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  1. #21
    GoldenBear's Avatar
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    Cool My advice for newbies

    Twelve years ago I was, like you, a complete newbie in the realm of backpacking.
    Like you, I enjoyed camping and long day-hikes.
    Backpacking, I found, is simply joining the above two activities.

    As other have said, the only way to learn how YOU can do this activity -- or even whether you want to -- is to just go out there and do it.

    If you're as super-cautious as I was when I started, you can find YOUR level of comfort in the steps I took:

    1) Drive to a nearby state or county park with overnight camping. Pack everything you think you'll need for backpacking. Park your car at a campsite, and then carry your pack ten meters from your car to the tent site. Then spend the night there using ONLY the stuff you've brought in your pack. The idea here is that NO MATTER HOW BADLY you've packed your pack, you're safe. Even if you forgot a decent sleeping bag, or tent poles, or matches, or WHATEVER; you know you can just get in the car and go home -- no harm, no foul. A great way to feel safe about step three.
    2) Learn to pack, and then how to carry, your backpack; such that you can do so for an all-day hike. You can do this in your neighborhood, in a city park, or even on a day-hike that you've enjoyed in the past. You'll soon learn that one of the secrets of success is good packing -- and that includes getting rid of stuff that you don't really need. The other is ensuring that your footwear is comfortable for you after several hours of walking.
    3) Do a true back-packing overnight, but only a few miles. If you've mastered steps one & two, this should be no problem. Again, the idea is to gain confidence in your ability to camp out with only the stuff you can carry for several miles.
    4) The exercise I've found is most critical to getting in shape for backpacking is walking up & down steps -- learn to do so, repeatedly, for no less than 30 to 60 minutes. But start with no more than five minutes, and slowly build up your knee strength. Assuming you have good footwear -- and day-hikes should tell you that -- then your mission critical area will be your knees.
    5) And finally, go out and do your first, week-long backpack! I GUARANTEE you won't make as many mistakes as I did on MY first true backpack.
    https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/ent...-the-Year-quot
    And who knows? Six years from now you may well be giving advice to newbies on how to do that first backpack!

  2. #22
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nosuchthingaslost View Post
    Hi all!
    I am 27 years old and female from Upstate NY. While I grew up camping and hiking and often do long day hikes, I’m a newbie when it comes to multiday, longer backpacking trips. I am in research/read everything/learning mode right now, and have been formulating a plan.

    GOAL - I would like to be ready to hike 65 miles of the NY section of the AT by early September in one trip.

    I think that if I start training now, get into better shape, use and practice with my gear and do a few overnight weekend 1 or 2 night trips, and hike as many different trails as I can in the meantime, this could be a reasonable goal.

    Of course my family, while well-meaning, is freaking out and saying absolutely no way will this be possible for me.

    I’m not a novice that doesn’t realize the huge risks, physical and mental demands, safety and training needed...but I really feel like I could do this if I really dedicate myself and use the next 6-8 months wisely.

    Any words of wisdom?

    Am I seeking the impossible or setting my expectations way too high?

    What do you think?
    While it's polite to listen to your family's concerns, just acknowledge them and then do exactly as you're planning. You have camping and day hiking experience which will help. Making camp , cooking, etc. on the trail is like car camping only in miniature and with less comfort stuff. As others have suggested, go car camping with only your backpacking gear. Figure out what you need and don't. Then go for an overnight hike a few miles in - you can bail out quickly if needed. Repeat the learning process. Then a full weekend, 10 to 20 miles depending on terrain. Things that help are being proficient pitching your shelter and cooking, especially in bad weather. Practice them in advance. And remember to have lots of fun!

  3. #23
    Registered User Siestita's Avatar
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    :banana

    ”GOAL - I would like to be ready to hike 65 miles of the NY section of the AT by early September in one trip.

    I think that if I start training now, get into better shape, use and practice with my gear and do a few overnight weekend 1 or 2 night trips, and hike as many different trails as I can in the meantime, this could be a reasonable goal.”

    I’ve found that having hiking goals can sometimes be useful. Many years ago, while I was still a relatively new backpacker I found myself living for a while in Costa Rica. Looking at topographic maps I figured out that by hiking for sixty miles on back roads and horse trails, passing through villages and crossing four mountain ridges I could cover the entire distance between the city where I lived, San Jose, and a beautiful beach on the Pacific Coast.

