View Full Version : Section Hike 2012

Many Moons
10-12-2011, 17:34
Planning on 1st time section hike on April 8th 2012 for a several year to finish whole AT by 2017. Is April 8th an OK ate to start NOB at Springer? Total rookie and never hiked. Is anyone else out there starting around that time? I am going to do 2 weeks on trail and see how far I can make it. Anyone have any worth while advice? Also, I posted in Blog and have not figured out yet how to cancel in the Blog.

10-12-2011, 23:32
An April 8 start date will put you amid the hordes launching north on thru-hikes. Don't plan on staying in a shelter unless you start and finish early every day. It also means you may encounter more cold or wet weather. Cold weather means more and heavier clothing & sleeping bags. Read & heed the many gear list reviews here at Whiteblaze.

Total rookie and never hiked

You'll likely be among many other rookie long distance hikers. You should try and gain some experience between now and then. Do a backyard overnight or two with your gear and verify that you have everything to cook with, camp with, and hike with. I took my cooking system to work and made hot lunches for a few weeks to ensure I knew my Supercat alcohol stove system backwards and forwards. Might also try a 5-7 mile day hike (3 miles out/3 miles back)and see what that mileage actually feels like.

I am going to do 2 weeks on trail and see how far I can make it.

You should be able to cover 80-100 miles in 2-weeks, so you'll finish near Franklin, NC. Make plans for extraction from the trail. Keep the Hiker Hostel (http://www.hikerhostel.com/) number with you in case things don't start well and you need out the first few days. Also keep Ron Haven's number (Haven's Budget Inn (http://havensbudgetinn.com/) in Franklin) with you as he shuttles from several roads near your finish. Since you're from Raleigh, if you can get to Franklin then you could hole up at Ron's place until someone can pick you up.

Many Moons
10-13-2011, 08:03
Thanks for the advice! All the information is good and I will follow it. We have family in Boone, NC and I can practice a hike there this winter. I work at a fire station and can practice cooking with gear there. Thanks

10-13-2011, 08:24
If you're only going to hike 2 weeks, why not start around May 1 when the thruhiking crowds are almost nil? The temps will be warmer, the wildflowers at their peak and you can enjoy Spring weather.

10-13-2011, 08:25
I started out by doing a three night "shake-down" hike, and made notes on what I needed and didn't bring, more importantly what I brought and didn't need. Then went home, spread out everything on the floor. Except for first aid stuff, I tossed anything I did not use, also tossed most things I only used once. Then, I weighed each remaining item and substituted something lighter wherever I could. For example, I found that my empty pack weighed 6 lbs, got a lighter pack; total weight of my Nalgene water bottles empty was one pound, substituted a couple of Platypus containers, which saved 12 ounces, etc. etc. I refined it a little more after each section hike.

Many Moons
10-13-2011, 08:30
That is a good idea. I will look into the May dates if I can get off work with the fire department. I had not thought about weather.

Many Moons
10-13-2011, 08:35
I will do a shake down of gear. Good idea. I am enjoying the gear up, but lots of choices to make. I got into this by my son who did the Bartan Trail last last March on spring break, 8 of them were first timers, they all had a good time and learned a lot by doing the hike.

Papa D
10-13-2011, 19:27
If you are only doing a section, I would not suggest starting in April at Springer - not because that is a bad time but because of the hoards of NOBOS who are pretty much tied to that time for their thru hike logistics. Why not start at another landmark location - Hot Springs NC, perhaps and go north to maybe Damascus, VA - this is just under 200 miles and you get the Roan Mountains - or maybe make Damascus your halfway point and pick up the Roan's and the Grayson Highlands (you'll get a taste of cold weather at Thomas Knob Shelter - Mt. Rogers). The point is (since you are section hiking and you can) to stay out in front of the bulk of the thru hikers. Pick up the most southern parts of the trail - basically GSMNP south - in late summer / early Fall - just ahead of the SOBOS. Since you are in NC like you wanted to begin in the south - there are other options like this further north. You can go to atdist.com for an easy jump on planning your mileages. Have fun!

