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View Full Version : Would it be complete madness to start at springer in August?



beanburg
05-17-2011, 08:52
Hi, we are coming over from australia and england to hike from middle august until early november starting at springer mountain in georgia. our self appointed trip leader is determined on this time and place, so that we can finish the trip the next year.
From what I have read the weather in August is very very hot. just wondering if anyone has done these walks at this time of year and just what we can expect in terms of weather and how much water we need to carry.

Also, what is the weather like in north virginia pennysylvania area in november.

Many thanks, any advice appreciated.:sun:mad:

general
05-17-2011, 09:05
georgia in august is brutal. it will be winter in virginia and pennsylvania in november.

Fog Horn
05-17-2011, 09:11
I don't know if you deal with humidity in Australia, but Georgia in August won't just be hot, it will be humid. The humidity here in the South, for someone not used to it, is oppressive. Some days I'll sit in my car and have to talk myself into walking the ten feet to get inside my office building, thats how oppressive the humidity here is for someone not used to it.

If you are used to the humidity (and I'm talking near 100% humidity) then you will probably do fine. I just couldn't imagine trying to aclimate both to the trail and the oppressive humidity at the same time. Heat I can handle. I actually feel lucky to be living out here for my second summer in case I run into the hot humid days on the trail.

LDog
05-17-2011, 09:41
Hi, we are coming over from australia and england to hike from middle august until early november starting at springer mountain in georgia.

At that time of year, if you start in PA and head south, you'll likely miss the extremes of temps you might experience going north.

Doc Mike
05-17-2011, 09:48
short answer. yes that is madness
100 degrees with 100 percent humidity to start
and 0 degrees with snow to finish.

as above doing it southbound would be better

Tinker
05-17-2011, 09:49
It would only be partial madness - nearly complete - unless you enjoy miserable weather (but hikers are nuts anyway ;)).

10-K
05-17-2011, 10:06
I think you could probably leave your winter gear in Oz... :)

beanburg
05-17-2011, 11:10
thanks guys, that gives me a pretty good idea of what to expect. our head strong trip leader did say (quote) 'i will not change my plans unless somebody states it is complete madness', luckily plain madness and near complete madness were enough and we will now start in PA. :)

Migrating Bird
05-17-2011, 11:21
Why not start at Katahdin and hike south, starting in mid August, you should be through the whites by mid-September and through NH, VT, MA and CT by early-mid October. You will hit the New England area during peak foliage season. You may run into snow in the whites, but you can run into snow in the whites in July for that matter. Cooler temps fewer bugs - awesome. You will also be hiking against the crowd of NOBOS finishing up.

BJStuart
05-17-2011, 11:50
I don't know about Australia, but I have known several people who have come from the UK to the DC area in August & ended up with heatstroke. Your body needs time to adjust & learn how to sweat. Southbound will be better; still pretty hot for someone from the UK, but better than Georgia.

bigcranky
05-17-2011, 12:06
Complete madness. Possibly, yes. Certainly not an ideal start time for Springer.

The trail in the South will be extremely hot, humid, buggy, and overgrown with briars and poison ivy. You'll have 4-6 weeks of that, then you'll get somewhat better weather as the early fall brings cooler temperatures in southern Virginia. By mid October it'll start getting pretty cold at night.

Starting at Katahdin might not be any better. Oh, the weather will be nicer -- much nicer. But aside from a southbound start being much more difficult than a northbound start, I think you'll have to hike pretty quickly to be out of northern New England and past the Whites before things start to get very cold.

Perhaps starting somewhere in southern Maine would be ideal. You'll get the wonderful late summer Maine weather, then be past the Whites by mid-September and have six or eight weeks of solid New England fall hiking. Cold nights, but great foliage (fall color), and you should be able to get to Pennsylvania without too much trouble in that time frame.

Good luck.

bulldog49
05-17-2011, 12:37
Hi, we are coming over from australia and england to hike from middle august until early november starting at springer mountain in georgia. our self appointed trip leader is determined on this time and place, so that we can finish the trip the next year.
From what I have read the weather in August is very very hot. just wondering if anyone has done these walks at this time of year and just what we can expect in terms of weather and how much water we need to carry.

Also, what is the weather like in north virginia pennysylvania area in november.

Many thanks, any advice appreciated.:sun:mad:

Northern VA and PA in November aren't bad at all. In fact November is my favorite month to hike. Daytime temps will range from low 40's to as high as in the 60's. Nights will not dip lower than mid 20's. Usually it's fairly wet in November, possibility of some snow but nothing extreme. The August start in the south as others have mentioned will be brutal.

Doc Mike
05-17-2011, 12:49
Bulldog, you might want to check the record books for records lows and you will see if has been well below 20 at night. As far as averages you are right on the money.

I spend almost every day in october and november in the woods hunting and have seen it vary from 70 and sunny to 0 and snowing and anywhere in between.

