Starting my NOBO hike on 9/2. I'm 31. I've been hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering most of my life. I've read thru a lot on this forum recently, have been reading the guide book / E2E guide, as well as a lot of the journals available. Just kind of looking for some Beta / input. I'm hiking the majority of this alone. I think thats my biggest reservation right now.

How likely will it be to see others in shelters during September? will the southern AT portion still be pretty well populated? What shelters are more popular? I'd like to plan to stay at popular spots as much as I can. I have friends / family meeting me along the way at certain points to resupply and hang out with. I'm expecting to be alone for most of the time in the northern section. Should I expect to spend most of the trip alone or do you think I'll see others going E2E?

Any places along the way that are must-do stop points? any shelters that I should definitely try and hit? I've planed to stop at Manchester center, The Inn at LT, Waitsfield, and Stowe. Any other towns along the way that are easily accessible, or spots close to road crossings that I should consider?

Thank you!