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  1. #1
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    Default Starting February at Springer- what should I bring/ how much snow do I expect?

    Hey everyone- I'm starting mid/ late February for my NoBo thru at Springer. I am very unfamiliar with the south- how much snow should I expect? (I've heard that this is supposed to be a harsher winter than usual)

    I figured that my gear list would consist of the usual gear, with a quilted snow jacket, moccasins (instead of the usual birk sandals for in camp), fluffy hat, warm gloves, 0* synthetic sleeping bag, extra fuel, thick socks for in my sleeping bag, 3.5 season tent, am I forgetting anything?

    What type of gloves are best? Should they somehow be water proof (like worn under rain mittens)?

    I've never been camping in the snow before- cold yes, snow, no. So I figured I'd go for a shake down a couple weeks before I leave.

  2. #2
    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    In any given winter/spring hike on the AT, you're going to get snow in the mountains. I started March 24 on a light precip year and still got about 4 inches of snow in north Georgia. Word on the hiker grapevine was that the Smokies got about 18 inches.

    Expect a few snow episodes if starting in February. Chances are the snow will melt off in a few days, then you'll get another snow. It's a fairly typical pattern.

    Honestly, what you may not be prepared for is the much more common event of several days of cold rain with temps in the 30's and 40's. To me, this is a tougher environment to cope with than straight snow. And you WILL experience this on the AT with a February start.

    Stick with a solid system of layers, particularly a good wicking layer next to the skin. I feel this is the most critical layer. I also carry a dry base layer for camp in cold weather. I sleep much more soundly this way.

    Gloves are a personal choice. I would recommend something that will still work well wet, such as wool or a synthetic fabric. You can push for waterproofing, but most nowadays are expensive sorta-waterproof/kinda-breathable stuff that are overwhelmed by continued exposure to wet cold. They are designed more for skiing in dry snow than the AT. A real revelation is the discovery of how to be "comfortably" damp.

    Also, look carefully to nutrition and hydration as these play as critical a role in staying warm as clothing and shelter.

    And don't get too worked up. The southern Appalachians shock the unprepared who think "It's the south. It has to be warm." But the southern AT is NOT New England or the Himalayas. Basic knowledge and preventive actions will take of you.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

  3. #3
    Registered User Summit's Avatar
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    In addition to what Bearpaw shared, DO NOT forget chapstick or other suitable lip balm. You will bleed to death by your lips if you don't. Yes, count on several snows. Count on possibly a few single digit mornings, quite a few teens mornings.

    The downside of starting that early is you'll be past the Smokies before this beautiful Southern section of the AT "greens up!" Missing the flora and fauna of the Southern Appalachians is a shame.

  4. #4
    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    most days you will be hiking in 30* and higher. it may even reach a balmy 50*. the nights are cold. you will learn quickly what to do with wet clothes and boots. for me it was gloves and socks. if my feet and hands were warm, i was a happy camper.
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

  5. #5
    Slowest Hiker On Earth
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    It's hard to say. This year we had snow one weekend, mid 70's the next weekend, than back cold again.

  6. #6
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    Thanksfor all your advice- and as to what summit said about missing the southern spring- I definitely intend to go back and do a section of georgia during the spring another time, because I have heard wonderful things about it.

  7. #7

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    Most important item, lotsa $$$$$$$$$$$ for a Feb start you don't know how long you're gonna have to hole up in town.
    E-Z---"from sea to shining sea''

  8. #8
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrc237 View Post
    Most important item, lotsa $$$$$$$$$$$ for a Feb start you don't know how long you're gonna have to hole up in town.
    Some folks will say "just tough it out", but I agree, the chances of "unacceptable" (YMMV) weather is greater in Feb.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  9. #9
    Section Hiker Shot Gun from GA to NH Deerleg's Avatar
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    I talked to a 7 time thru hiker in February when we crossed paths just north of Glasgow. He was on his 4th winter start (Jan 1st 09) and his experience has been Jan/Feb are a little dryer in the southern Appalachians, and he has gotten through the higher elevations and on into the lower elevations in central and northern VA before the “big early spring snows” that can hit the high elevations through the higher southern sections.

    It can be very cold though. I spent one night at just above 0 with high winds.

    It’s likely that your late Feb start will guarantee some snow adventures in the 1st few weeks. Just prepare for it and have fun!
    Kevin

  10. #10
    Registered User little_daddy979's Avatar
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    i started mid feb this year. 3 'major' snow storms in a southern sense. 6-8 times of sticking snow that was insignificant. loads of flurries. get a liner for your bag, maybe some yak tracks, neoprene socks just in case. Since you are from jersey, go on some winter hikes w/ temps around 0* and test things. It shouldnt get much below 0*

  11. #11
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    I love snow- the reason I'm starting in February is that I want to be stuck (well, by stuck, safe and warm in knee deep snow that melts after a day or two) in at least one significant snow storm.

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