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  1. #1
    Registered User strebor's Avatar
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    Default When to start a nobo thru-hike

    I have been planning on a 1 march 2007 start date. However I want to make sure I allow enough time to see everything and make it to Katahdin on time.
    "I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth".....Steve McQueen

    NO MATTER WHAT HAVE FUN!

  2. #2

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    If you start March 1 that leaves you at least seven months to get to Katahdin, and probably longer. Very, very few thru-hikers take longer than seven to seven-and-a-half months to get to Katahdin, even the ones smelling darn near every single rose on the way. You should have enough time.

  3. #3

    Default March 4th!

    Get it? March fourth is the only command in the calendar year. I heard of a lot of folks planning to start then for that reason alone. When I was planning a thru, I decided that March 4th would be my starting date. I won't be doing a thru any time soon due to obligations to church and family at home.
    Whether March 4th is good for you or not, you can decide. Some folks start as late as mid April. If you stay healthy and have a good pace, you won't have to carry as much cold weather gear (hopefully) if you start later.

    Whatever your choice, you will certainly "March forth".

    Godspeed and hike safely.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  4. #4
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    Early March should leave you plenty of time for a leisure hike. I started on May 5 and took about 24 zero days and finished on Oct 9 . Scaper

  5. #5
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    The only problem with March is if you are a wimp about cold weather. I am, for sure. The southern terminus can get pretty chilly even in April. I got snow at the Blue Mountain Shelter in Georgia on April 15, 2003 and icicles had decorated the trail from Springer. Being a Texas boy, I've seen snow before but it is an exotic phenomenon. (I've even seen rain a time or two. Really) I figure April 1 is a good start time for me. That gives me 6 1/2 months. A reasonable goal for me is to shoot for 6 months averaging 84 miles per week or 14 miles per day walking 6 days in the average week.

  6. #6
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spock
    The only problem with March is if you are a wimp about cold weather. I am, for sure. The southern terminus can get pretty chilly even in April. I got snow at the Blue Mountain Shelter in Georgia on April 15, 2003 and icicles had decorated the trail from Springer. Being a Texas boy, I've seen snow before but it is an exotic phenomenon. (I've even seen rain a time or two. Really) I figure April 1 is a good start time for me. That gives me 6 1/2 months. A reasonable goal for me is to shoot for 6 months averaging 84 miles per week or 14 miles per day walking 6 days in the average week.
    Good advice. Considering that most people take 5 1/2 to 6 months for a thru-hike, an April start is good advice. Many people don't realize how high and remote the Southern Appalachians are. While many days will be nice, there can also be many cold and wet days in March and April.

  7. #7

    Question Sobo?

    What's a good start date for a SOBO? I just read someone planning to go in -mid-august.

  8. #8
    any monsters in here...? Monster's Avatar
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    I've never done a thru-hike, but when I do my current thoughts are to SOBO starting in early April or maybe even May. That way I'd be sure of a late spring/early summer in the NEast and early fall in the South. I think those would be comfortable temperatures to backpack in. Perhaps I should look up some average temperature info...

  9. #9
    Registered User hammock engineer's Avatar
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    Default

    I was planning on SOBO this year, but had to switch to next year. Big K does not usually open up before May sometime. Then you get a few black flies to deal with. I think beginning of June is the earliest you should start.

  10. #10
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    Strebor--

    As others have pointed out, a 1 March start will give sufficient time to even the slowest of hikers.

    One thing to keep in mind tho, is that by starting that early, there is an excellent chance (almost a certain chance) that you will run into extended periods of rough weather, much of which can be avoided if you start a few weeks later.

    If you do indeed elect to start in early March, be prepared for this, and especially, make sure you have proper clothing and gear, even if it means packing some extra clothes and beginning the trip with a heavier pack. Always make sure you have something warm and dry to change into at the end of the day, and avoid wearing clothes during the day that you'll want warm and dry at day's end. Also, I'd carry a bit of extra food, as a stretch that you might think takes three or four days might end up taking longer due to bad weather. Extended periods of bad weather means later starts in the morning; more breaks during the day; and often, premature ends to the day, i.e. if you come to a shelter at three in the afternoon and the weather is lousy, you may well end your hiking day early.

    For all these reasons, your daily mileage will be affected (rain and snow will always slow you down, especially if the trail gets slushy or flodded), and since your mileage will be affected, I'd bring along a little extra food.

    You'll also spend more time in towns than if you started later in the season. You'll end up going into towns you hadn't planned on; you'll end up overnighting in places where you'd originally only planned to go in and out of for supplies; you'll end up taking full zero-mileage days you hadn't counted on.

