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Thread: Approach Trail

  1. #1
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    Default Approach Trail

    Not a should hike it or not post that decision has been made. For those who have or are planning to, is the approach trail a full day and camp or a stop and go? I think Hawk Mtn is too ambitious but stover creek seems doable

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    I started after 1 PM from Amicalola and took my time. I stayed at the Black Gap Shelter, just shy of Springer. If you have a full day to hike making Springer or even Stover Creek should not be difficult. Depends on what shape you are in. The hike between Springer and Stover Creek is mostly flat and easy.

    No reason to push it your first day however.

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    With a mid morning start, the approach trail is enough for the first day. too much to soon is a thru-hike no, no.
    Grampie-N->2001

  4. #4

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    Amicalola to Springer Shelter or Stover Creek shelter in a day is very doable.

    I would not recommend going past that for day one. Take it easy for the first few weeks.

  5. #5

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    If you start at the Lodge it's just under 8 miles to Springer. Starting at the Lodge avoids the hardest and steepest part of the approach. Then getting to Stover is no big deal. So long as your in reasonably decent shape and not too overloaded to start. Finding the approach trail from the Lodge parking lot is the hardest part of the trip, it's pretty well hidden.

    Going to the other extreme, taking 3 days to do the approach just to get to Springer is not unheard of either.
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  6. #6

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    Commonality having a host of questionable consequences I notice with the AT and general AT hiking community - benchmarking the hiking day/daily trail mileage on AT shelters, or the near vicinity, leading to hiking what amounts to building to building to building. It leads to greater shelter madness and reliability like an overfed spoiled wailing baby not yet weened of the titty. It's not just that shelters are deemed convenient way pts either. It's that the shelters are what AT hikers overwhelmingly tend to focus on when they could just as easily benchmark their daily mileages and hikes on gaps, other non shelter water sources, high pts, flat ridges, flatter low spots, road crossings, clearings, known or likely camping areas outside of shelter locations, etc.

    Not one word mentioned about it but how about simply going the trail distance you feel comfortable with having some ideas ahead of time of a few different sleeping options/campsites NOT based or always based on shelters/shelter locations, mileages between shelters, etc.? Wouldn't or couldn't that be YOU answering YOUR question for yourself designing YOUR hike as YOU see acceptable possibly leading to greater connection with Nature, self sufficiency, adventure, freedom from shelter madness and reliability etc.?

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    Everyone is different. I could easily hike the approach to hawk and time to spare. Others could likely hike the approach to Gooch Mountain Shelter. Others yet can't make it to Springer.

    Here is the thing. It literally does not make what I can do. What a "real," "seasoned" thru hiker would do. It is your hike. You must walk the miles. Here is the great about the AT (and simultaneously not so great thing about the AT which Dogwood kind of pointed out), with a guide, there are endless opportunities to camp. Hike to Black Gap Shelter. Still have time and energy to spare. Keep going. Get to Springer/Springer Mountain Shelter. Still got time and energy to spare? Get guide book and look for next convenient water/campsite/shelter and go. At Strover and it is too early in the day, get trial guide and look at Long Creek Falls campsite. Get there. Still have time/energy? Let's get to Hawk Mountain Shelter. How much time do I have left? Can i make it to cooper gap? Sassafras Mountain looks like my first real climb. Damn, there is no water at Cooper Gap. It is a dry site. Do I want to make camp with no nearby water? Do I want to hike with more water then usual to get through the night? How about justus creek? Can I make that?

    Preview your hike the day before. Don't memorize it. Just know generally the convenient water sources, campsites, shelters, and of course views. From there gauge your day

    Hike until lunch time. At lunch time, get out your guide. How much time do I have left? How much gas is left in tank? Dry sections? Ample water? Climbs? How far can I realistically go? Look for a campsite just before the goal just in case you can't make it. When you get to your goal reassess?

