View Full Version : First time AT

04-18-2009, 16:17
My gf and I are pretty brand new to the hiking scene. We are currently in the process of getting our gear together, and doing some local hikes around our home town, just to get a feel and hopefuly to get broke in ourselves. In September we are planning to break into the AT starting at Amicalola State Park. We are planning on getting there on a Thursday night so that we can wake up bright and early Friday morning and begin the approach trail. We will hike till Tuesday when we will sadly have to return to our cars and return home so we can work again Wednesday. So, any advice? How will the weather be? How about parking our car at the park? Can we set up our tent at the Park for the night before we set out to hike? Is there a place to get breakfast? How about the cost of these things from the park, from parking to eating, to setting up a tent (if allowed?) Also, how about the hike? We want to finish up at Neels Gap on Tuesday, does that sound reasonable? And how about getting back? Are there people around or do we have to seek someone out to give us a hitch back to Amicalola State Park? We have been reading through lots of forums, books, magazines, whatever we can get, but I know theres a difference, so this is our plans, and any advice from someone thats been there would be awsome!! We also have the AT data book (coming in the mail) and i plan on purchasing a Thru hike companion guide. Also, how about gear? I am carrying a Kelty Red Cloud 5600 pack and my gf has a Kelty 4500 womens coyote pack. We both have 20 degree North Face sleeping bags, a kelty Grand Mesa 2 tent. We are getting an MSR superfly cannister stove, and the MSR blacklite cook set. I am hiking in Timberland Chocurua boots, and she has the Timberlan euro hiker boots. How about waterproofing these boots, and recomendations for a particular type of h20proofer? There are so many questions we have, so any help would again, be awsome.

Chaco Taco
04-18-2009, 16:26
I suggest purchasing a guide book, Appalachian Pages is a good choice and available through this site. It has all of the shuttle info and logistic of mileage and all you need. In terms of weather, should be a little warm still. The terrain from Springer to Neels Gap is decent. It should be a great first hike. A 20 degree bag is a bit warm but should be fine. The gear you have is the first I had and is very heavy. Did you get fitted when you got the packs? Its really a matter of education really. The more you hike, the more you learn. Good luck planning!

04-18-2009, 16:39
Thanks, ill check out the Appalacian pages!! Always love reading about the AT. As for the packs, we tried on a few in a local store, and a friend i know has the Red Cloud but we have actually ordered them from Campmor. I first ordered mine from a site called Camping Gear Depot, but they are not really wanting to send me the pack, its awful, so I will probably have to order it from Campmor as well. Also, do you mean heavy because of the packs? The red cloud is 5 lbs, 10 oz i think and i kinda thought it was a little heavy, but i do like the pack. It felt good too so that is why i went with it for now. Also, would 1 8oz canister of fuel for the superfly be enough for a 4 day hike for 2 people?

Chaco Taco
04-18-2009, 17:49
If it feels good....5 lbs is heavy! You can go much lighter for the price. Yes the 8 oz canister is fine for you guys. In terms of the packs, I suggest you look at some lighter packs but thats just my opinion. Get someone to take your measurements at an outfitter>

04-19-2009, 15:23
If you are driving over to Springer from MS, it may make sense to start at the gap just after Springer rather than starting at the Park Headquarters and doing the approach trail. This will cut out the long uphill on the first day with a full pack and subsitute a rolling ridge walk for the first day. It sounds like you are doing an out and back without a shuttle, but be aware that there are shuttles whihc can usually be arranged at most of the road crossings if you want to avoid the out and back. One possibility is to see how things are going after the first day and contact one of the local shuttlers by cell phone to arrange a pick up if things are going well.

04-19-2009, 15:31
Check out the folks at the Hiker Hostel near Woody gap...google Hiker Hostel. They will take good care of you...shuttle and pickup....great folks. Have a great hike. cheers, bill

04-19-2009, 17:29
At the park: you can park a car for a small fee. Pay and get your permit in the visitors center. You can sleep overnight for free in a shelter just behind the visitors center. (No tenting.) For a lot more money you can stay at the Lodge in the park, which is very nice and has a great view and a good breakfast buffet. (If you start the Approach Trail, you will pass a side trail to the Lodge where you can get that breakfast.) Your car is safe in the long-term lot.

The hike: You should easily be in Neels Gap by Tuesday. That's 5 days from the start of the Approach Trail. Get to the top of Springer Friday, then Hawk Mountain, Gooch Mountain, Woods Hole, and Neels Gap. Nice hike in September. You can easily arrange a shuttle back from Neels Gap back to your car that day, or arrange in advance with the Hiker Hostel.

Your gear is fine. Sure, it's heavier than what some folks are carrying these days, but it's still pretty mainstream backpacking gear. Plenty of hikers have had successful and fun hikes with similar equipment. (Though by Neels Gap you'll be thinking about ways to lighten your load. There is a great outfitter there who can help.)

Bear Bag
04-21-2009, 21:15
As far as waterproofing your boots goes, good old Nikwax is always a winner. Nikwax makes different products for leather and for nubuck, so purchase accordingly. Nikwax is available at your local outfitter, or you can order it online. I have used it ever since I purchased hiking boots and have no qualms about recommending it.

