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Thread: Flip Flop

  1. #1
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    :banana Flip Flop

    98 more days.. and I will start my flip flop journey.

  2. #2

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    Have fun, make sure you have boots with a good rock shield in the sole!
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  3. #3

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    Starting a flip flop from HF puts one into the PA rocks early. How do these people generally make out with the rocks? Should they plan on low mileage due to rocks? Are there more injuries and drop outs in this section compared to NOBOs?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Starting a flip flop from HF puts one into the PA rocks early. How do these people generally make out with the rocks? Should they plan on low mileage due to rocks? Are there more injuries and drop outs in this section compared to NOBOs?
    Percentage wise, I'd bet PA culls as many perspective thru hikers as Georgia does. There will always be those who aren't physically prepared enough no matter where they start, or find out it's a lot more work then they had though it would be.

    PA up to about Duncannon isn't too bad and down right pleasant in places. North of Duncannon the trail becomes significantly more stumblely but the worst is the last 30-40 miles into NJ.

    When I did PA a couple of years ago in May, we had 2 weeks of rain which made the rocks real slick and slowed the pace way down. Hikers with soft soled trail runners complain their feet hurt from walking on all those rocks. The rocks are strategically placed so you have to step on them, not between them. The rocks are often pointy. This can lead to stress fracturs in the bones in the foot. An older woman I hiked with for much of PA developed a stress fractur in her leg and had to quit.

    So while there isn't much in the way of big ups and downs in PA, it's still a bit of a challenge and can beat you up. About 20 of us left HF on the Sunday of the festive and four of us quickly got a day ahead of the group and stayed that way. (everyone else stopped at the first campground you could get pizza delivered at, at noon on the second day on the trail!) The rest of that group never caught up and I never found out how many made it through PA.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5

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    Has anyone been to NH? Don't worry about PA rocks.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phikes View Post
    Has anyone been to NH? Don't worry about PA rocks.
    I live in the Whites. There is no comparison. We have big rocks, they have little pain in the feet rocks.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  7. #7
    Registered User rmitchell's Avatar
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    Good thread. I've had the same thought.

    Should one start in light boots and later switch to trail runners?

    Also wondering , does lodging fill up around Flip Flop kick off?

  8. #8
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phikes View Post
    Has anyone been to NH? Don't worry about PA rocks.
    I've been to Pennsylvania and I've been to New Hampshire. I'll take Pennsylvania for ease of hiking over New Hampshire any day.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by rmitchell View Post
    Should one start in light boots and later switch to trail runners?
    I'll be there in April and have debated this. The plan is to go through the rocks with my Speedgoats instead of boots. User reviews say they do well on rocks. My only experience with them is south of HF.

    The big unknown is mileage. If I can do 20 mile days in the GA Mountains with a full pack, what does that equate to in PA mileage North of Duncannon.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Starting a flip flop from HF puts one into the PA rocks early. How do these people generally make out with the rocks? Should they plan on low mileage due to rocks? Are there more injuries and drop outs in this section compared to NOBOs?
    Get the rocks out of the way first. That's my vote. For what its worth I just walked the rocks this October and found them to be 0% an issue in any way. I would hands down do PA over and over again. FWIW. #Enjoy your trip
    AT Shuttle List
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    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Starting a flip flop from HF puts one into the PA rocks early. How do these people generally make out with the rocks? Should they plan on low mileage due to rocks? Are there more injuries and drop outs in this section compared to NOBOs?
    Really bad rocks are between Fort Clinton and DWG. The problem is that they stick from the ground, are razor blade sharp and jam-packed. So trail runners will not make it in that section.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    I'll be there in April and have debated this. The plan is to go through the rocks with my Speedgoats instead of boots. User reviews say they do well on rocks. My only experience with them is south of HF.

    The big unknown is mileage. If I can do 20 mile days in the GA Mountains with a full pack, what does that equate to in PA mileage North of Duncannon.
    It took me 23 days (with one zero) to get to from HF to the DWG, so I only averaged a bit over 12 MPD (273 miles), but there were a lot of 18 mile days mixed in. I only stay at shelter sites so that sets the pace and the two weeks of more or less constant drizzle didn't help. If the weather had been better, might have pushed on to the next shelter rather then calling it a day. It's hard to get motivated in the morning when it's raining and it gets dark early when it's all overcast and drizzly out.

    Only did 6 and 9 miles on either side of the zero, so that cut into the average a bit. There's a new hostel just down this road and it's raining? Lets go there! Next day - it's still raining, lets stay here. Next day, lets wait for the rain to stop before we go back to the trail. Days like that cut into the average. Most days did 13 to 18 miles depending on shelter spacing.

    I'm thinking of doing PA again this spring as I need a section I can do in about 3 weeks with easy public transportation access (HF and DWG). I'll probably start from HF April 17th +/- a day so might see some of you out there. I must be going crazy to do PA a 4th time. You'd think once was more then enough
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  13. #13

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    Flip-Flop starting at HF: What are the resupplies like for the first 300 miles north? I'm debating where to send resupply boxes, if any. Prefer hotels over hostels. Is a shuttle required to get to most places to resupply food? Will most hotels in that stretch accept and hold a resupply box if you do not yet know the exact day for your reservation? I've spent a fair amount of time with the AWOL guide and it looks like some places will require getting a ride for resupply. Doing 20 miles, getting ride to hotel, shower, laundry, ride to get food and ride back. Sounds like a lot to squeeze into a day. I just don't have a feel for how well these logistics will go.

