Advice for AT hike

A discussion group just for hikers

Advice for AT hike

Postby boshettee » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:29 am

I'm a 64yo novice hiker with limited hiking experience. I've hiked on 2-3 day outings on the OT and now planning to attempt thru-hike of the AT.
My question is, has any one here hiked the AT or even sections of the AT and how does the AT compare to the OT?
I plan to begin my hike Apr.2017
boshettee
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:53 am

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby jyancey » Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:56 pm

I have only hiked a very small part of the AT through Great Smoky Mountains NP, so I am not really qualified to give you advice on the whole trail by any means. I do regularly follow the forums on Backpackinglight.com, and there is quite a bit of discussion about long-distance thru-hiking there. BPL also has extensive gear reviews and a vast library of articles, many of which relate to the AT. There is also Whiteblaze, with discussions pertinent specifically to the AT.
I would recommend you research your gear very thoroughly and try to limit your pack weight as much as possible without going "stupid light." You want to be safe and comfortable, but you don't need to plan (and carry!) for every possible contingency. That is a common mistake that less experienced bp'ers make; packing WAY too much "just in case" stuff.
As far as the trail, the part I hiked had long uphill and downhill sections, comparable to the OT Taum Sauk section, but with a lot more elevation gain/loss. The tread was good with usual rocks and roots. We did see a couple of bears, so be prepared to hang your food and toiletries. My understanding and admittedly limited observation is that the AT is well marked, but decent navigation skills, along with proper maps and compass, should be a given. I would recommend not relying on a GPS as your only nav tool. When I am in truly remote areas I now carry a Delorme Inreach Explorer satellite communicator/rescue device. It is a measure of security and comfort, especially for my wife at home.
That's about all the generic advice I can offer. I hope someone with more direct experience can chime in and give you some much better practical guidance. If you would like to PM me I would be glad to give you some more (opinionated!) advice.
I wish you all the best in prepping for your thru hike. I'm envious!
jyancey
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: Central Missouri

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby boshettee » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:56 am

Thanks, jyancey
I think I'm bordering on the "stupid light" now so shouldn't need to purchase a lot of new stuff. My immediate concern is logistics; planning something of this magnitude is a bit overwhelming. Try as I might, I tend to set too stringent of a plan instead of just 'going with the flow'. So for this hike I'm really working on not following a set plan...we'll see. Also, concerning for me is conditioning. I've hiked most of the Eleven Point section and wanted comparisons to the AT. Oh, and food; I've got to not carry so much food!
boshettee
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:53 am

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby jyancey » Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:29 pm

I understand! I did a weeklong trip in Utah's Escalante last Spring and came out with probably 3 days' worth of food. I'm sure I could forego eating for a day or so and still be fine. Just dead weight to lug around! Stupid light means taking ultralight to its ridiculous extreme, sacrificing comfort or even safety for weight reduction. An example might be not taking raingear to save 8 oz, but suffering through days of cold and wet on the trail. In that example, one could easily be at risk for hypothermia, all for saving a half pound. That's the very definition of "stupid light!" The other side of that coin, of course, is to carry a 70 lb pack with redundant clothing, a too-heavy shelter, and all sorts of electronic gadgets. There is a balance point, and the best way to find your ideal place is to gain experience and skills. With that, I would recommend taking as many "shakedown" trips as possible, in all conditions, to test out gear and packing options. Be sure to take notes, honestly critiquing gear and your fitness levels. Find out what works and what doesn't. At the end of each trip, list those items carried but not used. Better yet, put them in a pile as a visual aid. On the next trip, don't pack them! Use a scale to weigh all your gear. A side benefit of this approach is that you will be conditioning yourself in the process! As I have stated when asked, "How do you train for hiking?" By hiking! If you have time, hike some of our most demanding trails with your full kit. Taum Sauk, Bell Mtn, Ketcherside Mtn, Rockpile Mtn, etc are all excellent training grounds to test gear, improve nav skills and test your own mettle. As you dial in your kit, you are conditioning your body, as well as seeing some of the best landscape in Missouri!
If you peruse the various websites and forums dedicated to thru-hiking, including BPL, Whiteblaze, Andrew Skurka's blog and many others, you should get some excellent pointers on gear selection, packing techniques, support options and menu development.
Keep us apprised of your progress!
jyancey
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: Central Missouri

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby Homespun » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:35 am

Planning an AT hike is very interesting. I've hiked the PA and Md sections this year and a month ago had an opportunity to hike five days in MA. and took it. It's very well marked, ten to twenty people transit most days. The esteem and prestige that go with America's premier hiking trail set it apart. From talk on the trail, there's a lot of elevation change in Vermont and a person said he was glad to get out of NH and into Vermont because he saw dirt again. Southern ME is very mountainous. TN, the books say, has a lot of elevation. There are all sorts of schemes for taking on the endeavor. Mail drops, GPS, support teams are all reasonable ideas, but not for me. I'm 63 by that time and lightness is a religion for me, I want to enjoy myself out there and not focus on the backpack on my back. Last May my pack weight without variables was 14 pounds. I've thought of a way to lighten it except in the heat of Summer. The hikers are people with a large chunk of time to dedicate to the endeavor. Older, retired, people have a disproportional representation. I'd play with the idea of returning, I enjoyed myself. With cell phones I really enjoyed my "text" facet of each day. Contact me if interested in traveling to the AT together, hiking together some, and maintaining a "text" relationship. A "text" relationship is a possibility irregardless. I don't live in MO but used to.
Homespun
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:36 am

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby boshettee » Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:50 am

Just an update. I've replaced some gear, new pack, and winter clothing. Total weight with 4 day food supply but without water is 23.4 lbs. I think I might be able to lessen it some but really hard to part with my 'comfort items'! Reservations made to get to Springer Mt. on 3/5/17. Looking forward to starting soon. Between now and then I plan to do a couple more 2-3 day outings. A side note, I thought starting early I could avoid most of the crowd but per ATC the largest number of hikers have the same idea! It use to be April was traditional start month but now it looks like March! Crowds or not, here I come.
boshettee
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:53 am

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby steve l » Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:53 am

keep us posted on progress towards as well as during, if able.
steve l
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 5:05 pm

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby bikehikefish » Mon Jan 02, 2017 12:51 pm

In case you have not already seen it, here is a link to the Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hikers survey. There may be some insights you could apply to your AT hike. Good luck!

http://www.halfwayanywhere.com/trails/p ... rvey-2016/
bikehikefish
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:12 pm
Location: Richmond Heights MO

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby boshettee » Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:08 am

FYI...I leave for Springer Mt. tomorrow to begin my AT journey. Will attempt to keep you all updated and post pics if possible. At my age (65) I am somewhat anxious but I'm also really looking forward to this 4-5 month adventure and have more than a year's worth of planning; let's hope all goes well!
boshettee
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:53 am

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby Jim » Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:42 am

@Boshettee GETCHASUM!!!
Jim
 
Posts: 389
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:07 pm
Location: O'Fallon, MO

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby steve l » Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:33 pm

Good luck! Looking forward to updates!
steve l
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 5:05 pm

Re: Advice for AT hike

Postby Homespun » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:07 am

Couple of snows on the Southern AT this past week, a full and rich AT experience.
Homespun
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:36 am


Return to Hiker Talk

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron