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  1. #1

    Question LOTS of Questions :)

    Hi, everyone! I'm new here (obviously), and I am planning to do the Appalachian Trail in 2013. I am a female traveling with a dog and I would be starting in Georgia at Springer Hill. I'm reading a lot and trying to learn everything possible, but I'm not sure about a lot and I am a horrible "searcher" on forums.

    I've done hiking for a few years, so I feel ready, and I am freakishly strong, which has never been a benefit for me until like now .

    I'm trying to pack with as few items as possible, but I do not want to make a lot of stops to change out gear besides for food.

    Things that are fluxing:
    I will have at least one dog, but the size of the dog depends (I trying to consider whether to bring my super small dog or my medium sized dog; I would carry the small dog - she weighs 4 pounds). Also, there might be at most a total of three dogs traveling. Any dogs taken are WORKING dogs and are very, very well trained to do a range of jobs. The dog banned areas we have plans for already.

    A girl hiking partner (she would be most likely bringing her dog, which counts for the above dog count; if it just me I most likely will be just bring one dog).

    Anyways, here they are:
    1. Starting date - I am reading different ones, but most say you have to start in around March or like you'll freeze to death. However, I found a huge section of writings saying people start Feb 1st. So, what is the difference in start dates overall? Different month differences? I want to start as early as possible without freezing

    2. Computer/Electronics - Okay, how is still even possible on the trail? I'd really love to bring a laptop or just some electronics, like a camera or something, so I can have a locater on me incase of emergency. Also, I'd really love to read my textbook (its online) on the trail during breaks :P

    How about an Ipad or iphone? They don't need internet wifi. Or what about one of those handy things for laptops that you can connect?

    3. Tent - I see constant recommendations for tarps and shelter without floors. Is there any recommendation for tents that have floors and can fit at least two girls (I plan on possibly going with a friend). Possibly a few dogs, but they don't take up like any room. Also, I was wondering what do you do with your bag when you are sleeping? Shouldn't I keep it in the tent with me, and in that case, a bigger tent would be necessary, ha ha.

    4. Sleeping bag - What bag would I need? I want something that can balance out both weather possibilities, and I will be having dogs in the tent, so they are going to be heat producers too. What if I get too hot in the bag? What degrees should I get?

    5. Stops - Okay, I do not see any stops listed on the trails, but are there like towns you walk to that aren't far off the trail? How often do you have to make stops?

    6. Dogs - How hard is it to carry food for the dogs? Anyone with experience with this? I figured the small dog would need a lot less food.

    THANKS! SORRY FOR MY STUPIDITY

  2. #2
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    walkin' with the dogs is a very bad idea. most dogs are sent home early and lots of times the hiker gets off too. if you do take the dog(s) the trip is about them, not you

  3. #3

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    Starting date -- I started my thru-hike on April 10th and my thru-hike lasted 195 calendar days (most AT thru-hikers take about 180 days to complete a thru-hike) . If I was to thru-hike the AT again I'd start in April again so the weather in the beginning of the AT thru-hike is milder (makes life easier -- it gets very very cold in Georgia during March).

    Pack weight -- when you see how steep the mountains are in Georgia, you'll understand why the dropout rate of people abandoning their thru-hike after 30 miles is so great. You'll want to reduce your pack weight as much as possible -- focus on reducing the weight of the big three -- empty backpack weight, shelter weight (tent/tarp) and sleeping bag weight. Once you get to the Trail you'll sort out what's really important in your pack and what is just dead weight and not useful.

    Stops along the trail -- you resupply every few days along the trail -- either by having someone mail you most of your supplies and you pick them up in the post office along the trail -- or -- you buy in grocery stores along the way every few days (or a combination of both). Some people have special needs/wants for resupply so they have someone from back home mail them supplies. Lots of good information here on Whiteblaze about resupply during an AT thru-hike, also on Aldha.org.

    Preparation -- It would be best if you could get in a week-long backpacking trip (not a camping trip but rather, 6 days of carrying your backpack for 8 miles every day) before you commit to thru-hiking the AT. This so you have an idea about what it's like before you commit your dollars (probably upwards of $5,000 for an AT thru-hike not including your gear but including your travel to and from the Trail and repairs/replacements to gear you bring to the Trail) and time (six months of hiking plus additional time before and after the hike) and take on something as monumental as a thru-hike of the AT. You might want to note that being in shape and being physically strong will help you but there is a big difference between being in shape and being in trail shape. Most hikers who are still doing their thru-hike after 45 days of hiking north from Springer Mountain will be in trail shape. Also note that completing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail is much more of a mental challenge than it is a physical challenge -- lots of people who were completely out of shape at the start of their AT thru-hike have completed their thru-hike. Mental challenges during an AT thru-hike include things such as hiking for many consecutive days in the rain with everything you're carrying becoming soaking wet, missing your friends/family/significant other back home, the frustration of dealing with simple things like not being able to find what you're looking for inside your pack, being alone much of the time (more so the further north you go on a thru-hike), blisters and knee pains and fabulous rub marks on your hips from your backpack that most thru-hikers experience.

