View Full Version : Total newb here- question about georgia in November

09-16-2011, 23:54
Hey guys like the subject says- total newb. Im 35 and my wife is 33. Aside from humping a ruck sack in the army - my hiking experience is minimal I suppose. Anyway- one of my best friends nearly did a complete thru hike several years back and it kinda planted the seed for me. A thru hike at this time in my life is impossible- young kids, jobs, etc. Anyway, so I dismissed the thought. Then I read AWOL on the AT. Great book by the way. Ok so my question is this- Springer Mtn to State line. I believe its @ 80 miles. Would November around thanksgiving be too cold to do this? Im thinking around 5 days. Question 2- is 15-17 miles per day on that section realistic? Wife will be with me but she is in real good shape- crossfit, etc. question 2- Would you carry enough food for all 5 days or is there a town along the way to re-up? Would you bring a tent or just use the shelters?

Thanks in advance for your help- and if this is a horrible idea let me know lol.

Jim Adams
09-17-2011, 00:16
Should be a great hike but it will probably be cold due to altitude....could be in the teens at night. Camp near shelters because 1. that time of year shouldn't be crowded and 2. water, privies and bear cables are at the shelters but stay in a tent...you will be much warmer in the tent.

15-17 miles / day doesn't seem bad if you are in shape but the climbs will definitely slow you down and that mileage may be a little difficult depending on the weight of your packs. Geogia is steeper than you imagine if you have never been there on the AT.

Have fun, take your time and enjoy your first backpacking trip.


09-17-2011, 00:18
If you are new at backpacking I wouldn't recommend it. How cold can you stand it? That time of year it could likely be at or close to feezing at night, and might not get above the 40's - 50's during the day. It might also be rainy, which would make you colder. If you like cold weather hiking, it's great, but since you're new, it might not be. The shelters have a lot of mice and are 3-sided, so no protection from the wind. Depending on your comfort level, a tent would probably be warmer and you wouldn't have the mice issue.

Although not the most difficult section of the AT, it is a "workout" in a lot of climbing, and if you're not used to carrying a weight of 30-40 lbs. on your back and hiking uphill for 1-2 miles with no "flat" or downhill land, it might not be an easy thing for you to do.

You probably wouldn't want to carry your food for that many days, and there are places to re-supply. You need to get your hands on the AT Guide North Carolina - Georgia books and do a little reading to give you an idea of what to expect. I recommend that you try a shorter trip at that time of year and just see what you can do. You might want to contact the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega, GA. They can take you to Springer to start your trip (and they'll keep your car safe while you're hiking), and then pick you up wherever you hike to. If your hike is going well and you just need them to pick you up and run in for re-supply, great. If you need them to take you back to your car, that will work, too. (Your cell phone will work most places on the trail if you are up high.)

09-17-2011, 00:43
thanks for the replies guys! Perhaps a 3 day 45 mile may be more realistic. Like I said the AT has just been top of mind here recently and I'd like to at least get a taste of it. So the hostel in Dahlonega GA will drive 40-50 miles to pick me up? Sounds like a tent is the way to go here- I wasnt sure if some of the shelters were fully enclose or not. Ill work on the AT guide thanks again. Any other feedback is welcomed.

Big Dawg
09-17-2011, 01:25
Agree w/ suggestion to plan a shorter trip if this is your first time out. Amicalola to Neels Gap (Mountain Crossings) would be a first fun experience to the AT. Some will say to skip Amicalola and the 8 mile approach trail, but for a newbie, experiencing Amicalola would be fun... weigh the pack, start at the arch, see the falls, and experience hiking "to" the start of the AT. Then ending at Neels Gap would be cool for a newbie. Total = 38 miles. This way your first trip is not too long so you'll get a chance to enjoy yourself, see if you like cold weather camping, and work out any kinks in your new gear selection. I would also suggest bringing a tent. That way you'll have an option to tent or stay at shelters. Have fun!!

09-17-2011, 04:51
17 miles is doable, but you may not want to. If you are new your gear may be too heavy to do the long miles. Also in November days are pretty short. I agree with Big Dawg, Plan to go to Neel Gap. At the end, if you want more, simply keep hiking.
Bring a tent, and be prepared for cold nights. The Approach trail is a good hike. Beats driving 6 miles on a FS road any day. You could spend the night at the Lodge at Amacaloa eat the breakfast buffet, then start your hike. Another option would be to spend the first night at the Hike Inn.
BTW November is the best month to hike Georgia, IMHO.

