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  1. #1
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    Default June Northbound Start? plan/gear critique

    Hey guys,

    This year seems to be the year for me to attempt a through hike. With that said, I have an obligation the last weekend of May that requires a Northbound start of early June at the earliest. I have contemplated all my options on direction, flipflop, etc and I think I would prefer to go North and finish at Katahdin or Mt. Washington. I generally prefer more solitude and would not want to hike with the bubble. I know that is a very late start from Springer but I think it could be possible. My plan depending on my pace/mood when I get there is to hike up to Mt. Washington summit and then flip up to Katahdin in order to not have to worry about the "Dec 15 est deadline." I would then hike south from Katahdin and finish my thru-hike on top of Mt. Washington. This would be pretty iconic for me to finish in my home state in the Whites, which I consider my home mountains. This would also offer the opportunity for friends/family to join for the finish if wanted along with easier logistics getting home.

    A little background: I consider myself a fairly strong hiker and in very good shape. I am first and foremost a hiker but I'm also a marathon runner and will go into the hike not long after a scheduled marathon (I will be in shape from the start). I have experience hiking the entire Long Trail along with a lot of year round day hiking and multi day hiking in New England (including the Whites). I pack light and hike fast.

    I am looking for some insight as towards the temperatures I'll see throughout the east coast starting in June in Georgia along with some gear suggestions. I plan on switching out to warmer gear in September or VT/NH whichever comes first.

    Here is a potential gear list: https://lighterpack.com/r/9movle

    As you can see, I have several options regarding insulating clothes and shelters. I understand the shelters are probably not going to be completely full and I tend to use shelters but also love tenting/tarping on my own.

    Last question, if I flipped up to Katahdin, are last minute camping reservations even available in September?

    Thanks in advance! Any kind of input, suggestions, comments, questions, etc are appreciated (availability of esbit throughout trail?)!

  2. #2
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Its hot in Georgia in June. Plan on being hot until its September. Hot and Muggy. I spent one Summer in Georgia and have no desire to spend another Summer in the South.

  3. #3

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    It's the October 15th dead line, not Dec 15th, but I think you know that.

    You have 4.5 months, maybe a little longer, to finish and that's doable if your really are a fast and light hiker. But if your a NH native and have never experienced the heat and humidity of the south, it's brutal and saps a lot of energy. You have to get into the habit of getting up before dawn, hike until it's too hot to go any farther (around noon), take the afternoon off and do the rest of the days hiking in the evening. I would get a very light hammock to string up and take a siesta in during the afternoon.

    While the bulk of the thru hikers will be well ahead of you (but you might catch up to the trailing edge) there will be plenty of people on the trail and using shelters like section hikers, church, Scout, other assorted camp groups and the weekenders.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Go southbound. Much more enjoyable.







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  5. #5
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    OK, first, we had frost on our tents on Springer during the first week in June when we did that section. But that's unusual -- it normally doesn't get below 50, and often not below 60 at night, and it can get very hot and humid during the day. Not as bad as out in the lowlands, but you'll not need winter gear, that's for sure.

    In June in the South I hike in shorts and a light merino wool short sleeve top. I bring a fleece pullover for around camp at night, and a very light fleece beanie and some lightweight gloves (though many hikers dispense with those). I sleep in merino boxer briefs and a dry merino top. Expect afternoon thunderstorms most days in the summer -- they will cool you off for the most part. I do bring a light rain shell in case it gets too chilly in the rain. For solo hiking I use a hammock - it's better rain protection than being on the ground, and more comfortable.
    Ken B
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  6. #6
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    Sounds like a good plan. Your are in excellent shape, have lots of hiking experience and will travel light.

    You mention a marathon soon before your hike. That helps, but that isn't the same as hiking as far as preparing your body for the trail. Will you have time to both prepare for your marathon and go on training hikes? Will your body need time to recover after a marathon? I have never ran one, so i don't know.

    Your gear list looks solid. Maybe minor things can be tweaked, but as is it looks fine.

    Weather can be hot in the south, but can be chilly as well. Elevation is the main factor. It is the mid atlantic states where between northern VA and southern VT the trail never climbs above 4000 feet which will be the hottest. Warm weather also means it is perfect weather for swimming, so it isn't all bad. As others mention get an early start and take an afternoon siesta during the hottest part of the day.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It's the October 15th dead line, not Dec 15th, but I think you know that.
    Huh! Missed that lol.

    What are the bugs like that time of the year down south? I sold my LHG solo this past fall for the Duomid but that means the bivy with full bug netting at head is the extent of bug protection for my shelter. I suppose I could purchase a Sea-to-Summit bug netting inner if need be.

    Also, I regularly night hike around here but I do not hear/read much on people night hiking at all on the AT. Is that fairly uncommon? I tend to also be an early riser knocking out a lot of miles early in the day. I've read a lot about hiking out west utilizing siestas to take advantage of mid day rest. I like this style and am absolutely willing to try it out.

    Thanks for the comments so far, they have been helpful!

  8. #8
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    The bugs aren't that bad in the South, not compared to up north anyway. But I'd want some sort of bug netting.

    The old advice for hiking the AT in mid-summer was "ten before ten, and five after five". Find a cool place to hole up for the day, preferably near water. In mid June we can be on the trail before first light, which means around 0530, and knock out a lot of miles before lunch, then take a 3 hour break, then hike four or five more hours. It's still not full dark when we set up camp. We often try to stop at a shelter for dinner, get water, wash up, that sort of thing, then keep hiking for another hour or two before setting up a tent.

    As you get later in the season you'll probably want to be hiking in the dark. It is done on the AT.
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

  9. #9
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    If you are in decent condition then finishing in 4.5 months isn't a stretch at all. You will have fewer distractions. That would be my NoBo base plan then execute a flip if the schedule look tight. Depending on your time window SOBO might be a better plan. So many options, but many very realistic ones.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoconutTree View Post
    Weather can be hot in the south, but can be chilly as well. Elevation is the main factor. It is the mid atlantic states where between northern VA and southern VT the trail never climbs above 4000 feet which will be the hottest.
    Do you think it would be wise to start with a 30* bag rather than rely on my 50* quilt and insulating clothing to start and then swap out when need be? The temp ratings are fairly accurate for me without using insulating clothing but wearing base layers.

  11. #11
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    starting in June.. if you were to go south bound... high streams, mud and lots of bugs in 100 mile wilderness in Maine. If you are to go north bound.. heat and humidity in the south.. you can't win. How about you start at Harper's Ferry go north to Katahdin and then come back down to Springer and finish up to Harper's Ferry?

  12. #12
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    A funny technicality. If you get from Springer to Mt. Washington, that's a huge NOBO piece. But if you flip to Katahdin from there you you will not have done the 100 mile wilderness right before. Baxter might consider you a SOBO at that point. You might want to write to them explain your plans and ask for a decision on your hiker status. We all know Baxter can be weird about stuff.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by eblanche View Post
    Do you think it would be wise to start with a 30* bag rather than rely on my 50* quilt and insulating clothing to start and then swap out when need be? The temp ratings are fairly accurate for me without using insulating clothing but wearing base layers.
    I think most people could get by with a 50 degree bag without the down jacket, but there would probably be a few cold nights where you only get a partial nights rest and will want to leave early to get warmed up. At least summer nights aren't very long. Adding in a light down jacket, that is maybe good for another 7 degrees. So it is less likely you will get cold, but not impossible.

    Starting with a 30 degree bag and swapping out later is safer. It isn't a bad idea to have a little more sleeping bag than you think you will need.

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