    I have to plan each aspect of my hike because I usually have 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 full days of hiking to do 30-35 miles as a weekend warrior. But you are not me. You are thru hiking for Christ sake? What does it matter? You know you will be there for 6 months right? It doesn't matter.

    Know the trail. Know your goals. But most importantly, be flexible.

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    Well Dogwood, I and most others who have never been use these shelters, gaps and balds as reference points because it's what we know. Doesn't mean I plan to hike shelter to shelter but it does make asking questions easier.

  9. #9

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    Then, could it be about time we expand on what we know? Could we design a hike, an AT hike, not solely or mostly based on AT shelters?

    If you're going to be AT thru-hiking or doing a fairly long distance AT section hike it's likely you'll be using the AT Data Book, AT Thru-Hikers Companion and/or some maps. All these descriptional and navigational items include observances of more than just shelter locations. Right?

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    My plan is the Approach to Stover for the first night

  11. #11

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    My first day I hiked in from Amicalola and cowboy camped near the rock face where the plaque is - sunset and sunrise were glorious and was a perfect way to start my first day on the AT.
    Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Then, could it be about time we expand on what we know? Could we design a hike, an AT hike, not solely or mostly based on AT shelters?

    If you're going to be AT thru-hiking or doing a fairly long distance AT section hike it's likely you'll be using the AT Data Book, AT Thru-Hikers Companion and/or some maps. All these descriptional and navigational items include observances of more than just shelter locations. Right?
    Sure, they include references to other locations. The problem for most new hikers, particularly new AT hikers, is that very few of these are signed on the ground. You come to a road, sometimes two or three in an afternoon. Which road is this, is this the two track logging road mentioned, is this the private lane listed, or is this FS 472? How many stream crossings do you make, which of these dozens of streams are the one listed in the guide? Very few gaps are signed, some summits are, some are not. Most of the time side trails are signed, but not always.

    Shelters are the most reliable landmark to be signed, and thus is a "Certain" location. I bet that this is the biggest reason they have become the "defacto" landmarks for most AT hikers.

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    On my first day I hiked the Approach Trail and then the first 1.5 miles of the AT. I found a real nice flat spot in the woods and spent my first night there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    ...Finding the approach trail from the Lodge parking lot is the hardest part of the trip, it's pretty well hidden. ....
    On my section hike last summer, I ran into one spot on the top of Sinking Creek Mtn where I took a use-trail that dead ended into the woods. So I doubled back to the last white blaze, and then did it again, and again. After the third attempt, I was thinking how demoralizing it would be to have your hike aborted by not being able to find the trail. On the fourth try, I found the trail. I guess not being able to get out of the parking lot before you started would be way worse.

  15. #15

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    "Shelters are the most reliable landmark to be signed, and thus is a "Certain" location. I bet that this is the biggest reason they have become the "defacto" landmarks for most AT hikers.

    Statistics seem to tell a different story. Sure, shelters are signed locations making it ONE convenient type of way pt or benchmark but any page in an AT Thru-Hikers Companion or AT Data Book describes a great many other way pts and benchmarks. That doesn't include the infinite others when one has a map and some reasonable very basic map reading ability to do the same thing. The most obvious reason I can see why shelters have become "defacto" landmarks for most AT hikers is because this is where a good many stay. Something like 55% of thru-hikers total nights are in shelters more so than even in their tents during their nights. Look at Map Mans stats. He seems like a conscientious intelligent meticulous resourceful individual. His stats of thru-hikers indicate that this group of AT hikers largely do their thru-hikes based on hiking from hard covered roofed building to hard covered roofed building to hard covered roofed building. I propose this idiotic idea of mine that one of the contributing factors to the AT's popularity is because of convenience. Shelters being a major convenience and a major source of reliance seemingly during the course of entire thru-hikes. It seems accurate to say the shelter reliability is not due to harsh inclement weather but more so out of desiring convenience.

