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mattyg2
08-27-2004, 01:46
It looks like a Feb. 1 start for next years through-hike. I just have a couple of questions regarding gear and southern winters.

Weather:
In general, should I plan on alot of snow and or ice, or just light dustings...should I bother bringing snow shoes or crampons?

Stove:
I usually use either a canister or an alcohol stove depending on the number of people traveling. Would one be clearly better than the other over the winter, or should I scrap both and dust off the old msr bottles and stove?

Thermals:
Any thoughts on cheap wool thermals...do they exist or should I just pray to the good old gods of sierratradingpost to put something on clearance? I've got a pair of thermals from EMS that I loved, but they have more holes than material at this point. Should I just head back to EMS or try holding out for wool ones?

Thanks for everything. This board has definately been the most informative and useful site I've come accross since starting backpacking.


Matt

Peaks
08-27-2004, 07:34
From the stories that I have heard, expect to get dumped on with snow once a week for the first month plus. So, you will either need to hold up, or post hole for a day or two while it melts. I haven't heard of anyone bringing along snow shoes or crampons in the south.

I suggest a white gas (MSR) stove until the weather warms up some. Alcohol does not light below freezing. And you will want to be able to have something hot when you are cold and damp.

I'd vote for poly pro as your base layer.

orangebug
08-27-2004, 08:02
Thermals:
Any thoughts on cheap wool thermals...do they exist or should I just pray to the good old gods of sierratradingpost to put something on clearance? I've got a pair of thermals from EMS that I loved, but they have more holes than material at this point. Should I just head back to EMS or try holding out for wool ones?

Plan on snow and ice. Instep crampons are probably a requirement, unless you are willing to wait for a thaw.

I've used canister stoves in blizzard conditions, below zero in GSMNP. The trick is to warm it in you sleeping bag or under your armpit before use. Alcohol is just not hot enough to count on. It will work for you by April.

*** are cheap wool thermals. If you are going out in February, don't plan on cheap, plan on quality. Polypro or SmartWool base layers are the way to go. I'd carry two sets. One for walking and one for night. What other clothing and sleeping bag choices have you made?

February starts can be quite challenging.

Bill...

magic_game03
08-27-2004, 10:17
there is nothing here to read

magic_game03
08-27-2004, 10:21
Matt,

You will experience freezing temperatures every night through April if you begin in February, you will also experience a lot of harsh weather even in good years. I would surely recommend a 0 degree bag or a 20 degree w/ an insert unless you sleep very warm. I would also suggest fleece gloves & glove shell; often you can wear the shell during the day and the fleece at night when you get to camp.

People often talk crap about shelters (hump..humm LW anything to say? ;) ) But you will most likely be using them often. They will be empty and much cozier than a snow, mud, or puddle filled camp spot. Also the mountains in the south get to 5K feet quick and it can be very chilly, keep a sharp eye out for hypothermia.

I also suggest a canister stove. The problem that I've noticed in cold weather is a terrible muscle coordination that is caused by the cold. This is a real hazard because alcohol stoves are notorious for spilling. Trying to get the stove lit with a tricky lighter when your hands are frozen and shaking is no easy task. Also, get a GOOOOD wind guard for your stove it will make all the difference in cooking.

Boots: beware of leather boots in winter if you have them. With the cold weather it is nearly impossible to dry out cold wet leather boots over night, it's not easy with synthetic but at least you have a chance.

Walking sticks/poles & crampons: if you leave in Feb. and you don't get off the trail you will reach the smokies in about a month (~160 miles I think) YOU WILL NEED CRAMPONS HERE! Many people don't use crampons (myself included) but that doesn't mean I didn't wish I had them. Donít buy heavy crampons the instep 2-point will be enough, also those things that look like a basketball net with wire wrapped around them also work great on the Appalachian Trail. The use of poles in cold wet weather can be tremendous. Todays hiking poles have carbide tips, this material will "bite" into ice and rock and may be the only thing keeping you from sliding down blood mountain :p and right into the Walasi-Yi.



