View Full Version : how would you pace this hike?

05-18-2008, 00:19
I'm doing the 30ish miles from Springer to Neel's Gap, and then back. I have 5 days, 4 nights to do it in. (And I will not use the 8 mile approach trail to Springer but the much much shorter one, think it's about a mile or so.) I would like to stay at Mountain Crossings one night. SO the plan I have in mind is to give it two nights camping from Springer to Neel's, one night at Neel's Gap, then only one night camping on the way back to Springer-- the logic being that since I'm bringing all my food and not resupplying at Neel's, my pack will be much lighter on the way back and I can make more miles.

Any suggestions for milage? What about good camping spots for the (about) 1/2 way mark to Neels and then (about) 1/3 and 2/3 way marks back to Springer? Thanks

Tin Man
05-18-2008, 01:05
how would you pace this hike?

one step at a time

have fun


05-18-2008, 01:43
one step at a time

have fun



The old pace rule used to be, 2mph + 1 hr for every 1000 feet of elevation gained.

The advice I hear from most successful thru-hikers to those aspiring to do so is, "Start out slow, then slow down."

The kind of physical "hiking" condition you are in probably has more to do with it than anything else. 12 miles per day average doesn't sound like a lot until you start going up and down, and up and down, and up, and up... And 12 miles/day is pretty easy for someone who hikes all the time. But if you don't, I think 12 miles/day might be overly optimistic. I would pace my hike based upon hiking as far as I reasonably could without setting any written in stone mileage goals - and only hiking itself can tell you that. Just hike for 2 1/2 days and turn around at lunch on day 3.

This reflects my recent experience as someone who isn't any longer in good physical "hiking" condition. Thirty years ago I'd have planned 12 - 15 miles without blinking an eye(well, except in certain areas). That ain't the current reality though. I'll swallow my pride and admit it. I was dragging(legs and lungs) after a 1.5 mile 1200 ft climb on a hike with a 20 lb. pack. Took my daughter and I 2.5 hours to go 2.7 miles total with the elevation gain on a short Friday night overnight and I wasn't holding her back all that much. (I kicked butt on the flats and downhill sections though :rolleyes:, and whipped up a great batch of teriyaki tuna and a good fire - there is more to this life than just making miles) Had a nice downhill and level walk out Saturday morning - I am a hiking fool on downhills and flats. Seriously I doubt I could average more than 1 mph with any significant elevation changes like we have throughout most of NH. And I'd cap it at 8-10 miles per day. But I'm still recovering from a back injury and haven't done anything beyond level/small hill hikes for more than a year.

IIRC, northern GA isn't exactly flat. The climb out of Neel's headed south up Blood Mtn. is probably nothin' much to those in good shape, but I know I'd be dragging my feet and suckin' wind by the top.

Above all else, make sure you have a good time. There are no other rewards.

05-18-2008, 01:46
Looks like you got your nights for camping backwards on your original post.
I have done this stretch about 6 times and usually do it in 2 days. Some will say it's too fast. Up to you.

You will need to be in pretty decent shape to do it. The shelter's don't look like their spacing fits your plan too good so be prepared to stealth or camp when it gets dark.
Gooch Mtn Shelter is about half-way for your return journey. Blood mtn could be tough at the end of a long day but the downhill on the north side is pretty easy. And when you finish it, you'll be at mtn crossing.

Bare Bear
05-18-2008, 04:42
Why lock yourself in on miles?
Go hike, enjoy. Turn around like above and do not worry about the distance at all. Although personally I dislike circle routes. Why not just go hike then bail to a road when you are done and hitch back. Hitches are relatively easy in that area IF it is not some dirt forest road.

05-18-2008, 07:36
I agree with Bare Bear. Going out and back just doesn't feel the same as hitting the trail thinking "my car is xx miles up this trail!" With all the shuttles and options today, I would rethink and go another 30+ miles to Dick's Creek (major road with lots of traffic, in case you decide to hitch rather than shuttle). It's good to have a rough itinerary, but remain flexible. Lots of things can derail a rigid schedule, weather and physical anomalies being just two of them. In the end . . . HYOH! :)

05-18-2008, 08:22
It all depends on your condition. You can make this a 2 day hike or a 5 day hike. Just hike until it starts getting dark or you are tired, then make camp.

