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  1. #1

    Default Slack pack the AT partner

    This is a long shot.

    I am planning to begin my section hike of the Appalachian Trail in the next couple of months. My plan is to hike a section per month, as I am able. Each section will last 5 to 10 days and cover 10 to 12 miles per day. Some sections will be traditional backpacking trips, staying in tents at camp sites along the way. Some sections I would like to day-hike or slack-pack.

    I will need a partner for the slack-pack sections.

    It will go something like this: meet at a trailhead, leave my car at the trailhead and take your car to another trailhead, hike back to my car, I drive you back to your car. We go our separate ways for the evening (I will probably stop at Subway for a sandwich and then go to an inexpensive motel). Repeat the next day.

    If interested, please PM your email address for discussion.

    Thank you.
    Perry

  2. #2

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    Some comments as I did this with a friend over a couple of years. We did 4 to 5 day backpacks for 5 weeks one year but in later years we did slacking with two cars and then transitioned to key swaps. A key swap only needs one car. I drop my friend off at a road crossing on the north end of the section, then I drive to the south end and start hiking north. We meet at lunch half way and then I hike north. My friend hikes south and then picks up car and drives back to pick me up. We finished up at that point but did do a "victory lap" for a week later on and did the key swap method. If you are in reasonable hiking shape, slacking can really increase your miles and decrease the amount of wear and tear of carrying a backpack.

    We tended to hike outside the bubble and we also found that 90% of the AT shelters can be accessed from roads and forest service roads. The paths to the shelters are not marked but with a GPS they are obvious. Outside the bubble the southern shelters are empty during the week and usually not full on weekends. We would hit a motel or hostel every couple of days but would just park the car and walk into the shelter site for the evening and catch breakfast on the road. The other great thing is you can rearrange you sections to line up with foul weather. We were supposed to do Mt Rogers on one trip and the day we were planning to do it was very nasty weather. We just did a woods walk that day and then flipped back to grab Mt Rogers on nice day.

  3. #3

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    I thought about a key swap but I think that's only practical if one is hiking with a friend that one lives near. In my case, that might work with someone from the Tallahassee, FL area. Otherwise we will most likely both be driving in and have the luxury and convenience of two vehicles.

  4. #4

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    We were driving down to NH to southern VA to GA.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by perrymk View Post
    I thought about a key swap but I think that's only practical if one is hiking with a friend that one lives near. In my case, that might work with someone from the Tallahassee, FL area. Otherwise we will most likely both be driving in and have the luxury and convenience of two vehicles.
    Your travel needs to intersect at some point so you can carpool. Then one car can save carpool miles. The key drop saves the car drop miles for one car, whether you carpool or not. (If I did it right.) So key drop you may like the hiker enough to eat lunch, carpool, and lend your car out but not hike with the person. Just kidding, I'm just not sure of additional pros and cons for this dayhikng.

    You might find someone to do this with long term but I also think you might get people to do it from time to time over sections. If you are not set on the long term, don't be discouraged you might get takers on the second option by occasionally posting your desired sections.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

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  6. #6

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    As Iím just getting started Iím pretty open on what sections to hike. Iím open to a regular partner but just as open to different partners on different sections.

    My car is a stick shift, adding an additional possible snag to a key swap.
    Last edited by perrymk; 04-01-2021 at 19:24. Reason: Add

  7. #7
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm a solo hiker and have completed in sections over the years Port Clinton PA to Erwin TN.

    But I'm looking for a hiking partner for the white mountains and more adventures/dangerous parts of the trail.

    I know that's a long ways away from you but I'm right off Rt 81 on the way up .

  8. #8
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    If interested I would be looking at anytime after July and would have 14 days.

