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  1. #1
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    Default First Section Hike

    Hey guys new to the forum but have long dreamed of Thru-Hiking the AT (before I knew the term Thru Hiking). I am finally at a point in life where I can start to do several smaller section hikes each year. I plan on going on a section hike in August this year starting at the approach trail and staying on trail hopefully for 10 days. I am trying to gauge how far would be a good hike for a first timer on the trail. I am in fairly decent shape, not overweight at all, and I normally walk 10 miles a day at work. I don't have pack weights or anything yet as I still have to purchase a tent and sleeping pad.

  2. #2
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    From Springer to Deep Gap is 85 miles. That would get one state done, and the next one started. If you don't have a trail guide yet, you can use www.atdist.com as a way to check some distances. But you do need a guide. One of the best is www.theatguide.com

    It's good to hear that you're regularly walking 10 miles per day. I think you'll be able to walk 85 miles in 10 days, maybe further. It will be different with a pack, different on hills, but 10 mpd is still a head start compared to many aspiring thru-hikers. It would be a good idea to do some multi-day hikes in your area before August, so you'll know how your body holds up, especially your feet.

  3. #3

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    First welcome!
    First thing that sticks out to me is August mixed with first section hike. August is a pretty not so comfortable time of year.. If you could move that back to October, it would mean a world of difference from many standpoints...water, heat, bugs, views and scenery etc.

    My suggestion would be, especially starting at the beginning of the trail, is to leave your car at the beginning, start walking with say...4-5 days of food and just play it by ear. Don't set daily goals because the first time you decide to do a 10 mile day instead of the planned 15, the whole rest of your plan is skewed. Wake up each morning, drink your coffee and mosey on down the trail. I would say for a first time section, and you say you are pretty athletic, 10 miles a day...with some 15's in there would not be too much of a burden. lets say you do 3 15 mile days, and 10s the other 6 days(that leaves you a day to not hike, to stay in a town along your travels like Helen Ga. Then you could crank out 105 miles at a pretty enjoyable pace. The approach trail to Winding stair Gap would be a good first hike and feel quite rewarding.


    As a tip for you as a new poster, I'm sure you have lots of questions, and this is place to ask them! To concentrate the answers you receive, you may want to post many questions using a numbered bullet list, where people can copy your list of questions, and answer them accordingly. Best of luck!
    Trail Miles: 5,125.9
    AT Map 1: Completed 13-21'
    Sheltowee Trace: Completed 20-23'
    Pinhoti Trail: Completed 23-24'
    GSMNP900: 134.7(16.8%)
    Foothills Trail: 47.9
    AT Map 2: 279.4
    CDT: 210.9
    BMT: 52.7

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the advice so you think I shouldn't plan on more than 10 miles a day? I do want to enjoy the hike as well. I have done 2 day hikes with my pack loaded up to 25 lbs. They were good tails in Big Canoe GA. The hardest of them really made me thankful for my trekking poles. I will order my guide today so I can just have a copy ready.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Gambit. As far as the pick up and drop off are concerned my girlfriend has said she wanted to drop me off and pick me up so where I actually end up won't matter to much as long as I have cell service and a decent road she can drive. I will take the advice of bullets for questions into account. Thanks for the warm welcome so far!

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone1984 View Post
    Thanks Gambit. As far as the pick up and drop off are concerned my girlfriend has said she wanted to drop me off and pick me up so where I actually end up won't matter to much as long as I have cell service and a decent road she can drive. I will take the advice of bullets for questions into account. Thanks for the warm welcome so far!
    http://www.atdist.com/

    http://rohland.homedns.org:8008/at/at_menu.aspx

    Both of the above are good for planning. There are several highways she could pick u up along that the trail crosses. Deep gap is where I ended one of my sections but it IS a lengthy forest road however it is not rough, just long. Cell service is pretty good thru there all the way into NC. If you are going to have your cell and have an iphone/ android, check out the guthooks app. I use it 99% of the time and even tho it is not "by the book safe", you can really just follow the blazes for probably 99% of the trail. However the app is very convenient with real time water sources, shelters, bear activity etc.

    Only regs you will run into on this stretch is near neel gap/ jarrard gap there is a bear canister law. My suggestion is don't camp in that area, and don't take a canister on your trip.
    Trail Miles: 5,125.9
    AT Map 1: Completed 13-21'
    Sheltowee Trace: Completed 20-23'
    Pinhoti Trail: Completed 23-24'
    GSMNP900: 134.7(16.8%)
    Foothills Trail: 47.9
    AT Map 2: 279.4
    CDT: 210.9
    BMT: 52.7

  7. #7
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    Just a thought, but you didn't mention if you have any prior hiking experience. If you don't, I would suggest you do an overnight and then a weekend hike to iron out gear and gain skills before committing to a 10 day section hike. And before that, practice setting up your tent and cooking a meal or two. You'll learn A LOT of things in the first outing or two as far as what works and doesn't work, and what you may also need or want but didn't bring/buy. There are many things people take for granted, like setting up and breaking camp, preparing meals, etc., which can be difficult the first couple of times out. I've often seen hikers struggle with never before used stoves and tents and such generally just as it's getting dark, or raining, or windy, etc.
    "That's the thing about possum innards - they's just as good the second day." - Jed Clampett

  8. #8
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    @4eyedbuzzard
    I don't have a lot of hiking experience when it comes to overnights. I do a lot of day hikes now. I also do a good bit of camping already but that is with much different gear. I have stayed a few days at Burrels Ford Campground but that was all camping no hiking. I will take you up on the advice to practice with my gear once I buy my new tent. I know I want to try doing that in the dark and rain before I go. Once again thanks for the advice.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone1984 View Post
    @4eyedbuzzard
    I don't have a lot of hiking experience when it comes to overnights. I do a lot of day hikes now. I also do a good bit of camping already but that is with much different gear. I have stayed a few days at Burrels Ford Campground but that was all camping no hiking. I will take you up on the advice to practice with my gear once I buy my new tent. I know I want to try doing that in the dark and rain before I go. Once again thanks for the advice.
    August. In Georgia. On Section One. One thought comes to mind....UNCOMFORTABLE.

    It's one thing to be warm in the cold. It's another thing to try and sleep in heat and humidity, let alone hiking in heat and humidity...

    That said, my son and I did Blue Ridge Gap to Wayah Bald Fire Tower in August a few years ago. Not tragic, by any means. But, a lot of water was consumed...just sayin....

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Just a thought, but you didn't mention if you have any prior hiking experience. If you don't, I would suggest you do an overnight and then a weekend hike to iron out gear and gain skills before committing to a 10 day section hike. And before that, practice setting up your tent and cooking a meal or two. You'll learn A LOT of things in the first outing or two as far as what works and doesn't work, and what you may also need or want but didn't bring/buy. There are many things people take for granted, like setting up and breaking camp, preparing meals, etc., which can be difficult the first couple of times out. I've often seen hikers struggle with never before used stoves and tents and such generally just as it's getting dark, or raining, or windy, etc.

    Buzzard speaks of wisdom. Even on your day hikes, at the turn around point of your day hike, or anywhere with a temt site- setup your tent, boild some ramen eat the brothy treat, packul camp and head on out. Good practice there

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