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Maratila
10-16-2012, 01:14
Hi, everyone! I'm new here (obviously), and I am planning to do the Appalachian Trail in 2013. I am a female traveling with a dog and I would be starting in Georgia at Springer Hill. I'm reading a lot and trying to learn everything possible, but I'm not sure about a lot and I am a horrible "searcher" on forums.

I've done hiking for a few years, so I feel ready, and I am freakishly strong, which has never been a benefit for me until like now ;).

I'm trying to pack with as few items as possible, but I do not want to make a lot of stops to change out gear besides for food.

Things that are fluxing:
I will have at least one dog, but the size of the dog depends (I trying to consider whether to bring my super small dog or my medium sized dog; I would carry the small dog - she weighs 4 pounds). Also, there might be at most a total of three dogs traveling. Any dogs taken are WORKING dogs and are very, very well trained to do a range of jobs. The dog banned areas we have plans for already.

A girl hiking partner (she would be most likely bringing her dog, which counts for the above dog count; if it just me I most likely will be just bring one dog).

Anyways, here they are:
1. Starting date - I am reading different ones, but most say you have to start in around March or like you'll freeze to death. However, I found a huge section of writings saying people start Feb 1st. So, what is the difference in start dates overall? Different month differences? I want to start as early as possible without freezing :p

2. Computer/Electronics - Okay, how is still even possible on the trail? I'd really love to bring a laptop or just some electronics, like a camera or something, so I can have a locater on me incase of emergency. Also, I'd really love to read my textbook (its online) on the trail during breaks :P

How about an Ipad or iphone? They don't need internet wifi. Or what about one of those handy things for laptops that you can connect?

3. Tent - I see constant recommendations for tarps and shelter without floors. Is there any recommendation for tents that have floors and can fit at least two girls (I plan on possibly going with a friend). Possibly a few dogs, but they don't take up like any room. Also, I was wondering what do you do with your bag when you are sleeping? Shouldn't I keep it in the tent with me, and in that case, a bigger tent would be necessary, ha ha.

4. Sleeping bag - What bag would I need? I want something that can balance out both weather possibilities, and I will be having dogs in the tent, so they are going to be heat producers too. What if I get too hot in the bag? What degrees should I get?

5. Stops - Okay, I do not see any stops listed on the trails, but are there like towns you walk to that aren't far off the trail? How often do you have to make stops?

6. Dogs - How hard is it to carry food for the dogs? Anyone with experience with this? I figured the small dog would need a lot less food.

THANKS! SORRY FOR MY STUPIDITY :jump

Lone Wolf
10-16-2012, 07:09
walkin' with the dogs is a very bad idea. most dogs are sent home early and lots of times the hiker gets off too. if you do take the dog(s) the trip is about them, not you

Datto
10-16-2012, 07:13
Starting date -- I started my thru-hike on April 10th and my thru-hike lasted 195 calendar days (most AT thru-hikers take about 180 days to complete a thru-hike) . If I was to thru-hike the AT again I'd start in April again so the weather in the beginning of the AT thru-hike is milder (makes life easier -- it gets very very cold in Georgia during March).

Pack weight -- when you see how steep the mountains are in Georgia, you'll understand why the dropout rate of people abandoning their thru-hike after 30 miles is so great. You'll want to reduce your pack weight as much as possible -- focus on reducing the weight of the big three -- empty backpack weight, shelter weight (tent/tarp) and sleeping bag weight. Once you get to the Trail you'll sort out what's really important in your pack and what is just dead weight and not useful.

Stops along the trail -- you resupply every few days along the trail -- either by having someone mail you most of your supplies and you pick them up in the post office along the trail -- or -- you buy in grocery stores along the way every few days (or a combination of both). Some people have special needs/wants for resupply so they have someone from back home mail them supplies. Lots of good information here on Whiteblaze about resupply during an AT thru-hike, also on Aldha.org.

Preparation -- It would be best if you could get in a week-long backpacking trip (not a camping trip but rather, 6 days of carrying your backpack for 8 miles every day) before you commit to thru-hiking the AT. This so you have an idea about what it's like before you commit your dollars (probably upwards of $5,000 for an AT thru-hike not including your gear but including your travel to and from the Trail and repairs/replacements to gear you bring to the Trail) and time (six months of hiking plus additional time before and after the hike) and take on something as monumental as a thru-hike of the AT. You might want to note that being in shape and being physically strong will help you but there is a big difference between being in shape and being in trail shape. Most hikers who are still doing their thru-hike after 45 days of hiking north from Springer Mountain will be in trail shape. Also note that completing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail is much more of a mental challenge than it is a physical challenge -- lots of people who were completely out of shape at the start of their AT thru-hike have completed their thru-hike. Mental challenges during an AT thru-hike include things such as hiking for many consecutive days in the rain with everything you're carrying becoming soaking wet, missing your friends/family/significant other back home, the frustration of dealing with simple things like not being able to find what you're looking for inside your pack, being alone much of the time (more so the further north you go on a thru-hike), blisters and knee pains and fabulous rub marks on your hips from your backpack that most thru-hikers experience.