  9. #9

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    You haven't covered some of your plans before have you? Checking to see if I missed a thread. Coming from Havana Fl, you are about 6 hours from Springer and about 13.5 hours from Harpers Ferry. At some point, driving your car by yourself is likely to become too much solo driving and cost excessive. Likely looking at this part of the section hiking plan for the southern half of the AT. If you carpool, you save money by using a shuttler when the cost of driving the second car from the intersection point plus about 1/2 the mileage of the drop and pickup miles exceeds the shuttle price. A key drop under those conditions (carpooling) saves the shuttle price. Calling a shuttler every day for 5-10 days would be pricey IMO, more than just a shuttle from the section endpoints as the shuttler would have multiple return home trips. I've never considered this particular section hiking scenario but I think maybe you already arrived at that conclusion.

    If you are between the endpoints of the AT and not too far east or west, usually with two people driving a fuel efficient vehicle it's cheaper to drive vs mass transit but it can be time consuming. North end, you have to get to DC, NY, or Boston. If you fly to those, you can switch to the train in DC or NY or the bus in Boston. Tallahassee to Tri-Cities isn't too expensive ($177/May), nor to Roanoke either.($197). Just some thoughts given you are at a bit of a driving penalty coming from Florida.

    Another outside the box idea is to bring a bike or even a scooter. Day hike length might only be an hour ride on the bike and if you are lucky, downhill! (Uphill hike maybe though, pick your poison.) Get a slackpacker partner, you could take turns fetching the car.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  10. #10

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    I have mentioned my idea before but try to keep it in check. I realize that what is exciting to me might be not interesting to others . Now that the time is getting close, I am stepping up my planning. I stop working early May, officially retire end of June.

    I am aware that this is not the least expensive way to hike and accept that. My interest in a slack pack shuttle partner is more about convenience than cost, although hiring a shuttle every day does seem excessive. As for sections I will do a regular backpack trip, I am open to a partner but have no real need for a partner as I can hire a shuttle and that doesn't strike me as excessive. I suppose there is a safety factor with a partner but I understand the trail is crowded enough in most places.

    My personal situation and preference limit my trips to around 12 days total, hence 5-10 days of hiking. I may be able to make the occasional exception. I actually prefer to do northern sections first if possible just to get the long drives out of the way. I day hiked the Florida Trail (self shuttled using an electric bike). Each drive getting longer is what I disliked the most.

    I would like to do a slack pack in May and June, possibly July. I checked and believe Shenandoah NP would be convenient for a first slack pack. In August I hope to hike Katahdin and the HMW. Katahdin will be a day hike, BSP can go either way and HMW will be a regular backpack trip. This total trip will take longer than my preferred 12 days.

    Such are my plans. They are not carved in stone. This is just how I would like to hike the AT. I am aware that finding someone who likes my ideas is a long shot, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    JNI64, PM on it's way.
    Last edited by perrymk; 04-02-2021 at 06:25.

  11. #11
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    I responded and we might be able to work something out.
    You're interested in hiking the northern sections as I am to before I gets to old to.

    But I would like to talk about it on here as well to get advice .
    Like the HMW and Mt Katahdin can be hiked in 10 days ? Allowing 4 days for travel.

  12. #12

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    My general plan for Katahdin. Maybe in July, probably in August. I anticipate it will take me 2 days to drive there, maybe 2.5. Day 1, hike up and down Katahdin, 11 miles total. Stay at a motel in Millinocket. Day 2, hike Baxter State Park to the edge of the HMW, 8 miles. Stay in motel in Millinocket. Make arrangement for food drop in HMW. Day 3, drive to south end of HMW, take shuttle to north end of HMW, begin hike south. I am anticipating 8-9 days, but will be prepared for 10 days. Drive 2 days home. So the whole trip will take 12-15 days, depending on how things work out. Part of the reason to go southbound is to have a couple hours less driving to get home.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by perrymk View Post
    I have mentioned my idea before but try to keep it in check. I realize that what is exciting to me might be not interesting to others . Now that the time is getting close, I am stepping up my planning. I stop working early May, officially retire end of June.

    I am aware that this is not the least expensive way to hike and accept that. My interest in a slack pack shuttle partner is more about convenience than cost, although hiring a shuttle every day does seem excessive. As for sections I will do a regular backpack trip, I am open to a partner but have no real need for a partner as I can hire a shuttle and that doesn't strike me as excessive. I suppose there is a safety factor with a partner but I understand the trail is crowded enough in most places.

