there were plenty of nights I was soooo glad I had a warm bag, especially the last .25 of the trail. And, like others have said, I saw many, many of my hiker friends absolutely miserable at night, freezing, because they sent their winter gear home too early (or at all). CT

01-30-2004, 20:53
In 02 there was a big time cold snap the week before memorial day. I remember it well, because I was shivering thru the nights, what with my 45 degree sleeping bag and temps in the 20s in Shenandoah park! anything can happen!

01-31-2004, 11:04
From what I have read, I wouldn't send stuff home until late May or Pearisburg, VA, which ever comes last.

Moon Monster
01-31-2004, 19:07
I was out from March to late July in 2003, and I never regretted having my 20 deg. sleeping bag for the entire trail, even in July (I had a 38 deg. night in mid-July in Maine).

02-02-2004, 10:13
From what I have read, I wouldn't send stuff home until late May or Pearisburg, VA, which ever comes last.

Right answer. In 2002, there was a hard frost in North Carolina/Tennessee a few days before Memorial Day. This was some of the best advice that I heeded.

02-03-2004, 19:41
I agree with those who have said to wait until after Mt. Rogers. I saw some folks suffering the year I hiked when they dumped their cold gear at Damascus.

As for when you have the gear sent back, it is, as everyone here points out, a matter of timing, but I'm a carry-slightly-more-weight-and-be-safe kinda guy, so I think you want your stuff back in Hanover. New Hampshire can be tricky, and the PO is right there.