Dog -- No matter what you hear (hiking with a dog is a controversial subject), people with a dog have completed their thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. My observation is that a thru-hike is extremely difficult and burdensome for the dog. I saw several dogs during my AT thru-hike where the dog refused to continue the thru-hike. I don't believe I've ever heard of anyone carrying a dog for the length of the AT although someone I heard had tried to carry a cat on their thru-hike before they abandoned their thru-hike. If you decide to take your dog along on your thru-hike you should understand ahead of time that your dog will likely be your biggest challenge to continuing your thru-hike once you arrive at the Trail. The idea of carrying dog food up a mountainside wears me out just thinking about it but other people have done it so it is possible.

Here's a like to my Datto's AT Thru-hiking Tips that might be useful in answering some of your other questions:

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?181-Datto-s-AT-Thru-Hiking-Tips

Have a wonderful time -- it's one heck of a great adventure of a lifetime and I never would have missed it for the world.


Datto

Datto
10-16-2012, 07:29
Oh -- one other thing (that was my Columbo impersonation). Go ahead and ask on Whiteblaze whatever questions you have about a thru-hike even if you think others will find the question to be not important. The people here on Whiteblaze are actually friendly people (even though sometimes they come off as being gruff and blunt -- in reality these are friendly people with past experience that may have information that will be helpful to you).

The key thing is to ask the questions so you're not as surprised when you arrive at the Trail. One of the biggest reasons people leave the Trail is they find that an AT thru-hike is not what they had imagined it to be.


Datto

Rocket Jones
10-16-2012, 07:50
Based on your tent needs, I'd take a look at the Tarptent RainShadow 2 (http://www.tarptent.com/rainshadow2.html#overview). "Tarptent" in this case is the brand name. They are fully enclosed single-wall tents. There is a learning curve with single-wall, but I'd recommend getting out for as many overnighters as possible before your hike anyway. If you don't need something that large, your options really increase. Personally, I carry a Double Rainbow and find it plenty big enough for me, a dog and gear.

LDog
10-16-2012, 08:37
2. Computer/Electronics - Okay, how is still even possible on the trail? I'd really love to bring a laptop or just some electronics, like a camera or something, so I can have a locater on me incase of emergency. Also, I'd really love to read my textbook (its online) on the trail during breaks :P

How about an Ipad or iphone? They don't need internet wifi. Or what about one of those handy things for laptops that you can connect?

If it's not now, total pack weight will become a driving concern. A laptop or an iPad would quickly feel like an anchor on your back. I carried a smartphone with an extra battery, an Apple charger and a small New Trent battery backup device, and I was able to use it judiciously for as much as 12 days between AC outlets. I did email, wrote blog entries, took care of finances, uploaded pics ... Can you get that textbook in eBook or pdf format?


Tent - I see constant recommendations for tarps and shelter without floors. Is there any recommendation for tents that have floors and can fit at least two girls (I plan on possibly going with a friend). Possibly a few dogs, but they don't take up like any room. Also, I was wondering what do you do with your bag when you are sleeping? Shouldn't I keep it in the tent with me, and in that case, a bigger tent would be necessary, ha ha.

Look at the so-called tarp tents by folks like TarpTent, Six Moons Design and Lightheart Gear. All make tents that are under 2 lbs with floors, full mosquito-netting enclosure and flys that can be closed up for rain/privacy. My Lightheart Gear Solo has more than enough room for me and my pack.

Good luck with all your preparations.

shadow11
10-16-2012, 08:48
walkin' with the dogs is a very bad idea. most dogs are sent home early and lots of times the hiker gets off too. if you do take the dog(s) the trip is about them, not you
I agree,A thru hike is not for dogs Imho.A adult dog will sleep 20 hours a day if at home.They can go 20 plus miles a day but they will lay around for three or four days to recover. Ask yourself this.Are my reasons for bringing a dog or a friend based on my own fears,like bears,crazy people,or being alone.If your a dog lover then leave them home.

trapper
10-16-2012, 08:57
not to be a jackass but you are so unprepared. read some books there are lots of them out there..this site is an amazing resource for info but you need to do your own research...no matter what people tell you on here it what works for them...the ONLY way to figure out what works for you is to get out and do it..period....unless you have did lots of overnight you will have gear changes...

Slo-go'en
10-16-2012, 10:55
Maratila, the first thing you need to do is get a guide book, like the "Companion" as that will tell you where the towns are, how far apart they are and how far from the trail they are, along with all kinds of other useful info you need to know.

Hiking with dog(s) makes the trip all that much more difficult. Yes, there have been a few dogs to complete a thru-hike, but very very few and the few who do are pretty beat up by the time they finish. Also keep in mind that dogs are not very welcome in shelters, so you must plan to tent out every night. Just think how pleasent it will be to cuddle up to a couple of stinky wet dogs in a small tent. Keeping your sleeping bag dry under such conditons is next to impossible. (which is why dogs aren't weclome in shelters).

