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  1. #1
    Registered User gdwelker's Avatar
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    Default Harpers Ferry or Springer?

    I am going to do a BIG section hike this year. May 1st start for the section from Springer to Harpers Ferry. I need to decide whether to go Springer to HF, or HF to Springer. What would the pros and cons be to SN or NS?

    Thank.
    GDW

  2. #2
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    nobo pros: you're heading "home" towards MD. You will be amongst the very tail-end of the nobo thru hiker crowd, should be plenty of room in shelters.

    nobo cons: you will hit VA in the hottest part of summer (June-July) depending on your pace

    sobo pros: you'll start at HF, closer to home in case you need to bail. YOu'll hit different group of hikers each day.

    sobo cons: longer transportation needed back home from Springer.

    as far as terrain goes, I can't think of any major differences, of course there are individual peaks/mtns that have different climbs going sobo or nobo

    good luck

  3. #3
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    My thoughts ; If you start north may 1 you'll be starting fairly well after the bubble and won't have to deal with them much, hostels etc. still open.
    If you start going south you will hike through the bubble from the opposite direction. You will experience some overcrowded shelters, hostels, trail towns.
    also drunken a--holes, etc.
    No experience just thinking.

  4. #4
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    I'd say NOBO because you are hiking home. If you need to cut it short for any reason you've done the "furthest" stuff first. Same if you want to take a break or need to come home- once you're in VA there are lots of easy ways to hop a train back and forth.

    I'm from Chicago- so anything south is hot to me, lol.
    I did Springer area in June and the Shennies in July- it was relatively unpleasant. I don't think it would matter either way.

    Likely someone knows better than I - but May in Smokies may set you up with the best Wildflower viewing options too.

  5. #5

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    I agree nobo is best as you'll be behind most of the hikers rather than walking into them.

  6. #6
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    Just Bill has raised a great point. Starting north from Springer May 1st would get you in the Roan Highlands and Damascus area in late May into early June, prime blooming season for rhododenrons, which are really nice to see on the trail.
    Quote Originally Posted by Just Bill View Post
    I'd say NOBO because you are hiking home. If you need to cut it short for any reason you've done the "furthest" stuff first. Same if you want to take a break or need to come home- once you're in VA there are lots of easy ways to hop a train back and forth.

    I'm from Chicago- so anything south is hot to me, lol.
    I did Springer area in June and the Shennies in July- it was relatively unpleasant. I don't think it would matter either way.

    Likely someone knows better than I - but May in Smokies may set you up with the best Wildflower viewing options too.

  7. #7

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    I wouldn't worry about wild flowers blooming in either direction, they should last several months

  8. #8
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    I can't comment on what the conditions south of Virginia are like at different seasons but I can say that Northern Virginia and SNP and still very nice throughout May and into early June. Northern Virginia (north of SNP) gets kind of unpleasant later in June and SNP itself can be unpleasant in July (although still much nicer than the DC area in July). So if you go SOBO starting May 1 from Harpers Ferry, I think you would have some great conditions for the first six weeks of the hike at least which will probably take you into southern Virginia. I would imagine that it will get unpleasant south of there in July but don't know for sure. The Smokies are pretty high up so maybe that area would be pleasant.

    Going SOBO from HF starting May 1 will mean that you will meet almost the entire NOBO class of 2015. I guess whether this is a good thing depends on how you feel about that.
    HST/JMT August 2016
    TMB/Alps Sept 2015
    PCT Mile 0-857 - Apr/May 2015
    Foothills Trail Feb 2015
    Colorado Trail Aug 2014
    AT: Rockfish Gap to Boiling Springs 2014
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