    Dog -- No matter what you hear (hiking with a dog is a controversial subject), people with a dog have completed their thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. My observation is that a thru-hike is extremely difficult and burdensome for the dog. I saw several dogs during my AT thru-hike where the dog refused to continue the thru-hike. I don't believe I've ever heard of anyone carrying a dog for the length of the AT although someone I heard had tried to carry a cat on their thru-hike before they abandoned their thru-hike. If you decide to take your dog along on your thru-hike you should understand ahead of time that your dog will likely be your biggest challenge to continuing your thru-hike once you arrive at the Trail. The idea of carrying dog food up a mountainside wears me out just thinking about it but other people have done it so it is possible.

    Here's a like to my Datto's AT Thru-hiking Tips that might be useful in answering some of your other questions:

    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/cont...ru-Hiking-Tips

    Have a wonderful time -- it's one heck of a great adventure of a lifetime and I never would have missed it for the world.


    Datto

  4. #4

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    Oh -- one other thing (that was my Columbo impersonation). Go ahead and ask on Whiteblaze whatever questions you have about a thru-hike even if you think others will find the question to be not important. The people here on Whiteblaze are actually friendly people (even though sometimes they come off as being gruff and blunt -- in reality these are friendly people with past experience that may have information that will be helpful to you).

    The key thing is to ask the questions so you're not as surprised when you arrive at the Trail. One of the biggest reasons people leave the Trail is they find that an AT thru-hike is not what they had imagined it to be.


    Datto

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    Based on your tent needs, I'd take a look at the Tarptent RainShadow 2. "Tarptent" in this case is the brand name. They are fully enclosed single-wall tents. There is a learning curve with single-wall, but I'd recommend getting out for as many overnighters as possible before your hike anyway. If you don't need something that large, your options really increase. Personally, I carry a Double Rainbow and find it plenty big enough for me, a dog and gear.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maratila View Post
    2. Computer/Electronics - Okay, how is still even possible on the trail? I'd really love to bring a laptop or just some electronics, like a camera or something, so I can have a locater on me incase of emergency. Also, I'd really love to read my textbook (its online) on the trail during breaks :P

    How about an Ipad or iphone? They don't need internet wifi. Or what about one of those handy things for laptops that you can connect?
    If it's not now, total pack weight will become a driving concern. A laptop or an iPad would quickly feel like an anchor on your back. I carried a smartphone with an extra battery, an Apple charger and a small New Trent battery backup device, and I was able to use it judiciously for as much as 12 days between AC outlets. I did email, wrote blog entries, took care of finances, uploaded pics ... Can you get that textbook in eBook or pdf format?

    Tent
    - I see constant recommendations for tarps and shelter without floors. Is there any recommendation for tents that have floors and can fit at least two girls (I plan on possibly going with a friend). Possibly a few dogs, but they don't take up like any room. Also, I was wondering what do you do with your bag when you are sleeping? Shouldn't I keep it in the tent with me, and in that case, a bigger tent would be necessary, ha ha.
    Look at the so-called tarp tents by folks like TarpTent, Six Moons Design and Lightheart Gear. All make tents that are under 2 lbs with floors, full mosquito-netting enclosure and flys that can be closed up for rain/privacy. My Lightheart Gear Solo has more than enough room for me and my pack.

    Good luck with all your preparations.
    Last edited by LDog; 10-16-2012 at 14:51.
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  7. #7
    Registered User shadow11's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    walkin' with the dogs is a very bad idea. most dogs are sent home early and lots of times the hiker gets off too. if you do take the dog(s) the trip is about them, not you
    I agree,A thru hike is not for dogs Imho.A adult dog will sleep 20 hours a day if at home.They can go 20 plus miles a day but they will lay around for three or four days to recover. Ask yourself this.Are my reasons for bringing a dog or a friend based on my own fears,like bears,crazy people,or being alone.If your a dog lover then leave them home.

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    not to be a jackass but you are so unprepared. read some books there are lots of them out there..this site is an amazing resource for info but you need to do your own research...no matter what people tell you on here it what works for them...the ONLY way to figure out what works for you is to get out and do it..period....unless you have did lots of overnight you will have gear changes...

  9. #9

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    Maratila, the first thing you need to do is get a guide book, like the "Companion" as that will tell you where the towns are, how far apart they are and how far from the trail they are, along with all kinds of other useful info you need to know.

    Hiking with dog(s) makes the trip all that much more difficult. Yes, there have been a few dogs to complete a thru-hike, but very very few and the few who do are pretty beat up by the time they finish. Also keep in mind that dogs are not very welcome in shelters, so you must plan to tent out every night. Just think how pleasent it will be to cuddle up to a couple of stinky wet dogs in a small tent. Keeping your sleeping bag dry under such conditons is next to impossible. (which is why dogs aren't weclome in shelters).