There is a WB forum called "dogs on the AT" which discusses the pros and cons of dogs on the trail ad-nousium, so read up on some of those threads.

Whack-a-mole
10-16-2012, 10:56
One thing you said, you will have AT LEAST one dog, and your friend may have another. If you show up at a crowded shelter with a pack of dogs, things might not go too good. Also, with what you are asking about carrying, laptops etc, carrying food for one dog is a lot, carry food for multiple dogs is going to be difficult at the best. I think that you really need to think about a lot of things if you really plan to complete a thru.

-SEEKER-
10-16-2012, 11:06
walkin' with the dogs is a very bad idea. most dogs are sent home early and lots of times the hiker gets off too. if you do take the dog(s) the trip is about them, not you

I have to agree. I've been doing long sections the past 5 years and have seen a lot of "hurting dogs" I have spent more than one night in a shelter with someones muddy pawed wet dog on my sleeping bag. I know, sleep in my tent. Well, I also had a dog hike his leg on my tent. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE dogs and have one myself but, I would never take him backpacking with me.

Odd Man Out
10-16-2012, 13:10
1. Starting date -
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?44
http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/thru-section-hiking/when-where-to-start
This is a good article on hiking rates, dates, etc...
The web page from the ATC is When and Where to start. Should give you lots of useful info.


2. Computer/Electronics
Is it possible? People have been doing long distance hikes for the last 100,000 years without electronics. So yes it is possible. If you want them is up to you to decide. Many people use a smart phone of one type or another because one device can serve many functions (camera, map, compass, e-book, MP3 players, communications, locator, etc...). Setting up all of these features will take time and effort. Service can be spotty and you will need to work out the battery life issue. If you will need to stay connected 24/7, then hiking may not be a good pastime for you.

3. Tent - Lots of tents with floor that are light. Some have already been mentioned. This list of cottage industries will have more. The Tarp Tent brands are quite popular.

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?81415-list-of-cottage-industry-manufacturers&p=1340660&viewfull=1#post1340660

4. Sleeping bag - For a NoBo hike, lots of people start with a 20 deg bag (+/-) and switch to a lighter bag after it warms up. But don't switch too soon and be sure to get your cold weather gear back when you get to NH. If you only want one bag, a warmer one that opens up can work in all seasons (but will be heavier in the summer). All depends on when you start, how fast you hike, how cold you sleep, etc...

5. Stops - You camp on the trail, but every few days you will go to town for resupply. Check out the resupply articles. Or get a guide book. You will need one for hiking. Here are some examples:
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?15
http://www.theatguide.com/ (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?15)


6. Dogs - Better check the dog forum:
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?439-Dogs-on-the-Appalachian-Trail

Don H
10-16-2012, 13:39
You said all dogs are "WORKING" dogs. Are they certified Service Animals?

Some people have hiked with dogs through the Smokeys and Baxter where they are not allowed claiming are service dogs.

Slo-go'en
10-16-2012, 17:51
You said all dogs are "WORKING" dogs. Are they certified Service Animals?

Some people have hiked with dogs through the Smokeys and Baxter where they are not allowed claiming are service dogs.

I'm not sure if any of those who thought they could get away with that actually did or not. I'm pretty sure there are no exceptions in Baxter. Dogs are banned period.

Starchild
10-16-2012, 18:07
My suggestion at this stage of the game, which appears to be to be very late from the questions you posed, is to find a experienced backpacker/thruhiker to help you in initial selection of gear, take their advice and plan a 5+ day backpack before it gets too cold. Only after that then start considering bringing things outside their suggestions. Plan to learn a lot on the trail and swap out gear ($$$).

As for the dogs - from what and how you post they (your dogs) don't seem ready. It is almost an unnatural and very much a learned condition for a dog to be a good trail dog. A true good trail dog is unfortunately rare on the trails. But to answer your question about weight of dog supplies most of the good trail dogs I have seen usually carry their own weight.

Good luck

swjohnsey
10-16-2012, 18:08
I don't think even Maine can ban seeing eye dogs.

Rasty
10-16-2012, 18:32
I don't think even Maine can ban seeing eye dogs.

You are correct. Only way to ban a dog is if it becomes a problem such as completely loosing its training.

Seldomseen
10-16-2012, 19:17
walkin' with the dogs is a very bad idea. most dogs are sent home early and lots of times the hiker gets off too. if you do take the dog(s) the trip is about them, not you

Blunt statement but I know LW and myself have seen this over and over again. I think you have to ask yourself: Do your dogs want to hike the trail? If they say yes please keep them away from the springs. I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled up to a spring and had a dog come down and start drinking out of it.

Also, the trail is REALLy tough so you are going to be more exhausted than you have ever been before in your whole, imagine how a dog feels. I have two dogs but I would only take them for a couple of days. The trail can be really hard on their paws.

With that in mind, Hike your own hike!

Seldomseen
10-16-2012, 19:19
..ever been before in your whole life I mean.