    Pursuing and achieving that goal (walking to Quepos from San Jose) motivated me and gave me some interesting experiences. Later I decided to walk up Chiripo, Costa Rica’s highest mountain. I probably didn’t hike more than 22 to 25 miles total during that five day adventure. But, that Chiripo trip nonetheless ‘kicked my butt’; I’ve never done anything else that was comparably exhausting. Years later, while living here in Kentucky I decided to section hike all of our state’s long distance trail, the Sheltowee Trace (about 210 miles long). Having that goal motivated me to take many short out-and-back backpacks on the Trace, typically two night/three day weekends. (Yes, I eventually got it all done.)

    But, I don’t think covering a set number of miles or completing the AT through a particular state is necessarily an ideal goal for a novice backpacker. Better initial goals, I think would be simply learning how to do backpacking/back country camping, developing confidence, and of course enjoying the experience. As others have pointed out, novices often set overly ambitious mileage goals for themselves.

    People vary greatly concerning how far and fast they can comfortably walk. During the 1950s, when I was a child and dinosaurs walked the earth I had a mild case of polio. After physical therapy strengthened my abdominal muscles I stopped walking with a limp and was pronounced “cured”. In reality, since that time I’ve never, even with extensive conditioning, been able to swim, run, or hike as quickly as do most other people my own age.

    I started backpacking when I was in my early 20s, initially taking two trips of three nights each. I did that at scenic places that happened to be close to where I was located, first at Mount Washington in New Hampshire and then a year later in Great Smokey Mountain National Park. During those days, as is still true now, back country camping in those areas was limited to designated sites, with permitting required. So I let other people decide in advance how far I was supposed walk each day.

    In both New Hampshire and the Smokies I had to alter my itineraries substantially ‘on the fly’ because I was not walking as fast as the plans required. I failed to reach preset mileage “goals” but those trips were successful in more important ways. I enjoyed myself, learned by making mistakes, and became more comfortable hiking and sleeping alone out in the woods. And, I was learning to comfortably and gloriously poop in the woods.

    At age 67 I still backpack but only average one mile per hour of ‘speed’, even walking on relatively easy trails. And, I no longer enjoy covering more than four to eight miles per day. But, I like being out in the woods and love the freedom that light weight backpacking gives me.
    Last edited by Siestita; 01-05-2018 at 07:09.

  4. #24
    Registered User Siestita's Avatar
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    I suggested above that you focus your attention initially on learning things rather than on necessarily completing a particular itinerary. I think one capability that you should develop from the beginning is being able to use your own gear (tent, tarp, and/or hammock) to sleep on your own on occasion, rather than always needing to stay in the shelters. And, it would be very useful for you to learn, right from the beginning, how you can resupply yourself with backpacking food at grocery stores. Any hiker, even an exceptionally slow one like me, ought to be able to successfully complete a section hike of the AT through New York, provided he or she has lots of days available and possesses the capabilities mentioned above, the ability to sleep away from shelters and knowledge of how food can be resupplied in towns.

    I've not hiked on the AT in New York State. I see from ATC Data Book, however, that along that 90 mile stretch of trail there are five different road crossings that provide access to towns where grocery stores are located. And none of those potential resupply points are more than 25 miles apart.

    How many vacation days will you have available to complete this hike? Perhaps you could start the hike without having a preconceived mileage plan or firm final destination point. That way you could go just as far each day as you discover, a the time, that you want to hike. As Thoreau sagely pointed out, each of us walks to the beat of different drummer.
    Last edited by Siestita; 01-05-2018 at 06:32.

  5. #25

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    My first LD-ish trip was 65 miles in Wyoming. I had done a couple of over-nighters beforehand. I did it 6 days with less hiking background than you (had horses before) but similar camping experiences. You will have no poroblem with achieving your goal

  6. #26
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    I hiked all of NY from Hoyt Rd to Wawayanda in NJ this past September. I have only ever done one other multi-day hike and that was last September from Greenwood Lake NY to Delaware Water Gap. I am 48 years old and in only reasonably fair shape. If I was able to get that done, you surely can!

    I am curious where you plan to start and finish.

