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  1. #1

    Default Hiking Trailers on the AT?

    Hi All, It's been a while since I've posted..2014..I had life stuff get in the way of my section hikes and been out of backpacking for a while. I also have developed some back problems resulting from a scoliosis in my mid back. I have been afraid that would allow me to get about half way on a section hike and then be miserable for the rest of a trip and have had other life changes that kept me from trying again. I'm a small framed woman in her late 50's..still in reasonable shape other than my back. Issues for me in the past have been my feet getting torn up and just hurting..but it's hard to get really fit section hiking..seems like you just get started and get sore from the exercise and then it's over.

    Anyway, what I wanted to ask about is this..how much of the trail for you all who have hiked it all, could a backpack trailer realistically be used? I'll post a link to the thing..it's a cool idea for us older or crippled up folks IF It works well enough to save us having to haul it up and down, etc. I've section hiked the entire AT from I40 to Springer and a some of the trails around Damascus..so I know that area somewhat and think a trailer would be good most of the time. After looking at pics of Pennsylvania and Maine, i can see there'd be a good bit of hauling it involved (it can be packed) ..but maybe not all the time?

    Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts if something like this would be helpful or a huge liability for an older hiker with physical issues. It will add about 10 lbs if I'd have to carry it. I guess hiking trollies/trailers are really taking off in Europe and this is one of the first offered in the US. It's new to me and I've never seen one..so thought I'd research it a bit.

    Thanks!

    https://hipstar.net/features/

  2. #2

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    Not sure about the legalities. I know a lot of trails prohibit wheeled vehicles which includes bicycles and carts. Even if legal, much of the trail's terrain does not lend itself to wheels. On those sections you'd be compounding your problems by having to carry the heavy cart on your back on the hardest parts of the trail.
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  3. #3
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    I know you wanted to hear from folks that's hiked " it all" but, I've hiked from Clinton pa. Down to Erwin tn.. my thoughts no way do I think this would work it's big and cumbersome and 10 lbs. Added to what you're already carrying. Especially if you already have back issues. I have degenerative disc and lower back issues myself I feel your pain . But having said that there's probably a places it might work maybe md section not to bad . Have you thought about hiking the c&o canal, they've added a 120 miles to it so now it goes from dc to Pittsburgh pa ,I think 400 some miles. There's plenty of camp sites , pump water, outhouses along the way, with toilet paper and pretty blue smelling water. And plenty of town stops along the way. I've biked from dc to Cumberland and it's a really nice trail. I plan on biking the new at some time.it really is a nice a journey your right along the river most of the time.

  4. #4

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    Keep in mind these are "wheeled vehicles" and not allowed in designated wilderness areas and where prohibited in State lands around the US. I do not believe the AT allows any wheeled vehicles or equipment on it with possible exception of ADA approved equipment.

    Over the years I have only seen two of these things actually being used by hikers. In both of these circumstances they had stalled the hiker half way up a mountain who was not able to continue pulling the device through and over rocks or deadfalls. One of them was packed so heavily, it had to be unloaded to lift the device over and through a rather impressive series of blowdowns. They do not look very practical but I suppose on fairly flat or low hilled terrain with open tread way where wheeled equipment is allowed they may prove more handy that where I have seen them.

  5. #5
    Leonidas
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    I seem to recall that any type of wheeled device be it a trailer or a bike is illegal on the AT. I tried to look for the citation but I couldn't find it with a quick search.
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  6. #6
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    Some things that come to mind are the stiles in Virginia and Fat Man's Squeeze in Grayson Highlands . Dragon's Tooth has a short section that requires a hand over hand decent. Occasionally there will be blow downs that haven't been cleared.

    Obstacles sometimes pop up unexpectedly that would require going off trail to go around or climb over.

    If you already have back issues lifting the additional weight could be a problem. But may be the cart could be unloaded and broken down.

    So far I have sectioned from Springer to Harpers Ferry so I can't speak first hand about anything further north.

  7. #7

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    As someone who uses a sled/pulk on winter trips I can attest to the fact that the same tool that is beneficial in easy terrain can become a nightmare to manage in challenging terrain. Both sled and cart do better on gentle slopes and corners. Steep up & down or tight corners will make you cry when pulling a load behind you.
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  8. #8

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    Thanks everyone. I guess the "no wheeled vehicles" rule on the AT would definitely be a problem! I guess that option is out then. Well it's an interesting idea for sure but I could also imagine how it could be more of a detriment than an asset in tough super steep spots. Well scratch that idea.

  9. #9

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    Thanks for the idea on trails JNI64. I live in WV too..southern WV. We're close to the Allegheny Trail and the AT is actually in my county here... I considered trying some close local hikes to see how my back holds up. In my case it's my hip that goes "out" and becomes unlevel from an old injury that aggravates the scoliosis. I get spasms in the muscles in my mid back. That happens just on a day I spent working here on our farm. I've lost some condition over the years since I last hiked so wondered if I could do some training and give hauling a pack a try again.