    What this means is that frequently, folks that start in late February or early March don't gain that much over starting a few weeks later, as they end up with so many slow days, half days, zero days. In short, in many years, they gain almost nothing time-wise, but they lose in that they have a lot more tough hiking days because of bad weather, they do't gain much mileage-wise, and of course, they end up spending hundreds of extra dollars in towns.

    In short, unless one plans to be hiking quite slow for the first part of the trip, I think it's best to start a few weeks later than 1 March. True, the Trail will be a bit more crowded if you start later in the month, but I think all-in-all, one will have a better time if you wait a bit to begin.

    I've seen an awful lot of folks quit in recent years because they were so discouraged and beat up by really rough weather in the beginning of their hikes. For a great many of them, a lot of this unhappiness could have been avoided if they had simply started their trips a few weeks later in the season.

  11. #11

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    that's some damn good advice, jackson. if you start early, howsomever, you'll acquire some better survival stories to tell up the trail to all those sissies who started later

  12. #12
    GA=>ME 2007 the_iceman's Avatar
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    SOBO from Maine most people start in late June I think. I lived in Maine and the sesons go like this. Summer, 2-3 weeks of fall, WINTER, MUD season, BLACK FLY season, summer (starting around late June).
    The heaviest thing I carried was my attitude.
    Montani semper liberi - Mountaineers are always free

    Desire is the main ingredient for success

  13. #13

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    i am toying with the idea of starting in late february. at this point im more concerned with a too crowded trail in the first month or two. dont take this wrong....but i dont want to be in a crowd.

  14. #14
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    You can start in March and avoid the crowd for the most part, if that's your goal. Get up early and choose a campsite away from shelters. You'll still will see some hikers during the day but that's not the worst thing that can happen to you on a distance hike.

    The beauty of hiking the AT is that there is no ONE way to do it or ONE best day to leave Springer.

    Personally though, I think a better motivation for leaving in February would be a need to finish the trail in August.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  15. #15

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    Jack gave you good advice back in post #10, much the same I've seen him give before...to me.
    I started Feb 15th. Yes I hit snow, but it didn't slow me down or cause me to hole up in town or a hostel. (I did, however, do my best to hide from the rain, including 3 nights in Carlisle PA. Once I crossed the Mason-Dixon line I was followed by a permanent low pressure system all the way to Maine!).
    I planned on 10-12 mile days thru Damascus. I did 7 miles on day 1 and 2. But I also did a 24 mile slack pack in a snow storm from Rt 19 to Kincora Lodge in 12 hours. I got thru the Smokies in 5 days: the last three were 15, 15 and 20 and thats where I hit most of the snow in the park (left over from a major storm that hit around Feb 12th). The last snow I saw was on my last day into Damascus in late March.
    After Damascus I started doing 20 mile days a lot more than I thought would and my paper "plan" pretty much went out the window from there. I planned on 6 months and did it in 5. I planned on about 12 zero days but took around 20.
    If you start Mar 1, you'll have plenty of time and plenty of time to have fun. Don't sweat it. Although I was ready to get done after 5 months and my budget was getting killed, I wish I had taken longer. I'm thinking about starting to section hike the mountains to sea trail on my weekends off just to get back in the woods.
    I hate Nike but Just Do It anyway!

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny quest
    i am toying with the idea of starting in late february. at this point im more concerned with a too crowded trail in the first month or two. dont take this wrong....but i dont want to be in a crowd.
    Consider a southbound hike.

  17. #17
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Footslogger
    Personally though, I think a better motivation for leaving in February would be a need to finish the trail in August.

    'Slogger
    We were supposed to start March 15th but b/c my son Paul Bunyan has to get back for college by the end of August, we bumped it to March 1st. And we also plan to leap over a section in VA we are sectioning right now just to make sure. I hate snow and cold and all this has me a tad nervous, but...I think it's the right thing to do, and also my hubby can join us in spots too (like two months in New England rather than the rocks of PA). I got my 15 degree bag b/c of this. And my down jacket and a pair of yaktraks.

    I think the place that has me the most nervous for weather and supplies is the Smokies and getting snowed in up there. That and my hubby has to leave us then at Fontana Dam to go home, ugh. I won't see hm for six weeks. Hope others are around there March 16-17th so we can get through it together.







    Hiking Blog
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    Shenandoah NP Ridgerunner, Author, Speaker


  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny quest
    i am toying with the idea of starting in late february. at this point im more concerned with a too crowded trail in the first month or two. dont take this wrong....but i dont want to be in a crowd.
    another reason I started Feb 15th was to avoid crowds and I did. but i think i only had about 6 shelters to myself. i didn't find space in a shelter once, maybe twice and managed to be the last one squeezing in a few times.
    I hate Nike but Just Do It anyway!

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