05-18-2008, 10:53
Did this section last year - most hike faster than I, but I could easily and consistently hike 1.5 mile per hour throughout the day, breaks and mountains included. So, after about 8 hours, I'd have 10-12 miles in. But, at about mile 10, I started getting pretty tired and it stoped being as much fun and I started noticing more stumbles (due to fatigue). On a side note, I've noticed that Day 3 is usually when my aches and pains from this incresaed activity really show up so I now plan a shorter day for Day 3. By Day 4, I'm starting to get my hiking legs and I can probably do more than 10 miles.

I would suggest, rather than an out & back hike, consider getting shuttled. There are several threads discussing this and I think most suggest parking at Amicalola and getting shuttled to Unicoi Gap see: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=32000&highlight=springer+section+shuttle

There are lots of options though.

Course, this'll cost you prolly $100 in shuttle costs I'd guess, but being able to just hike might be worth it.

Then consider, for an out and back, using portions of the Benton MacKaye Trail BMT trail as alternative routes back. I'm unfamiliar w/ the BMT but it bumps into the AT several times through this section and you might be able to avoid some backtrack and cover new ground. http://www.bmta.org/

You'll get plenty of advice from folks here...stay tuned.

05-18-2008, 12:18
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Yes, I did switch up my distances half-way through the original post-- oops. I still mean that we want to camp twice on the way to Neel's and once on the way back to Springer.

I agree with it being more fun to just hike out and shuttle back but we've already arranged for a pickup back at Springer-- I'll keep that in mind for next time I plan a hike though.

I guess if we can't physically do the 60ish miles in 5 days we can arrange for a shuttle to take us back to Springer from say, Woody Gap or the Mountain Crossings Center. The two of us are not experienced backpackers so we don't have our "hiking legs" but both in good athletic shape. I've done Woody Gap to Neel's Gap as an overnight and thought that it would have been very doable as a day hike.

05-18-2008, 12:26
My son and I did it in 1.5 days - Day 1 we made it from the Southern Terminius of the AT to Gooch Gap and hiked into Neel's Gap the 2nd day at 2:30 PM.

Personally, and this is just my opinion, the difficulty of the AT between Springer and Fontana is greatly exaggerated. The only parts that I thought were tough at all was the short climb up Albert Mountain and the climb out of Sweetwater Gap. Other than that, we were able to make 17-23 mile days without too much trouble.

05-18-2008, 12:33
I'm just back from a week in the woods. Neil's Gap to the N.C. State line.

My trail name is now "Grinder" . I am apparently, at 67 Years Old, closer to 'over the hill' than I want to accept. From that point of view, I offer the following:

up hill steep .5 MPH
up hill easy 1 MPH
Downhill 1 mph
levelish meadow or ridge walk 2 mph.

This year I averaged a bit over 1 mph most days.

Typically leave at 8:30 and finish at 2 to 3 PM for 7 miles.

There was one day of ten miles that went faster. It had a 3.9 mile road walk in the middle. Probably did that part in 2 hours.

Hope that helps. Unless you are sure of your conditioning level, I feel your plan is ambitious

PJ 2005
05-18-2008, 13:07
I did springer to neel's in two days to start. My heels looked like hamburger meat afterward.

Get to Neel's and make the call from there - you should know at that point what you can do.

05-18-2008, 20:27
I did Unicoi to Dicks Creek in about 16 hours a few weeks ago. I don't know if that helps any, but that is my time. I usually average just over 1 mph and I am 33 years old. I am talking 1 mph total time from breaking camp to making camp. Those hours include lunches and other breaks for water, snacks, etc.

05-18-2008, 22:14
one step at a time

have fun


I like this advice out of them all.