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Thread: LT SOBO - Fail!

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    Registered User dudeijuststarted's Avatar
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    Default LT SOBO - Fail!

    I attempted an LT SOBO and grossly underestimated both the terrain and logistics. Having made only roughly 8 miles in 1.5 days, and seeing that I had 5 days left of food and about 60 miles to my maildrop, at this pace I wouldnt make it and am not in the mood to be stressed out. Im jumping off at Jays Peak to visit some AT friends, and glad of it. Phew, what vicious terrain! So...a few questions for WB'ers.

    - What was your LT experience like? Any SOBOs out there? Would love to hear some stories about this trail.

    - I may decide to hike NOBO from where the AT and LT split, as Ive done the AT part already. But where exactly is that, and would that help to acclimate?

    Back to my heaping helping of humble pie!!!!

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    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dudeijuststarted View Post

    - What was your LT experience like? Any SOBOs out there? Would love to hear some stories about this trail.

    - I may decide to hike NOBO from where the AT and LT split, as Ive done the AT part already. But where exactly is that, and would that help to acclimate?


    1. The LT was an amazing PITA. We went nobo, so we could acclimate a little before hitting Maine Junction and the northern section. But it was still the hardest thing we've ever done. We hiked with several other end-to-enders who were long hike vets, all of whom said the same thing. The northern 2/3 of the LT are just plain tough.

    2. The LT splits from the AT a few hundred yards north of the Inn at Long Trail. The first day seemed pretty level, but that 13 miles was one of the worst days we had on the LT

    3. As much as we griped and cursed that $%^& trail, and swore we'd never do anything like THAT again, I'd do it again.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

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    You bailed at Jay? You hadn't even gotten to the hard part of the trail yet. The LT makes you work really hard for the miles.

    The LT/AT split is just north of Route 4, Sherburne pass. 100 miles from Mass and 167 miles from Canada. You have relatively "easy" trail for a day or two. North of Lincoln gap is where most people start to notice things got a lot harder.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    First attempted a LT SOBO hike three years ago in September. Was carrying too much weight and not enough warm cloths. Froze my arse off. Terrain was harder than I was use to hiking. Got off after two nights on the trail. Learned some valuable lessons though. Subsequent AT and LT thru hikes had my gear dialed in and knew what to expect.

    Heading NOBO from Maine Junction would give you a couple days of not so difficult hiking if I recall correctly and help acclimate to the trail and to get your trail legs.

    Dont feel bad. Every hiker who has been hiking for any length of time has cut short a trip for one reason or another. Best wishes.
    "No Worries" 2015 GA-ME; 2016 LT End-to-End

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    The AT peels away from the LT at Maine Junction, just up the blue blaze from the Inn at Long Trail.

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    Registered User dudeijuststarted's Avatar
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    Thanks, glad to know im not alone. Im not dejected, just really surprised. Yeah I jumped off at Jay. Felt ok physically but knew logistically that getting to my first resupply would be murder and i dont want it that bad so I didnt waste any more time. My buddy is still having a go SOBO, Im eating pizza and drinking beer and loving it!

    Only revenge will put me on that trail again. But I did discover Jays Peak Resort, and it has several bars and a friggin waterpark, so i guess i got what i wanted out of it!

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    I thru hike the LT NOBO last summer. I very much appreciated Big Cranky and Dragonfly's excellent Trail Journal. It helped a great deal with my planning.

    At 64, I also wanted to hike the southern end first to help get my legs and lungs in order. I had also hiked the AT/LT section twice (NOBO and SOBO) so I knew what to expect. Many people do not like the LT, I loved it without question and had a grin from ear to ear most of every day. I knew what to expect in the northern section having grown up hiking in NE. I hiked alone, had no plans as to how I would get home from Journey's End, had no time constraints. For example, I took a zero in Stowe just so I could go over Mansfield in good weather. I'm glad I did. I had never experienced a more challanging section then the accent up toward the nose on the AT. I met so many wonderful, interesting people and only one person that "ruined my afternoon" an AT Nobo thru hiker that was so miserable and bitchy, I was about to ask him "then why the hell are you out here". I struggled with blisters on the southern section even though I had hiked many 100's of miles in them and they were the 3rd pair I have owned with never even a hotspot. The LT north of Maine Junction is a different animal, the first climb north of any significance is aptly named Mt. Horrid. I only averaged a little over 10 miles per hiking day but was doing 12-15 mpd north of Killington, a good pace for me. The OP mentioned Jay Peak, my last hiking day, I hiked over Jay Peak in a gale, it was Sunday, I was the only one on the summit, the Tram was not operating, the snack shop not open. I took a picture of the cooler with all the cold drinks, behind the metal security door. I titled that picture "so close, yet so far".

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    Registered User dudeijuststarted's Avatar
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    Great story! Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skinny Rooster View Post
    Dont feel bad. Every hiker who has been hiking for any length of time has cut short a trip for one reason or another. Best wishes.
    True that! As a New Englander, we often hear questions from westerners like "how tough can it be to hike in Vermont? I'd have to dig a hole a thousand feet deep from Denver to get to the top of your 'mountains'" Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine is tough hiking, but that's all I know about hiking. Apparently, when I go south, I'm going to find Shangri-La trails with switchbacks, smooth tread, low grades, food at every road crossing, and no mud. I'm not falling for that trick! I will not expect things to get "easy" once I'm out of New England, so maybe, just maybe, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

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    One of my first hiking experiences years ago was starting at the base of camel's hump and heading north on the LT to Jay (with too much gear). I thought I was a pretty crappy hiker after that, and I sort of assumed that all trails were like that. I switched to canoeing for a couple years after that! I eventually realized that most trail is not that hard, and what I was carrying was terrible.

