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  1. #1
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    Default 3 week Section hike - Advice on 2 options

    Hi Everyone,

    I am going to do a 3 week section hike starting April 15th 2019. I would either start from Springer Mountain and hike 21 days (then try to figure a good place to jump off the trail) or start in Erwin, TN and hike north 21 days from there (again need to figure out a jumping off point from there too). I am trying to get the best bang for my buck :-). Any insights as to which section would be the most stunning? I know, everyone has a view point, but as I only have 3 weeks, I would like to make the most of my short time on the trail.

    Appreciate any insight you can provide.

  2. #2

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    Leaving from Springer, you should be able to make it through the Smokies in 3 weeks (~240 miles)

    Leaving from Erwin, you should be able to make it to Marion, VA (~193 miles) I'd probably start at Hot Springs instead (~256 miles) as 190 miles is a little short for 3 weeks.

    It's a bit of a toss up, both sections are nice and each has it's good points and bad points. Personally, I like the section north of the Smokies better.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  3. #3

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    Starting at Erwin would have fewer logistical complications. The scenery would be good for either hike.

    The complications for the hike starting at Springer involve Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To hike through that park on the AT you have two choices. Since you are required to stay at shelters if you stick to the AT in GSMNP you would need to either: 1) make reservations for the various shelters along the way (and you would need to make an accurate guess as to exactly which shelter you would be at on each date you are in the park) and this is not easy to estimate.

    Or 2) purchase a thru-hikers permit to hike through the park and have flexibility about which shelter you stayed at which night. But to be eligible for this second option you need to start your hike at least 50 miles before the park and continue on for at least 50 miles beyond the park. You would have to hike at least as far north as Allen Gap, north of Hot Springs, to qualify for this permit. That would mean you would need to cover 290 miles in your three weeks on the trail (about 14 miles hiking per day) to be able to do this. Most NOBO thru-hikers don't cover that much ground in their first three weeks, but would be somewhere in the park when the three weeks were up rather than 50 miles beyond it.

    Of course, if you know your own hiking style well enough to know that covering 290 miles would be no problem, then this hassle goes away (the problem also goes away if you decide to end your hike after 165 miles at Fontana before you get to the park). But for most hikers covering the 290 miles would be a problem. If you start at Erwin and go north you don't have to worry about any of this.
    Last edited by map man; 02-19-2019 at 20:04.
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  4. #4

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    Here is my stab

    21 days will actually turn into 17 days of hiking. You will most likely take 1 zero a week either out of need to rest, or due to bad weather. and then .5 day on the front and .5 on the back side of the trip for travel and airport logistics. 17 days at 15 miles a day puts you at 255 miles. 18 miles a day for 15 days gives you 306. They best advice I could give is what I do for a 2 week trip. Have an end destination and have a plan A shuttle driver set up to get ya off the trail at the end of the trip. Also have a plan B and C contact lined up incase you make it further, or don't make it far enough.

    I will stick with the 15 miles per day and shoot for 255 mile goal

    Springer to hot springs is 275 which definitely has some stretches later in the hike to make up that extra 20 miles

    Hot Springs to Atkins is 270

    Erwin, TN to Pearisburg is 292 with some pretty forgiving terrain.
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  5. #5

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    Ive done Hot Springs, NC > Damascus, Va for a LASH which is about 250 miles or so.

    Highly recommended section. Lots of good trail, hostels and towns thru that section.

  6. #6
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue indian View Post
    Ive done Hot Springs, NC > Damascus, Va for a LASH which is about 250 miles or so.

    Highly recommended section. Lots of good trail, hostels and towns thru that section.
    Doing this exact section in May! To say I can't wait would be an understatement!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue indian View Post
    Ive done Hot Springs, NC > Damascus, Va for a LASH which is about 250 miles or so.

    Highly recommended section. Lots of good trail, hostels and towns thru that section.
    About how long did it take you to do this trek??

  8. #8

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    I would start in Erwin

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