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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    St. Louis, MO

    Default AT in 5 sections

    My son graduates from near Bear Mountain, Poughkeepsie, in May. Not sure about early or late May. That might be a good time to do a section. There are reasons I'm limited to 2 months or a bit less.
    sect#1 How about Bear Mt. to Front Royal? 430 miles. I should be able to do 430 miles in 50 days. Oh Yea!! I'm kinda fat, kinda old and out of shape. So does that sound like a good May-June section? Greyhound home?
    Sect #2 -In the fall Sept-Oct '18, another 2 month section. I'm thinking Front Royal to Damascus, 500 miles, follow the fall south? Not too worried about the SOBO bubble. adjust timing for fall colors/temps?
    Sect#3 -- Springer to Damascus in spring of '19 May -June 470 miles, I do want to skip the bubble.
    sect#4 -- Bear Mt to Hanover 350 miles Fall of '19 I want to miss the mud, the black flies, and is there any bubble left? Sept with a week on either side? SOBO an option.
    Sect#5 Hanover to Katadyn 450 miles Summer of '20 . Now I could change the Hanover to Gorham , that would change the 350 and 450 milages. But I'm thinking it might be good to have 100 miles of "easier " miles before hitting the Whites. So for now Hanover wins the start/finish. I realize that's the hardest 450 miles. Please address the previous question about mud and flies. Timing for this section?
    Details -- transportation there and back? new shoes every section.
    I realize that this plan will be blown to **** the 1st week.
    Your advice?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Kalamazoo, Michigan


    The 2nd and 4th section sound the best to me. Either way you wonít need to worry about a bubble. Sure hikers will be around, and itíll be a bit busier on weekends. But not many people. Virginia is a lot of fun to hike. The towns are very cultured in a way. If you did section 4 you wouldnít need to worry about black flies, thatís more of a spring/summer problem. Mud shouldnít be a problem either.

    But either way to canít win in all the categories.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3


    I think the most problematic section is #1. First of all, for a self-described fat out-of-shape old guy, starting south from Bear Mountain is quite strenuous. Secondly, even if you start in mid-May, your 50 days take you into heat and humidity, whether you hike this section southbound (from Bear Mountain) or northbound (from Front Royal). And if you hike north of Bear Mountain starting mid-May, you'll "enjoy" plenty of mosquitoes and, depending on your progress, black flies.

    I understand your wanting to start your hike in May. How about starting at North Adams, MA and hiking south to Duncannon, a distance of 446 miles? You'll minimize the mosquitoes because they're generally not out until June and they're worse in NJ-NY-CT-MA, less so in PA. 50 days will likely take you into July which will be hot, but July is hot everywhere on the AT except the White Mountains.

    The obvious challenge is starting with an ascent of Mt. Greylock, but it's reasonably graded and you might be able to arrange a slackpack. Once past Greenwood Lake, NY, the terrain is rocky in places but not many ups/downs so you can take your time in the heat.

    North Adams is accessible via public transportation. Fly to Boston, bus to Williamstown, local bus to North Adams. At Duncannon, shuttle to Harrisburg AMTRAK station, train to Philadelphia fly home. Or shuttle to Harrisburg bus station, bus to Baltimore or Washington DC for your flight home.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Washington, DC


    Can't comment on much of the trail but I will say that I suggest continuing from Front Royal through Shenandoah National Park and then going home via Charlottesville - that would be a great way to end a hike and the temps are a lot cooler in SNP than the surrounding areas when weather warms up. I've hiked the section from Boiling Springs to Rockfish Gap (south end of SNP). Early May would be better than Late May. My hike for that section was in late April (northbound) - great weather, not too warm.

  5. #5


    Cookerhiker is right in that section just south of Bear Mt is a killer to start out with. It was a killer section even after coming up from Harpers Ferry. But May would be a good time to do it, before it gets too hot. Early May is better then later May so you don't run into June too quickly. It would probably be just as easy to skip a little south and get on before the rough section as it would be to get on at the Hudson. Or just go shelter to shelter for a while.

    I plan big section hikes around convenient bus or train locations. The ones I've used are Gainesville GA, Knoxville TN, Marion VA, Roanoke VA, Harpers Ferry, Delaware Water Gap, Lee MA or Williamstown MA, Hanover NH, Gorham NH. There are others, but they get increasingly more removed from the trail. I didn't list any in NY since I've never needed to use one there.
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  6. #6


    Hanover to Katahdin is an ambitious plan.
    Perhaps Hanover to Monson? Save the 100 and Katahdin for another season?
    Now I could change the Hanover to Gorham , that would change the 350 and 450 milages. But I'm thinking it might be good to have 100 miles of "easier " miles before hitting the Whites. So for now Hanover wins the start/finish.
    I'm not following you here.

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  7. #7
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Lewiston and Biddeford, Maine


    I would do Hanover to Katahdin starting in July and plan on being in Baxter in September if you are as old and fat as you claim to be. That puts you meeting the Nobo and Sobo bubbles.

  8. #8
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash
    Join Date
    Lynchburg, VA


    Depending on what your version of "kinda fat, kinda old and out of shape" is your plan seems reasonable to me...and what I mean is I have met people that appear fat, old and out of shape that walk 15 miles a day.

    Anyway, I don't know what your previous AT or general hiking experience is, but as you stated your plans are likely to change either during or after that first section. To me you have that first section laid out with fair expectations. 430 miles in 50 days is an average of 8.6 miles a day. So that affords you a nice easy start, some zeroes, and your likely to walk yourself into shape where you can make better miles later on. The Western part of PA and MD are pretty easy from my recollection.

    If you stick to this plan, my only comment on sections 4 & 5 are I would personally try to get to Gorham on #4. The reason for this is you'll have walked yourself into shape before hitting the Whites, and then hopefully you'll be in decent shape to enjoy them. The only catch is if you want to plan a hut-to-hut hike before getting there, the reservations are gonna be a challenge since you won't know exact dates ahead of time. I presume you're planning to just do what the thrus do and try to work for stay.

    Also be warned that after you leave the Whites you take a further beating in the first part of ME. So trying to maintain some level of fitness between the sections is gonna give you a much better chance of succeeding.
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
    JMT: 2013

  9. #9


    If you're going to hike the AT is sections you may want to become a member of ALDHA. For $10 you also get the, in this case misnamed Thru-hikers Companion in PDF, which you can print out for each section.

    While it's not out yet the 2018 edition has reformatted tables, which are reader friendly and have over 2000 waypoints, new profiles and quite a few updates over 2017. If you join now you'll receive the 2017 edition but will be sent a link when the 2018 edition comes out in a week or so.

    Check it out.

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