View Full Version : sobo

09-10-2004, 12:13
i'm planning a spring 06 sobo anyone out there who has completed the hike with any advice and believe me i need advice!

09-10-2004, 12:37
Hi Blindeye! I certainly loved going sobo...there are many advantages to doing the trail this way! When in the spring do you plan to start your hike?

If possible, you might want to consider starting your sobo a little later in the year. I understand that some of the sections of trail up north are closed in early to middle spring in order to prevent damage from erosion...lot's of melting snow, massive quanties of mud, etc! Also, the bugs are really bad up there in spring and early summer. Then, depending upon your pace and start date you'd hit the bad mosquitos in the middle states and you could end up in the south during the hottest and haziest time of year.

I started my sobo later than most seem to (July 18), and I seemed to hit each region at a fantastic time. I was bit by only one black fly in Maine, had mild tempertures most of the way, I got to experience changing leaves on and off from Vermont to Virginia, and I got to the south when the skies were crisp and the snow's were relatively dry.

Of course, every season has good qualities! I hope you have a great trip whenever you plan on starting. What kind of advise are you interested in receiving?

"Not Yet" MEGA 2000

09-10-2004, 13:07
thanks for the start date info i was wondering about the bugs i'm from massachusetts so i know they're bad luckily i'm flexible enough so i can start my hike later. as far as advice any part of the trail that i should be especially careful on (more than normal) or any towns that might not be as friendly as the previous one. i just want to concentrate on my hike and not anything negative. also what size pack did you use and how many lbs. did you carry on average.was it a internal or external frame? just trying to plan ahead ya' know


09-10-2004, 13:50
My wife and I sobo'd in 01 and live just off of 110 closer to the Merrimac line in Amesbury. Would be happy to talk to you if you have questions. Shoot me an email and we'll grab a beer or something.


Also, use the search forum on this site to see past threads about going SOBO. You are obviously not the first one to ask.

09-10-2004, 15:48
Bline eye,

I went in the right direction (north) for my thru-hike, but I can hopefully help anyway. Internal v.s. External is a personal choice, but I'd say 90% of the hikers on the AT are using internal these days as the technology and weight are more advantageous to long distance hikers.
I'd look to find a pack between 3000 and 4000 cubic inches and between 2 and 5 lbs. A pack should be the last thing you purchase, so that you can physically take all your gear to an outfitter and see how it fits, in direct relation to your gear (everyones is slightly different).
There is an old and outdated idea that SOBO's need to haul more food and more gear than NOBO's. Thats simply not true. Unless you're attempting to follow the old pioneers of the AT, almost all SOBO's seem to make use of White House Landing in the 100 mile wilderness. This allows you to pack 4-5 days food from Katahdin to WHL and the same to get to Monson. This is virtually the same amount a Nobo would start with, give or take a day. It is true that you won't hit a real traditional outfitter for a few weeks, so its best to be prepared, but that certainly doesn't mean carrying two of every piece of gear. You are resourceful and there are always other hikers to help out in times of crisis.
With that being said, I always try to lean people towards going somewhat lightweight. Not to be an ounce nazi, but to be prepared for what the AT and thru-hiking calls for. So many thru-hikers end of ditching that 7000 cu inc 8 lb pack for something lighter, so I think its in most new hikers interest to not waste the money and simply look for a mid level, lightweight pack. You will need some warm gear for cool Maine nights and traversing the Whites of NH, but I can guarantee this type of a hike calls for less winter gear than say starting feb or early march in Georgia.
Mostly you'll learn a lot as you go along. I certainly recommend going out for a weekend or a week if you can and playing with gear and ideas from this forum. EMS rents gear like packs, tents and sleeping bags so you don't have to commit to expensive stuff until you know it works. As Grimace says, do some research on this site as many of your questions have already been asked and answered in the past. Lastly going on trailjournals.com and reading up on some journals, specifically SOBo's will give you an accurate account of what to expect on a daily basis out there.
Good luck and let the questions rain

09-10-2004, 16:55
Conventional Wisdom is not to start SOBO until early July. The reason is that the streams are still high and very cold with spring runoff until that time (no bridges in Maine). Also, June is black fly season.

Elsewhere, the trail maintaining clubs in the North East strongly urge all hikers to stay off high elevations until Memorial Day. The reason is that the trails are very fragile until the frost comes out of the ground and the trail has a chance to dry up a bit.

