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  1. #21
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    I have decided to start my thru hike in Harper's Ferry the 3rd week of April.
    Remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation, the Trail beckons not merely north and south, but upward to the body, mind, and soul of man.


  2. #22

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    Traveller14 and Steelcut, great to hear of your plans. In my mind, you're in that optimal window (for both hikers and the Trail) for starting from Harpers Ferry going north.

    Hikers starting in April or before may be chasing winter and loneliness a good portion of the way north. You'd be looking at pockets of cold weather and bare trees for quite some time, as well as very few long-distance around you for the social experience and quite a few seasonal places that wouldn't be open.

    If someone wants to start earlier in April, it's best to start further south. Can't start until June? It's best to start further north.

  3. #23
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    Waiting for the kids to wake up and open Xmas presnts so I figured I check WB. I wanted to say Thanks LaurieP for the timing advice. I am starting April 4 in Troutville and will get to HP by end of April or so I think. I see quite a few peeps will be starting in HF but I maybe in front of most. I have to get off the trail in mid June for a bit and hope to have more thrus with after that.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #24
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    Starting at HF (NOBO) first week of May. Looking forward to meeting all!
    Simple is good.

  5. #25
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    Interesting to see the ages of the people starting in the middle.

  6. #26
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    Having done a lot of the trail I've learned that the cost of starting at Springer is high but the cost of starting
    a flip-flop from the part of the trail that is nearest to your place is lower. Duncannon is the closest for me
    to start either north or south. South is a comfortable warm up and North is very interesting. As far as
    hiking friends goes - well it's a game of chance. I'm 69 so it's unlikely that I'll really pal up with anyone. Still,
    I know I'll do the thru 2015.

  7. #27
    Registered User dangerdave's Avatar
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    Ok, Flippers. Help me get off the fence here!

    Let's talk specifics. If I start my hike north from HF to BSP, then return to HF to head south to Springer Mountain, how do I work out my gear. NOBO's have a standard schedule to guide the need for and exchange of cold weather gear for warm weather gear.

    Doing a Flip this way, when will I need different kinds of gear, and/or where? Do I start with my Summer Pack or not? When will I (or might want) my cold weather gear going in each direction? I've been so focused on the NOBO schedule of gear, I have no clue.
    AKA "DANGER" AT Thru-Hiker Class of 2015

  8. #28
    Registered User dangerdave's Avatar
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    I've joined several Facebook groups (various Class of 2015 AT Thru-Hikers) to push and promote the Flip. Good response so far. Many I'll inspire a few of the younger crowd to make the switch. Some had no clue there was such a thing.
    AKA "DANGER" AT Thru-Hiker Class of 2015

  9. #29

    Default April still wintry in higher mountains

    Treehugger and anyone contemplating a start other than Harpers Ferry (especially points south of Harpers Ferry/northern Virginia):

    It might be useful to know (if you weren't already familiar with the conditions) that April is very much a transition month between winter and spring, with winter conditions prevailing on and off at the higher elevations south of Harpers Ferry. The first week or two of April there's still a good chance of snow squalls and nighttime temperatures sometimes dipping into the 20s. There have also been pretty severe ice storms occasionally as late as the first week of April. Starting in Shenandoah or anywhere south of there in early April you would want to start with cold-weather gear.

    It's counter-intuitive, but the further south you go on the A.T. from Harpers Ferry, very broadly speaking (until you get beyond the Smokies) the colder the temperatures. That's because the mountains get progressively taller the further south you go.

    A.T. high points, by section listed south to north:

    Georgia - 4,661'
    North Carolina - 5,498'
    TN/NC border - 6,625'
    Tennessee - 6,285'
    Southwest Virginia - Mt. Rogers 5,500'
    Central Virginia - 4,206'
    Shenandoah National Park - 3,837'
    Northern Virginia - 1,500'
    Harpers Ferry, WV - 250'
    Maryland - 1,880'
    Pennsylvania - 2,080'
    New Jersey - 1,400
    New York - 1,433'
    Connecticut - 2,316'
    Massachusetts - 3,481'
    Vermont - 4,010'
    New Hampshire - 6,288'
    Maine - 5,267'

    You could have a warm spell in early April, and still get mild temperatures, but inevitably, sooner or later temperatures would dip down again at high elevations. In the Smokies, you can still get a major snowstorm in April. It just means that starting a flip-flop a month earlier and further south from Harpers Ferry means you'll encounter significantly colder weather.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by dudeijuststarted View Post
    Anyone who chooses to flip flop is going to give themselves one big pat on the back. Here's an overlooked advantage to alternative thrus: you may very well be the first hiker(s) of the season for the hostels, businesses, and trail angels you pass through. Much more accommodating in every way.
    There is truth to this observation. Service providers can get worn down late in the season just like hikers.

    You can add the Hut Croo's in the White Mountains as being more accommodating early in the season.
    Order your copy of the Appalachian Trail Passport at www.ATPassport.com

    Green Mountain House Hostel
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  11. #31

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    Not only are attitudes better toward thru-hikers at the beginning of the season, but there is little chance of hostels being full, and less competition for the work-for-stay options at the AMC huts in the White Mountains. While AMC does not the guarantee the work-for-stay option, when they do offer it, there is generally only room for 2 hikers to do work-for-stay (4 at Lake of the Clouds). (More info about thru-hikers and the Whites at outdoors.org/conservation/trails/appalachian-trail/thru-hiker-guide-white-mountains.cfm.

    Not only that, but flip-floppers hiking north toward Baxter State Park in Maine are eligible to stay at The Birches campsite without an advance reservation (unlike sobos and southbound flip-floppers), and should not have competition for space, and no logjam waiting for a space to become available.