Blunt statement but I know LW and myself have seen this over and over again. I think you have to ask yourself: Do your dogs want to hike the trail? If they say yes please keep them away from the springs. I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled up to a spring and had a dog come down and start drinking out of it.

Also, the trail is REALLy tough so you are going to be more exhausted than you have ever been before in your whole, imagine how a dog feels. I have two dogs but I would only take them for a couple of days. The trail can be really hard on their paws.

With that in mind, Hike your own hike!

Blissful
10-16-2012, 19:28
Not sure where you live but the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is hosting a thru hiker workshop on Nov 10th to answer most of these questions. It will be at the Bears Den hostel. Workshop is free but you need to register asap. apppalachiantrail.org

Seldomseen
10-16-2012, 19:38
"2. Computer/Electronics - Okay, how is still even possible on the trail? I'd really love to bring a laptop or just some electronics, like a camera or something, so I can have a locater on me incase of emergency. Also, I'd really love to read my textbook (its online) on the trail during breaks :P"

Part of the beauty (or at least used to be the beauty) of the trail is not being connected. I cannot tell you how amazing it feels to go just a week without talking on a phone, hearing a phone ring, or updating forums on Whiteblaze (haha). Try it without, unplug, and just see what happens. However, on my recent hikes I have carried a tracphone (only phone I own). I got away from the trail for about 12 years, and wasamazed when I did a two week hike last year at the number of people that text each other from shelters. It was kind of comical.

Slo-go'en
10-16-2012, 20:16
"2. Computer/Electronics - Okay, how is still even possible on the trail? I'd really love to bring a laptop or just some electronics, like a camera or something, so I can have a locater on me incase of emergency. Also, I'd really love to read my textbook (its online) on the trail during breaks :P"

If you can afford a smart phone and it's data plan (maybe not since your on a budget) this is the way to go as you have an "all in one" device which is reasonably small and light. Personally, I don't need a smart phone for daily use, so it's an expense I can do without. The other problem with an "all in one" device is if the battery goes dead, you loose it or it breaks (the last two problems are fairly rare, but can't be ruled out) you lost all the functions.

Therefore, I carry a stand alone digital camara, MP3 player, LED flashlight, cheap tracfone (for emergencies) and sometimes an e-ink Kindle. The camara, MP3 player and flashlight all use replaceable batteries, so I don't have to worry about them running out of power (so long as I have spare batteries) and the phone and kindle go a long time on one charge. The phone because it's rarely used and turned off, the Kindle because it's the one which will run a month between charges.

For occasional internet access, I use the libary, hostel or motel PC and internet, which is generaly free with stay, but has time limitations.

Lyte-w8-hyker
10-16-2012, 20:31
I am a female traveling with a dog and I would be starting in Georgia at Springer Hill.



I LOLed at springer hill, you wont call it a hill after you climb there from the approach trail

Maddoxsjohnston
10-16-2012, 20:39
I'd seriously recommend you to try a 3-4 day section so you can see what it is like to carry a heavy load in the sort of terrain the AT has. The experience might provide you with some things you need to fine-tune instead of blindly embarking on a 6-month long journey. Planning and executing are two far different things that need to be considerate of one another to form any sort of an equilibrium.

PhotobugFred
10-16-2012, 21:26
Hi Maratila,

1) I can't judge on the starting date, but it is cold enough in those mountains in March. You definitely don't want to be doing that in Feb. Of course that is my opinion.

2) Computer/Electronics - this is a long long hike. You want to minimize the weight you are carrying. If you really feel that you need to carry something, take a look at the base Kindle. It would be the lightest weight and the longest battery life. You still need to consider when you can recharge it.

3) Others have mentioned and I second the motion on Tarptent. If you are hiking with a partner then I would look at the Stratospire 2. It is a brilliant tent - plenty of room for 2, can even sleep 3 in an emergency. It has an inner bug tent and you can split it up so that each of you is carrying a bit over 1 lb.

4) Sleeping Bag - think system, it's not just the bag, you need a good light weight pad as well. Consider a quilt instead of a bag. Take a look at http://enlightenedequipment.com/revelationx.html . This is made from fabric seconds to keep the price down but you would hard pressed to see the faults. You can pull it around you close for the cold nights or open it up for warmer nights. Lots of flexibility, low weight.

5) get a trail guide, there are plenty of stops all along the way.

6) I have a friend who just finished the AT. He started with a dog and had to stop to drop the dog off. The dog couldn't handle it and it was a good size dog that lives and runs in the mountains. He did go back to the trail and finish, but I would definitely not be thinking of bringing animals on a thru hike.

My 2 cents worth. Read, plan, test hike, and think hard about everything that goes in your pack. It's not that difficult these days to get light weight equipment. Good luck and good hiking :)

PhotobugFred
10-16-2012, 21:31
Oh yeah, Geartrade.com is your friend :). You don't have to buy new. I got great deals on very lightly used equipment and have been very happy with it. Also take a look the REI closest to you. Every year they have a gear sale where people bring in their used equipment and effectively have "yard" sale. You might be able to find some good used equipment there.