  10. #10
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    Hey all the more reason to try the c& o canal, as it's flat and even terrain. You could take it slow and easy, the camp sites are like 5 miles or so apart. I know it's not the mountains but you're in the woods alot. And lots of wild life on the river and the canal itself like great big herons, owls, the cute turtles all lined up on the logs, etc. I remember taking a lunch break and watching the heron fishing the heron would catch one then tilt his or her head back and gulp, pretty cool. You could section hike it if you didn't have time to do the whole thing, make this your new goal to get back into shape. Maybe you could do from dc to Hf as a start about 120 miles. Just take your time take a couple weeks whatever who cares you'd be out with nature. And you'd meet all kinds of people as well.correection dc to Hf via the c&o is 60 miles, Hf to Cumberland is 120 miles got it backwards.
    Last edited by JNI64; 02-11-2020 at 12:34.

  11. #11

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    If you have a disability you could make an argument for using one of these under ADA. I think it's a great idea, although perhaps easier to use on the PCT and other switchbacked trails. I wouldn't want to drag it up Moody Mountain, or a lot of other places that come to mind on the AT.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    If you have a disability you could make an argument for using one of these under ADA. I think it's a great idea, although perhaps easier to use on the PCT and other switchbacked trails. I wouldn't want to drag it up Moody Mountain, or a lot of other places that come to mind on the AT.
    I never considered that angle. If it comes to that..perhaps it's an option. I did put my pack on and took a short hike for lunch today..went up our "mountain" here on our farm(about 300 ft gain in elevation..some steep parts) and down again..half hour round trip for maybe a bit over a mile..back not too bad. Did better than I expected to. I wonder if a lot of my problem is a loss of fitness? I have a few twinges but no real pain. That was cold turkey..I hardly exercise much at all and spent way too much time driving a desk.

    Anyway, will take it slow and try to build up to a spring section hike..stick my toe back in the waters and see how I do.

    Thanks again for all of the folks who gave input.

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    Yeah maybe that's all you need is to get active again, if we don't use are muscles they go into atrophy. Start back slowly maybe join a gym and stretch alot. If your not familiar get a trainer to help. You're way to young to give up go live the life the way you want!! And have fun!!
    Last edited by JNI64; 02-11-2020 at 18:41.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    Yeah maybe that's all you need is to get active again, if we don't use are muscles they go into atrophy. Start back slowly maybe join a gym and stretch alot. If your not familiar get a trainer to help. You're way to young to give up go live the life the way you want!! And have fun!!
    Thanks! A bit more sore this evening but I'll not give up easily!

  15. #15

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    This won’t work on most of the trail. I saw one person doing this in TN. My first thought was that it’s a lot of extra weight. Instead, put LOTS of effort into reducing weight. These are the people that move with the least pain.

  16. #16
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    Another possibility to consider, other than reducing weight to a minimum which should likely be job #1, is using a body pack like the ones Aarn make to better balance the load front to back. https://www.aarnpacks.com/ I had a pretty bad spine problem years ago (herniated discs at multiple levels) and stared using one once I had recovered enough to hike again. There's a bit of a learning curve to them, but when loaded properly they do help you walk more upright and reduce the spine flexion (forward bending) and lumbar pressure associated with a traditional pack.

  17. #17
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    The cart sounds like it could become a burden.

    Why not look into slack packing the remainder of the trail? With all the gaps, hostels, and towns along the way...it's a realistic option. And if you really wanted to scratch the camping itch, there would be plenty of sections where you could be dropped off, hike just a few miles, camp, then proceed just a few more miles to the next road, minimizing your carry distance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daydream Believer View Post
    Thanks everyone. I guess the "no wheeled vehicles" rule on the AT would definitely be a problem! I guess that option is out then. Well it's an interesting idea for sure but I could also imagine how it could be more of a detriment than an asset in tough super steep spots. Well scratch that idea.
    There is no such rule. In fact, there is no such thing as an "AT rule" that pertains to use that is consistent throughout the length of the AT. The AT goes through lots of different types of lands. The rules for the lands that you're passing through are the only one's you're obliged to follow. As an example, in Pennsylvania, where I live, much of the trail crosses Pennsylvania State Game Lands and Pennsylvania State Forests. Each of those entities has their own, slightly different set of rules for land use. If one is actively hunting in the vicinity of the AT on State Game Land, and using a bicycle as transportation, you could find yourself on the AT with a bicycle and not have broken any "rules". There are no rules against wheeled packs on State Game Land either.

    My point here is to not be dissuaded if you want to try sections where it's possible. Just know the regs for the lands you're passing through.

  19. #19
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    @kim.JPG

    I saw this guy on the AT in GA and NC in 2017. It was working for him. He was in his 70's and section hiked the whole trail with it. Sometimes he dragged it and sometimes he carried it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blue View Post
    @kim.JPG

    I saw this guy on the AT in GA and NC in 2017. It was working for him. He was in his 70's and section hiked the whole trail with it. Sometimes he dragged it and sometimes he carried it.
    That's pretty cool, thanks for posting this, in his 70's wow! There ya go daydream no excuses! You're 56 same age as me that will give you 20 years of section hiking to look forward to. Go for it, be smart don't get hurt. Plan wisely do the easier sections first. It would be nice if you had a hiking partner with a car as well, park 1 car up the trail, park 1 down the trail .
    Last edited by JNI64; 03-19-2020 at 00:49.

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