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  1. #1

    Default Going back 20 years later to finish my "thru-hike" - what has changed?

    I have searched these forums without much success for answers to some of the questions/concerns I have. I started a thru-hike in 2002 at the age of 43 and made it all the way to Gorham, NH before having to leave due to an emergency job situation. I went back about 10 years ago and did some other short sections, including climbing Katahdin, but now I want to take the month of August to finish the sections I missed: Gorham to the Kennebec River (146 miles, including the Mahoosucs, Baldpate, Bemis, Saddleback, Sugarloaf, Bigelow, etc.) and then from Katahdin Ironworks Road to Katahdin (the last 79 miles). Yes, I know - that stretch from Gorham to the Kennebec River is really difficult, especially for someone who is not in great trail shape anymore. I plan to keep my daily mileage fairly low and slack pack as often as is feasible.

    1. What has changed about hiking the AT in the last 20 years? The biggest thing I am aware of is that smart phones have taken the place of carrying maps - with apps like FarOut, itís easy to pinpoint your location on the trail and get up to the minute information on water sources and other important information. I wonít have to carry books, a paper journal, or a camera. Communicating with other hikers, shuttles, lodging, friends, and family is so much easier too (the comments in FarOut even indicate where there is cell phone reception). I donít remember anyone having a cell phone in 2002 - we all used our calling cards from pay phones when we hit a trail town.

    2. What do you do when fording rivers? Change into different shoes to keep your trail runners and socks dry? Thatís what I did in 2002, and it was always a big hassle, but I didnít have to do it very often. However, Iím afraid thatís going to be a more frequent issue on the remaining sections in Maine. Iíve even thought about carrying some heavy duty contractor bags to wear over my shoes while crossing rivers so I donít have to do the shoe swap.

    3. How many socks do you carry? I was thinking 3 pairs should be enough, but maybe I need 4 if I will have a lot of river crossings.

    4. Bear-proof containers are required for backpacking trips here in Washington, but what about the AT - what do you do with your food bag at night? In 2002 I started out hanging my bag away from my tent every night, but after I finished the Smokies, where it was required, I didnít bother anymore - I just kept the bag in my tent, which is what I remember most other people doing as well. Has that changed at all, particularly in Maine?

    5. I will be carrying my FroggToggs rain jacket, but do I need to bring a lightweight down jacket for Maine in August (I could always use it for a pillow)?

  2. #2

    Default

    I'm about your age, and have done about 1500 miles of AT in section hikes since 2006, and these are my preferences.

    1. One change is that the weight of backpacking gear has dropped by a lot, even in the past ten years. If you haven't been backpacking in the past ten years, you may not want to reuse too much of your existing gear. If you're carrying much over 25 pounds for an August hike (unless you're planning not to resupply in the Hundred Mile Wilderness, of course), you're carrying too much. Being dependent on a cell phone, a backup battery has become close to essential.

    https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Char...00X5RV14Y?th=1

    If you're not ready to let go of maps 100%, I like these.

    https://www.rei.com/product/825778/a...s-va-ceres-va?

    2. That hasn't changed all that much, except that lighter shoes like trail runners dry quickly, and some people just slog through creeks with them. Of course, I tend to slog through in boots, figuring that I'd rather have wet feet than an ankle injury.

    3. I don't skimp on socks, and tend to carry three pairs plus the pair on my feet at the start, saving one pair for sleeping. See #2.

    4. I still hang food, but am thinking about an Ursack.

    5. You'll need something warmer than your raincoat or long-sleeved base layer in Maine, even in August. Whether that's a fleece or a down/synthetic puffy is a preference thing. I go back and forth.
    Last edited by Patrickjd9; 06-25-2022 at 20:06.

  3. #3

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    The Mahoosucs (and much of Maine) doesn't get much maintenance so is overgrown. If you have to hike through there in the rain, your Frogg Toggs will get shredded.

    Cell phone coverage in Maine is very spotty, about the only time you will have coverage is at the top of a mountain. Keep the phone in airplane mode to avoid running down the battery quickly.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  4. #4
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    Default

    2. What do you do when fording rivers? Change into different shoes to keep your trail runners and socks dry? That’s what I did in 2002, and it was always a big hassle, but I didn’t have to do it very often. However, I’m afraid that’s going to be a more frequent issue on the remaining sections in Maine. I’ve even thought about carrying some heavy duty contractor bags to wear over my shoes while crossing rivers so I don’t have to do the shoe swap.

    We completed the trail over a 10-year period. Maybe we were just lucky, but I only recall a handful of crossings that were more than a rock hop. We did carry water shoes, but if I did it over, I wouldn't bother with them unless I wanted to have them for camp shoes.
    3. How many socks do you carry? I was thinking 3 pairs should be enough, but maybe I need 4 if I will have a lot of river crossings.

    At least 3. Husband and I prefer 4-5 pair.
    4. Bear-proof containers are required for backpacking trips here in Washington, but what about the AT - what do you do with your food bag at night? In 2002 I started out hanging my bag away from my tent every night, but after I finished the Smokies, where it was required, I didn’t bother anymore - I just kept the bag in my tent, which is what I remember most other people doing as well. Has that changed at all, particularly in Maine?

    Most people still sleep with food in tent. Much better than poor hangs.
    5. I will be carrying my FroggToggs rain jacket, but do I need to bring a lightweight down jacket for Maine in August (I could always use it for a pillow)?
    Most of our VT, NH, ME trips were in August/September. You'll want a jacket for sure. Might have warm weather and not use it much, but it can get chilly at night.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    The Mahoosucs (and much of Maine) doesn't get much maintenance so is overgrown. If you have to hike through there in the rain, your Frogg Toggs will get shredded.
    I didn't think of your point, but would be concerned about the room that Frogg Togs take up in a pack, possibly requiring a larger, heavier pack than would be needed with other raingear.

  6. #6

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    Thanks to all of you for your input and recommendations. Based on what you have written, I will take a light down jacket for Maine, and probably 4 pairs of socks. I'm fairly comfortable using the FarOut app for GPS navigation - I just did the 192-mile England Coast to Coast Walk using AllTrails GPS navigation, which was a lifesaver because that trail has almost no markings (yes, iPhone always in Airplane mode, and I have a power bank). I will pray for low water crossings, but I will go barefoot in my lightweight sandals if I have to ford any rivers, just like I have done previously. I have updated all of my gear in the last few years, so I am already in the ultra-light category (even more so with all the slack packing I plan to do). I have the ultra-light FroggToggs, and I'm not worried if they get shredded - they're really cheap! I didn't even carry rain gear for most of my AT hike - it was usually warm enough that the cool rain felt good. But I'm also praying for dry weather, too, so I hope I don't even have to pull them out of my backpack very often (I had to wear my jacket constant constantly in England, and it still only has one tiny abrasion). Regarding my food bag, I'll probably take my cue from other hikers who are at the shelters/campsites - if they are all hanging, then I will too. I'm still on the fence about whether I will take my tiny alcohol stove and titanium cook pot. I ditched it before I hit Virginia and it was the smartest decision I made to just go with bagels, tuna fish packets, peanut butter, etc. - no need for fuel, a lot less water to filter, and no cleanup afterwards. However, now that I have a much easier gravity system to filter water, and if I splurge on some pre-packaged dehydrated meals, it might make more sense to go back to hot meals in the evening. Thanks again for your advice - much appreciated.

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