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  1. #1
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    Default Newer than Newbie

    I have been wanting to do a hike for a while. Other than hiking maybe a mile around in local parks I have no experience, no gear etc. So I am starting from scratch. My plan is to do a section of the APT in North Carolina. Maybe a 3-4 day hike and if that goes well I would like do something longer. What advice would you give to a newer than newbie?

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    Look up local hiking clubs and meetup groups and look for a beginner backpack. You can learn a lot from other backpackers and they should make sure you are prepared.

  3. #3

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    Start with dayhikes. Gradually increase the length of your hikes. When you can hike 12 miles or so, go on an overnight hike with an experienced hiker or group. Go about half the distance each day that you can dayhike, because the weight of a pack makes a big difference. Take your time buying gear. Rent or borrow a pack, tent, sleeping bag etc. if you can so you have some idea what you need/want. You don't want to spend a lot of money for an activity you may not want to continue.

    PS - it's the AT, not the APT.

  4. #4

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    First and foremost never forget to hike at your own speed and YOU are going out to enjoy YOURSELF so nothing else matters. GO and do what you are comfortable doing push yourself go outside the comfort zone but when the little voice says NO listen to it. The better shape you get yourself in the more enjoyable your longer hikes will be. You live in a great place - Find an outfitter that can measure you for the correct size pack. An ill fitting pack will be your worst nightmare. BUY some used gear. People here have great stuff they are getting rid of. Tent's, cook kits, stoves, hiking poles. ect. Find a great pair of Trail running shoes or boots which ever you are comfortable with. It will take a couple pairs to find the right fit. When you find that right pair BUY MANY. As for gear - every person has there options. Me I made list after list - found were price and weight and opinions met and bought- used if I could. again for me buy lite. It's easy to carry 25 lbs not easy to carry 40 lbs.

  5. #5

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    First, wait until next spring. I know it's unseasonably warm in NC right now, but that will change shortly. By the time you get enough gear for a trip, it will be too cold.

    Start looking for deals now. You really don't need much to spend a few overnights on the AT in the late spring or summer when the weather is good. That will keep the pack weight down even if you start out with fairly inexpensive gear.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #6
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MomA2Z View Post
    I have been wanting to do a hike for a while. Other than hiking maybe a mile around in local parks I have no experience, no gear etc. So I am starting from scratch. My plan is to do a section of the APT in North Carolina. Maybe a 3-4 day hike and if that goes well I would like do something longer. What advice would you give to a newer than newbie?
    Get cheap or borrowed gear
    Do an overnight 15 mile hike, easy terrain
    Then next a 3 day 30 mile hike, typical AT

    Still having fun? Go buy some gear. Now youll have some idea what you want.

    Target gear wt, ( base pack wt) under 15 lbs . People here will help.

    Be prepared to spend a sizeable amt of $. Light equpment
    Isnt cheap. Probably closer to $1500 than $500.

    Get the real lightwt bug? How deep are pockets?

    If you stick with it, it WILL cost more $ to buy gear twice, than $$$$ gear once.
    Have at it
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 10-11-2017 at 13:17.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  7. #7

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    IMO, you can't go wrong with working the area around Standing Indian Campground. From there you can take blue-blazed trails up to the AT and make loops to bring you back to the campground. Get some gear and test it out. You can always camp at the campground and get some day hikes up to and along the AT then hike back down to the campground. When you are ready for an overnight, you can park at the backcountry kiosk next to the campground and do an overnight. But you're close enough to get back to your vehicle should you want/need to.
    Last edited by Uncle Joe; 10-11-2017 at 15:04.

  8. #8
    DrL's Avatar
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    Start walking! Trail, street, or sidewalk. I walk as much as I can. Sunday mornings I walk 8 miles round trip for my morning coffee. Great way to clear the mind.

  9. #9
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    Find an experienced friend with extra gear and ask them to take you on an easy overnighter. You'll gain a lot of experience from that one trip, and you'll see if you really want to do three nights.

