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  1. #1

    Default late Feb start date: footwear?

    Hello white blaze -- first post on here!
    As my start date for a 2017 nobo thru hike looms in the very near future, I'm wondering if my boots will be enough for snow I might encounter with a start date in mid/late February. I currently have a pair of salomon hiking boots that I'll swap out for trail runners when it gets a bit warmer. Otherwise, I'm wondering if I'll need crampons, ice trekkers/yak trax, or even gaiters to help with ice and snow. Most of my previous hiking experience has been in the northeast, so I'm not sure exactly what I should expect in the smokies and the rest of the south in late winter. Any advice on this and general weather is appreciated, thanks!

    - Nat

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    Default late Feb start date: footwear?

    I won't be starting too long after yourself (March 3rd-ish), so I'm looking forward to hearing these responses.
    I'm tackling the question in the same sort of way: Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid boots until I feel comfortable moving into my Altra Superior 2.0's. Although, I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought about starting with the trailrunners and just utilizing bread bags when it snows.

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    Default late Feb start date: footwear?

    Oh, and welcome to the site, I'm pretty new too. This place has got everything you need to know AND MUCH MORE.

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    Registered User Oventoasted's Avatar
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    ill be starting probably march 5 and im just bringing my Altra Lonepeak 3's. Not bringing micro spikes or anything like that. i will have some zpacks ankle gaiters though.

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    Registered User Oventoasted's Avatar
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    i just noticed the location under your name Martzy13. im stationed out at cannon in clovis, nm.

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    Default late Feb start date: footwear?

    Well shoot, I hope to see you on the Trail, Toasted, maybe afterwards you can introduce me to some of that beautiful NM country y'all are hiding out there. My mom's looking for a place to build a cabin out that way in a few years, so I need to become acquainted.

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    I'm starting around the same time and I'm going in my Lone Peak3.0s. My shoes may get wet, but they'll dry out very quick too. I live in Atlanta so I hike around the start a lot and no matter what the weather is like, I can get away with just wearing trail runners. Even if you get snow, it's not going to be anything like it in in New England. The most we get down here is a couple inches, and then it melts because it rarely stays cold enough for the snow to hang around. I've done winter hiking before in the north where waterproof boots, micro spikes and snow shoes were required, but you won't find conditions like that down here.

  8. #8

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    GTX lined boots for sure. "My boots will dry out very quickly" Not when the trail is wet and muddy from frequent rain in the spring. You could go weeks before your boots dry out. Save the trail runners for when summer arrives for good somewhere in Virginia. You'll need a new pair of shoes by about then anyway.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Registered User The Cleaner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by josh_ATL View Post
    I'm starting around the same time and I'm going in my Lone Peak3.0s. My shoes may get wet, but they'll dry out very quick too. I live in Atlanta so I hike around the start a lot and no matter what the weather is like, I can get away with just wearing trail runners. Even if you get snow, it's not going to be anything like it in in New England. The most we get down here is a couple inches, and then it melts because it rarely stays cold enough for the snow to hang around. I've done winter hiking before in the north where waterproof boots, micro spikes and snow shoes were required, but you won't find conditions like that down here.

    041.JPG035.JPG This is what was left over from 14" of snow on 3-26-13, 26 miles north of Hot Springs NC.The Smokies had a few more inches and it stays on shady north facing slopes for days then melts a bit then refreezes into some hard ice.The day I took these pics I met a hiker wearing sandals w/socks.He wasn't too happy.
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

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    Registered User Oventoasted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Cleaner View Post
    041.JPG035.JPG This is what was left over from 14" of snow on 3-26-13, 26 miles north of Hot Springs NC.The Smokies had a few more inches and it stays on shady north facing slopes for days then melts a bit then refreezes into some hard ice.The day I took these pics I met a hiker wearing sandals w/socks.He wasn't too happy.
    Probably sucked for the guy with sandals but, i've hiked trails with sneakers through snow drifts in alaska. never lost any toes and didnt slip off a mountain. granted my feet got wet but so did my friend who had his boots on. also the reason im bringing gaiters. no one likes snow balls in their shoes.

  11. #11

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    The wintry weather is more episodic, meaning not regular. You could simply have no big snows or you might get in a couple. I section hike throughout the year, and I have a nice pair of insulated, gore tex boots. I will wear them liberally in the winter throughout the AT. But I am not out there weeks on end thruhiking and they might be a bit bulky for that purpose. Outside of winter I wear trail runners. In the late fall and early spring, I bring Gore Tex socks as my trail runners are not waterproof. Wet feet in 30-40 degree weather is really a bad idea IMHO. If there was a chance for snow and I went with trail runners, I'd definitely bring some gaiters, taller ones. For the OP, as mentioned, a pair of shorty gaiters will keep the snow out with boots. I used to wear shorty gaiters year round. It helps to keep crap out of your boots. But they make my feet hot and sweaty and this encourages blisters, so I don't wear them anymore. I stick to speed laces so it is just a quick second to get junk out anyway. Plus the speed laces make it easier to just kick off the shoes and dry my feet out as needed.

