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  1. #21
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    300 AT miles in PA and NJ. If you desire personally applicable backpacking advice, frugality, and knowledge go do those miles as multi day experiences. Then, come back. Ask a way.

  2. #22
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    If you don't ship by Priority mail flat rate boxes it will help the budget as the packages will be pretty light, it's even cheaper if someone else is paying the shipping costs. I recall wanting to ship something and the flat rate was about $15, but by boxing it myself it was about $9. But also compare shipping and buying food to hiking further and perhaps longer hitches to cheaper resupply (aka Walmart) when possible.

    Really a budget buster is town stays, so stay in the woods as much as possible to save. However that is missing some of the fun and social aspects of thru hiking. Skipping town stops should help one go a bit faster, so less days on trail is less food and saves money.

    Really I would chose some points for a mail drop and others for cheaper resupply, do at least a combo as there are cheaper resupplies along the trail, but others that are expensive.

  3. #23

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    Frugal Hiking? That's all I did back in the late 1970s and 1980s.

    Those were the days I either lived on the trail or was hitchhiking to the trail from different towns.

    I pulled the Shenandoah section twice and remember hitching into Luray for food. And of course getting food in Hot Springs etc.

    Do you really want to be frugal? Here's what I did---because my monthly cash allotment was $40. I know, it sounds impossible---but it ain't!!

    ** Live out of your backpack, literally. I was homeless in those years and had no at-home bills because I had no home. And no vehicle.

    ** Buy the cheapest gear you can find---goodwill clothing, walmart boots etc. Splurge only on a good sleeping bag and good tent.

    ** Learn about wild edibles and use them to augment meals, esp cooked meals.

    ** Get a decent cookstove that can simmer---and here's the secret---buy brown rice and lentils etc in BULK and slow cook these on simmer for an hour---white gas stove is what we all used---Svea 123s in fact---or Peak 1's---and you'll save a crapload of money by doing this. You just have to be willing to carry alot of grains and beans and alot of white gas. But it's frugal.

    ** Dumpster dive when the opportunity presents itself---and while in towns play street music for cash if you have an instrument---flute or recorder---or clarinet.

    ** Learn to live on oatmeal and raisins and peanut butter and peanuts---items usually available at every store.

    ** No need to rely on mail drops---I never did---because it crimps your freedom as store bought food is available almost everywhere if you're willing to hitch. And part of the adventure for me was not only backpacking the AT but also hitching off the AT and stealth camping around towns---to get food and to do street music.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Frugal Hiking? That's all I did back in the late 1970s and 1980s.

    Those were the days I either lived on the trail or was hitchhiking to the trail from different towns.

    I pulled the Shenandoah section twice and remember hitching into Luray for food. And of course getting food in Hot Springs etc.

    Do you really want to be frugal? Here's what I did---because my monthly cash allotment was $40. I know, it sounds impossible---but it ain't!!

    ** Live out of your backpack, literally. I was homeless in those years and had no at-home bills because I had to home. And no vehicle.

    ** Buy the cheapest gear you can find---goodwill clothing, walmart boots etc. Splurge only on a good sleeping bag and good tent.

    ** Learn about wild edibles and use them to augment meals, esp cooked meals.

    ** Get a decent cookstove that can simmer---and here's the secret---buy brown rice and lentils etc in BULK and slow cook these on simmer for an hour---white gas stove is what we all used---Svea 123s in fact---or Peak 1's---and you'll save a crapload of money by doing this. You just have to be willing to carry alot of grains and beans and alot of white gas. But it's frugal.

    ** Dumpster dive when the opportunity presents itself---and while in towns play street music for cash if you have an instrument---flute or recorder---or clarinet.

    ** Learn to live on oatmeal and raisins and peanut butter and peanuts---items usually available at every store.

    ** No need to rely on mail drops---I never did---because it crimps your freedom as store bought food is available almost everywhere if you're willing to hitch. And part of the adventure for me was not only backpacking the AT but also hitching off the AT and stealth camping around towns---to get food and to do street music.
    The OP wants to thru hike the AT, not squat camp.

  5. #25

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    Staying out of town and washing on the trail is easier said then done. It is easier when it's warm or hot out though. If you start in March or early April, it will be month or two before that happens. If you do go with that option, do it a reasonable distance from the water source.

    Having your hair cut short helps. It's easier to keep your head clean that way. I find if I can just wash my hands and face, that helps a lot. Rinsing out clothes to get the salt and grim out of them helps too. But every so often you'll need to take a real shower and wash clothes in a real washing machine.

    Three years ago I hiked Harpers Ferry to NH and spent about $2 a mile when the dust settled. Which is pretty good for that section of trail. Only spent one night in a motel and only stayed at a couple of hostels, but still spent about $300 on lodging. The rest was food. I dropped over $100 for food at the AT deli in NY. Paid $1 for one Rama noodle pack. Which I never did end up eating.

