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  1. #1

    Default Start Date - Aoril 12, 2021 - Good Idea?

    Hello,

    I am planning my AT thru hike of 2021. For several reasons, I cant start before April 12. I will be NOBO. That would give me 6 months and 3 days to finish. I know everyone is different, and picking the right start date is personal.

    With that, I am a little worried I wont be giving myself a lot of wiggle room to finish.

    Reading through posts and watching video's, it seems most people will have started by late March.

    I am not the most experienced hiker. Knowing that getting used to hiking every day will take time, I plan on starting slow (~8 miles per day for the first week) and then gradually increasing my miles.

    Is it cutting it close to start 4/12 if you are not a fast and experienced hiker?

    Thank you for the feedback.

  2. #2

    Default

    Age and fitness level may be important. And how much you are interested in stopping/staying in towns and taking zero days.
    When you get to the northeast, you can always reevaluate your schedule. If it becomes clear you will be cutting it too close (no guarantee Baxter stays open until October 15) you could look for a way to flip up to Katahdin and finish the hike SOBO.

    If you are concerned about your speed and experience, you might want to consider a FlipFlop, starting further up the trail, and going back to finish the southern portion after you reach Katahdin.
    Last edited by justhike; 01-29-2021 at 23:07.

  3. #3
    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    Default April start

    Quote Originally Posted by Koolade View Post
    Hello,

    I am planning my AT thru hike of 2021. For several reasons, I cant start before April 12. I will be NOBO. That would give me 6 months and 3 days to finish. I know everyone is different, and picking the right start date is personal.

    With that, I am a little worried I wont be giving myself a lot of wiggle room to finish.

    Reading through posts and watching video's, it seems most people will have started by late March.

    I am not the most experienced hiker. Knowing that getting used to hiking every day will take time, I plan on starting slow (~8 miles per day for the first week) and then gradually increasing my miles.

    Is it cutting it close to start 4/12 if you are not a fast and experienced hiker?

    Thank you for the feedback.
    My start date was April 13. I finished on Oct 9. 12 0 days. Much better weather in April.
    Grampie-N->2001

  4. #4

    Default

    April used to be popular start date it, just got crowded so folks started going earlier. Plus it was the start date to line up with trail days in Damascus. The observations I have read over the years is that early starters have the potential for more zeros and multiple zeros trying to wait out nasty weather conditions. Temps are colder for early hikes and that means carrying more gear and longer nights. The bubble doesnt have to be an issue for a Covid aware hiker that is going to avoid crowded shelters and hostels. Plan on a tent and hammock and use the various trail aps that track alternative sites from primary shelter sites. If you do get slowed up, there are options to flip up to BSP and head south but a steady hiker should not need them. The big thing to do is figure out how to cut way down on zeros and overnights in town. The tortoise and hare story works, there will be plenty of speedsters but many will mix in town nights and zeros, the slow and steady folks will just keep on moving north doing day time town stops replacing an overnight.

  5. #5

    Default

    You make a number of good points. One in particular is catching Trail Days in Damascus. LOVE the bluegrass in that part of my state and the whole thing sounds like just too much fun. I'm hoping to have minimal zero days, but am curious to see how easy it is to work in NERO (is that right?) days when needing to resupply, but not wanting to blow off an entire day. Any insights on that? Thanks,

  6. #6
    Garlic
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    Default

    Most of the hikers I know have started in April and hiked a reasonable pace. You'll spend less time holed up in motels or worse, in hostels, in bad weather. And you may carry less foul weather gear.

  7. #7
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Default

    I started April 9th in 08. Think I only had snow 2 times. Did not drop into town for bad weather once. Each year will be a little different but think you increase your odds by starting a bit later than the "norm".
    Lonehiker

  8. #8
    Occasionally lucid
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    Default

    Short answer: excellent idea for the many reasons posted above.
    A 26 week thru hike is an 85 mile/week average, which is pretty slow and achievable by almost anyone who can finish. I started April 10 and, while I did not complete a thru hike, I got off in Pinkham Notch in late August (don't remember the exact date).
    GA -> ME
    '86 -> '89

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