I'd love to hear a report of your hiking experience upon your return. I hope you guys have a great hike.

04-30-2009, 21:23
Another question, Bear cannister? Should I take a bear cannister with me? Like I said, I will be starting at Amicalola State Park and making my way to at least Neels Gap, so should I use the cannister or rely on the bear boxes, or cables provided at the shelters. And if so how about an Ursak compared to a hard bear cannister?

04-30-2009, 22:02
Cables at shelters are enough.

06-23-2009, 20:23
So, we are getting our clothing together. I was wondering how much clothes should we take with us for our trip in September. We will be heading out labor day weekend for 5-6 days starting at Amicalola and headed to Neels Gap.
Basically we are planning on taking 1 pair of pants, 2 pair of undies, 3 pair of hiking socks, 1 short sleeve wicking shirt, 1 ls wicking shirt, 1 mid layer fleece, and 1 hard shell. My baselayers are Capilene and my gf's is Under Armour. Our mid layer is probably going to be the Marmot Polartec Powerstretch.
I have a NF triclimate jacket that I am debating bringing the inner liner for extra warmth if needed and we are still looking for my gf, but I was really wondering how important these pieces are considering it will be September. What is everyones opinion, take them or leave them?
Of course we will be bringing clothes that are solely for sleeping in, we plan on stuffing these clothes in with our sleeping bags to keep it all together and not mixing it all.
We are planning on using a 15 or 20L Sea to Summit Sack for our food and smellables to hang. Do yall reccomend using something such as OP Sacks inside the Sea To Summit sack to help keep odor down, or will regular zip lock bags suffice since the bag will be hanging? Also, are there cables at all shelters in GA? I will be carring 50' of rope for just in case, but I was wondering if I can count on cables, Ive heard yes and no, so any help?
Anyway, we are really wondering about the weather for this time of year in this particular section of the trail. Ive heard that at this time we can typically expect I guess warm weather as opposed to hot, and maybe cool nights. Also I was told that this time of the year is not a big time for rain. Any comments?
More, how about ticks? Here in MS they are awful! They are the worst part of any hike for us around our hometown. I was wondering if they are such an abundance on this part of the trail to.
Anyway, thanks for all the info. I plan on posting more as time gets closer (which seems like it cant get here fast enough!! haha).

06-26-2009, 17:37
Also, boots. Ours are changing. I have been looking at some Vasques. I like the Breezes, but Ive seen a pic of some after a few hundred miles on the AT and they werent pretty! So, I have been looking at the Summits. I like them, but am a little skeptical at spending $200 for some boots right now when I will only be a few days at a time.
Also, my gf really wants some of the all mesh Merrells, in a low top. Im not sure how wise that is for low tops on this trail. Recommendations?

06-26-2009, 19:25
Normally dry time of year...may get some thunder showers in the afternoon. There is always the likelyhood of a hurricane/tropical storm remnants coming thru, but you'll have tons of a heads-up about this. It will still be very warm and humid this time of year...you may not need the fleece. Have fun. :)

06-26-2009, 19:42
Start at Amicalola like you are planning. I would camp the first night in the state park campground. I was just there in April and I think it was $25 for regular car camping. That way you can bring regular gear and a cooler for the first night and leave your backpacking stuff in your pack ready to go. You can get a great breakfast at the lodge which isn't far from the campground, then drive down the mountain to the trail parking. It's $3 per day for parking. You can probably arrange for a shuttle from Mountain Crossings. A canister would be overkill.

06-26-2009, 20:21
hey it's just a short walk. i believe you are more prepared than you think you are. this will be a nice short trip. i don't think you need to sweat the gear or buy a guide book just yet. you have/understand the basics. you are ready. you will make it just fine. that hot shower at mountain crossings will feel magnificent. sorry for cleaning out most of the hiker box at the hiker hostel, but leigh asked me to. enjoy your hike, it will be over before you know it. i just got back from my hike and i miss the trail life. have fun and take as many pics as you can.

06-26-2009, 21:17
DareN thats pretty much what we are planning. We will get there probably kind of late Thursday night and camping out there at the Park. Should I call to reserve a site now, or will there be many people at this time of year?
Silversleep, I kinda feel like I have (most) all I need now, but as soon as I think that Ill forget something or just not have it for sure!! haha.
Anyway, I know, it will be here and gone before I know it, so thats why we are not trying to rush it to much right now, cant stop thinking about it though......
Dadytwosticks, thanks for the weather report, we will be watching all the forecast when time gets closer!
Im looking forward to the shower, but at the same time, I know it will be over when I step out of it, so well see.......
Thanks for the info, please, keep it coming!!!

12-18-2009, 13:13
Trying to plan a section hike from the s. terminus to Clingmans dome in GSMNP. The distance is 196.8 mi.. I know everyone hikes at different speed and reading a post about an out and back taking longer that I would expect. I'm thinking around 16.5 mi per day average to do it in 10 days. But now I think this might be a little ambicious? How many days on average just to reach Neel's gap? Much less trying to reach my goal of Clingmans dome?

12-18-2009, 13:18
I think it might be a little late, as I think they did this hike about 3-4 months ago.

By the way, how'd it go?