    All in all, it's real easy to hemorrhage money if your not real careful. And sometimes even if you are. I've meet more than a few who blew their whole budget by the time they got to the NOC, not even 200 miles in.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosh View Post
    The OP wants to thru hike the AT, not squat camp.
    Thanks for going thru all my points and weighing the pros and cons.

  7. #27
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    After all is said and done... we dont even know the op's actual budget.

    Which kinda determines everything

    Sent from my SM-J737V using Tapatalk

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosh View Post
    The OP wants to thru hike the AT, not squat camp.
    The things you miss with a finely-tuned ignore list.

  9. #29
    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    The easiest way for a cheap thru is a fast thru. I spent less than most thrus I hiked with because I could hike 120 miles in five days instead of ten. My resupplies were about $60 instead of say $50 more them which allowed me to spend $30 more than them in town and still spend less. Doing more miles meant I could plan my resuplies around Walmartís large grocery stores and Dollar Generals. I doubt buying in bulk would have saved much. Plus I got to change my meals according to my preference on the fly.

    i did a few drops for maps and contacts at large towns on or near the trail. It would have been a pain time wise todo the whole trail that way, especially around holidays.

    I split a couple of hotels and stayed mostly at hostels. You should be able to find people to split laundry with where everyone chips in a dollar. Donít underestimate the mental charge from an unlimited warm shower.

    i started late April finished late August so I had about as much sunlight as possible. I mostly hiked alone, all day, and got an early start. I canít say I was frugal though as I spent more than I needed to but less than budgeted on side trips etc because my pace allowed for it.

  10. #30
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    To do a frugal thru hike this is one of the best I've ever heard.** Dumpster dive when the opportunity presents itself---and while in towns play street music for cash if you have an instrument---flute or recorder---or clarinet.


    ​As amusing and outlandish as the suggestion might sound the principle being relayed is if you really really want something and you are really really a frugality seeking DIYer you might have to go to extremes to get it even if it potentially means temporally acting like 'Kokopelli' Walter.

  11. #31

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    The OP is hiking with her boyfriend, so I have a feeling a fast thru hike isn't a real option. That could put a serious strain on the relationship, and thru hiking as a couple has enough challenges.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  12. #32
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    I'm working on getting more funds together for my hike but if I posted my current budget y'all would either tell me to stay home and wait a year or to enjoy my section hike.

    It may very well be a section hike but afterwards I'll give an honest trip report. Maybe I will even write a book.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by evyck da fleet View Post
    i started late April finished late August so I had about as much sunlight as possible. I mostly hiked alone, all day, and got an early start.
    What was your bubble situation (if any)? I'm starting the second weekend of March, and the appeal of much more daylight/bigger miles is really very attractive.

  14. #34
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    One thing I noticed in the early 2000s was that many of the small towns near the trail had lost their local supermarkets which were replaced with dollar general/save a buck type stores. Frequently there was a newer supermarket and/or Walmart with far more selection a few miles down the road farther away from the trail. I was car supported and found that I could resupply for far less just down the road. I would not be surprised if some local trail businesses do not just resupply from the same sources. They know that to most thru hikers that the price of convenience is worth the premium to a captive audience.

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crushed Grapes View Post
    What was your bubble situation (if any)? I'm starting the second weekend of March, and the appeal of much more daylight/bigger miles is really very attractive.
    Not the person you were asking but the clocks move forward on March 10 this year so you’ll get some good daylight already. The one advantage to starting in March is the bear activity is minimal in the Smokeys. I started in mid May and it felt like half the shelters were closed in the Smokeys due to bear activity. There was a stretch that I had to do 20 miles between opened shelters.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by capehiker View Post
    Not the person you were asking but the clocks move forward on March 10 this year so you’ll get some good daylight already. The one advantage to starting in March is the bear activity is minimal in the Smokeys. I started in mid May and it felt like half the shelters were closed in the Smokeys due to bear activity. There was a stretch that I had to do 20 miles between opened shelters.
    I appreciate the feedback! The extra hour of daylight will help to hike in the cold haha

  17. #37

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    It's so funny, one AT hiker turns out to be multi-millionaire who just sold his company and the next doesn't have two nickels to rub together and yogis everybody... and often you can't tell the difference by looking at them.

  18. #38
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crushed Grapes View Post
    I appreciate the feedback! The extra hour of daylight will help to hike in the cold haha
    The clocks moving forward don't give you any more daylight...
    Lonehiker

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    It's so funny, one AT hiker turns out to be multi-millionaire who just sold his company and the next doesn't have two nickels to rub together and yogis everybody... and often you can't tell the difference by looking at them.
    It isn't always cheap nor easy being a vagabond in the 21st century.

  20. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    The clocks moving forward don't give you any more daylight...
    Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! That's a secret.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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