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  1. #1
    Registered User cfuqua's Avatar
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    Default Phones on the trail

    I'm planning a 5 to 7 day solo hike(unless I find a partner before then) in ga in sept. My family would like me to check in every night and let them know my progress. So will I be able do so? Is there any service at the shelters on the ga end? Do I need a solar charger?
    Thanks for any info

  2. #2

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    If you have Verizon, you will have at least voice service at 75% of the shelters. Some have no service period. You may have to check in on a ridge before shelters.

    Other carriers have much worse service.

    A solar charger is mostly useless on the AT, as you don't receive much direct sunlight to charge it. You will be better off with a battery pack, such as those made by Anker. A 10,000mAh will be plenty.

  3. #3

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    I told my family that I would not be checking in routinely, because the cell coverage wasn't consistent, even with Verizon. Rather than checking in, at a specific time each day, and having them worry if I didn't check in, I simply sent off a text with a picture every once in a while. In practice, it was rare that I went more than one day without a signal somewhere during the day, but I didn't always have a signal in the evening at the tent site. Tell them it might be a few days between contact on occasion, and the time of contact won't be consistent.

  4. #4

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    Coverage can be spotty. In general, up on the open ridges or hill tops you'll get service. Down in the gaps probably not. As noted, Verizon seems to have the best coverage.

    Also as noted, solar chargers are useless. Keep your phone in airplane mode except when you need to make a call or send a text message. Make sure wifi and Bluetooth are turned off. Text messages are more reliable if you only have one bar of service. With good power management, you might not need a recharge. It kind of depends on how old the phone is. Batteries wear out, so older phones don't keep a charge for as long as a new one. Powering down the phone completely at night also helps a lot. A 10,000 mah batter pack is probably overkill. A 4400 mah one would likely be sufficient. See how long you can go without charging at home.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5

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    Coverage is really good in Georgia. At least with Verizon based service.
    Leave your phone off only turn it on now and then to check for service and try to send the I'm okay text, and it should last the whole week. If you're going to use it for other stuff then bring backup batteries.

    If you don't have it in the evening you'll have it several times during the day for sure.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 06-29-2018 at 23:51.

  6. #6
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    I hiked GA to Clingman's two years ago and had EXCELLENT coverage with Verizon. People with other companies did not...

    I agree with other posters: tell your family you will check in when possible - but don't commit. You should be able to check in at least every 3 or 4 days...even if you don't have Verizon.

    Save phone battery as much as possible (solar chargers do not work!). I use my phone as my camera, so powering off is not an option. I do put it in airplane mode and low battery mode for the day - turning it off at night.

    Have fun!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by shelb View Post
    I hiked GA to Clingman's two years ago and had EXCELLENT coverage with Verizon. People with other companies did not...

    I agree with other posters: tell your family you will check in when possible - but don't commit. You should be able to check in at least every 3 or 4 days...even if you don't have Verizon.

    Save phone battery as much as possible (solar chargers do not work!). I use my phone as my camera, so powering off is not an option. I do put it in airplane mode and low battery mode for the day - turning it off at night.

    Have fun!
    I hiked the AT in 2011. Sprint off-carrier was my carrier and I remember excellent service. (I couldn't use the other towers if sprint didn't have a tower.) I also place my phone in airplane mode for access to the camera. Didn't see a problem with the phone, but I really didn't use the phone function much.

  8. #8

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    Consider a PLB, Personal Locator Beacon. My wife did NOT like it when I announced my intention of a solo hike in the wilds of Arkansas. I'd been there several times before so we knew that there would be zero service for several days. On a prior hike in the area, my buddy had a SPOT device. That got me looking at PLB's. I got the Delorme model. I would power it up when I awoke. By the time I was packed up, I'd press the pre-set button to send my wife a "I'm fine, starting here" email. I also had the tracking on at like 1 hour intervals. At camp at night, I'd press the "stopping here for the night". When I was about an hour from going to bed, I'd check it and reply if she had. Otherwise, shut it down and go to bed. She loved it. In the emails she got, was a link to the track. So she knew where I was at within an hour. All the family fussing about me hiking alone, all went away with a PLB device.

    And the Delorme will BlueTooth mate to my phone and I could use the phone, in airplane mode, to type in any other email and it would sent (cost depends on your plan).
    For a couple of bucks, get a weird haircut and waste your life away Bryan Adams....
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  9. #9
    Registered User cfuqua's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for the info.

  10. #10
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    I used the Delorme InReach device and let it run through the day. I used it for text, both preset and conversational. My wife knew where i was at all times. Sometimes when I went to a shelter, or for resupply, she would be concerned because the map would show that I was off the trail. She would check the map multiple times a day. With being able to track me and getting an occasional picture through the phone, she shared in the trip. My cell phone was not reliable many times. I could always get a message back and forth with the InReach. We have become too accustomed to regular communication with cell phones. Years ago, when someone was traveling, there would be no concern for days with no word. Being on the AT is not like being in the jungles of Vietnam. One thing about the InReach - entering a text message is TEDIOUS.

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