    You Got This!

  7. #27
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    Hard to pick a better section for a first backpack. You have cell coverage the entire length and plenty of bail out options. The NY section is quite rocky in places, can be be hard on tender feet not used to walking on rocks but unlike the infamous PA rocks, these rocks tend to stay in place when you step on them.

    I strongly recommend the prior post about a shakedown overnight or two. You dont want to be the one that is using their stove for the first time on the first meal of the hike. After the shakedown overnight take a good look at what you needed versus what you carried. Most folks carry way too much gear and every pound on the back makes for a harder hike.

    Factor in planning for, getting and treating water. NY can be dry in spots and its definitely place to plan ahead so you dont run out and definitely treat water.

  8. #28

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    Well originally, I wanted to do state line to state line in NY (the entire 90-mile section), but then everyone around me started telling me I was an idiot for thinking I could do something like that in 6 or 7 months’ time. So I shortened it and thought maybe I could start/end in the Pawling and Warwick areas. There seems to be good transportation/bus options for getting to and from those start and end points. But really, nothing is decided yet, I’m still reading and thinking and getting advice.

  9. #29

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    Also to everyone suggesting the overnights, using all gear thoroughly beforehand, a few weekend trips...thank you! And I plan on doing all of this before I set out for my “goal trip” towards the middle/end of summer.

  10. #30

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    And also, I’ll be able to take up to 2 full weeks vacation from work if I need to. So no worries about time crunch being bad (at least I hope not!).

  11. #31
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    My opinion is to go for it! (The full 90 miles!) especially if you have the time! I did the full state in 8 days.

    I planned on hiking 10 mile days. I ended up doing some 7 and some 14.

    Starting at the top and going south, you will have some great hiking terrain in the beginning and it gets a little rougher at Bear mountain...

    If you need any suggestions or help let me know. I live in NJ right by Wawayanda State Park and could shuttle you or something.

    CM

    Quote Originally Posted by nosuchthingaslost View Post
    Well originally, I wanted to do state line to state line in NY (the entire 90-mile section), but then everyone around me started telling me I was an idiot for thinking I could do something like that in 6 or 7 months’ time. So I shortened it and thought maybe I could start/end in the Pawling and Warwick areas. There seems to be good transportation/bus options for getting to and from those start and end points. But really, nothing is decided yet, I’m still reading and thinking and getting advice.

  12. #32
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    "Seawoods" and others.

    There seem to be some other "senior" hikers on this thread with experiences, so this may not apply to the OP who is 27. I have 16 years of age (not experience) on you. My backpacking experience was also SNP south to north with three younger (48-ish) companions. We skipped Pinefield Hut to Lewis Campground. (Their idea.) Like you (and others?) the 13 mi. days between huts and tent sites left me pretty tired at the end of any long day. (again - age?) They were meeting the hikers arriving at the huts while I sat there waiting for energy to set up my tent.

    My observation: we never really took any long breaks. Maybe stop look at a view and snack and away we went.
    At Elkwallow Gap I was not relishing another 1100 ft. climb to Gravel Springs Hut. I was even considering a ride around Hogback but couldn't get one. I am glad I didn't. While there we had maybe a 45 ? min. break with food from the store there. With the rest and food there, an actual meal, the next mountain was one of the more comfortable climbs on the hike. My advice, at my age, take a couple longer breaks and eat more.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by SLMaui View Post
    You have my attention. I am leaving April 8 to hike SNP to HF. This will be my first real backpacking trip. I day hike quite a bit and I have experience camping but I haven't done any real backpacking. I am planning some 2 day trips to work with my gear and stuff prior to leaving and I am training by walking 6 to 14 miles at least 3 days a week to get my body used to walking many miles. Looking at where the shelters are located along the AT in SNP there are many days that require a 10 plus mile day to get from one shelter to the next. Did you mostly hike from shelter to shelter each day? I'm concerned about finding tent spots away from shelters. What did you find most difficult? I appreciate any advice you could offer.
    I thought there were slim pickings when it came to campsites in SNP. Most campsites are located close to shelters. AWOL's guide notes that you are requested to stay at designated campsite, and if you don't, there are restrictions on where you can camp. Check out a guide.