"Atlas"
10-16-2012, 23:17
Most people have given great advice, so let me just augment a few things.

Electronics. Extra Batteries for a cell are very lite weight and cheap. Buy a few and charge them when you are in towns. This allowed me to leave my solar charger at home and save weight.
STOPS. You will WANT TO STOP, But getting into and out of towns is a lot easier without your dog. Because the towns are so evenly spaced I was able to cut out the expense and needless waste of time of mail drops. Mail drops can cause you stick around a few extra days waiting for a package to arrive, tossing out food and supplies that you thought you would need but found out that you dont, which will cost you extra money in both the purchase price and shipping. By the fourth week of my Trekk, I stopped my mail drops, except for meds which I had over nighted to a hotel.
DOG, some dog breeds hold up very well, none of them weigh 4 lbs. Carrying your own food is an issue much less the dogs, if he can carry his own food for a few days, great. I found dogs on the trail to be a welcomed change of pace, a nice pick me up to pet a dog around the camp.
FEMALE HIKING COMPANION, If my daughters had told me they wanted to hike the A.T. alone or even with another women I would have hit the roof out of fear. Now, after hiking the Trail, I worry more when they walk across campus to class. If you can find a partner great, if not YOU WILL find one on the Trail. Dont let it be an issue before you leave.

Maratila
10-17-2012, 03:39
Thank you for so many wonderful replies. I'm sorry if my original post was not very detailed or formally written with a reference to formatting, but I was not really considering those factors when I composed it. Overall, I'm sorry if the tone did not sound "prepared" or immature in anyway. I am perusing many books and am keeping in shape through hiking often. I have saved money for years to do the trip.

For the dogs, I am not worried about them at all if I were to bring them. They are HIGHLY trained, and not just your average obedience class graduates. The dogs all compete in racing, "summer" sledding weight pulling and are very fit. They are use to running miles in all sorts of terrain. The reason I'd bring the smaller dog is that she takes a lot less supplies and would be a valuable tool for me on the trail. To keep anonymously, I do not want to give much details on them because they would be highly recognizable if seen working.

I'm not worried about the dog banned areas, because I already have a set, legal plan.

Once again, I appreciate all the advice. :)

Datto
10-17-2012, 21:47
Something else to take into consideration if you enjoy American history -- the Trail goes right past some quite notable places in American history (I mean like 100' or less away from the Trail). Colonel Benjamin Franklin's spring, the spot where two Confederate solders were killed on their way back home from battle (you walk right next to the grave sites), Civil War battles you hike right past within a few feet of the AT, Audie Murphy spot where his plane crashed (Audie Murphy was a most decorated soldier who went on later to become a movie star).

Plus, near the Trail are Gettysburg National Battlefield and Antietam National Battlefield.

Also, you can take the train into Washington, DC from Harper's Ferry, WV (Harper's Ferry has those magic words -- on-trail) -- the train comes into Washington, DC right behind the Capital Building (you can walk to The White House and roust up the protesters out front, visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the National Archives for instance) then take the train back to the AT in Harper's Ferry and continue hiking north.

There's a fancy-smanshy restaurant right on the AT in Maryland just north of Dahlgren Campground -- I went in there and had a great cup of coffee while accidentally spilling chocolate ice cream on a very nice white tablecloth. Lots of famous people with their picture on the wall who came there to have dinner and do business (almost as cool as that out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere famous crawfish place I visited in Louisiana that had a picture of The Rolling Stones eating crawfish in their place on the wall as well as other notables who'd eaten crawfish there).

Some of the people I hiked with on my AT thru-hike went into New York City and took in a Broadway show. There's an "Appalachian Trail" train stop as I remember right next to the Trail (about 100' or so west of the AT as your hiking northbound) that you can take a train into NYC as I remember.

Many lesser known but still very interesting sites as you hike along the trail -- I remember there was a restored school house from the 1800's that I went into in order to get some water on a hot day.

Of course, you'll not want to miss all the very notable places like The Cliffs, McAfee's Knob, Dragon's Tooth, God's Thumb, The Lemon Squeezer, The Zoo...boy I could go on an on about the interesting places I saw on my AT thru-hike. But if I did, it wouldn't be near the surprise. No one should worry -- there are terrific places to see and experience every day on an AT thru-hike.

Don't forget Trail Days in Damascus, VA (the main thru-hiker days are usually the first weekend after Mother's Day) -- lots and lots of thru-hiker fun there and has the magic words on-trail (if you start your thru-hike in early April there's a good chance you'll be walking into Damascus, VA at the time Trail Days is getting into high-gear).

Of course, you'll hike right over top of Rocky Top which may be the Rocky Top, Tennessee that a few country and western as well as Bluegrass songs are written about (there was a pretty girl there when I hiked up to the top of Rocky Top -- I couldn't believe my luck). Oh -- there are bluegrass festivals along the way too if you're into bluegrass music. There was a bluegrass festival in Hot Springs, NC when I pass through there (magic words -- on-trail) on my thru-hike. Hot Springs is such a terrific town that I stayed there three days on my AT thru-hike.

