View Full Version : Experienced Thru-hikers-advice Please

Pappa Green Jeans
02-08-2005, 17:20
I'm quitting my job and hitting the trail this summer. I wanted to start early with everyone else but when I did the math I found out that I wouldnt have enough money to go by then. So this is part of my problem. I need to know where I should drop in. I would like to start where I would probably be if I had started with everyone else. I would so appreciate any advice. Also I have done hours and hours of research on all the gear that thru-hikers use; I have lists and prices of everything I need except I dont know from experience what to choose from these enourmous lists of mine (what size pack/brand,tent brand,medical kit). I am doing this one way or the other, I just dont want to be out there with the wrong things and without the right. I hike and camp all the time but have never done a thru-hike. I would just start from Springer late and continue but would I be caught in a fury of bugs? I want to arrive at the trail on july 1st; WHERE SHOULD I START? PLEASE HELP ME. THANK YOU. Pappa Green Jeans.:bse

02-08-2005, 17:24
I want to arrive at the trail on july 1st; WHERE SHOULD I START? PLEASE HELP ME. THANK YOU. Pappa Green Jeans.:bse

Katahdin and hike SOBO.

Gear won't do the trick. Just about anything will work. You need to start with a budget and work from there. Do you know how much money you'll have? What kind of gear do you already own? What sort of backpacking experience (if any) do you have?

Mountain Dew
02-08-2005, 17:31
NOBO or nothing....lol ;)

02-08-2005, 17:33
Its hard to say "where you woulda been if you had started out with everyone else". Thru-hikers are spread out a lot by July 1st. I was already in the Whites and others were close to Katahdin, but then there were others in Virginnia. I'd say the large part of the pack is around Harpers Ferry by that point, with many people in northern virginia and pennsylvania. Most likely when you hit trail you won't be able to maintain the miles that seasoned hikers can so it'll be hard to join in the social scene, more people passing you than anything. For this I might recommend starting farther north, but as I say, anywhere you go there will be folks coming up from behind you, so it doesn't truly matter. Unless you want the thrill of going to Katahdin, I would agree with Little Bear, a SOBO would be a great idea. July 1st is optimal for a SOBO and I would probably start then, not in june like most do.

02-08-2005, 17:35
I would start a SOBO and plan on going quite slowly at first.

As for gear, take Maker's Mark. Your knees will thank you.

Lone Wolf
02-08-2005, 17:36
Start in Harpers Ferry.

02-08-2005, 17:37
Either a SOBO (which is what I would do if I was starting on July 1) or start in Harper's Ferry, hike north to Katahdyn, then flip back to HF and hike a SOBO. That's another good option...


Pappa Green Jeans
02-08-2005, 17:39
What is markers mark?

02-08-2005, 17:41
Makers Mark, damn good Whiskey

Lone Wolf
02-08-2005, 17:41
Makers Mark is one fine Kentucky bourbon.

02-08-2005, 17:42
I second the vote for Harpers Ferry. Starting at Harpers will pretty much assure you of a September (or earlier, depending on your physical conditioning and pace) and then you've still got plenty of time to flip back to Harpers and get to Springer before the snow flies.

But Makers Mark ...nah. Take along a flask of JD

AT 2003

The Old Fhart
02-08-2005, 17:43
Maker's Mark is a fine KY bourbon. Click here (http://www.beerliquors.com/buy/liquors/makersmark.htm) for more info.

Pappa Green Jeans
02-08-2005, 17:46
That's nice to see how quickly you guys responded. Thank you very much.

02-08-2005, 17:48
Maker's Mark is a fine KY bourbon. Click here (http://www.beerliquors.com/buy/liquors/makersmark.htm)for more info.====================
Boo Hiss ...gotta be Tennessee Sour Mash !!


Lone Wolf
02-08-2005, 17:50
JD is piss compared to MM. :cool:

The Old Fhart
02-08-2005, 18:04
Sorry, I don't drink anything hard so my reply about Makers Mark was not an endorsement, just an answer to the question. :)

As to what gear to take, that's like saying: "what should I but, a Ford or a Chevy?" (again, not an endorsement) You've done some hiking so you have some idea what works and what doesn't. Tents, hammocks, tarps, and shelters all have pros and cons. You have plenty of time before July to go to the outfitter stores, try stuff out, etc. Maybe you can find some classes on the A.T. or attend Trail Days in Damascus, VA and be able to see an almost unlimited variety of tents and other gear. By July I think you will have answered your own questions better than we can with so little input to work with.

Spirit Walker
02-08-2005, 18:18
If you can't start until July, I would do a southbound hike. You'll be able to do a linear thruhike, you'll meet lots of other thruhikers, and you will be able to hike with other southbound hikers. Of course, if you think you'll only have money for half a hike then start in Pennsylvania or NJ and hike north.