TJ aka Teej
09-10-2004, 20:15
Conventional Wisdom is not to start SOBO until early July.
Over 100 southbounders leave Baxter Park by the middle of June every year. The sobo traffic slows down considerably by the end of July.

09-11-2004, 08:29
Over 100 southbounders leave Baxter Park by the middle of June every year. The sobo traffic slows down considerably by the end of July.

Yes, It's hard to have patience when weather is nice and days are long.

09-12-2004, 08:13
I agree with the suggestion A-Train made regarding a practice hike for 3-7 days. You will learn so much during this trip & it will dramatically improve your chances for completing a thru hike. If you are willing to commit 6 months of your life to a thru hike, why not spend a few training days making sure 2006 will be a successful year!!!!

SGT Rock
09-12-2004, 10:01
Recon hikes, practice hikes, shake down hikes, all great ideas. If you hear that a section might be a problem, take a week and go hike it before you are committed to the big, long walk. That way you can gut out problems (if any) for that short hike, then make an assessment for what you need to change, if anything, prior to starting your thru-hike. I have been planning to thru-hike for years and I still get AT trail time when ever I can so I work out some of these things before I start and I can enjoy the AT and keep my appetite wet for the big one.

09-12-2004, 10:37
What do you think the #1 difference is between SOBO and NOBO? ( sure there may be many)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that geologically it is more difficult to head SOBO, harder UPs, easier downs ( in general). Would like some opinions!

09-12-2004, 13:26
first off, I'd like to say to anyone planning a thru-hike: don't get discouraged. Going out for a week is an excellent way to prep yourself and your gear for the long walk, but walking a random section of trail is just not the same. I quit early on section hikes before thru-hiking and got really discouraged. Walking off Springer (or Katahdin) has a completely different feel and meaning. The folks you meet will be your family and there is energy there I never felt on a section hike. All the momentum, excitement and time in the world is on your side.

to Eye: yes, I heard someone once say that going SOBo would be more difficult based on the way the mountains are shaped. I don't know for sure, but even if that's true, I think it would even out after awhile. North or South, its a long hard walk. It did seem that as a NOBO many of the steepest sections were descents, but there are a fair number of steep ascents too. When the hike is done, the same trail will be covered.
What traditionally made Southbounding "harder" was the lack of people and trail towns to ease hikers into a comfortable trail life. I just don't think that really exists anymore. Solitude is much easier to come by as a SOBO, but you could easily fall into a group if you wanted to. Many people start South every june-july, and going south has gotten more popular in the last few. Yes the towns are smaller up north and the resupply and outfitters are fewer and farther between, but overall i'd say they are equally difficult, challenges to both. Very different i'd assume.

09-12-2004, 16:24
What do you think the #1 difference is between SOBO and NOBO? ( sure there may be many)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that geologically it is more difficult to head SOBO, harder UPs, easier downs ( in general). Would like some opinions!

Either way, I suspect that the terrain is similiar. The Northern section definately has some rugged terrain, but don't underestimate the Southern section as well. The South was a lot more rugged that what I expected.

#1 difference might be that Springer never closes.

09-12-2004, 19:07
I'd never thought of that, and do mostly hikes up North. The descents are tougher in my book, I like uphills all day, but coming down seems to be the most dangerous, injury wise, at least in my case. Anybody else have this trouble?

Lots of great suggestions, thanks for the replies!

09-12-2004, 20:41
In my opinion, the ups and downs were both quite steep up north! :)

Both Springer and Katadhin present very unique challenges for the beginning of a thru-hike. But, in my opinion, the geology and trail design up north make a Sobo start more physically difficult. Even the "seasoned" Nobos seemed to slow down in New Hampshire! Once I made it past the Whites (which is pretty early on in a Sobo), the trail itself seemed to become much easier...though I'd never call it "easy".

No matter which way you go, I believe that training plays a big part in how much you enjoy your first weeks/month of your thru-hike. If you make a conscious effort to start out in good shape, you're more likely to truly like the experience of getting your "trail legs", and you're less likely to experience an injury.

Blindeye, I agree that you should go on as many practice hikes/backpacking trips as you can. But also, I highly recommend developing a regular fitness regimen for yourself that increases your cardio strength, and builds muscle and endurance. Don't overdo it, but try to be in as good of shape as you can be before you start your thru-hike. There are many threads about ways to do this here in Whiteblaze.