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Thread: Sobo

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Stewartstown, Pennsylvania

    Default Sobo

    Iím considering hiking Harpers Ferry to Springer 2024 or 2025 starting in April. What should I expect as far as weather, trail conditions, and availability of resupply this time of year? Is this a viable option or would I be better off going Nobo starting in March? Any advice and information would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2


    Probably the best place to check for weather predictions 8-months to over a year from now would be to search through local weather data along the planned route for summary averages. "Weather averages by month for Bristol VA" for example will bring up summary data of precipitation, temperatures, and other information. I use a standard Lapse Rate for altitude from valley town temperature averages between 3-5 degrees per 1,000 feet of altitude, depending on weather conditions. The only thing one can guarantee is there will be weather from sunny to stormy along the way so preparations should be observed.

    Trai conditions can and will vary greatly, especially after a wet/stormy spring that erodes the treadway and wipes out bridges, which cannot be predicted. Best prediction would be trail conditions will be variable. Best source to follow would be the ATC website on trail conditions and updates a few months out and keep an eye on areas that have stormy weather that may impact trails along your planned route.

    Resupply can be done one of three ways. 1) Determine where shipments of food/gear from home should be sent for PO pick up (or other location). Using this method will require meeting set deadlines based on the hours of operation and how long they will hold a package. This may require a phone call for this information. 2) Use mapping software to find towns convenient to the trail that have a grocery store and other services (laundry mat, hostel/hotel, etc). Mapping software makes it pretty easy to find grocers and other services. 3) Serendipity. Ignore the maps and mailing and venture into a town once you need resupply or the group you are currently with decides its time for a pizza and you pass by a food store on the way to pizza.

  3. #3


    It has been awhile but I did 5 week section hike in 2002 starting at the south end of Shenadoah National Park. Therefore south of your proposed location by about two weeks or so. It was colder than expected up on the ridges for the first 4 weeks. Most forecasts are for lower elevation towns and do not take into account that the ridges are 4000 to 5000 feet. On clear nights it would go below freezing on occasion. Most days we would have liner gloves and long sleeves on until late morning and it gets dark quick in the evening. We had adequate gear but no spare. The trail was empty, during the weekdays we rarely had another party in the shelter, weekends we might have a few. The trail is not a green tunnel, lots of nice wild flowers but the leaves are just budding so a lot more sun on the trail. We also missed out on the Laurels and rhododendron bloom. Trail providers are not fully open but it is usually not an issue. Plenty of dead wood from the winter on the ground so easy campfires for those cold nights. Around the 4th week (end of April) we started to pick up the early bubble, mostly groups planning to skip back to Damascus for trail days. Shelters started to get crowded and the early bubble had a lot of the young party crowd who thought they were special and deserved special treatment including making room for them in the shelter when it was obviously full. At that point we put up with if for a week and ended our section hike in Damascus. I expect if we had a tent that last week we would have started using it and considering avoiding the shelter sites. Forget about organized trail magic events, they follow the bubble.

    We section hiked from Damascus to Springer in the fall off season to avoid the bubble. In general, anytime we got near the bubble it really degraded the campsite experience. It is not that noticeable during the day

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Rome, Georgia


    I've done my yearly sections in Virginia in the first half of May the past three years. Everything is open and there are plenty of hostels, resupplies, and shuttles available in May. I've had some pretty darned cold weather, including snow and sleet on a couple of days. But mostly the weather has been lovely (cool or cold nights, mild days). Lots of post-winter water available and fronts with rain are still pretty common. Shade can be an issue at higher elevations (ie, sunburn risk). The past three Mays, I've covered from Lickskillet Hostel, near Bland, to the Tye River, near Waynesboro, with alot of good scenery and plenty of tough climbs. South of that section, from southwest VA to Springer, everything will be open. Chances of cold temps even in the highest mountains will end by mid-May. You'll have northbound bubble activity from about early May through early June. To me, May and first half of June are the best season in the South, because the weather is mostly mild and there is usually lots of water.

  5. #5


    Your SOBO hike in April is certainly a viable option. "Traveler" outlined some excellent options for you. My two cents, have contingencies built into your plan for trip management. Have fun and be safe.
    Termite fart so much they are responsible for 3% of global methane emissions.

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