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  1. #1
    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
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    Default Difficulty Level : State-by-State

    I have a question for those who have completed the AT or have knowledge of the different sections.

    How would you compare the difficulty of the following states compared to Georgia: Massachusettes, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia & Virginia.

    I'm working on my itinerary for my '07 thru-hike and trying to figure out approximate daily mileage for each state. I know.. I know.. a lot of people in here don't like being a 'mileage slave' but I prefer to speed pack and I'm more focused on completing my hike with a lofty goal as opposed to taking my time and spending time in the trail towns. I figure I can take it easy on my hikes when I'm older and the body isn't as cooperative.

    I do plan on taking it easy (15-18MPD) in Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont and then focusing on speed and mileage for the rest of the trail.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Phreak

  2. #2
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    Of the states you mentioned, Georgia is probably the most demanding, for any number of reasons:

    *In Georgia, hikers are new to the Trail
    *They're not yet in tip-top shape, and in many cases, not even close
    *The weather can be troublesome, especially for early starters
    *The terrain is quite rugged in many places

    However, you won't be there long. Most folks are out of Georgia in 7-8 days.


    The mid-Atlantic states are fairly easy terrain-wise (except for some brief rocky stretches in Pennsylvania), but your main enemies in Maryland, PA, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts will be heat, unreliable water sources, and bugs.

    West Virginia is a non-issue. You skirt the state briefly in Virginia, and then you're doing a few easy miles in the Harpers Ferry area.

    Virginia is considered "difficult" mainly because of its extreme length: You're going to be there a long time. It takes most folks 6-7 weeks to traverse the State. I'd consider most of VA to be "easy" to "moderate" in terms of difficulty, with the tougher areas being just South of, and just North of Shenandoah National Park.

    Assuming you're planning a six-month hike, you want to be in Harpers Ferry no later than mid-July, and preferably well before that. From there, it takes most hikers 2-3 days for Maryland; 14-19 for PA; around 5-7 apiece for NJ and New York; 2-3 for Connecticut; 5-6 for MA; 9-11 for Vermont; 12-13 for NH; and 20-27 for Maine. Your projected mileage of 15-18 per day in Northern new England is certainly doable, tho you may well have some shorter days, especially in Southern Maine.

  3. #3

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    Agree with Jack's points.

    Looking at the phrasing of your question, of all the states you mentioned, the one I'd say is most similar to Georgia is New York. Why? Because despite no single ascents over 1,200 feet, some hikers find both states difficult because you're going up and down all the time. It raises the question: is a single 2,000' ascent more or less difficult than 4 consecutive 500' up-and-downs? I don't know the official statistics but I tell everyone that only 5 of Georgia's 78 miles are level. New York has a few level stretches east of the Hudson but it's mostly hilly.

  4. #4
    Registered User briarpatch's Avatar
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    Look here for some data about hiking rates for various stretches of the AT:

    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/arti...78&postcount=1
    A bad day on the trail beats a good day most anywhere else.

  5. #5
    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input!

    My plan is to complete my hike in under 100 days but I'll push for 85-90 days. I have completed the GA section several times in less than 48 hours. I also plan on completing Conn. and Maryland in 24 hours each, and Mass, NY & NJ in 48 hours each.

    I think with my current base weight 'tween 13-15 pounds, I shouldn't have a problem with this mileage.

  6. #6
    Thru' hiker one weekend at a time... vipahman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phreak
    I also plan on completing Conn. and Maryland in 24 hours each, and Mass, NY & NJ in 48 hours each.
    MA - 90 miles
    CT - 52 miles
    NY - 88 miles
    NJ - 74 miles
    MD - 41 miles

    I can say that the terrain in NJ and NY is along every rock in those states and makes for an uncomfortable hike most of the way. You may want to increase your time from 4 to 6 days.

    I don't have any experience with MA, CT or MD. But 52mpd in CT is a lofty target. Wish you luck.
    -Avi
    AT completed: NJ6-1, NY13-2, CT5-2

  7. #7
    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vipahman
    But 52mpd in CT is a lofty target. Wish you luck.
    Thanks!

    I completed 52.6 miles in GA back in late Spring in 19 hours in heavy thunderstorms and several periods of marble size hail. I figure if I can't complete that hike, I can get through just about anything else that is thrown at me.

    I've been able to average 'tween 30-35 MPD over the last year and a half when I took up speed packing.

    My ultramarathon background has helped me a lot with covering high mileage days.

    We'll see what happens once I'm out there.

  8. #8
    Registered User kyhipo's Avatar
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    Default state by state

    Quote Originally Posted by Phreak
    Thanks!

    I completed 52.6 miles in GA back in late Spring in 19 hours in heavy thunderstorms and several periods of marble size hail. I figure if I can't complete that hike, I can get through just about anything else that is thrown at me.

    I've been able to average 'tween 30-35 MPD over the last year and a half when I took up speed packing.

    My ultramarathon background has helped me a lot with covering high mileage days.

    We'll see what happens once I'm out there.
    man thats flying!make sure to put a camera on the back of the pack as you hike.ky

  9. #9
    James Sodt Time To Fly 97's Avatar
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    That is cool Phreak!

    Make sure you bring an ultralight red cape!

    TTF

  10. #10

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    Thanks!

