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  1. #1

    Default SOBO New England Section hike 10 Sep - 10 Oct.

    I'm Will, a 45 year old Family Medicine doc with wife and kids, looking to Section Hike the ME - NH portion of AT southbound from mid-Sep to mid-Oct. Should be lovely fall weather and colors. I am fairly experienced and travel pretty light and fast. I anticipate Iíll be able to average 15+ days once I get my trail legs. Ideal for the month-long hike would be to the MA border, but to Hanover, NH at mile 440 would make me happy too.

    I would love to have a hiking partner, male or female, young or old that can go that pace. Iím pretty tame, I can be talkative but Iím happy to hike for hours very quietly --- silence doesnít bother me at all. I can be handy with trail first aid and I am a good reliable navigator (that doesnít mean I donít ever take the wrong trail, but I hopefully will realize it sooner rather than later).

    That section of trail SOBO in fall wonít have many thru hikers, itíd be great to have company. Let me know and we can start planning.


  2. #2
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Wow. That's an ambitious pace. Good luck in finding a victim---er, partner. Seriously, though, given lessening daylight, the nature of the terrain, possible weather zeros, etc, that really is an ambitious pace. EDIT: Wanted to add that there will definitely be plenty of other hikers in early Sept through early October in ME and NH. Maybe not to hike with, but you'll almost assuredly have some company at shelters and campsites. You'll be passing a lot of the later finishing 2020 NOBO thru-hikers going the other way in ME. Once in NH, if the weather is good, the Whites will have many hikers - in fact, there will literally be crowds of hikers on weekends if the weather is good - even in October.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 01-18-2020 at 10:35.

  3. #3

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    I agree, very aggressive pace. It will be tough to find someone that understands what a pace like this means. Unless they have done a sustained pace like this in the past I expect its likely they will not be able to sustain it. I suggest planning a solo and then if someone joins you that is great, but if they need to drop out then you keep going on your solo plan. Adding an unknown partner typically slows a hiker down as the pace ends up being the slowest of the two. The vast number of thru hikers hit Gorham northbound plan for 4 weeks to Katahdin, Some do it in less during early summer when the days are longer so they can get in 13 to 14 hours a day, by mid September plan on 10 to 11 hours a day. Resupplies inherently eat up a lot of time as the trail towns like Monson, Rangeley Stratton, Rangeley and Andover are some distance off the trail. You may be able to skip an overnight in town but it will eat up a big chunk of day. Note that the service providers in these towns make most of their money around hikers who stay overnight so their timing and services are lined up to encourage overnighters. My guess would be Lincoln NH or Glencliff is a far more obtainable goal.

    BTW the concept of getting your hiker legs sounds reasonable heading south but the first days hike up and back to Katahdin can be quite tiring, the standard recommendation is book a campsite in the park after the hike, folks who dont usually have a rough day the next day and get out of synch with the shelters in the 100 MW. The first couple of days in the 100MW is some easy cruising but once its hits White Cap the terrain gets far more difficult. More than few Sobos get lulled in and set an aggressive pace on the first stretch and hit a wall somewhere around Katahdin Iron Works.

    Good luck on finding a partner

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Wow. That's an ambitious pace. Good luck in finding a victim---er, partner. Seriously, though, given lessening daylight, the nature of the terrain, possible weather zeros, etc, that really is an ambitious pace.
    I was thinking the same thing. Just doing Maine in a month that time of year is a feat. To throw in NH and VT is just crazy. Even with the milder fall weather we've been having, there is bound to be half a dozen bad weather days in that month to slow you down.
    Since the OP is from Connecticut and says has experience, one would think he's done some hiking in ME/NH but you got to wonder with that plan...
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5

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    if you have hiked southern Maine or NH before and know what you can sustain for a pace then go for it. if not come up for a couple day section over the summer see what you think and adjust accordingly. if you are in good hiking shape and have the town resupply(in out no wasted time) dialed in you can make Hannover easily.

  6. #6

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    Right, it's pretty aggressive. I am a realistic, too and I'll probably fall short (maybe Franconia notch?) due to zero days. I expect I'll hike all daylight hours given that it'll be about 12 hrs of light or less. I hiked the southern half of 100MW last summer in late Aug at 13/day pace with two whiny teenagers so I at least have a flavor of what we're in for in ME. I was a little shocked by the up and down with every step. I can do 20+ in CT terrain and when I've done longer walks I can hit 25+, I'm not slow. Even so, finding a partner who wants to do that may be hard. I'll prob meet someone on the trail.

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    As others have said, the northern half of the Hundred Mile Wilderness is way easier than the southern half, but even the southern half of the Hundred Mile is considerably easier than the southern/westernmost 100 miles of Maine. So your hike last summer was good preparation, but far from the most challenging part of New England. I found all of the 100 mile to be easier than the rest of ME and NH. And the Mahoosucs through the Bigelows made the Whites look moderate in comparison, in my opinion. (Granted, I had only one day of rain in the Whites and only one day of not-rain in southern Maine, so the weather definitely colored my perception of their difficulty.)