Happy Hiking!

gravityman
08-27-2004, 10:24
It looks like a Feb. 1 start for next years through-hike. I just have a couple of questions regarding gear and southern winters.

Weather:
In general, should I plan on alot of snow and or ice, or just light dustings...should I bother bringing snow shoes or crampons?

Stove:
I usually use either a canister or an alcohol stove depending on the number of people traveling. Would one be clearly better than the other over the winter, or should I scrap both and dust off the old msr bottles and stove?

Thermals:
Any thoughts on cheap wool thermals...do they exist or should I just pray to the good old gods of sierratradingpost to put something on clearance? I've got a pair of thermals from EMS that I loved, but they have more holes than material at this point. Should I just head back to EMS or try holding out for wool ones?

Thanks for everything. This board has definately been the most informative and useful site I've come accross since starting backpacking.


Matt

Do you have any winter camping experience? If not, you might want to consider a later start...

The canister stove takes special care to use below 40 degrees or so. You have to pre-warm it (in your bag or jacket), and even then you will notice it's output drop off as it cools down while cooking. You can either put it in some water that you heated while it was still running good, or make some type of heat exchanger.

Alcohol will work below freezing, I've seen that. No idea how the performance is affected, but I can't imagine that it is strongly affected. But it will take a lost more fuel since the water will be colder, and if you don't have a good wind screen it might never boil.

People carry snowshoes, but I doubt that they use them. Crampons are probably also not necissary. A few days you might wish you had them, but in general they aren't worth the weight. At least that is true in march, and probably feb.

You will hate wool thermals, even wool blends bother me. I love my EMS expedition weights, and would buy new ones if I needed them.

At least a zero degree bag in feburary!

Gravity Man

tlbj6142
08-27-2004, 10:29
Also, get a GOOOOD wind guard for your stove it will make all the difference in cooking.
When you get to camp put on your coat and stick the canister in your armpit, or just under your coat.
Drag out your bag, pad, food, etc.
Setup the stove in the corner of the shelter
Use your pack or pad to block the other side.
Don't mess with trying to make a foil windscreen for your canister stove its just too messy since the design needs to keep the canister from getting hot, but still block wind from hitting the flame. Using the shelter/pad suggestion above will provide more than enough wind protection, but will still prevent the canister from over heating.

Frosty
08-27-2004, 10:42
Matt,

You will experience freezing temperatures every night through April if you begin in February, Happy Hiking!You mean you MIGHT experience freezing temperatures ANY night through April, I would think. But not every night.

sienel
08-27-2004, 10:55
Though you should absolutely plan for the worst, I have to say that I had wonderful weather on my early February start in 97. The only snow I saw was a dusting on the approach trail and some flurries as I was coming out of Pearisburg. The only other inclement wintery weather was freezing rain a couple of days in the Smokies.

It was cold of course. Since there were very few other people about early on, I would set up my tent in the shelter for extra warmth/protection from the wind. I'd keep my water bottles in my sleeping bag at night, and did the same with my boots on several occasions.

magic_game03
08-27-2004, 13:13
Ok frosty, I will give a bit of lee way and say you might experience a night or two of weather above freezing. That said matt, I will promise you a few nights of near zero degree weather, most nights near freezing (32 deg.,) and possibly a night or two of above freezing temperature starting in Georgia during mid-February. If you take this into respect to the fact that your cranking up your metabolism, wearing synthetic or wool clothing, and sleeping in a 0/20 degree bag freezing temperature is not that cold.

What is cold? When you mix in wind and water to cold weather. Thatís often the case in GA/NC in the early months, it never gets so cold that all the precipitation freezes. Therefore, it often feels clammy and you fight the wind that blows in the fog that freezes on everything.

