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  1. #1
    Registered User mts4602's Avatar
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    Default First Trip Questions

    Hi everybody. (This is sota long)

    I've been on this site for about a month or so. I just got back from spring break in Gatlinburg where I hiked Chimney Tops which was fantastic. Thankyou to whoever suggested it to me. Well I only got to do a couple of hours worth of hiking b/c of the people I was with, hiking wasn't their thing, and it got me thinking about doing a lot more. I talked with a good friend that I've had my entire life about doing a trip on the AT. We had said when we were younger that we were going to do the whole thing, not knowing what backpacking was like, haha. Now of course, we are in college and don't have the time for that nor are we sure we want to. But I asked him if he still wanted to do it, though only about 4 days or so. Enough to get out there and see something. He said he's totally still up for it and it's a great time b/c school is so crazy...he goes to the number 2 engineering school in the country, 2nd to MIT. I'm really happy about this b/c I wanted to do this for awhile but I don't know anyone personally that really cares about it.

    So if you are actually still reading...my question:

    I'm completely new at this. I've been backpacking once and hiked about 15 miles in under 48 hrs. (Started at midnight on friday, hiked to 3am. Hiked from Noon till 6 Saturday, Hiked from Noon till 6 Sunday). I have under 2 days experience backpacking. I was on the trip with two eagle scout friends and another two other friends who also knew nothing like me.

    I am the one that is going to plan this and I want to make sure that for one thing, I am safe. I have a million questions.

    My first and biggest question is, I want to do the AT in the Smokies. It's closest to me and it's the one I am at least remotely familiar with. Does anyone have any suggestions for a 4 day trip with 2 SLOOOW newbie backpackers?

    I was thinking of Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap? Seems like a good 30 mile section or so? Also we will probably go in May. Is this a bad time?

    THanks for any help...Gotta go take a law Exam.

    Matt

  2. #2
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    Matt,

    Whoa, boy... lotsa questions there in that one post!

    I'm a few miles SE of you in Midway, near Frankfort & Lexington. When I tried to figure this whole thing out, Louisville was fortunate to have Galyan's which employed several excellent employees who helped me get outfitted. Unfortunately, they were consumed by Dick's Sporting Goods and all their employees have earned the corporate name if you catch my drift.

    I assume you are a student at Louisville. (Sorry you have to be stuck with our cast-off basketball coach there!) Does Louisville have an outdoors club or anything? Perhaps a good source of info.

    I have yet to find a decent outfitter in Louisville. Quest is, IMHO, a joke. They seem more interested in catering to the Volvo driving soccer moms who wanna look like they go hiking.

    As far as places to hike, don't discount the Red River Gorge. It's closer than the Smokys and you will certainly find some simillar terrain and views. Look up the book "Hiking Kentucky" for some other great hikes in our wonderful state.

    Also, consider the Mt. Rogers area in Virginia. It's as close as the Smokys and you can get some GREAT AT miles as well as some other fabulous trails.
    Midway Sam
    AT Section Hiker

    "Adventure is not outside man; it is within." ~ Georg Eliot

  3. #3
    Registered User camich's Avatar
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    Default Nice Section

    We hiked Newfound Gap to I-40 (just a bit past Davenport Gap) in 2003. It's an awesome section. We are very slow and we did it in 3 days. If you want to hike 4 days you could probably start at Clingman's dome. I hope you enjoy it!!!! Have a great time!!!
    Camich

  4. #4
    GA-VA 2005, VA-CT 2007, CT-ME ??
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    Newfound to Davenport is a beautiful stretch of trail, and I think you'll enjoy yourself a lot. Last time I went through was in late May over Memorial Weekend. Even that close to summer, temps got up only to the mid-70s and down to the low-40s/hi-30s on one night.

    -Mark

  5. #5
    Registered User mts4602's Avatar
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    Thanks Camich and Whistler. It's good to hear that other people have liked that section. And also thanks Midway. Maybe I can go to the Gorge before we go to the AT. I could use the prep. Oh and I agree, Dicks Sporting Goods blows. Galyan's was a great outdoor store with crappy sports equipment. I loved it. Now it's dominated by sporting goods and workers have no idea what they're talking about. Sad day when it got taken over.


    Another question: I am going to try and scavenge whatever expensive equipment I can from friends like a tent, stove and then also a backpack for my friend. But would you consider it crazy to take a 2 person tent that is definitly meant for camping on the AT since it's only going to be for 3 or 4 days? I don't know what backpacking tents feel like in terms of weight but I would be willing to bet that my tent weighs a LOT more than some of yours. I've had it since I was a kid and if we can share the weight between the two of us I don't see it being a problem.

    Oh and what about not bringing a stove, I know it would suck but I really don't have the money for everything. Both of us are going to be improvising a lot. I have a 20 degree QUEST bag and well, I froze my butt off on MT. Sterling in November. I'm suprised it didn't snow on us....so stupid. Anyways the bag should be fine for May though.

  6. #6
    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    Matt, welcome to WB. For a stove, go to the homemade gear forum and look at some of the soda can stoves and cat food can stoves - easy to make, easy to use and work great.

    Weigh the tent - if it's much over 5 lbs, I'd borrow a tent.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midway Sam View Post
    (Sorry you have to be stuck with our cast-off basketball coach there!)
    So, Midway, what would you think about a boomerang coach?

    now that the Tubster has split for Gopherland.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MurphyGreen View Post
    So, Midway, what would you think about a boomerang coach?

    now that the Tubster has split for Gopherland.
    I think another former Pitino assistant will fit in nicely here in the Bluegrass.
    Midway Sam
    AT Section Hiker

    "Adventure is not outside man; it is within." ~ Georg Eliot

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mts4602 View Post
    Another question: I am going to try and scavenge whatever expensive equipment I can from friends like a tent, stove and then also a backpack for my friend. But would you consider it crazy to take a 2 person tent that is definitly meant for camping on the AT since it's only going to be for 3 or 4 days? I don't know what backpacking tents feel like in terms of weight but I would be willing to bet that my tent weighs a LOT more than some of yours. I've had it since I was a kid and if we can share the weight between the two of us I don't see it being a problem.

    Oh and what about not bringing a stove, I know it would suck but I really don't have the money for everything. Both of us are going to be improvising a lot. I have a 20 degree QUEST bag and well, I froze my butt off on MT. Sterling in November. I'm suprised it didn't snow on us....so stupid. Anyways the bag should be fine for May though.
    Never underestimate the chance of cold weather ANY time of the year when you're at AT altitudes. I've only been doing this a couple of years and I've already experienced below freezing nights in May in North Carolina south of the NOC.

    The Dino has a great suggestion in regards to a DIY stove. You can make a fabulous stove out of two discarded Pepsi cans for example.

    I often carry a nearly 6lb tent for AT section hikes, but it will comfortable sleep me and my two sons plus has two vestibules big enough for our gear. I take a tent only as "insurance" in the event that a shelter is full when we arrive.
    Midway Sam
    AT Section Hiker

    "Adventure is not outside man; it is within." ~ Georg Eliot

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midway Sam View Post
    I think another former Pitino assistant will fit in nicely here in the Bluegrass.
    You're not thinking about Billy are you?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Blazer View Post
    You're not thinking about Billy are you?
    I am until he rules it out, and he's done everything BUT rule it out.
    Midway Sam
    AT Section Hiker

    "Adventure is not outside man; it is within." ~ Georg Eliot

  12. #12
    Registered User mts4602's Avatar
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    Thanks midway,

    what/or who is "The Dino" you speak of?

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