    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/show...d-their-nights

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    "Shelters are the most reliable landmark to be signed, and thus is a "Certain" location. I bet that this is the biggest reason they have become the "defacto" landmarks for most AT hikers.

    Statistics seem to tell a different story. Sure, shelters are signed locations making it ONE convenient type of way pt or benchmark but any page in an AT Thru-Hikers Companion or AT Data Book describes a great many other way pts and benchmarks. That doesn't include the infinite others when one has a map and some reasonable very basic map reading ability to do the same thing. The most obvious reason I can see why shelters have become "defacto" landmarks for most AT hikers is because this is where a good many stay. Something like 55% of thru-hikers total nights are in shelters more so than even in their tents during their nights. Look at Map Mans stats. He seems like a conscientious intelligent meticulous resourceful individual. His stats of thru-hikers indicate that this group of AT hikers largely do their thru-hikes based on hiking from hard covered roofed building to hard covered roofed building to hard covered roofed building. I propose this idiotic idea of mine that one of the contributing factors to the AT's popularity is because of convenience. Shelters being a major convenience and a major source of reliance seemingly during the course of entire thru-hikes. It seems accurate to say the shelter reliability is not due to harsh inclement weather but more so out of desiring convenience.

    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/show...d-their-nights
    I rely on shelters, but usually for the dependability of their water source. They are also a great place to stop for lunch. Also, after a long 20+ mile day, it is much easier to get into a shelter than set up a tent. If it is raining hard or in a middle of a storm, a shelter is worth its weight in gold.

    That being said, my preference is to not spend a night in a shelter. That being said, I have spent less than 20% of my nights sleeping in shelters, but 50% of my nights tenting around shelters. The other 50% are campsites.

    Part of the reason why I like the BMT, BT, or FT is that there are few to no shelters. But there are times I have had to set up a tent where I wish there was a shelter.

    Before I started backpacking 6 months ago, I thought to myself, "there is no way in hell I am spending a night in those mice infested shelters." After 6 months of nearly constant weekend backpacking on the AT, FT, BT, BMT, I have been grateful for a shelter on more than one occasion.

    The hike is yours. Those are your miles you have to travel. You do what works best for you. Be flexible with your goals. Otherwise, the AT will humble you.

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    Shelters have 2 things new hikers want. Reliable water, and other people.

    Greatly depends on the person how far they feel comfortable with first day.
    Amicalola to black gap for some, springer, stover, hawk for others. All depends on shape, and pack weight.

    In any case, PLENTY of choices if you do choose a shelter. Dont plan on hiking past 2 pm though, because thats when everyone will stop, wore out already.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 01-21-2015 at 00:39.

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    I camped at the park the night before. Did the stairs that night without a pack then hiked four miles I think past springer. The next day. You can easily get over springer in a day and beyond.

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    I love the Approach Trail, have hiked it 9 times since 2009, from AFSP visitor center to Springer. (Next time I want to try staying at the Len Foote Hike Inn)

    the AFSP Lodge is awesome, with a great buffet. Like someone said, probably the most aerobic part of the Approach Trail is that &%$# staircase at the falls, but it's still fun if you take your time and enjoy the falls. Some other climbs as you make your way up toward Springer. The Approach Trail is pretty tough for a new, out of shape backpacker that is carrying too much weight. For a hiker with any experience and in shape, it's really not too bad at all. I've seen some new thru hikers struggle to make it all the way up to Springer, and end up camping along the way 1-2 days. NoBo thru hikers should all do the Approach Trail.

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    The Approach Trail is pretty tough for a new, out of shape backpacker that is carrying too much weight. For a hiker with any experience and in shape, it's really not too bad at all.
    This is an accurate simple assessment of the Approach trail for anyone not familiar with it. The climbs a few miles beyond the Approach are tougher than the Approach climbs(Sassafras, Justus, Big Cedar, etc).
    I went back and hiked the approach after hiking a few hundred miles of the AT and was ammazed at how much easier it was than I remembered it before.

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