Still, bring along a short sleeve shirt because some days the weather will be so awesome that you can hike all day and not get hot.

And just my personal opinion, foil screens are the ultimate. This year I bought a fuel canister (1 lb canister holds 12 of fuel) at rockfish gap and when I reached Kent, CT I still had a burn or two left in it. I attribute this to a combination of windscreen, cooking pot, and methodology. Thatís ~600 miles on 12 ounces of fuel, yes rub your eyes I said 600 miles on 12 ounces of fuel, and thatís for winter/spring conditions not summer! The windscreen foil design I use is very rare, in hundreds of hikers Iíve met I can honestly say only a few have been close, but most are valuable if you consider the weight/fuel-economy ratio.

Do hike your own hike these are just my opinions. Often weather is relative and different people prefer different gear and methods.



ps. frosty, how did you manage to miss quote me? you fit the freezing part together with the happy hiking and with a coma to make it look good. Iím not sure if you meant anything by it but it looks like it was twisted into something sarcastic or condescending.

tlbj6142
08-27-2004, 13:43
And just my personal opinion, foil screens are the ultimate.Got a pic? Which stove? Pot?

gravityman
08-27-2004, 14:06
And just my personal opinion, foil screens are the ultimate.

...

The windscreen foil design I use is very rare, in hundreds of hikers Iíve met I can honestly say only a few have been close, but most are valuable if you consider the weight/fuel-economy ratio.


Yes, tell us more! Can't make a statement like that and then no details! :)

Gravity Man

PS I used this design that seems to work well http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00041.html

MisterSweetie
08-27-2004, 14:33
On a section hike in GA a few years back I took off my fleece when I got to camp, and hung it in a tree for a while. When I picked it back up, the sweat I'd left in it caused it to be frozen stiff. That was the first or second week in March.

Kerosene
08-27-2004, 15:04
The windscreen foil design I use is very rare, in hundreds of hikers Iíve met I can honestly say only a few have been close, but most are valuable if you consider the weight/fuel-economy ratio.Okay magic, step up and share the design, we're all ears!

magic_game03
08-27-2004, 15:59
lol, many have seen it but I think because I hike early in the season most of the time it goes unnoticed.


it works something like this: I take about 7feet(2-3 ounces) of aluminum foil and fold it three ways. The edges of the three-ply sheet get folded 1/8 inch twice then the entire sheet gets folded like a paper fan (for storage). The end result is a folded paper fan shaped piece of aluminum foil that molds to the inside of your cooking pot.

All these directions basically say is this: I fold 7 feet of aluminum foil in a special way to make a windscreen.

What is so special is the way the windscreen is used. The windscreen is very flexible so it can be molded into a hood/cozie that looks something like a giant Hershey kiss that has no bottom and a little hole at the top that vents like a chimney for proper air flow. With this design I can adjust the windscreen to come just below the edge of the pot so my fuel canister does not get hot. At the same time the biggest flaw of most every windscreen is it fails to prevent a rapid escape of heat through the top. This design creates an oven effect. Now, I don't get the results I do from just the windscreen. The msr cooking pot I have is stainless steel; while most hikers look at the weight of a cooking pot and choose a titanium type they never realized a unique concept of pressure-cooking. My msr pot has a pressure lid that in itself is another major contributor to my fuel economy. I boil water in five minutes on a low setting, and then I pour in my meal and reseal the lid and boil for one more minutes. Once the pressure has built back up I don't need to apply heat, it continues to cook under the pressure. The total cook time is maybe 6 to 7 minutes. Consider this to someone who thinks they have good control over their fuel: boil water for 4 minutes & cook Lipton for 8 minutes and already they have doubled fuel consumption time. Also I notice most people crank their stoves to get a good result because their windscreen is deficient so they may be boiling water in the same time as me but they use 3 times the fuel weight to get there.