    In my experience, it's a bit rare to need traction devices. I've got a set of lightweight crampons, and have bought them, but haven't had much need of them. The slip-ons like yak trax and the rest are even lighter. Not usually necessary except when you really need 'em. Most times I've hit ice, it's been patchy. Just S L O W D O W N and be careful. Watch out for black ice.
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    Registered User Ktaadn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Cleaner View Post
    041.JPG035.JPG This is what was left over from 14" of snow on 3-26-13, 26 miles north of Hot Springs NC.The Smokies had a few more inches and it stays on shady north facing slopes for days then melts a bit then refreezes into some hard ice.The day I took these pics I met a hiker wearing sandals w/socks.He wasn't too happy.
    Looks like a beautiful sunny day for hiking.

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    GA-ME Feb. 27th–July 1st, 2016 lwhikerchris's Avatar
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    Your Salomons will do the trick for a Feb. start. I'd swap them out once you get to VA. You could still hit snow but by then it won't bother you.

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    I left Springer on 22Feb last year and wore Saloman XA Pro 3D shoes. The vented mesh, no GTX variety along with high gaiters, toe sock liners and Darn Tough mid-calf light hiker socks. Had the expected snows along with rain. Walked them dry every time they got wet. Never had an issue in the 550 miles I hiked. YMMV. Carried micro spikes and used them twice mainly due to ice on the trail. Cold was not issue as long as I kept moving. I ditched the micro spikes in Franklin and the high gaiters in Hot Springs switching to Dirty Girl gaiters. I gained a lot of respect for gaiters, especially in snow, ice, rain and mud. But, that was last year. Who really knows what this year will hold. One reason I love it so much.

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    Registered User ggreaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Options View Post
    Walked them dry every time they got wet.
    more people should ditch the Goretex like you did. I'm amazed how quickly you can walk a pair of shoes dry even after stepping in a river and having them soaked inside and out.

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    I am starting in late feb as well and after pouring through old weather data, old posts and asking around, I just bringing my trail runners with decent socks. I may pick up some gaiters

    I'm from northern Ohio, so not a stranger to snow. I think it will be rare, if any times that it snows. If there is ice, I'll take it slow and lean on my trekking poles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by josh_ATL View Post
    I'm starting around the same time and I'm going in my Lone Peak3.0s. My shoes may get wet, but they'll dry out very quick too. I live in Atlanta so I hike around the start a lot and no matter what the weather is like, I can get away with just wearing trail runners. Even if you get snow, it's not going to be anything like it in in New England. The most we get down here is a couple inches, and then it melts because it rarely stays cold enough for the snow to hang around. I've done winter hiking before in the north where waterproof boots, micro spikes and snow shoes were required, but you won't find conditions like that down here.
    With a Feb 20 or so Springer Mt NOBO start date doing 100 MPW avgs you will only be getting around the VA/TN state line(465 miles) around 5 wks or less later around March 27 or so. You DEFINITELY(I'd count on it!) could experience snow in several areas including north GA, areas of NC and TN, GSMNP, Roan Mt, etc. Cities like Atlanta, I think the U.S. 9 th largest, a large heat sink, are generally warmer than forest and ridge lines. ALSO, Atlanta is around 1000-1100 ft elevation. You'l almost universally be at higher elevation, sometimes more than 5X that, with a 3.3 F* decrease in temp for every 1000 ft higher. In short, it'll be colder and snowier than Atlanta comparatively.

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    Been a weird winter, who knows. It was 64 in cleveland today

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drapac View Post
    Been a weird winter, who knows. It was 64 in cleveland today
    Good grief. It's been cooler on the Upper East side of Texas. It was 12 in my backyard a few weeks ago.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    With a Feb 20 or so Springer Mt NOBO start date doing 100 MPW avgs you will only be getting around the VA/TN state line(465 miles) around 5 wks or less later around March 27 or so. You DEFINITELY(I'd count on it!) could experience snow in several areas including north GA, areas of NC and TN, GSMNP, Roan Mt, etc. Cities like Atlanta, I think the U.S. 9 th largest, a large heat sink, are generally warmer than forest and ridge lines. ALSO, Atlanta is around 1000-1100 ft elevation. You'l almost universally be at higher elevation, sometimes more than 5X that, with a 3.3 F* decrease in temp for every 1000 ft higher. In short, it'll be colder and snowier than Atlanta comparatively.
    yeah, a lot of advice given from people who don't actually live in the area, while well meaning, doesn't accurately portray what early GA/NC weather can be like.

    historical records and macros say weather should be like "this", but these mountain areas are famous for spring weather events that defy logic. it's been compared to a tired and cranky toddler - mostly it's manageable, but when it goes off, it goes way off...

    when the local forecast says "wintry mix" what you'll usually get is freezing rain, which is rain that freezes on contact because the ground temp is lower than air. no bueno... if you're prepared, snow is no problem, rain is no problem, but hiking even half a day in this, is misery to the highest power.

    I would want warm dry feet...

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