    Now with realistic expectations and a lighter load, I love going back to that type of terrain. There are not many official trails that challenging that don't suffer from serious overcrowding.

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    LT thru SOBOer and NOBOer and AT thru NOBOer. LT section of the AT NOBO was a breeze. But, was after all in thru-hiker shape already with 1500+ miles in. By far the hardest of the LT starts was starting SOBO. Look at the elev profile. That's telling in itself. There's ample discussion about a LT SOBO being harder from the start so shouldn't have taken you by surprise. What the LT elev profiles don't tell us because they are of too large a scale is the roller coasting of 30 -40 ft elev changes of which there are more on the northern half compared to the more gradual southern half.

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    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    I loved my SOBO LT thru. For me the hardest thing was getting to the northern terminus. After that it was smooth sailing and everything I expected. I challenged myself to finish under 20 days and did it in 18.
    More walking, less talking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dudeijuststarted View Post

    Only revenge will put me on that trail again.
    Revenge is the only thing that got us to the Canadian border.

    Quick story: hitching into Waterbury after coming down the painfully steep, hot, four mile descent from Camel's Hump. We got picked up by a GMC trail maintainer. He told us that the rest of the Long Trail would be a race to try to finish before our bodies broke down. Gee, um, thanks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Migrating Bird View Post
    I thru hike the LT NOBO last summer. I very much appreciated Big Cranky and Dragonfly's excellent Trail Journal. It helped a great deal with my planning.
    Aww, thanks. There's a lot of griping in that journal about trail conditions (and much of it rightfully so), but overall we had a great trip. Sort of the B&B and Craft Beer Tour of Vermont, but on foot. If we ever do it again, we won't have a hard deadline to finish hanging over us -- that wasn't an issue most of the time, but it did force us to make a couple of decisions that I wasn't happy with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye
    Apparently, when I go south, I'm going to find Shangri-La trails with switchbacks, smooth tread, low grades, food at every road crossing, and no mud.
    All of this is true.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

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    "- I may decide to hike NOBO from where the AT and LT split, as Ive done the AT part already. But where exactly is that, and would that help to acclimate?"


    Maine Junction, ball parking it, is around mile 110 of the LT. You get about a 35-40 or so miles into a NOBO LT section hike as you're planning before the real fun starts. You get maybe 2-3 days in on the NOBO LT section to what you might refer to acclimate. Either way the northern most 2/3 of the LT is more difficult than where the AT overlaps the LT in the south. Doing the top 2/3 regardless of direction you should be patient to get your trail legs or better yet arrive for the hike in some heightened level of emotional, mental, and physical state.

    https://www.postholer.com/elevation/Long-Trail/20

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    I'm a bit of an LT addict, with 2 SOBOs and 2 NOBOs completed and and an attempt at a 3rd SOBO starting this weekend. For me, the area in the North does turn out to be much tougher and slower going than it ought to be - at least given the elevation changes and distances. On my first SOBO I was really surprised by how slowly the first 30 miles came. The next SOBO stretch that surprised me was the stretch before Mansfield - coming up and over Whiteface, Madonna etc. from Settlement Road.

    Transport/logistics are tough in the North. People have reported successful hitches in the North, but Johnson has been my northernmost resupply spot.

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    I guess Warren Doyle knew what he was talking about when he told Jennifer Pharr Davis to hike the Long Trail in 8 days before attempting a FKT on the AT.
    Wayne


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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    I guess Warren Doyle knew what he was talking about when he told Jennifer Pharr Davis to hike the Long Trail in 8 days before attempting a FKT on the AT.
    Wayne
    I call the Long Trail the Readers Digest version of the AT. All the hard parts and none of the easy parts. My other saying is "The LT has no mercy".
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Hiked SB in 2004 to Maine Junction to see if we really wanted to go back to the beginning of the AT and start all over for a 2005 AT thru. Turns out that we still wanted to do the AT, but we did NOT want to do the northern LT ever again. A lot of hard work with limited payoffs. Now that I'm older and have more money, I justed hiked hut to hut in switzerland with our 8 year old and 10 year old. I don't know that I could EVER imaging better hiking than there. I can't imagine why we make it so hard here

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    Quote Originally Posted by gravityman View Post
    ...the northern LT.... A lot of hard work with limited payoffs....
    Hmm,... The top 2/3of the LT is the BEST part IMHO...greater long reaching views, state high point, above tree line for a bit, fewer people than where the LT conjoins the AT, fir and evergreen forest, trail apparatus(ladders, etc on Mt Mansfield), closer to Canada where folks tend to be nicely different...

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    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    A few payoffs, but many, many peaks that had no view with huge climbs up and down. Not to say there aren't some. Weather probably plays a big roll for how much you enjoy it as well. We had decent weather except for Mansfield, which was very rainy unfortunately. I know other's loved the LT. We didn't... Unfortunately.. We wanted to...

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