    My personal situation and preference limit my trips to around 12 days total, hence 5-10 days of hiking. I may be able to make the occasional exception. I actually prefer to do northern sections first if possible just to get the long drives out of the way. I day hiked the Florida Trail (self shuttled using an electric bike). Each drive getting longer is what I disliked the most.

    I would like to do a slack pack in May and June, possibly July. I checked and believe Shenandoah NP would be convenient for a first slack pack. In August I hope to hike Katahdin and the HMW. Katahdin will be a day hike, BSP can go either way and HMW will be a regular backpack trip. This total trip will take longer than my preferred 12 days.

    Such are my plans. They are not carved in stone. This is just how I would like to hike the AT. I am aware that finding someone who likes my ideas is a long shot, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    JNI64, PM on it's way.
    I was only asking about previous threads so I didn't run with some idea you might already have decided against. Not judging at all your plan, it's more the title implies a complete slack pack so people might not read further. But you have further explained. Congratulations on retiring! My cost comparisons are more context relative also, not meant specifically in regard to anyone's personal income. However you want to do it is your business and if it makes you happy that's what's important. To me that's the best thing about section hiking, the ability to choose how and when you want to do things.

    Another random thought for you is that you might get some weekly deals on your base camp options.

    Electric bike, that's a great option. Hill assist on the shuttle ride at the end of a day hike would be sweet!

    I COMPLETELY understand the driving getting longer dislike, particularly as I have gotten older. I do get the convenience factor too because sometimes the mass transit routes aren't helpfully timed. But I am wondering what aspect of your BSP section is leading to the decision to drive as that's the longest one?
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  14. #14

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    I may not be understanding your question about BSP. Driving there vs flying?

    After plane tickets, car rental or shuttle, etc the cost of gas and a couple motel nights seems to be about a wash. Plus I can stay more socially distanced and not worry about backpack damage during shipping. The time is pushing the limit but should be do-able.

    I want the drives to get shorter so knocking out BSP early is nice.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by perrymk View Post
    I may not be understanding your question about BSP. Driving there vs flying?

    After plane tickets, car rental or shuttle, etc the cost of gas and a couple motel nights seems to be about a wash. Plus I can stay more socially distanced and not worry about backpack damage during shipping. The time is pushing the limit but should be do-able.

    I want the drives to get shorter so knocking out BSP early is nice.
    Yes flying vs driving. Not sure about the Millinocket bus from Bangor but if it is running you could get to Millinocket. If cost is not particularly different (acceptable) avoiding that car ride is the best one to get out of it being the longest.

    Personally I am a big fan of the train. It doesn't save a lot of time over the car but they do the driving so overnight is an option. Sleepers will run you more than a flight though (but include meals), however, it's not horrible sleeping coach and business class is a little nicer they have a foot rest. You keep your pack with you too. If you get a sleeper overnight, you can justify part of the cost as a hotel cost. If you've never traveled in one it's worth it at least once to try. Plus you can shower on the train if you are in a sleeper.

    I've flown into Boston once but used mainly buses and trains from PA up so I'm familiar with many of the mass transit options if you go that route.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  16. #16
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    The auto train I know runs south to Florida. Does the auto train run north ? ( taking your car on the train).

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    The auto train I know runs south to Florida. Does the auto train run north ? ( taking your car on the train).
    That's really outside the box! I like it! Goes to DC.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  18. #18
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    The best one-man slack pack option I ever heard about was the guy who carried a motorcycle on a trailer behind his vehicle. Drop A at end, drive B to the start. Hike, hop in A, drive back to B, load up and repeat!
    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.

  19. #19
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    Interested in hiking (slackpack, backpack, whatever) Shenandoah NP. Keep me posted on your plans. I'm a senior hiker (60+) and live north of Baltimore. I thru-hiked in 2009 and section hiked in the mid-Atlantic a number of times. Just looking to get back on the trail!

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