Doc Mike
05-17-2011, 12:54
http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/online/ccd/extremelow.html

And remember this is in towns and it is always colder in the mountains.

emerald
05-17-2011, 13:07
Luckily plain madness and near complete madness were enough and we will now start in PA. :)

I don't believe you can expect better conditions for the 1st two months compared to your original plan. It's likely to be hotter and more humid in August and September where the elevation is lower than at elevation in the South, but a few Southbounders manage to deal with it every year.

LoneRidgeRunner
05-17-2011, 13:16
Not if that's what you wanta do...HYOH...If you're prepared gear wise, physically, and attitude wise for the seasons you will encounter at the locations you will encounter them go for it Dude...

peakbagger
05-17-2011, 17:21
Even PA can be hot and water sources dry in August. You will need to plan your water carefully as many of the water sources for the campsites are in low spots but still up on the ridge and the water sources tend to go dry later in the season. I remember at least a couple of shelters had water source #1, water source #2 and Water source #3 which were all on the same creek bed just going lower and lower.

Driver8
05-17-2011, 19:56
I vote for the Katahdin southward idea. You'd take in the most dramatic, iconic views and most difficult stretches by and large and do VT to CT, approximately, during the wondrous foliage season, seeing both the AT and its forbear, the famed Long Trail. You could wind up in NYC (from NY or NJ or PA, wherever you get to), visit there, and fly conveniently back.

Driver8
05-17-2011, 19:58
PS: Plus, you'd meet tons of thru-hikers, both SOBO and NOBO, and tons of hikers of all stripes in peak hiking season. Heck, you might like it so much that you stay on trail, if possible, all the way south. :)

Mags
05-17-2011, 20:17
Consider an alternative itinerary. Start somewhere up north in August, hike to Katahdin and 'flip' to where you started and then work your way southbound to Springer.

Here's some ideas here:
http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/thru-section-hiking/sample-itineraries

max patch
05-17-2011, 20:21
Keep in mind the OP is only going to be out 2.5-3 months.

Driver8
05-17-2011, 20:57
Keep in mind the OP is only going to be out 2.5-3 months.

Right, so K to NYC should work well. The all the way to Springer comment was semi-jocular, and of course it wouldn't be unheard-of for someone to change their mind during the hike and continue on to Dixieland.

Dogwood
05-17-2011, 21:09
Pure madness? No not really! Hot and humid in the beginning, yes! Without the comradarie of thru-hikers, yes!

There are no wrong ways to break up the AT. There are an infite number of ways you could do the AT in two long section hikes. One of the distinct benefits is that you get to pick and chose what section you want to do to when you want to do it to satisfy your desired experiences. You can really have your cake and eat it too! Hike with the nice weather, hike with the changing seasons, hike following spring, hike to follow the wildflowers blooming, hike to experience the fall colors, hike to possibly experience a little snow, hike to experience NO snow, hike within a temp and/or weather range, hike to stay within the main body of AT thru-hikers, hike so you meet thruhikers as you hike in the oppsite direction of the hoards of thru-hikers, hike to have more solitude, etc etc etc. Organize your sections according to your desires!

When breaking up the AT into two long sections you may lose that sense of continuity and finishing with those who you have come to know as your friends, but it really has so many advantages IF YOU LOOK AT IT THAT WAY!


There is some info in the AT thru-hikers book and here on WB discussing some of the more common hiking options. So many AT books get into the possibilities too. It started to make my head swim when I started reading about the options!

Here are some more swimming lessons.


You don't discuss your plans in detail, but I will note that you should plan it wisely! Most of the time I thru-hike from end to end but when I know ahead of time I have to complete a trail/hike by coming back during multiple seasons/phases I try to simplyfy things for the second section leg/phase. End the first leg at a spot where it will be easy/convenient to get back on trail for the second leg. Keep in mind your finishing pt. You and your hiking buddies are coming from OZ and England! Think about the transportation questions. FWIW, I think it somewhat anti-climactic finishing the AT at Springer Mt when compared to finishing at Mt Katahdin or someplace else like it. For example, if you start in PA too far south you may find yourself at Springer Mt before you are ready to go home. You can run out of trail to hike, possibly NOT using your trail time in the U.S. as efficiently as possible. Just the opposite can occur if you start too far north and don't adjust your hiking rate. You may not get to the southern terminus when it's time to leave in Nov leaving you with two ends of the trail open FAR apart! I've done that to myself! Makes it harder and longer traveling around finishing up the far distant pieces of trail! Just hiking in one direction during the entire multi phase hike is probably the easiest, but you have to judge that for yourself and your parties goals.