That's one of things that you'll discover -- the people along the Appalachian Trail are such friendly people. There is something about the AT -- maybe four miles either side -- that makes people friendly. Even through the state of New York which was one of the friendliest places I'd encountered on the Appalachian Trail.

Wow, reading through this I seem to be the Appalachian Trail Chamber Of Commerce. If I could just get people to have as much fun as I had on my AT thru-hike that would be so satisfying.

Ah well, everyone has a different experience on their AT thru-hike -- some may have even had more excitement, satisfaction, peace, frustration, enjoyment, wonder and beauty that I'd had on my AT thru-hike.


Datto

moldy
10-19-2012, 10:08
When you ask more questions here at Whiteblaze, and you should. I advise that you go for one small subject at a time. With the "several questions at once approach" it is too easy to have your thread hijacked if you happen to hit a sore spot with some readers. Like, dogs on the trail. You could get a stream of people with an axe to grind who take over your conversation. Also, I advise placing your questions on the best board for better answers. The "general" spot will get a wide variety of hikers that range from non hiker club members to weekenders to section hikers all the way to multi-trip thry-hikers. You can get people ringing in on a subject with no or dated experience. It is very easy to get some people spun up.

Slo-go'en
10-19-2012, 11:26
I'm not worried about the dog banned areas, because I already have a set, legal plan.

I hope that plan is to kennel the dog while you hike through the banned areas (GSMNP and Baxter), as that is the only legal plan. Please don't try to skirt the rules by claiming the dog is a "service" animal. That argument does not go over very well.

Eighty-Eight
10-19-2012, 12:24
check out groups.yahoo.com/group/Traildog and, trailer of Trudy the Trail Terrier at youtube.com/watch?v=Kg5P3ZxH74s

Train Wreck
10-19-2012, 12:46
Hi, Maratila,

I'm just wondering about the advisability of taking a dog that small (4 lb) on the trail. I have several chihuahuas that range up to 9 lbs. One of them weighs 7 lbs and loves to hike, but he's pretty exhausted after doing 4 or 5 miles, and I wouldn't dream of hiking him further than that. Even if you carry your pup part of the way, that is 4 additional pounds of weight YOU have to deal with. There is also the danger of hurting your pup if you trip and fall while carrying him over rocky or difficult sections.

There are also some unique issues with dogs that small. Predators such as large owls and hawks, not to mention coyotes, present a very real danger, especially if your pup is not on leash right with you every minute. I have heard of hawks swooping down and grabbing up pets right in front of their owners in some cases. They go after rabbits, etc. and your dog is about the same size.

I don't have an opinion on bringing dogs on the trail in general, but I do think small dogs are more at risk and less physically able, and the continual need to watch out for them will become a drain on your enjoyment of the hike. If I was determined to bring a dog along, I would bring the larger one, and maybe have a friend or family meet me at designated places along the trail (towns, road stops, etc.) with the little dog so we could have a nice visit.

Fredt4
10-19-2012, 14:47
regarding dogs: met a hiker with a chihuahua near mt rodgers on a cold and rainy morning. he said pointing the the dog, "1500 btu".
he also said he had to carry the dog a lot. saw various dogs, most were not doing well. a few had sores and couldn't carry their food packs. most owners end up carrying the dog's food a considerable portion of the time. suspect dogs do much better at section hiking than thru hiking. i personally wouldn't recommed it.

DaSchwartz
10-19-2012, 14:59
For the dogs, I am not worried about them at all if I were to bring them. They are HIGHLY trained,

Every other hiker says the same thing about their dogs. Seen dogs urinate right on water sources.

I'll be honest, few other hikers want to be around your dogs, especially around shelters. Few will say anything to you but trust me, nearly everyone will dislike you because of the dogs. My opinion is, if you really care about your dogs, you'll leave them at home.

Whack-a-mole
10-19-2012, 15:30
I said it on the first page, and I'll repeat it, she keeps saying DOGS, not "a" dog. I'm not sure how you would handle the food situation, but I bet it wouldn't last long, no matter how much you love them.

