View Full Version : Do you pay attention to guidebook Altitudes?

05-21-2005, 09:55
I'd like to know how many folks who DO use one of the guidebooks pay attention to the altitudes listed, does it really matter? One location could be at 100 feet and the next at 100 feet and you may have a up/down gain of 1000 feet in between, depending on the section and the hills in between the two points listed in the guide.

Would like opinions, and also maybe what else you DON"T pay attention to in the guides, and what features you find most helpful.

(To clarify - I am NOT attempting to open debate as to whether one should/should not carry a guide. ;) )

05-21-2005, 10:47
I do. In some weird way, it helps orient me.

05-21-2005, 10:52
All you have to know to hike the AT is how to find the next white blaze....everything else is extra. When it comes to guide books and or equipment "satisfy yourself." By that I mean some people realy need to know where they are and relative to something else while others don't. The data book was enough for me but I've hiked with others who felt it was very important to know their position in the universe. The AT is a beautiful trail that is groomed and cared for hundreds of people. It is very well marked so it is almost silly to get lost but it happens. The two questions that I had to answer were "where is the water" and "where is the resupply". I tented so I didn't care too much where the shelters were. I remember how irate some AT hikers got when there was a percieved mistake in the data or guide stuff. All the muds and puds are just part of the distance from Springer to Katahdin.

05-21-2005, 14:06
I pretty much agree with Superman. The only way to get to the end is to get up and walk no matter how difficult it might be. However, the chart can give you an idea of what lays ahead, this can be nice to know if you're on a tight schedule and are trying to make it to the post office, etc. before it closes. Personally, I don't carry the charts.

05-21-2005, 15:10
I like the elevation numbers, but found the AT guides to give only rough numbers, rather than an indication of every significant gain. The elevations are just too spread out to be of much use. This is where the PCT guides are really nice, as there are no hidden climbs. I like having these numbers as I can use them to gauge the difficulty of a portion of the day's hike. Yes, I have to walk the distance regardless of how difficult it is, but having some idea in advance helps my mental state.

05-21-2005, 15:31
I look at elevation "trends" but otherwise the numbers don't really mean that much to me. I would guess that the top elevation of most summits listed in the guidebooks are correct but there have been so many re-routes of the trail over the years and many of the maps are outdated.

AT 2003

05-21-2005, 16:07
I pay attention to them, when I use a watch with barometer/altilmeter tool. It can help you know where you are, in general, such as while climbing a long climb like Roan Mtn, into the Smokies and such. It can be useful in fog, to let you know in general where you are below a summit.

Of course, that implies frequent recalibration of the altimeter in changing weather. I pay more attention to altitude signage

05-21-2005, 17:56
i pay attention,its enertaining also:cool: neo

05-23-2005, 09:10
I check them out when stopping for the night - if I have been in town and know the predicted temps, knowing the altitude helps give me an idea of how cold/warm it will be at night. Not scientific, but at least I have a sweater out of my pack and ready in the morning if I think I'll need it... :rolleyes:

05-23-2005, 14:37
Do you like actual numbers or the sidebar "graphs" of the elevations?

05-24-2005, 00:20
Generally I only use the profile maps. I am a control freak. Knowing what the terrain ahead looks like is the only aspect of the hike I can control. It helps me to concentrate on and get through the harder parts of hiking, while still enjoying the forest around me. I really hate reroutes (no idea of whats ahead). Since I usually only go shelter to shelter, I usually pick the highest point after the middle of the daily mileage to take my long break for the day.

05-24-2005, 06:29
i find it interesting that a load of hikers (both thru-hikers & section-hikers) carry the WingNut book, or A.T. Data book, (for info & elevations) & maps with full profiles of peaks & gaps & valleys...or other info.-related handbook...

SO, what are you gonna do if you see a peak/elevation thats beyond what you anticipated???????...............Go Home?????

I dont think so....

SUggestion: look @ your over-priced books & maps @ home....then leave 'em there. (or leave them in the first Privy...hehehehehehe) :D

05-24-2005, 07:07
for some its data collection/analysis/ even on a constant basis they try to maintain a relationship with where they are.....maybe a good thing, look at what DelDoc did with his passion and love for numbers/gps/mapping....one cann only pray it leads to profile maps that are even somewhat realistic.

personally i print out an elavation profile of the section i'm planning and then jot in locations of things necessary, like springs and road crossings, side trails...then if i have time i'll go to kinkos and have it laminated and that serves as my data source for that hike. I admit to looking at the watch and seeing if the elavation matches with whats on the profile and for fun its neet to zero out the memory of the Suunto at the beginning of a hike and 3 days later get a total of how many feet were gained....you are never too old to have a wonderful childhood.

05-24-2005, 07:30
As MedicineMan suggests I use the peaks and valleys as markers so that I can place myself on the map. Also I can have some idea of how hard of a day it's going to be. Not that it is going to keep me at home, but it will help me better plan my days.

05-24-2005, 09:49
I looked at the elevations & profile maps on my first section (Springer to Dick's creek) & found them, , , , Imaginative at best. Mountain "A" supposedly had an elevation change in xx miles of 900 ft & Mt "B" had an elevation change of 1200 ft in the same distance. even after a long day of hiking I found B easier to climb. And this seemed to repete quite often.It could be my imagination I admit, but I spend so much energy worring about the dreaded climb that it is better for me to not know / or I am so disheartened by the climb that was supposed to be "easy" I waste energy on that too.
So I guess my answer is: No, I don't use them.

I do like a rough idea of where the elevations are, and like knowing the "big ones" like Blood & Clingman's dome, etc. but now it ain't that important, to me.