09-17-2011, 09:37
I might suggest that you start at Springer or the Approach and let your bodies determine your hike. When you're tired just find a place to camp. Plenty of campsites along the trail in GA and water will be plentiful that time of year.

There are plenty of exit points in GA so you can just hike until time runs out or you've had enough. And days are very short in late November which may effect your daily mileage. I have often said plans are for city folks. When hiking just hike.

All you need is to park your car, have a couple of shuttle service phone numbers and start hiking. Only need a few days of food as you can resupply at Mountain Xings at Neels Gap only 30 miles up the trail from Springer.

Weather is too unpredictable to plan for months in advance. At the extremes you can find night time temps in the single digits and daytime temps in the 70s. Average for the end of November at altitude is 20s at night and 50s in the day. Actually very nice hiking temps. Be prepared for some rain and even snow in late November as it is one of our wetter times of the year. Check the forecast or send me a PM a few days before you go and I will give you what to expect for the next 4 or 5 days.

Enjoy your hike.

09-17-2011, 11:20
I wanted to share with you my own under-estimation of the GA AT. I did my first section hike this past year and severely underestimated this section. I was 31 at the time and in what I felt like was excellent shape. I was planning to hike from Amicalola to Dicks Creek Gap in 5 days, 75.4 miles including the approach trail, carrying a 35lb pack. I found this trek to be much more of a challenge than I had anticipated. My second day was my biggest at 17 miles, but the pain I felt from that push slowed my pace the rest of the week. I also encountered unforecasted rain which also slowed my pace. I too was on a schedule and pushed myself too hard. I ended up slowing my pace and having a much more enjoyable time by the end of the week. I ended my trip at Unicoi Gap and hitched into Helen to be picked up. I would suggest scaling back and planning for a 10 mile day and being happy if you feel like going further. Take it from someone who learned the hard way, slow down and have fun!

lemon b
09-17-2011, 19:48
Just keep moving. Bring your liner.

09-17-2011, 20:24
I just spent 5 days hiking from the approach trail to Neals Gap, about 3 weeks ago. Water was scarce, several streams were dry. In 2 places we had to dig in order to get water from the streams. Perhaps they will have rain before Thanksgiving so water won't be an issue. Mice managed to get into our food even though it was hung on the bear cables. Several years ago my son and I hiked the same section the week before Thanksgiving and our water bottles froze solid during the night. I know I could not do 80 miles in 5 days, the 42 miles I did in 5 days was enough for me. I am a few years older than you but swim a mile everyday. Living in Florida doesn't really allow me to get in shape for the mountains though. Whatever you decide, enjoy the adventure!

09-17-2011, 20:42
If you can, try a weekend hike or at least an overnight in the mountains before it gets too cold. To do a cold weather hike, ideally you would do hikes every couple weeks earlier in the fall to get experience in gradually colder weather. Even hiking in an hour on a trail and setting up camp and hiking out first thing in the morning would help dial in your equipment and experience level; do this several times in the fall and you'll be fine by Thanksgiving.

09-18-2011, 15:56
Thanks guys! And just fyi I will take and follow advice here. Last thing on earth I want to do it jump in the deep and and realize I can't swim. So - it looks like a good option for us would be Amicalola to Neels Gap? So amicaoloa falls hikes up 8 miles to springer- then the AT starts there - and hike on to neels gap? 4 days be enough?

09-18-2011, 18:54
can be cold wet freezing weather maybe snow in georgia during this time of year as previously mentioned dont overestimate your mileage in georgia climbs are often steep take your time and enjoy it early fall and winter are my favorite times to hike the AT good luck

Big Dawg
09-19-2011, 23:57
So amicaoloa falls hikes up 8 miles to springer- then the AT starts there - and hike on to neels gap? 4 days be enough?

yes... it should be. Have fun!!

09-20-2011, 18:46
4 should be plenty. Plan your campsites for the lower elevations and more protected shelters. Have fun!