  14. #14

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    Resupply is no big deal. It's easy to get food in PA. If your really doing 20 mile days, your through the state in like 10 days.
    First stop is Smithburg, 1.5 miles off the trail. Easy hitch.
    You can usually get lunch and some snacks at Pine Grove Furnace (home of the not quite a half gallon ice cream challenge), but early in the season is iffy, weekends are a better bet.
    You walk right through Boiling Springs (but there is only a gas station convenience store there, but there are restaurants)
    You walk right through Duncannon. If you stay at the Doyle, a near-by supermarket sends a van down to pick up hikers to go shopping in the evening.
    You can have food delivered to the 501 shelter ($20 min though, not hard to do)
    It's a bit of a hike into Hamburg, but there is a rail trail you can use which keeps you off the dangerous highway.
    It's a short hike into Palmerton, several grocery stores there.
    And then your done.

    It's probably not worth the effort to go to Lickdale, but there is a full choice of fast food and a Best Western there. 2.5 mile to get there though.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  15. #15

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    If you can really pull off 18-20 mile days right off, you can resupply easily at Fayetteville, Duncannon, Hamburg and Palmerton and not carry more then 4 days of food at a time. Plus you can score a meal not far off the trail in a several places.

    BTW, plan on staying at shelter sites or established campsites which are noted in AWOL or Guthook. Anywhere else is not real practical. Water is scarce and often well off the trail and down a steep trail, especially the northern half when your up on those long, dry ridges. Make sure you can carry at least a gallon back up to the trail, you don't want to be making those trips twice. The Ed Garvey shelter just north of HF is the worse, nearly a mile round trip and steep! At least go to Campton Gap the first day, or Rocky Run if you can manage that far on day 1.

    The other thing about PA is the constant drone of highway noise. Almost impossible to get away from.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  16. #16

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    Slo-go'en, lots of great intel! Thanks. The elevation changes are mild compared to GA where I'm training, and I'll be in good trail shape starting out, but the rocks are a big unknown.

    Here's a first stab at a flip-flop from HF plan (Mileage per 2018 AWOL):

    3 days HF to Fayetteville (mile 1024.8 to 1083.6) 19.6 miles/day
    4 days Fayetteville to Duncannon (mile 1083.6 to 1148.3) 16.2 miles/day
    4 days Duncannon to Hamburg (mile 1148.3 to 1219.2) 17.73 miles/day
    3 (maybe 2) days Hamburg to Palmerton (mile 1219.2 to 1263.8) 14.87 or 22 miles/day
    1 day slackpack to mile 1279.2 (via two nights at Filbert B&B)
    1 day to DWG at mile 1294.7. Get hotel. This makes 3 nights in a row sleeping off trail.

    Where are the works slowing people down (specify with AWOL mileage numbers if possible)? North of Duncannon I keep hearing. So maybe 18 mile days in that area is not realistic? If so, then getting off at mile 1183.4 and shuttling to a hotel could break that up, allow for less daily miles, and an extra day with a bed/shower.

  17. #17

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    You don't do a lot of climbing in PA, and most of the climbs are short, but they tend to be steep. Lehigh gap you basically climb up the side of a cliff for 5-600 feet. PA is really a mixed bag - a lot is easy, some hard, and some is "you got to be kidding me". It's not exactly a cake walk unless you just did 1000 miles to get there. Every state has it's own challenges. In PA it's mostly sore feet.

    I think it's actually easier to do big miles north of Duncannon. The rocks can be a pain, but the ridges are longer and flatter. With the exception of the Cumberland Valley crossing, all my higher mileage days were north of Duncannon. The profile for HF to Boiling Springs looks pretty flat, but all those little micro bumps which don't show up much on the profile and are easy to dismiss, do wear you down. At least once a day they will detour you onto some crazy rock scramble just for fun. Unless it's raining, then it's not so fun and at times down right dangerous. Rain is the wild card. It can seriously affect your mileage.

    But if your trail hardened when you get to HF, shouldn't be an issue.

    I only made three stops in PA - the Doyle of course, the Rock n' Sole hostel (2 nights) and in Burt's Restaurant's garage at Palmerton.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  18. #18
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    The Barefoot Sisters did PA (and most of the trail) barefoot. It slowed them down some.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  19. #19
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    Thanks for all the advice and tips with only a few weeks left to go I was wondering what past hikers think about jumping off trail for a couple of days and going to Damascus for trail days? A little nervous about jumping off after only two weeks on trail. Thoughts?

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tacoz View Post
    Thanks for all the advice and tips with only a few weeks left to go I was wondering what past hikers think about jumping off trail for a couple of days and going to Damascus for trail days? A little nervous about jumping off after only two weeks on trail. Thoughts?
    Don't bother. If you really want to go to Trail Days, go next year and you might actually know some people there. In any event, getting to and from Damascus from some random point in the middle of PA would be a big hassle to say the least.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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