View Full Version : SOBO winter thru hike

02-28-2010, 13:25
Im in the starting stages of planning a winter SOBO thru hike. I know there are some members here that have done this successfully and I am interested to hear there experiences and just get any helpful info I can while planning.


03-06-2010, 22:25

Wolf - 23000
03-07-2010, 04:06
There is only a very few number of hikers who have ever really done a winter trip of the AT either direction. Are you talking about climbing up the Big K. on Dec 20 when winter starts and heading southbound. If you are, you in for a very tough trip of well below freezing temp., froven ponds and a wet and cold trip.


03-07-2010, 04:30
Although it has been done, there are some winters that would make it almost impossible. There have been some big snows here in the midatlantic this winter with 8 foot snow drifts in Shenandoah National Park.

03-07-2010, 06:37
Luck could play a big part in your success rate.
We did it starting Oct 14, 2001 and finishing Feb 10, 2002
Had an easy winter that year and except for a few snowstorms, it was mostly bare trail with good views.
We were van supported however.

If you have a low snow year, (and low ice), another thing to keep in mind is that the nights are really long and many of the normal places that cater to hikers are closed.
Even many state parks are closed. (although the trail is open all year round)

Have fun.
I wouldn't trade that hike for anything.

Most will say it can't be done, but maybe they haven't tried.

Hey, how's Farmington, ME these days? I lived in Carabasset valley one winter. I'm sure you know what i mean by long nights.

03-07-2010, 10:21
Have you done a lot of winter mountaineering, hiking and camping in ME and the White Mountains?
If not, there's still some time this winter to do some. If you're not already an expert, you need to do training trips with people experienced in winter. AMC and the Adirondack Mountain Club have courses. For Katahdin and the White Mountains you'll need some avalanche training and learn how to safely use an ice axe.

If you're not already expert in winter mountaineering and cold weather winter camping, I think you won't know enough by the beginning of winter next year for a Dec. 20 start. I know I don't know enough to do this -- that's the most important piece of knowledge.

Starting Oct. 15, like fiddlehead, seems doable if you're lucky with the weather. Doing the trail from VT south in mid-winter seems like a fun trip so long as you're comfortable with cold, snow and route finding in winter. Living in ME, you must be comfortable in the cold.

Fiddlehead, your trip should be made into a book, or even better a movie! Who would play fiddlehead?

kayak karl
03-07-2010, 10:27
Fiddlehead, your trip should be made into a book, or even better a movie! Who would play fiddlehead?
http://www.collider.com/uploads/imageGallery/Pirates_of_the_Caribbean_Dead_Mans_Chest/pirates_of_the_caribbean_dead_mans_chest_image_2.j pg


03-07-2010, 18:12
Living in ME, you must be comfortable in the cold.

Or he tolerates it. Does make 50*F seem nice.

03-07-2010, 18:31
Starting just before Baxter closes for the season would be a good idea. Then you wouldn't have to deal with a lot of snow in the tough states of Maine and NH, though there is bound to be some. Starting any later would simply be insane.

In any event, it would be one cold, long, lonely and difficult hike - best of luck to you.

03-08-2010, 08:32
Thanks for all the feedback so far guys. I do understand the many dangers inherent with winter backpacking. Very cold, long nights, lonely on the trail. Gear selection is crucial. I will write up a list and post it for all to critique.

Im an experienced mountaineer and winter traveler. I have done several 2-4 week stints out in the northern wilds of Maine(not on the AT). Ive also done the hut to hut hike a few times in winter. Ive completed the N. E. 4000ers and alot of those were waist deep in snow.

Iknow how hard it can be to stay on the trail when the blazes are covered and noones been on the trail for weeks(which happens quite often.). I just keep my cool, backtrack until I can find another blaze.

I will probably have to rely on some maildrops and resupplying in some towns. I dont think having van support is feasable for me at this time..

Please keep the feedback coming, thanks !

03-08-2010, 09:17
DLANOIE, Maybe the following would be worth your reading up on.
It is our journal entries from that trip 8 years ago.
Sorry, but you'll have to read them backwards as they got put on my blog starting with Springer at the end of the trip and reading back to Katahdin.
They can be found here (http://fiddlehead.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/logs-from-appalacian-trail-portion-of-our-triple-crown-in-one-year-attempt-20012002/).