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  1. #1
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    Default Hot Springs to Erwin Slackable in 3 Days?

    I've been off the trail for a couple of years but looking at continuing my section hiking this summer where I left off -- Hot Springs to Erwin (or reverse). I'm thinking

    Day 1: 16.3 miles - 273.7 Hot Springs to 290.0 Log Cabin Drive
    Day 2: 27.6 miles - 290 Log Cabin Drive to 317.6 Sams Gap
    Day 3: 24.5 miles - 317.6 Sams Gap to 342.1 River Rd (Erwin)

    I've done a half dozen or so 30+ mile days in my sections from Pen Mar to Erwin, all unsupported. This hike is a slackpack. Anything out there in this section that makes this itinerary problematic? Is it doable for an old man with car/hotel support at days end? The splits are designed with pickup/drop off in mind.

    Suggestions?

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    Only you can answer that question for you, obviously.

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    I hike that section or parts thereof about once a year. That is an ambitious schedule, I think because there are so many ups and downs. Your second day is particularly demanding, and even at peak summer you are likely to do some night hiking.
    If I were to try to do that (and I wouldn't) I would either 1) go from Erwin to Hot Springs - in my estimation it is somehow feels easier to go that way but if you needed to cut miles there is a side trail that cuts off miles from Rich Mt. to HS. or 2) at least make that first day longer so you can have a shorter 2nd day.

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    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    If you've done 30+ mile slackpacks on other parts of the AT then you can probably do that.

    Day 2 is definitely going to be the hardest.
    It's all good in the woods.

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    Agree with others....day 2 will be very difficult. You could extend day 1 to approx 22 miles (reducing day 2) by going up to Jones Meadow/Viking Mtn Resort. That will be more difficult for your support to drive to but the road was in good condition last fall.
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  6. #6
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    Probably not getting on trail until lunchtime day 1 so 16 is probably best I can shoot for... As for night hiking -- I don't like to hike after sundown but love it BEFORE sun up....

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    I BACKpacked several 30 milers IN VA. Did 34 from Chestnut Ridge (or is it Chester) to Jenny's Knob. Not quite 30 but did Damascus to Thomas Knobb. Couple others can't think of at moment, would have to look at my blog...

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    I averaged just over 40mpd on that stretch so it is very possible. I found that stretch pretty cruisy.
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  9. #9
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    That's pretty impressive mileage if you're just jumping onto the trail after a long layoff. That's something I'd need to build up to. I did 9 my first day out of Hot Springs....combination of heavy load and couch-to-trail layoff.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  10. #10

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    I just noticed this was posted in the trail running forum. So Rmcpeak, is that your intention, to trail run this section? I was thinking that would be the only way to do this in a reasonable amount of time, with having to shuttle back and forth added to the day and all.

    Or do you plan to just hike at a fast pace? But even at close to 3 MPH, a 27 mile day is 10 hours of non-stop hiking. Most of those miles are either going up or going down.

    Just saying...
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  11. #11
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    I thought it was the Trail Running and SPEED HIKING forum ;-). I'll average my 2 mph. A 30 mile day is 15 hours of hiking. Call it 16 with breaks. I don't hike faster, just longer. I've got some friends who are going to drop me off in the early A.M. and pick me up in the P.M. That's the plan. It'll hurt like hell, but I think I can do it. Will be carrying only survival essentials (mylar, ul tent, etc) just in case. Hope to get in a good zone...

  12. #12

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    I'm not sure how to define "speed hiking". Is it hiking fast or hiking a long distance in a day so you complete a section in fewer days then "usual"? Since it's coupled with trail running, I suspect it's hiking at a fast pace, but not quite running.

    Depending on how long a drive it is from your friends place to the trail head, you'll probably loose an hour on each end coming and going. Maybe another hour between getting up in the morning and getting on the road. So add at least 3 hours to your 16 hours of hiking. That's 19 hours out of 24. That doesn't leave much time for sleeping. So, basically you won't get any between day 2 and 3.

    Lets say you get up at 4 AM to be at the trail head by 6 AM. 16 hours later you finish, so now it's 10 PM (you will be hiking in the dark). Another hour to get back to your friends place, assuming your friend is there waiting for you to show up. Now it's 11 PM. You still haven't had any dinner. You finally get to bed at midnight and have to get up again at 4 to do the next day.

    Day 3 is a little shorter and a little easier then day 2, so maybe you can sleep in a little, but not by much. You'll be sore, sleep deprived and possibly nursing some blisters on day 3, so that hike could take longer then expected. I hope your not planning on driving home right after that.

    Carrying enough gear so that you can comfortably spend the night on the trail will be a good idea. There are few bail out points in that section. Cell coverage could be sketchy too. Since you'll have enough to spend the night on the trail, you should just do that between day 2 and 3. That saves time and is less of a burden on your friends picking you up late at night and then trying to get you back on the trail early the next morning.