    If you get in the thru hiker bubble, you may find it difficult to score a spot in a shelter (or hut as they are called in the park). Since you are leaving April 8, you should be ahead of the biggest part of the hiker bubble, but there will still be some hikers there who left from Springer in February. I stayed exclusively in shelters while going through the park (June 3 to June 11 in 2017). I have a blog that details my hike through SNP and the shelters in which I stayed. The link is below in my signature lines. You can focus on the June dates by clicking on the June 2017 link. Take a look if you are interested.

    Be sure to get your back country permit. You could be fined without it. Also, plan for some cold weather at that time of the year.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
    Blog - www.tonysadventure.com

  14. #34
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    You can do it! There's a lot of good advice as well as some comments to ignore in this thread, but as others have suggested, with some practice overnights and some stair climbing, you'll be good to go. I was woefully unprepared in 2013 when I first started short section hiking:

    April 2013: Did virtually no training (just a few 6 mile hikes with a weighted pack on a trail along the Erie canal) prior to getting on the trail in Duncannon, PA. Pack weighed about 45 lbs. Planned to do about 65 miles and thought I was going to die climbing the hill northward out of Duncannon. Went about 9 miles the first day. Shivered all night long. Throw in a lot of rocks, wash and repeat. Got to about the 35 mile mark and hitch-hiked back to my car and went home.
    June 2014: Trained by doing "short" day-hikes with a weighted pack on the Finger Lakes Trail. Got on the trail before the Lehigh Gap and hiked about 20 miles past Delaware Water Gap, averaging about 12 miles per day. Had a great time, although the climbs still sucked.
    May 2015: Trained by doing "short" day-hikes with a weighted pack on the Finger Lakes Trail. Got on the trail around Vernon, NJ, and hiked to near where the AT crosses I-84 (not too far from Pawling, NY), averaging about 12 miles per day. Had a great time, although the climbs still sucked.
    May 2016: Didn't do much training, but did get in a couple of "short" day-hikes with a weighted pack on the Finger Lakes Trail, and spent some time on a treadmill on the highest incline setting in the Spring. Got on the trail before the near Kent, CT, and hiked up to around Tyringham, MA, averaging about 12 miles per day. Had a great time, although the climbs still sucked.
    June 2017:Got a stepper (Stairmaster) and spent a fair amount of time on it. Did some day hikes on the Finger Lakes Trail with only a day pack. Got on the trail before Mount Greylock and hiked up into Vermont. The hike would have been great except for the miserable weather (heavy rain, cold wet nights around 40 and wet days around 50, hordes of black flies when it wasn't raining, and mud).

    Still doing the stepper, hoping to do an overnighter or two on the Finger Lakes Trail with 15 - 20 mile days, and then hiking from before Killington to Hanover, NH.

    If you're interested in organized day hikes in the Catskills or elsewhere on the Finger Lakes Trail, you may want to check out http://www.fltconference.org/trail/ or contact me. The FLTC runs an organized county hike series (this year is Delaware County) which fills up quickly.

  15. #35
    Registered User JJ505's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenBear View Post
    Twelve years ago I was, like you, a complete newbie in the realm of backpacking.
    Like you, I enjoyed camping and long day-hikes.
    Backpacking, I found, is simply joining the above two activities.

    As other have said, the only way to learn how YOU can do this activity -- or even whether you want to -- is to just go out there and do it.

    If you're as super-cautious as I was when I started, you can find YOUR level of comfort in the steps I took:

    1) Drive to a nearby state or county park with overnight camping. Pack everything you think you'll need for backpacking. Park your car at a campsite, and then carry your pack ten meters from your car to the tent site. Then spend the night there using ONLY the stuff you've brought in your pack. The idea here is that NO MATTER HOW BADLY you've packed your pack, you're safe. Even if you forgot a decent sleeping bag, or tent poles, or matches, or WHATEVER; you know you can just get in the car and go home -- no harm, no foul. A great way to feel safe about step three.
    2) Learn to pack, and then how to carry, your backpack; such that you can do so for an all-day hike. You can do this in your neighborhood, in a city park, or even on a day-hike that you've enjoyed in the past. You'll soon learn that one of the secrets of success is good packing -- and that includes getting rid of stuff that you don't really need. The other is ensuring that your footwear is comfortable for you after several hours of walking.
    3) Do a true back-packing overnight, but only a few miles. If you've mastered steps one & two, this should be no problem. Again, the idea is to gain confidence in your ability to camp out with only the stuff you can carry for several miles.
    4) The exercise I've found is most critical to getting in shape for backpacking is walking up & down steps -- learn to do so, repeatedly, for no less than 30 to 60 minutes. But start with no more than five minutes, and slowly build up your knee strength. Assuming you have good footwear -- and day-hikes should tell you that -- then your mission critical area will be your knees.
    5) And finally, go out and do your first, week-long backpack! I GUARANTEE you won't make as many mistakes as I did on MY first true backpack.
    https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/ent...-the-Year-quot
    And who knows? Six years from now you may well be giving advice to newbies on how to do that first backpack!