Country Roads
10-21-2012, 16:40
I love to take my pup to my local trails to hike, and she likes it too. Having done longer section hikes, as much as I would love her company, I would not take her. I know some sections of the AT are difficult for me (hand over hand, and dogs do not have hands). Perhaps you could do a long section hike (of any trail, not necessarily the AT) and take your dog(s). That will give you a better idea of what you need to tweak for yourself and your pup. It will let you know if your dog will like hiking several days in a row; some dogs simply do not like to hike for more than a day or two in a row.
My dog does not like to hike in really hot weather unless she can swim once in a while. Be prepared to camp every night with your dog, unless the shelter is mostly empty. Shelters are for people first.

wannahike
10-21-2012, 17:07
Check out http://www.trailjournals.com/index.cfm You can search in the AT lists for woman hikers and see their gear lists and read about their hike.

silverscuba22
10-21-2012, 17:29
I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled up to a spring and had a dog come down and start drinking out of it

yep becuase no wild animals are smart enough to find the spring..... people like you crack me up, you dont mind some hiker with god knows what on their hand sticking them in the spring, but god that dog is so nasty!!! those springs have more then likely been pissed in and ***** in by animals and i bet a few people too, but hey as long as you dont see it huh ??? grow up

AjR
10-22-2012, 00:01
First; How many hikes have you done? Were they daytrips, over nighters, or multi-day trips?
Second; Although I don't recommend it, they have vests for dogs to carry things like food and water. I highly discourage a dog on a thru-hike
Third; How many books have you read? How many shows have you watched? If you would like a list of movies, books, forums, or tips if you're new to back packing, just pm me, and I'll share with you what I know. I also have a facebook page dedicated to me and my wife's thru-hike, if you're interested.

Bronk
10-22-2012, 00:40
Buy the Data Book...its only $7 and will tell you every road crossing, town stop, shelter, water source, mileage, which towns have a grocery store, which ones have a campground, which ones have hotels, and on and on and on. It will answer all of the important questions about town stops, how far from here to there, what is where. For many people, this is the only guide they carry:


http://www.amazon.com/Appalachian-Trail-Data-Book-2012/dp/1889386782/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350880995&sr=8-1&keywords=appalachian+trail+databook

Maratila
10-22-2012, 01:45
Again, great replies. Sorry if I overdid the questions, I'm still getting used to the forum's "community" feel. Some forums hate multiple posting, others like them. Also, I am probably the worse poster ever. Always see a million error after I enter my post. I'll hopefully get better in time :)

Anyways, I think I've gotten plenty of information and going to start a new post on pack weight. Thanks!

Love the wisdom of the community so far!

AjR
10-22-2012, 02:58
Remember, there is never a stupid question, especially when it comes to hiking. My wife who is fairly new to hiking asks "dumb" questions all the time. If you need info, the best thing to do is to ask those who are more experienced than you. I've asked a lot of questions that I thought were "dumb" on here, but this forum is really great, and unless they determine it just really blatantly stupid, they usually don't fry people. Your need for information is legitimate, and could possibly mean your success. Let me know if you need anymore info, I'll be happy to share my experiences with you.

Darwin13
10-22-2012, 03:30
[QUOTE=Maratila;1349335]Hi, everyone! I'm new here (obviously), and I am planning to do the Appalachian Trail in 2013. I am a female traveling with a dog and I would be starting in Georgia at Springer Hill. I'm reading a lot and trying to learn everything possible, but I'm not sure about a lot and I am a horrible "searcher" on forums.




I've done hiking for a few years, so I feel ready, and I am freakishly strong, which has never been a benefit for me until like now ;).
TRUST ME YOU'LL GET TIRED! HE HE
I'm trying to pack with as few items as possible, but I do not want to make a lot of stops to change out gear besides for food.

Things that are fluxing:
I will have at least one dog, but the size of the dog depends (I trying to consider whether to bring my super small dog or my medium sized dog; I would carry the small dog - she weighs 4 pounds). Also, there might be at most a total of three dogs traveling. Any dogs taken are WORKING dogs and are very, very well trained to do a range of jobs. The dog banned areas we have plans for already

WOW THAT A LOT OF DOGS. I LOVE ANIMALS GOOD LUCK!

A girl hiking partner (she would be most likely bringing her dog, which counts for the above dog count; if it just me I most likely will be just bring one dog).

Anyways, here they are:
1. Starting date - I am reading different ones, but most say you have to start in around March or like you'll freeze to death. However, I found a huge section of writings saying people start Feb 1st. So, what is the difference in start dates overall? Different month differences? I want to start as early as possible without freezing :p

IVE BEEN TOLD THAT IT GETS DOWN TO THE TEENS REGARLDLESS OF IF YOU LEAVE IN MARCH. FEBRUARY HAS ITS PROS AND CONS. BUT IT WILL BE COLDER LONGER.


2. Computer/Electronics - Okay, how is still even possible on the trail? I'd really love to bring a laptop or just some electronics, like a camera or something, so I can have a locater on me incase of emergency. Also, I'd really love to read my textbook (its online) on the trail during breaks :P

How about an Ipad or iphone? They don't need internet wifi. Or what about one of those handy things for laptops that you can connect?

THIS IS SO UNNECCESARY IN MY OPINION. CARRYING AROUNG A 300 DOLLAR PIECE OF GLASS THAT CANT GET WET OR DIRTY. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. ALSO, I THOUGHT MOST HIKERS LIKED NATURE? ISN'T THAT WHY WE HIKE?

3. Tent - I see constant recommendations for tarps and shelter without floors. Is there any recommendation for tents that have floors and can fit at least two girls (I plan on possibly going with a friend). Possibly a few dogs, but they don't take up like any room. Also, I was wondering what do you do with your bag when you are sleeping? Shouldn't I keep it in the tent with me, and in that case, a bigger tent would be necessary, ha ha.

