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  1. #1
    Relay pfann's Avatar
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    Default Section Hike Choice

    I am planning a section hike sometime in 2010 (possibly May or September, with a backup plan of June/July). I plan on hiking for somewhere between 10-14 days with 1 or two co-workers.

    We have narrowed our choices to the following:

    1. Springer Mt. north to a stopping point as short as the GA/NC border, and as far as the NOC.

    2. Shenandoah National Park, northbound.

    3. Front Royal Virginia to the MD/PA border.

    Any thoughts or suggestions for any of these, in terms of difficulty, weather, crowds, or any other helpful information.

    Thanks,

    pfann

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    I believe the Springer section is the most difficult, but not that bad, really. Personally, having hiked all three sections, I would choose SNP. It's the most scenic, with plenty of waysides(snackbars), cabins and lodges if the weather turns really nasty. You will see more wildlife here than most anywhere else on the trail. I would put Springer 2nd. Front Royal north has a few scenic spots, Harpers and the C&0, but that's about it. Lots of little rocks up toward Penmar.
    Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -Kahlil Gibran

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by pfann View Post
    I am planning a section hike sometime in 2010 (possibly May or September, with a backup plan of June/July). I plan on hiking for somewhere between 10-14 days with 1 or two co-workers.

    We have narrowed our choices to the following:

    1. Springer Mt. north to a stopping point as short as the GA/NC border, and as far as the NOC.

    2. Shenandoah National Park, northbound.

    3. Front Royal Virginia to the MD/PA border.

    Any thoughts or suggestions for any of these, in terms of difficulty, weather, crowds, or any other helpful information.

    Thanks,

    pfann
    I agree with Chief Duffy's analysis. All 3 sections have their redeeming parts. There's a marked difference in difficulty between the sections and in the mileage you're considering. For example if you take 14 days and hike Shendandoah, you'll finish the hike much sooner than planned or you'll only hike 7 mpd. Nothing wrong with that, just pointing out what you probably already know. I guess it all depends on your and your companions' levels of fitness and desires.

    As Duffy said, the stretch starting at Springer is the most difficult but if it were me, that's the stretch I'd do in May or September. You have 3 potential stopping points: Dicks Creek Gap/Rt. 76, Winding Stair Gap/Rt/ 64 and the NOC. So you can decide as you go along where to cut off.

    One piece of advice: statistically, Georgia's elevation is lower than North Carolina's but I found Georgia tougher than the NC stretch from Dicks Creek to Winding Stair Gap. Georgia is all up-and-down and by the time you reach Rt. 76, your legs and lungs will be in such good shape that the Bly Gap and Standing Indian ascents won't seem as bad - at least that's my experience. But see what others say. Happy Trails!

  4. #4
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    I can't speak for the other two sections, but I would suggest that you don't want to do the Georgia section in July due to the heat, mostly at night. June is marginal. Both May and Sept are good, mostly mild weather with cooler nights, although typically moist in the mountains. On a 3-day trek in mid-Sept, it didn't rain, but my wicking shirt never dried out.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

  5. #5

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    Well, I've been on two of those three sections now...Shenandoah and N. Georgia. Until recently almost all of our hiking was in the Shenandoah Nat. Park...and it remains one of my favorite places in the world...and it's close to us.

    Georgia is the harder section hike for certain over SNP but it is also a bit wilder...more deep woods and quieter although it was very busy back in Oct. We are going back just after Christmas and I suspect we won't run into the boy scouts this time.

    Shenandoah is very busy all summer and freaking nuts in the Fall when the leaves are turning. Skyline drive is rarely far from the AT so if you an insecure sort of hiker, help is never far away...but you rarely can get away from the sound of someone's Harley or RV going up the road either. There are places to get good meals there and sleep soft/shower if you'd prefer.

    My choice would be Georgia also and that is what we are doing now in shorter sections than you are proposing.

    Another tip...Neel's Gap about 3-4 days from Springer depending on how fast you hike...has some very nice cabins also for rent called Blood Mountain cabins. Very nice rentals and very hiker friendly. There is also a hiker hostel/outfitter there, right on the AT, if you like more basic accommodations overnight and you can resupply and fix equipment issues.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the replies. All good advice. My initial thought is to average 10 miles per day and the trip would be 10-14 days depending on how many vacations days we can commit, total mileage, etc.

    Personally, I like the Georgia hike. The only problem is its the farthest drive time away, which is another consideration.

    Thanks again,

    pfann

  7. #7
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    SNP (Shenandoah) is a good choice for a first time section. Also depends on the coworkers. Having places where you can buy food, eat, even get a room if you want, etc. like in SNP is helpful.







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  8. #8

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    Springer to Fontana, you can make it! Average about 10-12 in GA then 13-15 in NC. You will start to get a rhythm going. Remember, you are gonna have more daylight. It would be hard for me to stop at the entrance of the Smokies. They are fun!

  9. #9
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    I would love to go to Fontana and I think I could do it. I am not sure my hiking companions want to be out that long.
    All this encouragement is making me itch to go. Come on, May!!!

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    My first time on the AT was Springer to Deep Gap and I have to say it kicked my @$$. If you or your companions are not experienced hikers I would recommend SNP. It's cake all the way and there aren't really any tough spots north of there either.
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

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