Ok-ok I'm not saying Iíve solved the mystery of life or anything, I'm just saying the combo of windscreen, pressure pot, & methodology have given me these results. Also, I didn't invent this windscreen it came from another thru-hiker. I just boast getting unparalleled results.

Frosty
08-27-2004, 19:15
Ok frosty, I will give a bit of lee way and say you might experience a night or two of weather above freezing. I thought you typed wrong. I didn't really think you really meant that a hiker Starting Feb 1 would see freezing temps every night through April.

It turns out that is exactly what you meant. Okay.

Here are average AT temps for different locations by month:

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hike/plan/temp.html


ps. frosty, how did you manage to miss quote me? you fit the freezing part together with the happy hiking and with a coma to make it look good. Iím not sure if you meant anything by it but it looks like it was twisted into something sarcastic or condescending.I didn't misquote you. I took the first fifteen words in your message:

"Matt,

You will experience freezing temperatures every night through April if you begin in February,"

by pressing the quote button, and deleting everything after those fifteen words. That is a direct quote. I didn't add a comma or happy hiking.

The happy hiking was several lines below the end of your text and I guess I didn't see it, but I don't see someone saying happy hiking can be contrused as being sarcastic. Nothing to get worked up over.

I didn't quote your whole message because all I wanted to address were the freezing nights part, as I didn't think you meant he would see very many freezing nights in April, or even March. I was wrong, you did. Okay. Here is your entire message quoted exactly as you wrote it:

Matt,

You will experience freezing temperatures every night through April if you begin in February, you will also experience a lot of harsh weather even in good years. I would surely recommend a 0 degree bag or a 20 degree w/ an insert unless you sleep very warm. I would also suggest fleece gloves & glove shell; often you can wear the shell during the day and the fleece at night when you get to camp.

People often talk crap about shelters (hump..humm LW anything to say? ) But you will most likely be using them often. They will be empty and much cozier than a snow, mud, or puddle filled camp spot. Also the mountains in the south get to 5K feet quick and it can be very chilly, keep a sharp eye out for hypothermia.

I also suggest a canister stove. The problem that I've noticed in cold weather is a terrible muscle coordination that is caused by the cold. This is a real hazard because alcohol stoves are notorious for spilling. Trying to get the stove lit with a tricky lighter when your hands are frozen and shaking is no easy task. Also, get a GOOOOD wind guard for your stove it will make all the difference in cooking.

Boots: beware of leather boots in winter if you have them. With the cold weather it is nearly impossible to dry out cold wet leather boots over night, it's not easy with synthetic but at least you have a chance.

Walking sticks/poles & crampons: if you leave in Feb. and you don't get off the trail you will reach the smokies in about a month (~160 miles I think) YOU WILL NEED CRAMPONS HERE! Many people don't use crampons (myself included) but that doesn't mean I didn't wish I had them. Donít buy heavy crampons the instep 2-point will be enough, also those things that look like a basketball net with wire wrapped around them also work great on the Appalachian Trail. The use of poles in cold wet weather can be tremendous. Todays hiking poles have carbide tips, this material will "bite" into ice and rock and may be the only thing keeping you from sliding down blood mountain and right into the Walasi-Yi.



Happy Hiking!

magic_game03
08-28-2004, 00:05
ok,

but do you now agree? are you reading the temperature chart the same as me? As I read that chart it indicates that a hiker should expect below freezing temperatures every night until April or May in Georgia.

ps. frosty, no worries. :sun

steve hiker
08-28-2004, 00:33
Yeah you should dress warm bring white gas and don't get scared of the cold cause that's the only time the BEARS ARE ASLEEP !

Peaks
08-28-2004, 08:25
ok,

but do you now agree? are you reading the temperature chart the same as me? As I read that chart it indicates that a hiker should expect below freezing temperatures every night until April or May in Georgia.

ps. frosty, no worries. :sun

The locals in the North Carolina and Tennassee mountains don't plant their gardens until Memorial Day because of frosts. When I hiked through in late May (week before Memorial Da) there was a heavy frost that killed the gardens.

weary
08-28-2004, 09:36
The locals in the North Carolina and Tennassee mountains don't plant their gardens until Memorial Day because of frosts. When I hiked through in late May (week before Memorial Da) there was a heavy frost that killed the gardens.

