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AT - Any through or section hikers here on the forum?

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I'm not even really sure what triggered it, but I've really become curious or interested in the trail.

 

 Something about it really appeals to me.  I have long thought that I would love to gear up and take my son for a short section hike.... just a night or two perhaps.  Lately, I've been thinking about what it would be like to do more.

 

I've recently streamed a few videos

flip flop flippin

Southbounders (which turned out to be fiction, but still...)

A Walk in The Woods

Beauty Beneath the Dirt

....and a few others

 

and I've read a few trail journals online....

 

A couple years ago I watched a really nicely done film 

Mile....Mile and a Half

About a group that did the Muir trail

 

I have been thinking.... and this is all me dreaming....but Maybe, just maybe, if I can spur on enough interest in my son and others, we might consider doing a section with the troop, or as a patrol.

Personally, I'd bet they would get more out of doing that then a week in a traditional summer camp.

 

Anyway, just thinking there's likely to be folks here that have done it, or part of it.....or that ther's folks here like me that would like to.....  

Hoping to spur on some stories, etc....

 

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Not a thru or even a section hiker, but I have done three 50 milers on the AT. As well as a lot of weekends there. Mostly in the Va, Md, Pa area.

 

Stories? You want bears, mud, lightining, sitting with some very good friends watching the harvest moon inch over the eastern ridge flooding the valley at your feet with silver?

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We've done a bunch of 3 day, 20 milers on the AT in New Jersey.  Our Troop has talked about doing a section down in Shenandoah National Park.  My son and I have talked about doing the 100 Mile Wilderness the summer after his senior year in high school as the capstone to our Boy Scout careers.  Best adventure yet was doing the section from High Point, NJ to Sunrise Mountain, NJ with my son (just the two of us) over a three day weekend in November two years ago.  We still need to go from High Point to the NY line so I can claim to have done the entire AT... in New Jersey.

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First to Oldscout - you have done three 50-milers on the AT - you are a section hiker - you just haven't completed all the sections yet  :) .

 

I through-hiked the AT back in 1981 when I was 19 - I hiked North to South - Katahdin to Springer.  The first 30-days were brutal - I was a flatlander from the midwest taking on what most people consider the toughest part of the trail.  Most people hike South to North and work their way from the relatively gentle mountains of the Southeast to the rocky wilderness of New England.  I was ready to quit many times (and am glad I didn't).

 

I woke up a couple of times in Maine with snow on my tent (in May!).  I didn't see a lot of people during the week but weekends could get busy on the trail with day trippers and youth groups.  I never expected to be able to use any shelters during the weekends - they were all pretty much overrun by loud and obnoxious Scout Troops.  I don't have any facts to back this up but I've always thought that shelters with mice problems also had youth group problems - the shelters I stayed in that had mice were close enough to trail heads that they were easily accessible by youth groups on weekend trips.

 

You can gain a lot of good memories on the trail - and they'll mostly be greater than any bad memories of the trail.  There are places along the trail that are truly awe-inspring - walking through the Shenandoahs or the Smokies is incredible.  Unfortunately, not all of the trail is like that.  The trail does cross a lot of roads, and there are sections of the trail that are on roadways and automobile bridges - especially bridges.  It's not as pretty then.  There are sections of the trali that will feel monotonous after a few days - can't all be mountains and rivers - you're going to be hiking though fields and past farms in some places - and that can just suck the soul out of you.  But you perservere because the nights can be spectacular, the views impressive and there's a sense of achievement in walking that many miles.

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Hiking the AT is similar to hiking any trail.  Carry everything you need.  Meet nice people.  Spend time in the woods.

 

I solo hiked Tennessee to GA Sept 2015.  About 325 miles in 28 days.  Son and his buddy did all of GA July 2015, about 100 miles in 8 days.  

 

Backpacking is backpacking.  Water sources are abundant on the AT but often just little trickles.  Enough for a hiker to easy fill a quart or two in a few minutes.  Camping sites are limited because the trail often follows along ridges so you cant just stop and flop whenever you want.  Shelters are spaced about every 12 miles apart.  Sometimes closer, sometimes further.  Hostels are available occasionally.  Cheap and clean.  Great experience.

 

You can mail food to post offices ahead of time and go off trail to resupply from towns or PO.  In some places the trail goes right thru town on main street and others it is a 15 mile drive.  Hitchhiking and uber are ways to get to town. 

 

Weekends, weeks, months or longer are easy since the trail often crosses roads.  Communities along the trail are used to hikers and their needs. Finding help, supplies and support along the trail is relatively easy.  

 

Don't recommend a hiking party larger than about 8.  Due to size of campsites, there is just no real way for larger groups to be comfortable. 

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Agree with Resqman, we found that a group of 8 is about the max that can squeeze into a shelter in really bad weather. And since we always had scouts who hiked at different speeds, we could split into two groups of four during the day.

Mice are a problem in the shelters for sure. The more sloppy hikers,the more food thus more mice. Little buffers will chew right thru your pack to get to a molecule of good faster than you would believe.

My biggest frustration hiking with young Scouts is that they tend to walk with their heads down looking at their boots. Missing everything around them.

