View Full Version : How cold?

12-02-2002, 14:36
I'm going to start a south to north thru-hike around 15 March 2003 . How cold can it get at the start?

Lone Wolf
12-02-2002, 14:44
Last year on March 21 at Hawk Mtn. shelter, 7 miles from Springer, it got down to 5deg., strong winds. Other years in mid_March it was 60-70deg. at the start. Prepare for cold, nasty, wet weather. Intermingled in all that you'll have bright, sunshiny 70deg. days.

12-02-2002, 14:51
We arrived at Amicalola Falls on march 4th, and it was 18 degrees that night. The next day when we started out the thermometer said 25, but by the afternoon it was in the high 50's. Went down to 10 dgrees one night in the Smokies, but other than that it was relatively tolerable, temperature wise.

12-02-2002, 18:39
Christopher Whalen's book "Workbook for planning thru-hikes" lists the average low for Blairsville (1917') in March as 33 degrees. Much of the trail is about 2000 feet higher, so that drops the average low to 26 degrees. I'd certainly expect nights lower that that. Don't forget that this year there was a hard frost in the valleys of North Carolina, and Tennassee a few days before Memorial Day this past spring.

12-03-2002, 09:20
There was an ice storm in mid may in the Smokys this year with temps in the upper 20s. I was hailed on twice around Erwin in late May this year. Weather seems to be rather variable during the spring.

Max Patch
12-03-2002, 09:38
Wingfoot has a useful weather chart which gives the average low temperature as 25 degrees in March on Springer:


You asked how low it can go. In mid-March 1993 an unusual snow storm hit Georgia and dumped over 2 feet of snow on Springer, stranding hikers who were finally taken off the mountain by rangers. This storm shut down the Atlanta airport for a day.

With a mid-March start you should be prepared for at least 10 degree nights with the knowledge that it could get colder.

If I were to start in mid-March I would start out with a zero degree bag.

SGT Rock
12-03-2002, 09:46
I've seen it as low as 7*F in March. I've had Ice Storms in May, and even had a 36* F morning in July around 1980. Always be prepared. Sometimes clothing or a sleeping bag will not be enough, so know how to build a fire with wet stuff and look for bail plans if you hit something you cannot deal with.

That being said, most people get hypothermia in 40-50 degree weather.

12-03-2002, 23:31
Sgt Rock makes a good point and bail plans by their very nature necissitate (sp?) maps or at least a good perusing/note taking off maps pre-hike....knowing where the closest roads are, the closest 'facilities' are, etc. are only smart moves for your pre-hike planning...sometimes for long distance hikers it is easy to forget that anything can happen on any given segment....one reason I carry a small ham radio is to reach out but now the newest cell phones have an equivelent to epirb/ipirb and should also be considered, not just for us fool-hardy hikers of old who think we can deal with anything but esp. for those less fortunate we might happen upon.

12-12-2002, 16:39
It can be wild in spring in GA. Woke up one April morning woundering why I felt cold, then noticed 6 inches of snow and the wind howling (Tray Mtn.). Took forest service roads down to Helen to thaw out for a few days.

12-13-2002, 00:27
On March 6-7th in '95 it hit a brisk 8-9 degrees on Tray Mountain. The next year on March 1st is snowed and was pretty damn chilly at Hawk Mtn Shelter. Being a cold sleeper I carried a 0 deg down bag both years and slept like a baby, remember you can always vent your bag but if you're cold there is nothing you can do.

12-13-2002, 10:06
If you get cold, put on the thermal underwear and insulating layer that you should be carrying anyways. Put on the warm hat that you should be carrying. I am, though, a relatively hot sleeper. A 30 degree bag, with a silk liner, my hat, and my thermals is good for me down to around 10 degrees.