As near as I can tell from several trips to the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina, the late winter, spring climate on the high ridges are almost identical to the climate on midcoast Maine where I live. If my observations are accurate you can expect mostly below freezing night temperatures through April and tender plant killing frosts through May. Zero and below are almost certain to occur occasionally in February and March, along with occasional warm and balmy, shirt-sleeve weather.

Peas and other hardy stuff go into my garden as soon as I can work the soil. Tomatoes and other tender plants wait until Memorial Day -- and even then I check the long range forecast. I've had killing frosts in June.

One mid April morning in Georgia I had to break the ice in my cooking pot before making my coffee and oatmeal. One first week in April I waded through a foot of snow to reach Clingman's Dome.

Weary

Frosty
08-28-2004, 09:49
ok,

but do you now agree? are you reading the temperature chart the same as me? As I read that chart it indicates that a hiker should expect below freezing temperatures every night until April or May in Georgia.Not how I read the chart. Having been in Georgia in early spring and not having freezing temps every night, I still disagree that the original poster will have freezing temps every night through April. It will be chilly most night nights, below 32 many, but not all and probably not even most, especially in April.

But it doesn't matter what I think, because the temperatures will be what they will be.

mattyg2
08-28-2004, 12:55
thanks for all of the input. For those of you that expressed concern over my rather skimpy list, The few items I listed was not the complete clothing / sleeping bag list. I just had a few questions about those specific items.

In general, my winter clothing list looks something like this:

Hiking:
Thermal Top
Fleece Vest if necessary
Nylon Wind Shirt
Zip off pants
Thermal pants if necessary
Hat / Baclava & Gloves if necessary
Trail Runners / Low Gaitors
Hiking Poles

Camp:
Down Jacket
Fleece Pants
All of my clothing layers well together for colder temps as necessary

Sleeping Bag:
20 degree trailwise bag & down peapod

the bag might get replaced since it has been around alot longer than my measly 23 years and doesn't have any kind of hood, but who knows.

steve hiker
08-28-2004, 13:03
I would replace the old 20 degree bag. If you start in Feb you'll hit zero nights before you're past the smokies and you won't be a happy camper.

weary
08-28-2004, 13:18
thanks for all of the input. For those of you that expressed concern over my rather skimpy list, The few items I listed was not the complete clothing / sleeping bag list. I just had a few questions about those specific items.

In general, my winter clothing list looks something like this:

Hiking:
Thermal Top
Fleece Vest if necessary
Nylon Wind Shirt
Zip off pants
Thermal pants if necessary
Hat / Baclava & Gloves if necessary
Trail Runners / Low Gaitors
Hiking Poles

Camp:
Down Jacket
Fleece Pants
All of my clothing layers well together for colder temps as necessary

Sleeping Bag:
20 degree trailwise bag & down peapod

the bag might get replaced since it has been around alot longer than my measly 23 years and doesn't have any kind of hood, but who knows.

I'm puzzled by the several "if necessary" on your list. These things absolutely are necessary for a Feb. 1 start. If fact the list is far more skimpy than I would advise. Trail runners are fine in summer -- but in almost certain foot deep snow? and occasionally 30 inch snow? Yeah, I know. Several will tell us how they started in January and trail runners were fine.

But I still believe that backpackers -- any winter adventurers -- have an obligation to meet all the likely problems that may ensue. Rescue should be limited to the really unexpected, the really unlikely -- which means that at least backpackers should be prepared to cope with events that routinely happen every decade. Responsible backpackers will extend that safety measure to a quarter century, maybe even a half century.