    You'll have a better idea after day 1 if you should attempt day 2 or not.
    Last edited by Slo-go'en; 06-01-2019 at 11:39.
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  13. #13
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    I took speed hiking to mean covering more than average/normal/typical in a day. Since we tend to measure AT miles in days. 25-30 miles per day is speedier than typical.
    Your logistical considerations are good ones.
    Night one we're gong to rendevous at a hostel that's .7 from the trail. Day 2 I'll set out 4:30-5 a.m. I'm shooting for Sam's Gap between 8-9 p.m. Night 2 we're going to do a motel in Erwin, right up 26 from Sam's Gap. Looks like <30 min drive, so I don't anticipate losing too much time getting to the trail in the A.M. My buddy will get me there by 5 a.m. My friends will wait in evening at or near Uncle Johnny's which is where my last section ended. They will be driving the 5 hours back to Parkersburg from whence we hail. If I complete this section I'll have contiguous Pen-Mar to Hot Springs. Getting there!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I'm not sure how to define "speed hiking". Is it hiking fast or hiking a long distance in a day so you complete a section in fewer days then "usual"? Since it's coupled with trail running, I suspect it's hiking at a fast pace, but not quite running.

    Depending on how long a drive it is from your friends place to the trail head, you'll probably loose an hour on each end coming and going. Maybe another hour between getting up in the morning and getting on the road. So add at least 3 hours to your 16 hours of hiking. That's 19 hours out of 24. That doesn't leave much time for sleeping. So, basically you won't get any between day 2 and 3.

    Lets say you get up at 4 AM to be at the trail head by 6 AM. 16 hours later you finish, so now it's 10 PM (you will be hiking in the dark). Another hour to get back to your friends place, assuming your friend is there waiting for you to show up. Now it's 11 PM. You still haven't had any dinner. You finally get to bed at midnight and have to get up again at 4 to do the next day.

    Day 3 is a little shorter and a little easier then day 2, so maybe you can sleep in a little, but not by much. You'll be sore, sleep deprived and possibly nursing some blisters on day 3, so that hike could take longer then expected. I hope your not planning on driving home right after that.

    Carrying enough gear so that you can comfortably spend the night on the trail will be a good idea. There are few bail out points in that section. Cell coverage could be sketchy too. Since you'll have enough to spend the night on the trail, you should just do that between day 2 and 3. That saves time and is less of a burden on your friends picking you up late at night and then trying to get you back on the trail early the next morning.

    You'll have a better idea after day 1 if you should attempt day 2 or not.
    Seriously? It is not hard at all to do 30 miles days without spending a minute hiking at night. I love it when folks that have never done anything close to “speed hiking” tries to tells others that it can’t be done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malto View Post
    Seriously? It is not hard at all to do 30 miles days without spending a minute hiking at night. I love it when folks that have never done anything close to “speed hiking” tries to tells others that it can’t be done.
    Especially in June ;-). 10 by 10. 20 by 4. 30 by 9. Slow and steady wins the race. It always comes out to close to 2 MPH for me (including breaks).

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malto View Post
    Seriously? It is not hard at all to do 30 miles days without spending a minute hiking at night. I love it when folks that have never done anything close to “speed hiking” tries to tells others that it can’t be done.
    I never said it couldn't be done. And hey, I can hike pretty fast given the proper terrain and motivation. I recently did several 20 mile days in PA which only took me 8 hours, with a 20 pound pack. But 20 miles in NC takes a little more effort.

    The number of hours of daylight on June 21st for Charlotte, NC is 14 hours and 32 minutes. If it take the OP 16 hours to hike the 30 miles, then some of it will be in the twilight. Maybe not full dark, but in the woods it can get dark earlier, especially if the trail is on the wrong side of the ridge. So, be prudent and bring a headlamp. Sunrise is at 6:09 AM, so if you start earlier then that, it will be darkish.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  17. #17

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    I think it’d be more fun to do that itinerary unsupported

  18. #18
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    I've done similar itineraries unsupported. This trip will be fun with car friends and good eats. As for daylight, like I said earlier, I'm walking at 5 a.m. Sun up around 6:30 I would think... I get my dark done early rather than late, if I can.

    I think it's going to be a nice walk.

  19. #19
    Registered User backtrack213's Avatar
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    I don't have my exact mileage for each day but, on my LASH from GA-PA in 2016 I left Hot springs on July 15 and arrived in Erwin on July 17, just in time for the dinner shuttle. I did this with a full pack so if you're in good shape it shouldn't be a problem.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rmcpeak View Post
    I've done similar itineraries unsupported. This trip will be fun with car friends and good eats. As for daylight, like I said earlier, I'm walking at 5 a.m. Sun up around 6:30 I would think... I get my dark done early rather than late, if I can.

    I think it's going to be a nice walk.
    If your getting up at 4:30 at a hostel, be sure to have everything ready the night before so you don't make too much noise. Go outside to pack up. Otherwise there will be a lot of other hikers really upset with you for waking them up. I really hate people who do that. Especially those who get up at 4:30, make a lot of noise packing up for the next 2 hours with their headlamps on and then don't actually leave until 7:30!
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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