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  1. #1
    Registered User Pumba's Avatar
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    Default After22 years, getting back into it. Have questions

    Hello everyone. I just joined the forum a few days ago and have been reading many posts. This place seems like a great font of knowledge. I was in Scouts many, many years ago and used to hike quite a bit. I've been to Katahdin a couple of times, as well as Philmont. I have, however, been away from hiking for about 22 years now.

    I've been collecting gear over the last month and feel I'm ready for a nice hike. I was planning on heading up to SNP next weekend for a 3 day, 2 night hike (about 30 miles) but just found out I have 6 days off, so I was thinking of heading up for a nice long break. SNP is about 4 hours from where I live. I feel gear-wise, I'm good. I've just had some random questions pop into mind over the last few days as the time gets nearer.

    1. Where do you wash your dishes? In the old days of scouting, we did it in streams or had large containers of water. I know with the LNT principals, this is not cool. I've seen collapsable sinks..is this a good option?

    2. what do you all do about batteries, specifically for GPS. I have a Dakota 20 which takes AA's. Should I just bring extras? Do you all use some type of charger? I have a solar charger for my cell, but that won't work to charge the Dakota.

    3. I'd eventually like to do some section hiking, with the entire length of SNP being my first goal. In other areas, is it ok to camp pretty much anywhere along the trail? Do you rely mostly on shelters?

    4. Can you reccommend a good overall through/section hiking book for the AT?

    I'm sure more questions will pop to mind, and I will post as they do, but I greatly appreciate any feedback you all have.

    ~Brian

  2. #2
    Registered User Veetack's Avatar
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    1) I use a GSI soloist to cook. It can be cleaned with minimal water. Eat any extra food.
    2) no need for a GPS
    3) Only place I know that requires sheltering is GSMNP, which covers roughly 71 miles in Tennessee.
    4) I use the 2012 AT thru hikers companion, which you can get from the ATC, but I've noticed others prefer other guides.

  3. #3
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    cookset cleanup for solo cooker is to eat every last bit of food. Add some water to clean it out & I usually boil to sterilize & use the water to make coffee/ tea/cocoa

    You are required to use shelters in the Smokies. SNP doesn't require it but finding a legal campsite can be a chore. Same for the White Mountains in NH.

    ALDHA or Awol's guide for info on AT.
    Last edited by Mountain Mike; 05-16-2012 at 16:30.

  4. #4
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    1. I don't carry much in the way of dishes. I'll be in Shenadoah next weekend for a longer section, and I'm taking only a spoon for eating my granola. When I do cook, I use a small piece of nylon netting from an onion bag and a tiny dropper bottle of dish soap. Heat the water in my tiny pot, add a couple of drops of soap, use the scrubbie to wash my spoon and the pot, and rinse with water from a bottle. Wash dishes well away from a stream or spring.

    2. Lithium AA batteries are the lightest and longest-lasting, but expensive. Not sure a good solution for long term use of a GPS; one reason I don't carry one.

    3. Shenandoah has specific rules about camping. There are nice tentsites at every shelter (hut), but you can also camp anywhere as long as you follow the rules.

    4. The Companion or the AT Guide. I've been carrying pieces of the Guide and like it.

    Have fun!!!
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  5. #5
    Hike smarter, not harder.
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    Go to Sarbar's webpage, and start freezer bag cooking. Awesome. The mistake I made when I got back into this after 20 years was not going as light as possible, as soon as possible.
    Con men understand that their job is not to use facts to convince skeptics but to use words to help the gullible to believe what they want to believe - Thomas Sowell

  6. #6

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    I think it would be worth your while to purchase the AT Guide (link in Big Cranky's post) or the Companion. In addition to helping you plan with mileage, resupply, and transportation, it will also have info on camping restrictions.

    Great Smoky Mountains NP is not the only place with camping restrictions. There are 3 states - NJ, CT, MA - which prohibit camping anywhere except designated sites, not all of which are shelters. In the White Mountains of NH, you can't camp above treeline. In ME, you can only camp in Baxter at a designated campground.

  7. #7
    Registered User Pumba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veetack View Post
    2) no need for a GPS
    I have the GPS more for hikes other than the AT. I thought it could come in handy when travelling multiple trails over a course of three or 4 days.

  8. #8
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    I find a map more useful than a GPS when hiking in the East. Now out West it might be a different story.

  9. #9
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    im in a familiar boat, was a scout, eagle, went to philmont, high country, etc...it's been about 20 since ive packed. best thing to do is stick around here, theres ALOT of good information and usually good people. Welcome to the club.

    Are you planning a trhu hike?

    I did go with a jet boil, but just be sure not to COOK with it, use it to boil water in just a few seconds, but cooking in it will burn your food really quickly, and possibly ruin your stove.