Weary

mattyg2
08-28-2004, 14:38
sorry for not being clear.

as necessary means i pack it with me, but don't always wear it.

as to the trail runners, they have worked surprisingly well so far, although I meant to write long gaitors, not the short ankle ones.

matt

Alligator
08-28-2004, 14:45
I wouldn't suggest trail runners in snow either. Feb. is still winter and I would suggest boots and high gaitors. Also, you don't have a waterproof shell top nor pants. In winter, I hike with a thermal top and my shell pants (waterproof breathable and durable). You could leave the zip-offs until later in the year. Without a good shell, a freezing rain would be a major problem.

Stove, I prefer white gas in winter. Easier to have extra fuel for hot drinks, soup, etc.

mattyg2
08-28-2004, 15:05
i do have a waterproof rain top / bottom but didn't include them since its not something i routinely wear. the list was not comprehensive, just a quick guide to what I was planning on wearing on any given day

eyahiker
08-28-2004, 16:03
Without a good shell, a freezing rain would be a major problem.

.Gator's got it right. Need a good shell

orangebug
08-28-2004, 16:12
We've seen your abbreviated winter gear list. What winter hiking experience have you had? Are you familiar with vapor barrier socks? These are essential if you consider using trail runners. Have you assessed the ability to fit instep crampons to your runners?

For that matter, what sort of gloves, hat, balacava and shell are you currently considering. Does the down peapod imply you are hammocking?

You have no idea how much fun it is to review and discuss gear lists. I'm busy putting together mine for a 3 day next weekend and preparation for a 2 weeker in November.

Bill....

Jack Tarlin
08-28-2004, 18:29
Matty--

Unless I've missed it somewhere, you haven't mentioned WHY you're leaving so early; I assume it's because you have certain obligations that requie you to finish before summer's end, or because you want to beat the crowds associated with the annual Northboundr rush from 10 March to 10 April.

What folks have told you about gear and weather is 100% correct: If you leave on 1 February, you WILL be hiking in winter conditions through some rough terrain and you will have to plan accordingly.

A few points that nobody's mentioned yet: Be prepared for some slow mileage; your first few weeks may well take you longer than you've anticipated or planned. Thanks to cold and wet weather, there will absolutely be days when you start late in the day; there will be days when you take extensive breaks to wait out bad weather; there will be days when you arrive at a shelter at 2 or 3 and decide to end your day there rather than continue in bad or deteriorating weather. There may well be days when you zero and spend the whole day in a shelter or your tent. Be prepared for this and ad-
just your schedule accordingly; you might want to bring along extra food in case you run into really rough weather and a stretch of Trail you expected to take four days instead takes five or six.

You will also take more and longer town stops, and probably some unplanned ones, depending on the weather. You'll be forced off the Trail into places you hadn't planned on going, and you WILL spend unplanned time and money there. Because of this, I'd add AT LEAST five hundred dollars to whatever your expected budget is. Towns and town stops eat money, and if you leave at the beginning of February, you WILL be spending a lot of time----and some unplanned extra time----in trail towns.

If you want to save money, and have better weather, personally, I'd suggest you bump back your start time by two or three weeks. Leaving later in the season will inevitably mean better and longer hiking days, and you'll easily recapture the miles you "lost" by not leaving a few weeks earlier. But it's up to you. It's certainly possible to have a great trip with an early February start, as long as you're fully aware of what you're likely to encounter out there that early in the hiking season, and plan accordingly.

weary
08-28-2004, 18:54
Matty--

Unless I've missed it somewhere, you haven't mentioned WHY you're leaving so early; I assume it's because you have certain obligations that requie you to finish before summer's end, or because you want to beat the crowds associated with the annual Northboundr rush from 10 March to 10 April.

What folks have told you about gear and weather is 100% correct: If you leave on 1 February, you WILL be hiking in winter conditions through some rough terrain and you will have to plan accordingly.

A few points that nobody's mentioned yet: Be prepared for some slow mileage; your first few weeks may well take you longer than you've anticipated or planned. Thanks to cold and wet weather, there will absolutely be days when you start late in the day; there will be days when you take extensive breaks to wait out bad weather; there will be days when you arrive at a shelter at 2 or 3 and decide to end your day there rather than continue in bad or deteriorating weather. There may well be days when you zero and spend the whole day in a shelter or your tent. Be prepared for this and ad-
just your schedule accordingly; you might want to bring along extra food in case you run into really rough weather and a stretch of Trail you expected to take four days instead takes five or six.

You will also take more and longer town stops, and probably some unplanned ones, depending on the weather. You'll be forced off the Trail into places you hadn't planned on going, and you WILL spend unplanned time and money there. Because of this, I'd add AT LEAST five hundred dollars to whatever your expected budget is. Towns and town stops eat money, and if you leave at the beginning of February, you WILL be spending a lot of time----and some unplanned extra time----in trail towns.

If you want to save money, and have better weather, personally, I'd suggest you bump back your start time by two or three weeks. Leaving later in the season will inevitably mean better and longer hiking days, and you'll easily recapture the miles you "lost" by not leaving a few weeks earlier. But it's up to you. It's certainly possible to have a great trip with an early February start, as long as you're fully aware of what you're likely to encounter out there that early in the hiking season, and plan accordingly.

Okay. You sceptics are right. Weary is jumping in with the obvious. No one would question anyone with Jack's experience.

But this once indulge me. BJ has given absolutely good advice. Unless one wants to experience the worst of winter in the southern Appalachians, I'm increasingly convinced that a mid to late March makes the most sense for a thru hike.

And even then my advice is to start slow. Nothing is more beautiful than walking North with Spring. The southern Appalachians are just incredible as spring gradually opens up. I know BJ suggests only a late February start. And I'm sure he's right.

But late March early April have their own attractions that should be experienced -- if only on one's second -- or maybe third -- thru hike.

Weary

mattyg2
09-02-2004, 23:45
Thanks for all of the replies and additional info. For those of you who were wondering, I'm starting early Feb. in order to be back in time to start med school sometime in late July.

However, before med school starts, I need to secure housing for the year and hopefully attend some of the socials in order to find roommates. In addition, I have to take a short break in May to attend my girlfriend's graduation or face a VERY slow and VERY painful death (her words, not mine).

With these time constraints, I wanted to start early enough where time would not be a factor and I wasn't pressured to make any set mileage every day. Also, I figured that it would be easier to get a nice slow start and to sit out bad weather when necessary. I also wouldn't mind missing all of the crowds starting March - April.

JT, in terms of extra food, my plan so far was to spread out resupply points to roughly every 5 days (depending on availability) and carrying 7 days worth of food until the weather warmed up significantly.

In terms of winter camping, my experience is kind of bizarre. I have spent plenty of time cold weather camping, but very little when there is serious snow and ice accumulation. Whenever I'm lucky enough to have snow, I start skiing and don't stop until I'm riding on nothing but rocks and dirt.

For those of you that wanted a full gear list, here is the best I can come up with off the top of my head. I'm in the process of repainting my basement, so everything is piled up in the center, and all of my camping stuff and gear lists are buried somewhere in there. If something very necessary is missing, I probably take it but just forgot to add it. (Didnít bother with toiletries, first aid, repairs, and any other small stuff)

Items in italics I need to get. Italics after a normal item denote a possible replacement.