  10. #10
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    Good advice here. I'm fairly new also, and if I were starting over again, hereis what I would do. First, I would do some day hikes in themountains. Think hikes of 4-6 miles without and then with a pack. Itis really important to get your footwear sorted out before you go on anymultiday effort. I need a fairly stiff sole with a rock guard to keep myfeet from bruising on rocks. And you need to find out how to avoidblisters. Generally, trial runners won't do it for me and I use moresubstantial footwear. Remember, most of the people on this board are veryexperienced and super strong hikers. Also, it is hard to find experiencedhikers who will go as slow as I do and if I try to compete with other hikers my feet will be sorry. Then I would arrange a series of longer day trips (slackpacking) where you don't carry a large pack, take a shower each night andgo about 8 -10 miles a few days in a row. There are hostels and shuttle providers who canhelp you with this. Then, go for a 3 day hike, such as the StandingIndian Loop. During this whole time, I would not plan on one inch morethan 10 miles in any day. Less would be better. For me, theStanding Indian Loop was challenging. I would try hard to get my equipment sortedout before I had to carry it on a multiple night trip. You can buy or borrow used equipment until you find out what you need. First, it is amazing howlittle food you need, I hardly ever carry a stove and don't want much food at all when I'm hiking. My last hike I took two 16 oz containers of trail mix for three days and had most of one uneaten at the end of the 3rd day. As to equipment: 1. I'd find a cheap used tent, like a eureka solitaire, and then plan to sleep in the shelters using the tent only occasionally. 2. I'd get or borrow a 20 or 30 degree down sleeping bag with the understanding that the bag will be good to about 10 degrees over the stated temp. 3. I'd get a thick inflatable pad but no more than 1 pound. Or, if you want to economize on the pad, then get a thinner 3/4 length inflatable pad and put it on top of a full length blue closed cell foam pad from Walmart. That is pretty comfortable together and you can buy a used 3/4 length thermarest pad pretty cheap on ebay. 4. Finding a pack that suits takes some experimenting. I don't know any way around it. You don't want the weight on your shoulders. I'd suggest a backpack that has less volume so that you can't take too much gear. By the time you get to the top of Standing Indian Mountain you will wish to have carried less gear.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by MomA2Z View Post
    Maybe a 3-4 day hike
    You want to try a 3-4 day hike and sleep out while on the trail?

    If so, you're really talking about two separate but related activities . . . Hiking and camping out.
    The hiking part has been covered pretty well . . . don't try to go crazy fast, find footwear you like, try to keep your pack weight down. The camping out part is a bit tougher because you have so many choices. Remember that the more stuff you bring to make yourself comfortable in camp, the more uncomfortable you'll be carrying it all on your back on the trail.

    Whatever you choose for camp; tent vs tarp vs hammock, quilt vs sleeping bag, cooking pot vs freezer bag cooking vs stoveless, I'd suggest you try it out on some overnights in the backyard where there are more bailout options.

  12. #12
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    What is the APT?
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

    .

  13. #13
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Madness.
    While you’re walking here, there and everywhere, get your hands on The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher. Editions I, II or III. Do not go looking for the equipment that is in those books. Focus on the philosophy and the on trail day to day routine of backpacking.
    Do pay attention to Fletcher’s explanation for sleeping gear selection. He says more in a few sentences than you’ll ever get online.
    Get going and have fun!
    Wayne


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    Deep in the East Texas Rainforest.
    "Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been." Grateful Dead

  14. #14
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    PS:
    I have tried to get several friends to go backpacking with me. They were all in much better shape than me.
    The first question they ask: “How will I take a shower in the morning?”
    When I stopped laughing, they didn’t want to go backpacking.
    Find out early which person you are.
    Good luck! It’s great out there beyond electricity.
    Wayne


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    Deep in the East Texas Rainforest.
    "Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been." Grateful Dead

  15. #15
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    The learning curve will be more enjoyable if you can find others to hike with on those first few hikes. Learn by doing, by observing, asking questions, taking careful risks. The people you hook up with may also help you with gear to borrow or buy for cheap - we all have gear to hand down. Lots of good resources online, or pick up a good book, like "The Complete Walker" by Colin Fletcher.