As to gear - what you choose depends on your particular body. A pack that fits me may make you miserable. Same with boots/shoes. Lots of people wear running shoes, others can't stand them. General rule of thumb - keep your pack weight as light as you are comfortable with. Aim for a big three under ten pounds (pack, tent and sleeping bag.) With a July start, you won't need winter gear (unless you do a southbound thruhike) - so you can carry less warm clothes and so will need a smaller lighter pack, sleeping bag, etc. If you are experienced, you already know that you don't need all that much stuff. Since you will be walking all day, you won't need a lot of toys to entertain yourself in the evenings (one of the biggest difference between thruhiking and general backpacking.) Bring a camera and journal though - you'll be glad a few years from now to have the details that get blurred otherwise.

02-08-2005, 18:29
JD is piss compared to MM. :cool:=============================
To each his own !!


SGT Rock
02-08-2005, 18:31
Although not an experienced thru-hiker, I tend to agree that MM is better than JD.

The Old Fhart
02-08-2005, 18:37
Rock, this sounds like a "spirited" disagreement. :D

02-08-2005, 18:43
Although not an experienced thru-hiker, I tend to agree that MM is better than JD.==========================
Ain't got nuttin to do with experience or thru-hiking Top ...just an acquired taste.


02-08-2005, 18:47
I've got to take Jack or Gentleman Jack over Makers. I used to work at the Jack Daniels distillery making charcoal. For two days. Then I had to get another job, this time working in a factory welding exhaust systems for the Nissan Altima. Guess which was a better job?

But, to answer the question, it depends. Try Delaware Water Gap. Or Duncannon. Or, better yet, check out www.trailjournals.com and take a look at a variety of past hikers journals. You can find out where they were on July 1.

Jack Tarlin
02-08-2005, 19:33
Green Jeans:

I agree with the folks who suggested you start your trip at Harpers Ferry:

You'll have excellent company; you'll be at the approximate half-way mark of the Trail; Harpers is easy to get to (there's a daily communter train from D.C.); and with a 1 July start, you'll have ample time to finish the Trail in good company, most likely in mid-to late September.

It'll be VERY hot in Marland, Pennsylvania, and the mid-Atlantic states, so try to be in good shape when you start and don't push yourself too hard. Luckily, the terrain is pretty easy, and you'll have the advantage of starting in summer weather, meaning your starting gear will be lightweight compared to the folks leaving in March. This schedule will also put you in Vermont and the White Mountains in August, which is perfect, and into Maine in September.

Have a great trip!

02-08-2005, 23:24
I started a SoBo hike 7/21/00 and was lucky enough to miss the majority of mosquito season and got to hike with some awesome people who are still good friends today.

I will warn that you might find the 'seasoned' hikers a bit clickish if you jump in at Harpers Ferry. By that time folks will have covered quite a bit of ground and gotten well past talking gear and the like. I am aware that people have and still do flip-flop, I'm just suggesting that you might do yourself some justice by starting in Maine and hiking south since you can't start until July.

Not to say that you WON'T enjoy your experience if you start in HF, but that you may find that beginning your hike at the same time as others to be mutually benificial and exciting/enjoyable.

Just my $.02, happy hiking!


02-09-2005, 00:36
For NOBO: I vote for Delaware Water Gap if you are not in great shape. It is better to let the pack catch up while you are getting in shape to hold with them. Also, if you hang it up at K you will have missed the rocks of my fine state.
SOBO: You should be right in the pack with your peers.

02-09-2005, 16:27
If you are starting July first and you want to thru hike your only option is to hike SOBO starting in Maine. If you are want to hike north it is going to be a section hike and would suggest starting in Virgina or NC. I'm not starting my thru hike till june 1 and am hiking NOBO.

02-09-2005, 19:24
If you are starting July first and you want to thru hike your only option is to hike SOBO starting in Maine. If you are want to hike north it is going to be a section hike and would suggest starting in Virgina or NC. I'm not starting my thru hike till june 1 and am hiking NOBO.

He has plenty of time to flip-flop, if that's his choice.

Pappa Green Jeans
02-10-2005, 19:16
thank you so much for your suggestions. GOD BLESS YOU.

02-11-2005, 18:37
It seems everyone else has answered the where to start question (and the what to drink issue). As for your concern about carrying the right equipment on the AT, take a look at The Enlightened Thru-Hiker at www.enlightenedthruhiker.com. I wrote it to specifically address the gear concerns of AT thru-hikers and their unique equipment demands. You should find a lot of the brands you're considering discussed as well as my opinion on their suitability for an AT long-distance hike.

Hike Well, Ignore the Smell-


www.enlightenedthruhiker.com (http://www.enlightenedthruhiker.com)

02-11-2005, 20:25
This past December 10th I was at Spring and 4 thru hikers were just finishing. (SOBO) They had Started in Maine on July 1st, July 10th, July 14 and July 18th. They had all gotten together before harpers ferry and had hiked the rest of the way as a group. Maybe this will give you an idea on your time frame and also reassure you that you will not be by yourself coming south.

God Bless