Backpack:
Osprey Aether 60
Compactor Bags

Tent:
Speer Style Hammock
8 x 10 Sil-Nylon Tarp
Ground Cloth Ė Plastic Sheeting
Stakes (x4)
EMS Trekking Poles

Sleeping
Speer Down Pea Pod
Trailwise 20 Degree Bag (Possibly Replace, with what, I donít know)
Thermarest Z-Lite
Light Down under-quilt (Maybe, have to try the Down jacket underneath when it gets cold)

Water
Nalgene Bottle
2L Nalgene ďCamelbackĒ
Aquamira water treatment

Cooking
Stove Ė Undecided
Aluminum Stove (Ti: Snowpeak or Evernew)
Pot Cozy
Stove Wind Screen + Stand
Spoon
Insulated Mug

Footwear
Montrail Hurricane Ridge Trail Runners
Possibly break out the old heavy hiking boots
Heavy Wool Socks (x 2)
Sock Liners (x1)
Sealskinz Socks
OR Gaiters Ė Long, Model Unknown

Clothing
EMS Capilene Mid-weight Bottoms
EMS Capilene Mid-weight Zip Top
EMS Capilene Mid-weight Crew Top (Prob. Bring and Send Home if necessary)
(thermals desperately need to be replaced, possibly w/wool ones)
Down Jacket Ė Probably WM Flight Jacket
L.L. Bean Fleece Vest
L.L. Bean Fleece Pants
EMS Zip-Off pants (love all of the pockets on these things)
Northface Wool Hat
Fleece Baclava
Boonie Hat (Probably not til spring)
Montane Wind Shirt
Marmot PreClip Top / Bottom
L.L. Bean Fleece Mittens
EMS Glove Shells (Wind / Waterproof)

Miscellaneous
Pack Towel
Headlamp (3 AAA Batteries)
Extra Batteries
Stuff Sacks
Guidebook
Lighter
Waterproof Strike Anywhere Matches
Parachute Cord (30í to 50í)
Knife
Whistle
Watch
Chap stick
Sun Glasses


Thus ends the novella. Hope you enjoyed.

orangebug
09-03-2004, 08:54
Nice gear list. It sounds appropriately thought out and detailed.

Regarding med school, don't sweat the roommate stuff. You won't see each other except at class or over a cadaver. You are about to embark on two major endeavors, both of which will make you alive and leave you panting for your very breath.

Cherish your hike. This is the last good opportunity to be alone and unencumbered - possibly for the rest of your life. I wish I had your wisdom between my schools for at least a long section.

When life allows, take a section to clear your lungs and your head. I hope you will be attending an East Coast school within a couple of hour of trail. :jump

Bill...
MCV '77

BTW, the SealSkinz are a good idea, but you can go cheap for vapor barrier socks with a layer system: liners, plastic bag, wool socks.

I think your EMS capilenes will be plenty for thermals. I wonder if you will need the mid weight bottoms, as most of your heat loss will be chest and head. Consider a thin set of capilenes as your emergency/bedtime dry clothing.

Alligator
09-03-2004, 11:14
More socks! Personally, I use Frogg Toggs in 3 seasons, gore-tex jacket and WP/Breathable Pants in winter. Your top shell piece should be wind sufficient, no need for the wind shirt. I hike in my shell pants. The zip-offs are extra weight IMO, I know you like the pockets. My zip-offs weigh 13 oz. That equates to a thermos, which I much prefer to carry in winter. I would definitely go with the Bean bottoms and Capilenes, I carry 200 wt fleece and polypro thermals in the dead of winter and wear both. The rest of your clothing list looks on the money.

You are probably real set on the hammock, but I would hate to be socked up in one during a whiteout or other inclement weather.

You may have trouble fitting all your gear into the Aether 60. I have one and I switch out to my larger pack in the coldest months. This is mostly due to my parka, which is extremely bulky (and overkill in most situations).

I suggest an additional LED light, like a photon w/on off switch, not a squeeze model. Days are short and getting caught with a broken headlamp is dangerous. I carry two little LED's and my headlamp.

As BJ pointed out miles are fewer in winter. My winter hiking philosphy is that warmth and safety take precedence over miles and weight. Cold starts make for good eating too, less trouble with perishables.