    There is a WB forum called "dogs on the AT" which discusses the pros and cons of dogs on the trail ad-nousium, so read up on some of those threads.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  10. #10
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    One thing you said, you will have AT LEAST one dog, and your friend may have another. If you show up at a crowded shelter with a pack of dogs, things might not go too good. Also, with what you are asking about carrying, laptops etc, carrying food for one dog is a lot, carry food for multiple dogs is going to be difficult at the best. I think that you really need to think about a lot of things if you really plan to complete a thru.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    walkin' with the dogs is a very bad idea. most dogs are sent home early and lots of times the hiker gets off too. if you do take the dog(s) the trip is about them, not you
    I have to agree. I've been doing long sections the past 5 years and have seen a lot of "hurting dogs" I have spent more than one night in a shelter with someones muddy pawed wet dog on my sleeping bag. I know, sleep in my tent. Well, I also had a dog hike his leg on my tent. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE dogs and have one myself but, I would never take him backpacking with me.
    Seek, and you shall find.

  12. #12
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    1. Starting date -
    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?44
    http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiki...where-to-start
    This is a good article on hiking rates, dates, etc...
    The web page from the ATC is When and Where to start. Should give you lots of useful info.


    2. Computer/Electronics
    Is it possible? People have been doing long distance hikes for the last 100,000 years without electronics. So yes it is possible. If you want them is up to you to decide. Many people use a smart phone of one type or another because one device can serve many functions (camera, map, compass, e-book, MP3 players, communications, locator, etc...). Setting up all of these features will take time and effort. Service can be spotty and you will need to work out the battery life issue. If you will need to stay connected 24/7, then hiking may not be a good pastime for you.

    3. Tent - Lots of tents with floor that are light. Some have already been mentioned. This list of cottage industries will have more. The Tarp Tent brands are quite popular.

    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/show...=1#post1340660

    4. Sleeping bag - For a NoBo hike, lots of people start with a 20 deg bag (+/-) and switch to a lighter bag after it warms up. But don't switch too soon and be sure to get your cold weather gear back when you get to NH. If you only want one bag, a warmer one that opens up can work in all seasons (but will be heavier in the summer). All depends on when you start, how fast you hike, how cold you sleep, etc...

    5. Stops - You camp on the trail, but every few days you will go to town for resupply. Check out the resupply articles. Or get a guide book. You will need one for hiking. Here are some examples:
    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?15
    http://www.theatguide.com/


    6. Dogs - Better check the dog forum:
    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/foru...alachian-Trail
    Last edited by Odd Man Out; 10-16-2012 at 13:14.

  13. #13
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    You said all dogs are "WORKING" dogs. Are they certified Service Animals?

    Some people have hiked with dogs through the Smokeys and Baxter where they are not allowed claiming are service dogs.
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Don H View Post
    You said all dogs are "WORKING" dogs. Are they certified Service Animals?

    Some people have hiked with dogs through the Smokeys and Baxter where they are not allowed claiming are service dogs.
    I'm not sure if any of those who thought they could get away with that actually did or not. I'm pretty sure there are no exceptions in Baxter. Dogs are banned period.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    My suggestion at this stage of the game, which appears to be to be very late from the questions you posed, is to find a experienced backpacker/thruhiker to help you in initial selection of gear, take their advice and plan a 5+ day backpack before it gets too cold. Only after that then start considering bringing things outside their suggestions. Plan to learn a lot on the trail and swap out gear ($$$).

    As for the dogs - from what and how you post they (your dogs) don't seem ready. It is almost an unnatural and very much a learned condition for a dog to be a good trail dog. A true good trail dog is unfortunately rare on the trails. But to answer your question about weight of dog supplies most of the good trail dogs I have seen usually carry their own weight.

    Good luck

  16. #16
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    I don't think even Maine can ban seeing eye dogs.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey:1349646
    I don't think even Maine can ban seeing eye dogs.
    You are correct. Only way to ban a dog is if it becomes a problem such as completely loosing its training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    walkin' with the dogs is a very bad idea. most dogs are sent home early and lots of times the hiker gets off too. if you do take the dog(s) the trip is about them, not you
    Blunt statement but I know LW and myself have seen this over and over again. I think you have to ask yourself: Do your dogs want to hike the trail? If they say yes please keep them away from the springs. I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled up to a spring and had a dog come down and start drinking out of it.

    Also, the trail is REALLy tough so you are going to be more exhausted than you have ever been before in your whole, imagine how a dog feels. I have two dogs but I would only take them for a couple of days. The trail can be really hard on their paws.

    With that in mind, Hike your own hike!

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    ..ever been before in your whole life I mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seldomseen View Post
    Blunt statement but I know LW and myself have seen this over and over again. I think you have to ask yourself: Do your dogs want to hike the trail? If they say yes please keep them away from the springs. I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled up to a spring and had a dog come down and start drinking out of it.

    Also, the trail is REALLy tough so you are going to be more exhausted than you have ever been before in your whole, imagine how a dog feels. I have two dogs but I would only take them for a couple of days. The trail can be really hard on their paws.

    With that in mind, Hike your own hike!

  20. #20
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Not sure where you live but the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is hosting a thru hiker workshop on Nov 10th to answer most of these questions. It will be at the Bears Den hostel. Workshop is free but you need to register asap. apppalachiantrail.org







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