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  1. #1
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    Default 2.5 months - early/mid May to August- Harpers Ferry to Katahdin?

    I'm relatively new to backpacking. I've only done 60ish miles of the AT from Amicalola Falls to Unicoi Gap, but I'm really excited for the opportunity to do some real long distance hiking!

    So, I only have 2.5 months to hike, from about May 15th to the beginning of August. I was looking at just doing half the trail, and I'm more drawn to doing Harpers Ferry to Katahdin than Amicalola Falls to Harpers Ferry. It seems like a decent amount of people leave for Harpers Ferry to Katahdin around mid April-early May, and I'm wondering why this is such a popular time?

    Like what are the pro's and con's (weather, bugs, how busy the trail is, etc) of this portion of the AT at that time compared to the southern half of the trail?
    What differences in gear are necessary?
    and how do the landscapes change? (I've heard the white mountains are some of the most difficult portions on the AT, but haven't researched much else into difficulty vs. enjoyability - if that makes sense. are there any flat boring sections? or which sections are the most enjoyable?)

    Thanks so much for any advice!

  2. #2
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    you will be about peak for traffic, but at least 1/3 of the starters will have quit, so not as crowded as in the south - you will have hot summer conditions, with some cold in the whites - you will be doing Maine at about the ideal time of year

  3. #3
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    That will be a good time to hike. Not too hot in the mid-Atlantic, and you'll get to New England after mud season.
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  4. #4

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    To a large extent, it's about weather. Starting at Harper's Ferry in mid April gets you through PA/NJ/NY before it become oppressively hot and humid. You also start out on a relatively "easy" section of the trail (but it's not a cake walk by any streach of the imagination). Then when you get to the more difficult sections in NH and Maine, your in decent shape, but not all worn out like many of those who started in Georgia are when they get here.

    For the most part, Pennsylvania is pretty boring. The first 100 miles is fairly pleasant but the last half is a rocky, ankle twisty pain. NJ and NY up to the Hudson river is so-so. From the Hudson river into Connecticut is a nice, pleasant walk in the woods. Leaving CT and entering MA gives you a taste of what's to come. The trail starts to become interesting in Vermont and NH is spectacular and Maine is just damn hard, but with plenty of great views.

    Doing about 1100 miles in 2.5 months (75 days) means you need to average about 15 miles a day. That's not an unreasonable pace for much of the distance but can be difficult to maintain in NH and Maine, so you'd have to do a lot of 20+ mile days early on through PA/NJ/NY where it's easier to do that kind of miles.

    If your stuck with the May 15th start, you'd be better off starting at the Delaware Water Gap and skipping PA to allow for a more mellow pace and still finish at Baxter in Maine.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    If your stuck with the May 15th start, you'd be better off starting at the Delaware Water Gap and skipping PA to allow for a more mellow pace and still finish at Baxter in Maine.
    +1

    that would initially put you ahead of the bubble, and if it did catch up it would be much depleted

  6. #6
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    See how it goes. Should be great. Toughest part of the trail though







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  7. #7
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    Thanks for all of the advice and suggestions! My boyfriend is coming to hike with me for about 10 days or so. Do you have any advice on which part would be best for that, as far as transportation to/from, medium difficulty (He hiked Amicalola to Unicoi Gap with me, and he definitely slowed me down some, but we still averaged 10 miles a day) and preferably one of the more enjoyable sections?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by PolarWander View Post
    Thanks for all of the advice and suggestions! My boyfriend is coming to hike with me for about 10 days or so.
    That gets complicated. There are only a limited number of places one can easily get to the trail via public transportation and these places tend to be pretty far apart. Your BF will effectively be doing a short section hike and that involves setting up a shuttle, probably to and from some city with transportation options.

    The other problem is your a moving target. To co-ordinate meeting someone at a specific place at a specific time more then a few days in advance is very difficult. Unless he's driving up from where ever. Then it's much easier to meet you at the nearest road crossing which you happen to be at at the time. Of course, then there is the problem of getting back to the car and the time it takes to drive back and forth which might cut into the time available to hike.

    As much as he might want to join you and you to see him, it's a lot easier just to say "see you in September".
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PolarWander View Post
    Thanks for all of the advice and suggestions! My boyfriend is coming to hike with me for about 10 days or so. Do you have any advice on which part would be best for that, as far as transportation to/from, medium difficulty (He hiked Amicalola to Unicoi Gap with me, and he definitely slowed me down some, but we still averaged 10 miles a day) and preferably one of the more enjoyable sections?
    around NYC public transport has multiple intersections with the trail - someone more local would have more specifics, may want to start a new thread for more traffic

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by PolarWander View Post
    Thanks for all of the advice and suggestions! My boyfriend is coming to hike with me for about 10 days or so. Do you have any advice on which part would be best for that, as far as transportation to/from, medium difficulty (He hiked Amicalola to Unicoi Gap with me, and he definitely slowed me down some, but we still averaged 10 miles a day) and preferably one of the more enjoyable sections?
    If he starts with you, DWG nobo would be the easiest. As far as transportation, I just did a section from DWG to HF a few months ago & I flew into DC, then rented a car at Enterprise since they have one a few miles away from DWG. I dropped the car off & they took me to the trail.

    When I ended at HF, I took a train to DC & then flew back
    Take Time to Watch the Trees Dance with The Wind.....Then Join In

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