    I second the recommendation to go solo. There will be lots of company-- I finished my Nobo thru on October 5th, and there were 15+ thrus and 15+ section hikers/leaf peepers at most shelters in the last month of my hike. It sounds like you're willing to keep your mileage goals flexible, so just enjoy it at your own pace and see how far you get. The fall colors will be gorgeous-- despite the near-constant rain that obscured most of the views when I was in ME, it was still one of the most beautiful states. In my last week on trail, the leaves were so bright the forest seemed to be glowing.
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    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willboll View Post
    Right, it's pretty aggressive. I am a realistic, too and I'll probably fall short (maybe Franconia notch?) due to zero days. I expect I'll hike all daylight hours given that it'll be about 12 hrs of light or less. I hiked the southern half of 100MW last summer in late Aug at 13/day pace with two whiny teenagers so I at least have a flavor of what we're in for in ME. I was a little shocked by the up and down with every step. I can do 20+ in CT terrain and when I've done longer walks I can hit 25+, I'm not slow. Even so, finding a partner who wants to do that may be hard. I'll prob meet someone on the trail.
    The realist in you knows that there won't be a lot of other SOBO's that time of year, and fewer still who can/will maintain the proposed pace. Just for the sake of not getting your hopes up and being disappointed, you could anticipate that it will mostly be a solo hike with the human contact element coming when you pass NOBO's and at shelters/camp sites. Consider also that usable light in the forest is shorter than sunrise/sunset times due to tree/foliage density, overcast conditions, which side of a ridge, etc. A good headlamp and plenty of extra batteries would be a wise choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KnightErrant View Post
    As others have said, the northern half of the Hundred Mile Wilderness is way easier than the southern half, but even the southern half of the Hundred Mile is considerably easier than the southern/westernmost 100 miles of Maine. So your hike last summer was good preparation, but far from the most challenging part of New England. I found all of the 100 mile to be easier than the rest of ME and NH. And the Mahoosucs through the Bigelows made the Whites look moderate in comparison, in my opinion. (Granted, I had only one day of rain in the Whites and only one day of not-rain in southern Maine, so the weather definitely colored my perception of their difficulty.)

    I second the recommendation to go solo. There will be lots of company-- I finished my Nobo thru on October 5th, and there were 15+ thrus and 15+ section hikers/leaf peepers at most shelters in the last month of my hike. It sounds like you're willing to keep your mileage goals flexible, so just enjoy it at your own pace and see how far you get. The fall colors will be gorgeous-- despite the near-constant rain that obscured most of the views when I was in ME, it was still one of the most beautiful states. In my last week on trail, the leaves were so bright the forest seemed to be glowing.
    Yep, most all of this, having hiked NH and ME twice now. Southern/western ME is tough, tougher than that early 100MW. I think we did 15-16's in the early 100MW (they 20's to finish, except Katahdin), but could only average 12's in southern/western ME and also through the whites.

    I do disagree, though it's entirely subjective about the Mahoosics being tougher than the NH Whites, though they are both on par with each other. I suppose it has to do with the "any given day" thing.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    The realist in you knows that there won't be a lot of other SOBO's that time of year, and fewer still who can/will maintain the proposed pace. Just for the sake of not getting your hopes up and being disappointed, you could anticipate that it will mostly be a solo hike with the human contact element coming when you pass NOBO's and at shelters/camp sites. Consider also that usable light in the forest is shorter than sunrise/sunset times due to tree/foliage density, overcast conditions, which side of a ridge, etc. A good headlamp and plenty of extra batteries would be a wise choice.
    Thanks for all the great feedback! Still hoping there might be a 'sucker' out there willing to go. I don't have a specific mile goal (I'll be happy to spend a month in the fall in ME - NH even if I only get to Gorham, so I'd consider any fit and somewhat experienced partner. And I've hiked 100s to 1000s of miles solo, so that'll be ok too. I just know how quiet the Maine woods are.

  11. #11

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    There will still be pleanty of hikers out there. A popular time to section hike Maine and there's all the thru hiker stragglers tying to finish in time.

    Keep in mind that for the most part your mileage will be affected by shelter spacing. Disperesed camping (AKA stealth) is not real practical through most of Maine and nearly all of NH due to camping restrictions (NH) and terrain. Most shelters are a good days hike apart. There might be 12 hours between sunrise and sunset, but in practice you really only have about 9-10 hours of good light. The average hiking speed through most of Maine and NH is between 1 to 1.5 MPH.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    I do disagree, though it's entirely subjective about the Mahoosics being tougher than the NH Whites, though they are both on par with each other. I suppose it has to do with the "any given day" thing.
    The problem with the Mahoosics is the trail is poorly maintained and can be hard to follow. Plus there are all the little "you got to be kidding me" descents and climbs. It just wears you out over the course of the day. And if the weather is bad, it's really tough. During and after a rain, it can be a serious car wash pushing through the overgrown trail.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  13. #13

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    Hi Will,
    I may be interested in joining you as i did the Gorham to Monson section this July. Can't say yet for sure, but may be able to meet up in Gorham and continue till you stop. Send me a private message to discuss over email whenever you like.

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    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willboll View Post
    Thanks for all the great feedback! Still hoping there might be a 'sucker' out there willing to go. I don't have a specific mile goal (I'll be happy to spend a month in the fall in ME - NH even if I only get to Gorham, so I'd consider any fit and somewhat experienced partner. And I've hiked 100s to 1000s of miles solo, so that'll be ok too. I just know how quiet the Maine woods are.
    You're welcome. Glad you have a good outlook and sense of humor, given that we all kind of beat you up a bit with our typical WB opinions and such. Hope you find a suitable hiking partner and have a great hike!

  15. #15

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    Was in southern Maine during that time frame this year and I will say that on most nights the shelter areas had plenty of people. They were far from quiet and empty. Never lasted more than an hour on the trail without seeing someone going in the northern direction. Even in the notch on a Thursday i saw a bunch of people, most NOBO but more than a couple section hikers.

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