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  1. #1
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    Default Starting point for section hike

    Question for all the section hikers out there. I at a point where I want to focus on section hiking the AT with a purpose. Currently I live in Texas, but prior I lived in NoVa and for a number of years I had run around all over SNP up to Harper's Ferry. This fall I am looking at getting out for about 10 days. After alot of reading the idea of starting in GA and heading north and systematically continuing over the next few years and avoiding gaps seems to be recommended. The other part of me is debating heading up to SNP and making it my first leg mainly due to being familiar with the area. I will be going solo and this year I am limited to 10 days due to family obligations and work but over the next few years my time lines will likely be slightly longer 2-3 weeks. My goal isn't necessarily just chasing miles. I intend to do about 10-15 miles a day.

    Any insight is always appreciated.
    Last edited by Part-Time; 01-18-2020 at 14:45.

  2. #2

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    Does your 10 days include travel time to and from the trail or is it boots on the ground days?

    Basically, you have two choices.
    1) Use public transportation - generally bus. To do this efficiently the sections need to be big. Like 4-6 weeks big. Easy access public transportation is sparse down south and only a little better up north.

    2) Drive to the end point and get shuttled to the start point. This is often done, but eats into your hiking time. If it's a long drive to the trail head and a long shuttle drive (100 miles by trail can be 200 by road) you loose 2-4 days in travel.

    To maximize your time for this trip, the SNP is a good choice as you can come and go from DC airports without too much trouble.
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  3. #3
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    10 days would be boots on ground. That is one reason I was leaning towards SNP. I still have alot of friends up there who have offered to pick me up at Dulles and shuttle out and back.

  4. #4
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    But haven't you already " ran all over snp" ? Wouldn't you wanna do something new like Maryland north or snp southern most point and south?

  5. #5
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    Yes, but I never really focused on the trail. This is more of a long term goal to focus on doing the whole trail. SNP is kind of special for me, it is the whole reason I got back into backpacking, so I don't mind going back.

  6. #6
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    I was just thinking for logistics reasons. It might be easier for you to do what I suggest, that way your friends can still shuttle you from Dulles. And maybe get you to your starting point hike as far as you can then shuttle back to said starting point and get picked up by friends and back to Dulles.
    Last edited by JNI64; 01-18-2020 at 16:50.

  7. #7
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    Default

    I've got a lot of gaps, and yeah, eventually filling them will have logistical issues, so I understand the desire to systematically going in order. But, I'd still have to look at short term weather (if travel plans weren't made in advance). Beyond that I'd look at general temperatures for the area during the time and trail crowding (if your time off is always the same those don't matter). As an example, I'd rather hike NOBO from Springer on May 1 than April 1 - less chance of late season cold/storms and less crowds. Beyond that is planning to minimize travel time and avoiding smaller, more expensive airports with connecting flights, long expensive private shuttles, etc. If you can plan around flying into/out of major airports, then going by public transportation as much as possible to and from the trail (Amtrak, Greyhound, Trailways, or regional bus), it will be a lot less costly. ATC has this https://www.appalachiantrail.org/hom...tation-options , but just googling something like "bus Marion, VA to BWI" will often give better results. WB also has shuttle transportation info here https://whiteblaze.net/forum/at-shuttles.php Most of the AT north of PA (except ME) can be done in two - three week sections using public transport out of NYC/EWR or Boston.

    Check this site for general trail crowding issues https://www.wherearethehikers.com/

    ATC used to post the following chart for temperatures, but they took it down years ago. Why? Likely due to liability. Use it at your own risk, and factor in both trail elevation from the reported station elevation and 10F (normal variance) to 20F(extreme variance). [For example, it shows a 34F for March in Gatlinburg, TN. Subtract 3.5 x 4 (1000' ft) to get 20F, then subtract 20 for possibly extreme variance, and get 0F which isn't all that abnormal during a cold snap for GSMNP in early March.]

    AT Temps JPEG.jpg

  8. #8
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    Default

    This is all great information, thanks everyone.

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