We were hiking along Skyline Drive about 3 years ago when the whole line of Scouts walk under a dead pine tree with the biggest heart I've ever seen 20 feet over their heads looking down at them. Might have been and immature bald eagle. Not one of the scouts saw it no I called Sofly " Guys! Look up! In the tree!"

Then they saw it, the raptor perhaps uncomfortable with such scrutiny spread his wings caught the updraft and swooped over the scouts heads, and out of sight.

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Ultra Runner Karl Meltzer Sets Appalachian Trail Record, Fueled by Beer and Candy

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/19/sports/fueled-by-beer-and-candy-bars-ultra-runner-karl-meltzer-sets-appalachian-trail-record.html?rref=collection%2Fspotlightcollection%2Fsports-limitless-athletes&_r=0

 

Beer and Candy --- turns out I've been training for through hiking since I was in college.

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yeah, running 45-50 miles per day on average.....

he wasn't packing much, if anything at all.  That took a logistics team to support for sure!

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12 miles a day for 180 days (6 months) is the norm for thru hikers.  Very obtainable by most people.  20 miles a day for 110 days (about 4 months) is quickly becoming a more common experience for thru hikers.  50 miles a day for 50 days is only for about 5 people in the world.  50 for 50 is a sprint with the hiker carrying little but water and snacks during the day and a support crew providing food and sleep accommodations at end of day. 

 

Shelters are about 12 miles apart.  On the trail by 8:30, a couple short breaks, a 20-30 minute lunch and off trail by 5. Head off trail about once a week to gather food, do some laundry or replace worn gear.  Figure in a "zero day" about once every couple weeks.  Zero days are those days where no miles are attempted to give the body a chance to rest and recuperate.  Enjoy the surroundings.  Maybe spend the night in a hostel or hotel, get a shower, eat in a restaurant, etc.  They really add to the enjoyment of the trip.

 

Everybody has a bad day every so often.  Part way thru day, your mind and body need a rest.  Sunny spot looks enticing, or maybe there are two shelters in a 16 mile stretch.  So you only get in 8 that day.  Correspondingly, you have some high mileage days.  One day I accomplished the 11 miles between shelters by 4 pm. Was feeling in great mental and physical shape.  It was only 4 miles to the road and the next day I had to go into town to pick up food.  Pushed on completed the last 4 miles in 2 hours. Basically a sprint downhill on a smooth trail.  Hitch hiked into town, got a hotel, hot shower, real meal and was able to get to the Post Office when they opened at 8am to get my food supplies.  Was back on the trail by 10am and heading to the next shelter.  

 

Towards the end of my trip, one day I skipped a planned shelter stop and pushed on to the next.  Climbed two mountains.  Lots of elevation gain and loss.  Tough day but really a sense of accomplishment.  Shaved a day of my trip plan.  

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yeah, I would think doing it with scouts would add another logistic challenge, and that is the shuttle ride....

with even a patrol sized group it gets tougher to station a car at the ending trail head..... not impossible, but maybe more common for it to be an out and back hike, back tracking for the return....

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I am spending this weekend with scouts on the AT doing a Philmont Shakedown trip. We are going South from the Pine Knob shelter in Maryland to Harper's Ferry,WV. It's about 26 miles over three days since there is no school on Monday. For some on the trip this will finish the Maryland section of the AT. Ferrying cars is not a big deal. We will drop one at the Harper's Ferry National Park visitors center and pay a fee of $10. Stow a cooler with cold drinks and snacks in the drop vehicle so when we get to it the boys can relax while we go and get the cars.

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I am spending this weekend with scouts on the AT doing a Philmont Shakedown trip. We are going South from the Pine Knob shelter in Maryland to Harper's Ferry,WV. It's about 26 miles over three days since there is no school on Monday. For some on the trip this will finish the Maryland section of the AT. Ferrying cars is not a big deal. We will drop one at the Harper's Ferry National Park visitors center and pay a fee of $10. Stow a cooler with cold drinks and snacks in the drop vehicle so when we get to it the boys can relax while we go and get the cars.

How many scouts, and what age range?

I hope you report back and let us know how it goes....especially stories about equipment and packing revelations and so on.

Oh how I wish I were close enough to run up there for a 3-day weekend!

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Total scouts and advisor who are going to Philmont is 21 but for this trip just five adults and five scouts. The ages are 13 through 16 years of age. We downloaded Philmonts menu and try our best to match them so we have the same calorie count as they will have at Philmont. Most of the scouts understand the principles of lightweight backpacking. On the last trip my son's dry weight pack was 15 pounds. With water, food and crew gear it was 25 pounds at most.

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so two good patrols then.... one scouts and one old goats :)

 

I'd be interested in details about how they are sharing the load and keeping weight down..... ie. is each carrying their own hammock, splitting tent components, etc....

how many stoves, water filters, etc.... split among the group....

 

I'll have to look at the philmont diet you mention... I'm not familiar....  Is it all freeze dried stuff?

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I will post a trip report here when we are done Monday. Philfood tends to be off the shelf items packaged for two scouts per package per day. Dinner is prepared using the patrol method. During last month's trip were pushing our pace pretty hard and it was warm and we had a scout trip and pass out. For breakfast all we had for breakfast was a packet of oatmeal and a granola bar each so about 300 calories. So we did some research and found that Philmont usually provides about 800 calories for breakfast and about 900 each for lunch and dinner. The food is not light or compact.

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