  10. #10
    Registered User Pumba's Avatar
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    Default After22 years, getting back into it. Have questions

    I am not planning a through hike right now. I'm not in a position to take that much time off from work. Section hiking will probably be my plan of attack.

    Fellow Eagle here as well, class of 1987!

    Thank you all for your input thus far. I'm super excited about next weekend, and future hikes.
    -------------------------------------------
    ~Brian

    I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the best does.
    -- L.M. Montgomery

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avonlea22 View Post
    I am not planning a through hike right now. I'm not in a position to take that much time off from work. Section hiking will probably be my plan of attack.

    Fellow Eagle here as well, class of 1987!

    Thank you all for your input thus far. I'm super excited about next weekend, and future hikes.
    Class of 1988!! WOOT! Hope to see ya on the trail!

  12. #12
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    For me, no soap...eat from pot...clean with finger or little piece of tp. Swish some water. Drink water. Next cook will heat pot enough to sterilize.
    No GPS for me cause it eats batteries and I like maps.

  13. #13

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    Take everything you read here as POSSIBLE truth, often the advice (including mine), works for the person posting but will not work for you. The only way to find out what works is to find out what works, which will happen very fast.

    1) I do not wash my cook pot.
    2) No need for GPS, I do carry an extra head lamp w/batteries
    3) SNP does have rules. Last time I looked they were online.
    4) Most people carry AWOL's book

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by pyroman53 View Post
    For me, no soap...eat from pot...clean with finger or little piece of tp. Swish some water. Drink water. Next cook will heat pot enough to sterilize....
    I use hot water and a leaf as a scrubber. Until recently I used soap - not any more.
    Last edited by Cookerhiker; 05-17-2012 at 11:49.

  15. #15
    Registered User Pumba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jay View Post
    3) SNP does have rules. Last time I looked they were online.
    I have found them online. They are not too strict and seem easy enough to abide by.

    Another question came to mind: I wear contacts, and I'm not sure if I should bring them or just a pair of glasses. Any suggestions or experience with this? I have plenty of spare pairs I could bring with me.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jay View Post
    4) Most people carry AWOL's book
    Are you sure about that?

    I honestly don't know -- but I would have "guessed" that most carry The Companion as it is available thru and supports the ATC.

    (As well as ALDHA but I'd also "guess" that most first time thru hikers haven't even heard of ALDHA prior to their hike so that wouldn't be an issue as to which book to purchase.)

  17. #17

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    I have both and in my mind there is no comparison! AWOL's book wins hands down. It contains so much more information and is just set up better. I also like that he shows all the hills and elevation so that I can determine how difficult the mileage is going to be each day. I honestly sleep with that book! LOL Well, have fallen asleep while planning...

  18. #18
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    I am also a former scout, but now I cook everything in freezer bags. I hate washing dishes, so when I'm on a hike, I consider that vacation, and I refuse to wash dishes on vacation. There is a lot of food, like mashed potatoes, and packets of meat items like tuna and stuff. Premeasure your potatoes for a meal into a bag. Throw in a pinch of salt, pepper, a scoop of butter buds. Use a sharpie and write on the bag what it is and the cooking directions (You'd be amazed at how similar grits, potatoes, and dried milk look in a zip loc). At the campsite boil a cup of water, pour it in the bag, stir and set aside for 10mins. Add your meat to the mix and instant hot meal. Good carbs and protein. Eat it straight out of the bag, and then burn the bag or carry it out. The plus and minus of the last line are discussed in another post. The only dirty item you will need to clean is your spoon! This is a simple little meal, but it is just the beginning!! Have fun!!

  19. #19
    Registered User Hikes in Rain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avonlea22 View Post

    Another question came to mind: I wear contacts, and I'm not sure if I should bring them or just a pair of glasses. Any suggestions or experience with this? I have plenty of spare pairs I could bring with me.
    You shouldn't have any trouble wearing contacts in the woods. Just make sure you wash your hands (away from water sources), just like at home. I use a little washbasin I made by cutting the bottom off a gallon milk jug. My cook set fits inside it, so it doesn't take any extra room. And yes, bring backups. I bring a spare pair of contacts, plus my glasses since I have to take the contacts out at night. Dollar Stores carry a plastic hard case that seems crush proof, weighs a fraction of an ounce, and (wait for it!) only costs a dollar.

  20. #20
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    1. Freezer bag eliminates most of the need to clean dishes. All that gets dirty is your spoon. You can mostly clean that in your mouth, and then sanitize it before your next meal with the boiling water that's going into your freezer bag meal.

    2. I bring a map. I turn on the gps long enough to get a position, and then I write down the coordinates and then turn it off. My gps will last at least for weeks with this strategy.

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