    I completed 52.6 miles in GA back in late Spring in 19 hours in heavy thunderstorms and several periods of marble size hail. I figure if I can't complete that hike, I can get through just about anything else that is thrown at me.
    Well, no need to think about changing your trail name! Best of luck, Phreak!

  11. #11
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    Hi Phreak!
    I remember meeting you on your way to Springer Mountain Shelter during the hike you mentioned in this post. You were haulin' arse when you rolled up on us taking a break near the summit of Blood Mountain. I'm glad to hear you made it in under your goal of 24 hours or less. You were a 'man posessed' that day.

    Good luck on your '07 thruhike!

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    Did you have a buddy with 2 dogs waiting for you at Springer shelter May 14th? I was talking to him and he was saying he had a friend doing like back to back 36 mile days. Was that you?

    Bigben

  13. #13
    Doting Membrane Skidsteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigben
    Did you have a buddy with 2 dogs waiting for you at Springer shelter May 14th? I was talking to him and he was saying he had a friend doing like back to back 36 mile days. Was that you?

    Bigben
    I was wondering the same thing, Bigben!
    Skids

    Insanity: Asking about inseams over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)

  14. #14
    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigben
    Did you have a buddy with 2 dogs waiting for you at Springer shelter May 14th?
    Yeah, that was my buddy JC ("Sherpa") with my two dogs.

    He dropped me off at Unicoi Gap and I hiked to Springer Mountain Shelter. I also hit the Whitley Gap Shelter along the way to get the mileage up to 52+ miles. I'd done several hikes of 45-49 miles in under 24 hours but hadn't hit the 50 mile mark until this trip. I was on pace to complete it in roughly 14 hours but the storms blew in and there was just no way to maintain 3.5-4.0 mph in those conditions. I could handle the wind and rain, but the marble size hail and lightning were no picnic and slowed me down considerably.

    I was talking to him and he was saying he had a friend doing like back to back 36 mile days. Was that you?
    I did back to back 40 miles days on the Foothills Trail the week prior to this hike, JC may have been referring to that trip.

    bigben,
    I see you are from Cincinnati. Whereabouts? I grew up in Sharonville and graduated from Princeton High School.

  15. #15
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    Small world. Those are crazy miles, way too crazy for my taste. Our 4th day on that trip, we did 12.5 and that was fine for me. Sure I can do more, but after 12 I quit enjoying it as much.

    I'm from North College Hill, but now live in Bridgetown and work for Anderson Township Fire Department. Maybe I'll see you on the trail sometime(albiet for about 30 seconds). I'm doing a section a year for the next 22 years, at which point I'll retire and do a full thru-hike. At least that's the plan as of now.

    Bigben

  16. #16
    Registered User Nightwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phreak
    I did back to back 40 miles days on the Foothills Trail the week prior to this hike, JC may have been referring to that trip.
    I had heard of someone beating Many Sleep's 3 day record, but I thought it was impossible.

    That same trail is one I usually walk in 5-6 days.

    Of course, unless you did the Fork Mountaain loop or walked some twice, twin 40s is kinda hard. It's a 76 mile trail.

  17. #17
    ...Or is it Hiker Trash? Almost There's Avatar
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    Personally, I think Central Va is rougher than Georgia as a section hiker, perhaps this because I live in Ga., but I don't think Georgia is particularly difficult, it's nice and switchbacked, and other than the climb out of Unicoi. I agree with Jack that Ga, gets a billing as tough because most people hike it out of shape and oversupplied!
    Walking Dead Bear
    Formerly the Hiker Known as Almost There

  18. #18
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I agree with Almost There, Georgia didn't seem all that difficult to this section hiker. While I haven't done NC, TN, NH, or ME yet, the rocks north of Duncannon slow me a lot more than a few thousand feet of elevation change. Of course, I did most of the Mid-Atlantic states back in the 70's when I was carrying a 45-50 pound pack. Back then I averaged 12-13 mpd for those hikes, while I've been averaging 16-17 mpd "down south" with a 25-30 pound pack and I feel better at the end of the day.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  19. #19
    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightwalker
    Of course, unless you did the Fork Mountaain loop or walked some twice, twin 40s is kinda hard. It's a 76 mile trail.
    Yes, I know it's only 76 miles , I was dropped off 2 miles from the start and added 2 miles to the finish. We used my car to determine the extra 4 miles, it may be off by +/- .1 mile. I'm not familiar enough with this trail or length of the side trails to use them to add the extra miles.

  20. #20
    Registered User Krewzer's Avatar
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    Yea, with a new pack and plan those first miles were tough in Georgia.

    Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia & Virginia, to me were much easier than Georgia. Though they all have their challenges.

    Penn is tough because of rocks, but for the most part, I didn't think the climbs were that bad. The days are long, and the miles slip by fairly quickly.

    Mass, while maybe not as tough as Georgia, was difficult to me. It seemed like the relatively easy hiking across Jersey, NY and Conn ended, and it was a wake up call for what lay ahead in New England. Miles were harder to come by after this point. It may have been because NY was about the point where I left the last of my fat reserves and really had to focus on diet.

    You've got to "Hike Your Own Hike", but I would add that "focusing on speed and mileage for the rest of the trail" is not something I would do. Speed will happen without "focus."

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