  16. #16
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    I agree wholeheartedly. Walk whatever you have around you. PReferably in nature setting. Bike paths, trails, sidewalks. Walking is the beginning of a healthy lifestyle and at the end of the day it all comes back to walking. You're a human being, you should enjoy it - it is what we were meant to do with our bodies! I'd offer this alternative point of view, too. Maybe try some car camping to see if you like that aspect of it. Find local people who enjoy it and are willing to teach. There are hundreds of FB groups, if you're into that. Here is a great place to ask for advice. Find what you like. Find what you need to learn and learn it. Take every chance you can to put in a little 2 to 5 miler in the woods around where you live.
    Hiking is the best teacher, it grades on a curve.
    AT miles: 105 / Total miles: 616.65
    - all past age 50
    Author of "Human Scale Happiness"
    Sometimes I blog at http://jimgarlits.com


  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    . . . Be prepared to spend a sizeable amt of $. Light equpment
    Isnt cheap. Probably closer to $1500 than $500. . .
    Muddy Waters started out with what I thought was good advice until the above statement

    I disagree heartily!

    I own 10's of 1000's of $$$ in gear. . . please don't remind my wife. I love lots of it and much of it is great stuff.

    BUT, getting to less than 15 lb base weight on under $500 in gear is very easy to do. Getting there for under $300 is doable if you start off planning trips for the months of May - Sept, are willing to spend time learning skills, are lucky enough to already own some modicum of clothing that is not cotton, and are willing to check out some local thrift stores for some things.

    Then, once you've got workable and affordable gear, save up for the key pieces of gear that allow you to push into the shoulder seasons or a few more luxuries that you have decided are important to you.

    Much of your gear can be used in general living, so the cost isn't even a backpacking cost so much as a new pair of pants and underwear that you can use in daily living, but is different material than the cloths you habitually buy. So, such gear maybe doesn't even quite count as backpacking expenses, just redirected living expenses that you would be spending anyway.

    Is it time to start yet another dirtbagging ideas and skills thread?

    Most importantly, go out and have fun in a determined and persistent way.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  18. #18
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rafe View Post
    The learning curve will be more enjoyable if you can find others to hike with on those first few hikes. Learn by doing, by observing, asking questions, taking careful risks. The people you hook up with may also help you with gear to borrow or buy for cheap - we all have gear to hand down. Lots of good resources online, or pick up a good book, like "The Complete Walker" by Colin Fletcher.
    I’m not alone on “The Complete Walker”.
    Wayne


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Deep in the East Texas Rainforest.
    "Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been." Grateful Dead

  19. #19
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Backpacking Fabrics 101:
    Shun cotton.
    Silk, wool and synthetic fabrics are your friends.
    Personal examples:
    September in the Colorado and Wyoming Rockies. Low temperature to mid-20s.
    Hiking -
    Lightweight long sleeve knit synthetic shirt under ventilated long sleeve polyester fishing shirt.
    Nylon long pants.
    Darn Tough ankle high wool running socks.
    Very wide brim nylon hat.
    Sleeping. Packed in plastic bags and never allowed to get wet.
    Midweight long sleeve knit synthetic shirt.
    Lightweight synthetic longjohns.
    Nylon running shorts.
    Wool socks, fleece pullover, gloves and hat if needed.
    That’s my clothing list.
    Wayne


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Deep in the East Texas Rainforest.
    "Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been." Grateful Dead

  20. #20
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    ADDENDUM:
    Oops! I forgot my down vest which was replaced by my new Christmas present yesterday:
    The Bangledeshi Un-puffy Non-hoody down sweater.
    Wayne


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Deep in the East Texas Rainforest.
    "Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been." Grateful Dead

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