YES YOU CAN KEEP YOUR BAG INSIDE YOUR TENT. THIS IS GOING TO BE A MONTHS LONG HIKE, SHARING A TENT IS IN MY OPINION A SUICIDE MISSION. I WOULD SAY GET YOUR OWN SEPARATE SHELTERS. IF SHES BRINGING A DOG, SHE SHOULD PLAN FOR THAT AS WELL. YOU YOUR DOG AND A PACK CAN FIT INTO A PRETTY SMALL SPACE, IVE SEEN A HIKER SHARE HIS SLEEPING BAG WITH HIS DOG EVEN.

4. Sleeping bag - What bag would I need? I want something that can balance out both weather possibilities, and I will be having dogs in the tent, so they are going to be heat producers too. What if I get too hot in the bag? What degrees should I get?

WITH THE PROPER COLD WEATHER CLOTHING MOST WOULD SAY A 20 DEGREE BAG IS PERFECTLY ADEQUATE. HOWEVER THIS IS A VERY PERSONAL THING. SOME PEOPLE SLEEP HOT, OTHERS CAN'T SEEM TO GET WARM IN A FIRE. I USE A 30 DEGREE WESTERN MOUNTAINEERING CARIBOU. IT IS SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT AND WARM BUT I WOULDNT LET A DOG GET NEAR IT AT $320. IF YOU GET HOT, TAKE OFF A LAYER. EVENTUALLY IT WILL GET HOT ENOUGH THAT YOU CAN WEAR THE BAG AS A QUILT.

5. Stops - Okay, I do not see any stops listed on the trails, but are there like towns you walk to that aren't far off the trail? How often do you have to make stops?

IF YOU HAVENT SEEN ANY STOPS LISTED ON THE TRAIL THEN YOU HAVEN'T LOOKED. THE TRAIL WILL CROSS A PLETHORA OF RAODS WITH TOWNS ANYWHERE FROM DIRECTLY ON THE BLAZED TRAIL TO SEVERAL MILES AWAY AND YOU USUALLY HITCH HIKE. ALWAYS BE CAUTIOUS BUT IN MY EXPERIENCE PEOPLE WHO LIVE ON THE TRAIL TOWNS ARE HIKER FRIENDLY. SOMETIMES YOU WONT HAVE TO CARRY A LOT OF FOOD AND SOMETIEMS YOU WILL HAVE TO CARRY MANY DAYS WORTH. BUT I DONT THINK YOU NEED ANYMORE THAN 7 DAYS WORTH OF FOOD FOR YOU IF YOU ARE A DECENT HIKER. SOME PEOPLE DO MAIL DROPS BUT YOU WILL FIND MANY PEOPLE AVIDLY AGAINST IT. PERSONALLY I FIND IT EASIER TO HITCH OR WALK TO A SUPER MARKET AND RE SUPPLY WITH DIFFERENT FOODS. BETTER THAN HAVING TO WAIT FOR THE POST OFFICE TO CLOSE OR TO CHANGE MY SCHEDULE JUST TO MAKE A MAIL DROP.

6. Dogs - How hard is it to carry food for the dogs? Anyone with experience with this? I figured the small dog would need a lot less food.

A 4 LB DOG IS GOING TO TAKE LIKE X10 MORE STEPS THAN YOU ARE. AND YOU'RE ABOUT TO TAKE AROUND 5 MILLION. IDK WHAT WORKIGN DOG WEIGHS 4 LBS EITHER. THINK ABOUT BRINGING THE BIGGER ONE. YOU CAN GET IT A PACK AND IT CAN CARRY SOME OF ITS FOOD TO TAKE SOME OF THE WEIGHT.
THANKS! SORRY FOR MY STUPIDITY

jesse
10-22-2012, 03:44
You are not stupid. Everybody starts out a novice.
1. You will freeze to death in Feb.
2. The dogs will likely prevent you from finishing.
3. Dogs will be a PITA when trying to get to town, and eating, sleeping etc. while in town.
4. Laptop. Absolutely not.

As far as gear is concerned; Shakedown hikes are the best way to learn. I would not let a thru -hike, be my first hike. There is a store on the AT at Neel Gap.(30 miles from Springer) http://www.mountaincrossings.com/ You could pay them a visit. Its pricey, but everybody there has thru-hiked. You can get educated on light weight gear there.

Disclaimer: I'm a weekend warrior. I have not thru-hiked, and have no plans to.

Zipper
10-22-2012, 10:24
Really great info here for you, Maratila. I would second the shelter for each person idea. People inevitably get separated or need some space, and each having your own tent, esp with dogs and gear, might be a really good idea. I have both the one person and two person Six Moon Designs tents and I love them both. Both are roomy and very light and have served me well. If you have other questions, please get in touch. I love helping women planning a thru hike - I did it in 2009.
Cheers!