    This strikes me as exceptionally good advise in a nice step by step format. Going to try some of these. (Though finding stairs will be very hard here, but other than that.)
    I recognize one of these from Dixie's video that came out last week.


    --Jay

  16. #36
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    Go for it. I'm not familiar with the train in New York State. If there is no cell service, consider renting a satellite device like the InReach if family is concerned. That alleviates most of the concerns of my family when I'm on longer hikes. I would echo the comments on Shenandoah National Park being a great first multi-day backpacking trip. Not only is the terrain moderate and forgiving, but if you are doing the trip when the waysides are open, you can get away with a very lightweight pack. I no longer live near SNP but I used to and loved hiking in that park.

  17. #37
    Registered User Elaikases's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D2maine View Post
    no problem (assuming you are reasonable shape)

    every year lots of people thru hike the entire AT with no prior backpacking experience. you plan sounds fine with the practice overnights you will figure out real quick if your gear works for you and if you really like overnighting on the trail its also going to tell you what you need to know about conditioning.

    only real advice - go slower/less miles than you think you should - pushing too hard is the thing that will stop a hike like yours.
    65 miles in New York. With one stop to resupply, at 12-15 miles a day, you could do it in less than a week.

  18. #38

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    You definitely can do it and have the time. A couple shorter overnights will also tell you how you can handle some of the mental stuff, like walking all day alone or mostly alone or sleeping alone. It is a little different than car camping. I say go for it.

  19. #39
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    cribbing from someone else's list (at https://appalachiantrailclarity.com/...supply-points/) you can plan around this. :

    Mile 1336 – Port Jervis, NY, Page 135 – This town offers a Price Chopper and Shop Right market and is located 4.4 miles from the A.T. trailhead.
    Mile 1345 – Unionville, NY, Page 138 – Only a 0.7 mile walk off trail, this little town offers free hiker camping behind their post office. The two town markets are small but offer adequate food resupply options. Enjoy the pizza and tavern in town!
    Mile 1356 – Vernon, NJ, Page 139 – The town sits 2.4 miles off trail, but Clarity found it to be a pretty easy hitch to and from town. There’s an Acme Market and a Rite Aid in town. Living Word Church offers free rides to and from the church with resupply. 973-809-3576
    Mile 1383 – Harriman, NY, Page 141 – Harriman is 3.7 miles off the A.T. and offers lodging and grocers.
    Mile 1403 – Fort Montgomery, NY, Page 144 – One point eight miles off trail, you can eat and resupply here. Mobile Market and Chestnut Mart are small markets.
    Mile 1448 – Pawling, NY, Page 150 – 2.6 miles off trail, you’ll mostly find eateries here, but there is a CVS and free camping in town and more options another 1.8 miles into Hannaford.

  20. #40
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    You probably have this already (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home...state/new-york)

    I also like Section Hiker. https://sectionhiker.com/planning-an...-section-hike/ for example.

    But if you are 27 you should find it pretty easy to get ten miles a day. I'm 62 and a couple years ago on my first section hike in Virginia I carried too much weight (including an electric toothbrush and lots of clothes) with my wife and we found our ten mile a day target very easy to meet. One day we were there at lunch. If we had not had reservations for that night, we would have kept going.

    You have two weeks. At ten miles a day 90 miles is 9 days. At fifteen a day it is only about six.

    Plan on lots of resupply. Plan a night or two off the trail in a bed with a shower and laundry available.

    You should find it easy to make the entire 90 days.

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