Many Moons
10-13-2011, 22:37
When you say hoards, is it that crowded? Is it so crowded that it is not fun? I wanted to hit Damascus on trail days with the section hike. Been there to ride bikes. I wanted not to jump around and click off trail in n to s. I will look at leaving later. All of this is good advice and I thank you!

Big Dawg
10-14-2011, 01:38
If you want to section hike the whole trail, then I agree not jumping around to different sections. Start at Springer (Amacalola), but start later, like others have mentioned. Crowded means Springer will see 1000 to 1500 people starting thru-hikes in March and April (of which approx 20 to 25% will finish). If you like crowds, and want to be part of the thru-hike hoopla, then start in March/April, otherwise May is a good month. It'll be warmer then, plants/trees starting to bloom more, and fewer hikers which means more campsite/shelter availability.

The gear collection and shakedown will be fun. One of the many things I like about hiking is the planning and gear critique. Buy a digital kitchen scale and create an excel spreadsheet for your gear so you can manage the collection and overall weight of your "kit".

Have a blast!!

Many Moons
10-14-2011, 08:16
Thanks for the information. I have planned the vacation time for April, but will look into May since everyone is saying May is better. I was thinking when first started planning hike that April would be a good time to learn about the hike with lots of hikers. April was the month I was going to start each section, until up North when it is too cold. I was not going to use shelters, but would not want to go when woods are so full I could not find a place to put my tent. With all the experienced hikers telling me to start in May, I am going to look at that real serious. Thanks for the help!

10-14-2011, 08:33
April 8 is a fine date to start a section hike. Yes, there are a lot of thru-hikers starting in early April. You'll meet plenty of like-minded people. I've hiked Georgia in mid-March twice now, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The only serious downside is that you'll have to go home after two weeks, and your new friends will keep hiking.

It's not like Grand Central Station on the trail, though the shelters can get crowded. But there are plenty of good tentsites both at the shelters and along the trail. You can hike mostly alone all day if that suits you, or with a few other hikers. The good thing about it is that you'll have other beginning hikers going through the same thing, and you get a lot of support from each other.

10-14-2011, 08:41
In my experience things begin to quiet down from mid-April onward in Georgia. I would speak with Josh or Leigh at Hiker Hostel. They can let you know exactly when you would miss the "crowds".

10-14-2011, 09:20
... April was the month I was going to start each section, until up North when it is too cold. I was not going to use shelters, but would not want to go when woods are so full I could not find a place to put my tent. With all the experienced hikers telling me to start in May, I am going to look at that real serious. Thanks for the help!

What I like about hiking in April is the phenomenon of warm sun bringing out early flowers before the trees are leafed out. But April can also bring cold rains so you never know - just be prepared if you go then. However for a Springer start, I'd still start May 1. It's not like the Trail is bereft of people - you'll meet fellow hikers to learn from and share experiences with. And I know you said you'd avoid shelters but if you're hiking in an all-day soaking rain, a shelter brings welcome respite. Shelter space is more likely available after the bulk of the thrus are finished.

Re. future hikes and starting "up North," I've seen Southerners assume that PA, NJ, and NY as "up North" states can't be as hot & muggy as the south and therefore start section hikes in June only to be surprised by how hot it gets. And one of my nicest April-starting section hikes (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=94197) was further "up North" in Massachusetts. So just sayin - you can section hike in April all the way until Vermont.

Many Moons
10-14-2011, 20:02
More great info thanks for all of you for responding. I looked at work vacations and it has got to be the April 8th start date for me. Guess I will add to the crowds. Looks like May would be better from what ya'll are telling me, but May is a no go this spring. Wow, gearing up is expensive even when I am not buying top shelf equipment. I snore too loud to sleep in shelters unless I am only one. Got a good tip today about carrying and empty bottle along to use in tent at night to keep from going outside. Thanks for the info about April being good in other sections. Thanks for the tips about Hostels, I will call so I can get from Atlanta Airport to Springer. This is going to take me until 2017 to get-r-done if all goes well. Thanks to WhiteBlaze for the web page and all the important facts. This is already getting fun!!