As yet another option, you could hike SOBO starting at the northern terminus(Mt Katahdin) in August. Plan on getting someplace specific to end that first SOBO leg. It will be where you END your AT hike on your second leg(and finishing the entire AT!) when going NOBO starting at Springer. Weigh the pros/cons!

subliminal
05-17-2011, 22:49
Just to reinforce what has been said about humidity. It's a bitch if you're not accustomed to it.

A few years back I went on a business trip to Vegas, where it was around 107 degrees the whole time we were there. All of us walked everywhere, and were pretty much completely comfortable the entire time. When the plane landed back here in Iowa the pilot announced on descent that the temp was 83 degrees. We walked out of the airport and every one of us, nearly in unison, said "Holy ****, it's hot!!!!" And this is a group of people that have lived in the Iowa humidity our entire lives, and should be used to it.

I don't know which part of Austraila you're from, but don't take humidity lightly. It very much amplifies the effects of heat on your body, both from a physical comfort standpoint, and from a health standpoint. (For one, your sweat won't evaporate as well, which drastically reduces its cooling effect...)

95 degrees in the woods is NOT the same thing as 95 degrees in the desert.

The type of humidity that is being talked about is enough that you actually have to think about breathing. The air feels "thick" and it actually takes effort to suck it into your lungs.

Kaptain Kangaroo
05-18-2011, 00:31
From a fellow Aussie...... I agree with those who suggest you start at Katahdin & go south.

Being from Perth, you know about hot summers, but down in GA (even in PA) it will be humid as *%#%$ you will be uncomfortable, but it would probably kill your Pommie mates ;)

New England is my favourite part of the US & as others have mentioned you will get to see the Fall foliage.

beanburg
05-18-2011, 05:11
well, that certainly gives us some things to think about. Definitely not going to start in Georgia, but Katahdin or somewhere else.. Great info, much appreciated:)

birchy
05-18-2011, 06:44
I agree with all those above. Hiking SOUTHBOUND from Pennsylvania would be a better decision. I operate a hostel in southern Pennsylvania and we get a few southbounder's around your projected start date. You can e-mail me if you need some assistance in Pennsylvania Highmtnhaven@gmail.com

njordan2
05-18-2011, 06:57
I am from "up north" and can say that having section hiked the A.T. in Georgia in August over the course of a few years, the heat and humidity are significant. What everyone said is true, 100degF and 100% humidity. With that said, going up in elevation and being in the shade of the woods made a good big difference. I would not consider it madness. Water was never a problem. Every night I stayed at a shelter and there was water at every one of them. The day time heat can make it more difficult, just take your time adjusting and don't start out on the first few days with plans of doing large miles like 15 perday. Keep it under 10miles per day, or even just 5 miles per day to start.

rhapsody98
05-18-2011, 07:45
georgia in august is brutal. it will be winter in virginia and pennsylvania in november.


Actually, winter doesn't really get going in VA and TN until December. In November it's actually quite pleasant during the afternoon, it's only the chilly mornings and evenings you'd have to worry about.

d.o.c
05-18-2011, 08:03
people hike all sections at all times of the year... november its gettn cold here in Va u might see a dusting or somthing but no snow storms here in november usualy... aslong as you keep yourself drinking water i think you would have a enjoyable time in the south in the summer... it cant be that bad or noone would live there...

booney_1
05-18-2011, 10:33
I have hiked lot during the summers on the AT in NC. The mountains are cooler and humidity is down. We've always used tarps and have not had a problem with bugs or mosquitos. Remember that much of the trail is covered by trees or Rhododendron, so you have good shade. Water is only a problem if the area is in a drought (it's not now). Days are longer than in early spring, and it's very practical to hike earlier in the morning, and after dinner. The only downside is in GA and NC the typical summer weather pattern is for afternoon or even thunderstorms to blow through. Sometimes this happens every day.

Don't confuse the low land temperatures and humidity with the mountains. Asheville,NC is well known for florida retirees who winter in Florida, but come to the NC mountains in the summer for the nicer weather.

I would not hesitate to recommend hiking in this area in the summer...

Beachcomber
05-18-2011, 10:38
people hike all sections at all times of the year... november its gettn cold here in Va u might see a dusting or somthing but no snow storms here in november usualy... aslong as you keep yourself drinking water i think you would have a enjoyable time in the south in the summer... it cant be that bad or noone would live there...

Well, remember people were steadily leaving the South until air conditioning because pretty much universal. Otherwise, the great in-migration to the South from the '70s on wouldn't have happened. So while lots of us live here, we think long and hard about how we exert ourselves in the great outdoors in mid-summer. All that being said, the mountains are cooler, and if you have plenty of water and don't mind being drenched in sweat all the time, it's still possible to enjoy yourself.

skooch
05-18-2011, 10:41
Has anyone mentioned cooler, less humid nights? Sleeping too hot is the only thing that bothers me in Florida. That's the reason we don't camp in the summer here. Oh yes and the blazing sun and lack of shade for most hiking trails. The southern AT has got to be better than that.