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  1. #1

    Default VA hike in late March 2019

    My friend and I only have 30ish days so we thought we could start around the VA/TN line and go NOBO at least to McAfee Knob. We think for our age and health we could handle 10-13 miles a day. We have to be back in Florida NLT 30 April 2019.

    1. Anybody been in VA area late March? Should we expect snow?
    2. Do we need to factor in a zero day? It appears the elevation changes aren't too drastic in that stretch.
    3. Any recommendations on the best place to get on the trail in or around the TN/VA border?


    Thanks much.

    Hambone
    "Take your weapons, your quiver and bow, and go out into the field and hunt game for me"
    Genesis 27:3

  2. #2

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    You might as well get on at Damascus, that's not far from the TN/VA line and you don't miss much by skipping it. If you really want to, hike the 3.4 miles to the border and back (6.8 round trip) from Damascus. Could be a good way to stretch the legs after the ride up there and before you start lugging the full pack.

    But if you want to travel by bus, then Marion is a good starting point and shaves 4-5 days off the hike. You miss the Grayson Highlands, but that might not be a bad thing seeing they got hit with a big snow late March this year. So, yeah, snow could happen.

    There is a lot of pain in the butt up and down at the start of this section. For the most part, your cutting across the grain of the ridges until you approach Pearisburg. You cross a lot of farms and dodge a few cows here and there.

    I'd factor in a few zeros, or at least Nero's. Marion is the first stop if you start at Damascus, then Pearisburg. Trent's grocery is a good short term resupply just off the trail and Bland isn't too hard to get in and out of for a hot lunch and limited resupply.

    236 miles in 30 days is a reasonable goal. For me, I'd figure about 21 days, plus any zeros. So if you schedule 30, you have some buffer. A lot of it will depend on what kind of weather you have. I've done that section in the early spring and it rained for 20 days out of 30. The one good thing is you should be ahead of the bulk of the thru hikers so you'll have shelters pretty much to yourselves.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  3. #3
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    Bland now has a Grant"s Market in addition to a Dollar General. Good for a full re-supply.

  4. #4

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    Thanks much. Very helpful.

  5. #5

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    Thank you.

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    Registered User Pastor Bryon's Avatar
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    I would be prepared for snow. Given location and elevation you may go thru snow, sleet, ice, freezing rain, and rain all in one day.

  7. #7

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    Roger. I'll prepare for all extremes or, as it draws closer, may wait to start later.. we have no set agenda.

  8. #8
    illabelle's Avatar
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    We plan most of our Virginia trips (typically a weekend at a time) in spring and fall. Late February is the earliest, mid-November is the latest. While all kinds of weather are possible, there's a decent chance you'll have cool dry weather. Crisp nights in a snuggly dry sleeping bag are the best.

    Of course, being out for 30 days strongly increases the chance of some precipitation along the way. Plan on using the shelters as much as practical, have a good way to get weather updates, and have detailed information about town services you may need for resupply and to dry out if you get wet.

    We did a weekend in late March this year that included the Priest. Until our descent from the higher elevations, we had patchy snow on the ground much of the time. Often we could walk around a drift, occasionally we followed the footsteps of others and crossed over them. If we'd had our tall gaiters they would have been helpful.

    If you get a fresh snowfall, it will be beautiful!

  9. #9

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    I bet that was wonderful! I have the AT weather app(the one shutter created) on my phone. It's pretty decent and goes out a week at a time. I'm doing a NC/TN section hike next week just to prime the pump for our month long section hike.

  10. #10
    Registered User johnnybgood's Avatar
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    While not the typical late March sees snow all winter forecast models I've seen show an active and cold Virginia in early 2019. What's worse is precipatation in March tends to be a mixture of snow and ice which makes for heavy snow , harder to hike in.
    You should factor in a few nero days . Personally I can't see wasting an entire day at a motel - hostel unless the weather dictates such a need.
    Damascus is too early in your trip so I would look further north for a town visit for necessities. A decent resupply is Trents Store near Bland , Va. Pearisburg has a grocery store which has better options.
    Woods Hole Hostel at Sugar Grove is a good layover if wanting to experience a hostel stay.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  11. #11

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    Even in early May I got a bit of wet snow and everyone's favorite 40f rain/wind. Being out a month, there's a good chance you'll get some of that, especially the first week or so at higher elevation
    I don't know if you have hiked that long before, but I'd also be pretty certain you'll want a couple zeros or a few neros at minimum.

    Other than a bit of random weather, that should be a great time

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    I love March April hikes in virginia. Typically you get good hiking temps of 40 to 50 during dya and then colder without sun obviously. We got pushed off a day early in april this year due to an impending blizzard so check in daily... enjoy it

  13. #13

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    Thank you!
    "Take your weapons, your quiver and bow, and go out into the field and hunt game for me"
    Genesis 27:3

  14. #14

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    And of course, don't forget sunblock. When the sun is shinning, there is no shade to speak of. You seem to bake in the sun all day, some places worse then others. Trees don't leaf out until early May.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by HamboneandIdol View Post
    I bet that was wonderful! I have the AT weather app(the one shutter created) on my phone. It's pretty decent and goes out a week at a time.
    What app is this? Sounds super helpful and would love to have it!

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crushed Grapes View Post
    What app is this? Sounds super helpful and would love to have it!
    Go to the App store and search for "Appalachian Trail Weather"
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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