    All in all, flip-floppers starting in the middle of the Trail ahead of the crowd still get a social thru-hike, but without adding to the problems caused by too many hikers concentrated in too small an area.

    Flip-floppers who intentionally choose a start time and location other than Georgia in March and early April are the pioneers who will help conserve the A.T.

  12. #32
    Registered User dangerdave's Avatar
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    Ok, Flippers!

    What's the "best" way to get from Millinocket back to Harpers Ferry? <normally a 12 hour drive>

    PS - Whoever thought "Turn around and walk back!" can skip that.
    AKA "DANGER" AT Thru-Hiker Class of 2015

  13. #33
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    I compared Greyhound, Amtrack, and Southwest airlines. Southwest flies from Portland nonstop to DC. Amtrack had some funky transfer
    somewhere in between, can start at Bangor. both about $150 but requires a good bit of lead time to get a good price. Greyhound from Bangor about $100 but no lead time. but a substantially long bus ride. I've asked this question and have always got the answer of don't fret it will work itself out as you get farther north. Getting to Bangor? The good will of others?

  14. #34
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    Well, I rode a Greyhound bus from San Francisco, CA to Columbus, OH back in 1984. Three days. Yes, three day on a bus. I think I could handle the ride from Maine to WV.

    Given that, I understand the "don't fret" mentality. We don't know how fast we will get to Maine, so there's really no use worrying until we get there, at which time we will have to do something to get back to HF. So yes, it will work itself out, or we will work it out, one way or another.

    I've got some friends in Maine, so I might be chilling for a few days up there. But I'm pretty sure they won't be driving a 24 hour round trip to take me to HF. My wife is still knocking around the thought of driving up to Maine (17.5 hours for her) and taking me to HF. If she does, there might be space for one or two more...but you'd have to be nearby at the time.

    I'm going with a wait and see for that one.
    AKA "DANGER" AT Thru-Hiker Class of 2015

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by dangerdave View Post
    NOBO's have a standard schedule to guide the need for and exchange of cold weather gear for warm weather gear.
    Hey DangerDave: You mentioned that some of the NOBOs you spoke with had suggested a good time to swap out cold weather gear for spring/summer gear. Could you send me a link to what you found? I am doing a pre-hike of the Palmetto Trail (SC) beginning Jan. 10 to shake out more equipment and build up some trail legs before tackling the AT, but the weather in SC is so temperate in Jan/Feb that really cold weather gear is probably unnecessary.

    If I start the AT from Springer on or about March 1st, I'm pretty sure I'll need a mail drop of cold weather gear to get started, but it would be awesome if you know roughly what those dates would be. I'm putting together mail drops now. Any information would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

    Tabasco

  16. #36

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    Danger Dave,

    Compared to the other challenges you'll face on a thousand miles of the A.T., finding transportation from Baxter State Park to Harpers Ferry will seem like a small matter by the time you get there.

    Every day, there are many people leaving Baxter and heading out the same way you are. You can certainly find a ride to the town of Millinocket outside Baxter State Park, where you'll probably want to spend your first night after climbing Katahdin. The owners of the Appalachian Trail Lodge where you might choose to stay also provide shuttles. The cheapest option is to then get a shuttle 10 miles to Medway, where you can catch a Cyr Bus the 60 miles to Bangor. If the timing doesn't work for you, the A.T. Lodge and other shuttlers can take you all the way to Bangor. From there you can catch a Greyhound bus or a plane to a DC area airport (BWI is the furthest from Harpers Ferry, but often the cheapest, with public transportation to Harpers Ferry via DC's Union Station on the MARC train).

    Or, you can travel south 125 miles to Portland, and catch a cheaper MegaBus, or get an Amtrak train to DC. From DC, you can catch either an Amtrak train or the cheaper commuter MARC train on weekdays.

    No shortage of options!

  17. #37
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    @Tabasco: If I am not mistaken, Mount Rogers in VA is the cut-off for sending home cold weather gear, but I see you are starting March 1st. That might push you past that point. Maybe some past thru-hikers could fill in the blanks here. Having the right gear at the right time is important (very). I don't want to misinform you.

    Thanks, Laurie! You are awesome!
    AKA "DANGER" AT Thru-Hiker Class of 2015

  18. #38
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    Is it May or June in Vermont, where they kindly ask that we don't use the trails due to the fragile state of the muddy trails?

    I'm thinking of starting NOBO at HF or slightly South in mid April, but may start more south to avoid damaging trail in VT.

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by putts View Post
    Is it May or June in Vermont, where they kindly ask that we don't use the trails due to the fragile state of the muddy trails?

    I'm thinking of starting NOBO at HF or slightly South in mid April, but may start more south to avoid damaging trail in VT.
    It is the month of May where the Green Mountain Club (who maintains the AT in Vermont) asks you to avoid hiking during "mud season". You will find Vermont to be muddy even in the summer months, but the month of May is awful "mudwise".

    Thanks for your consideration when planning your schedule !!
    Order your copy of the Appalachian Trail Passport at www.ATPassport.com

    Green Mountain House Hostel
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    http://www.greenmountainhouse.net

  20. #40
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    Well, I've read a lot on the negatives of a Springer start. I'm seriously looking at starting at Harper's Ferry N to BSP then HF to Springer - instead if a trad NOBO. Vermont will be really muddy and the black flies will be fierce. But it sounds like the way to do it. Any comments on this plan from former thru hikers greatly appreciated.

    I've got the logistics all figured out. I'm planning to start from HF around April 1.

    Thanks!

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