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  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX Aggie View Post
    ...from all the stories I hear just as a casual observer is that the Smokies during the bubble are just simply a nightmare. I’m not going to debate the merits or issue with the policies except to say that IF I were to ever do a thru hike, avoiding the bubble in the Smokies would be priority #1 for the first section of the trail.

    It's not just the bubble AT times. Offering some greater perspective, GSMNP is stated as the most visited NP in the country. The AT through GSMNP is the most used trail. Assemble experienced GSMNP hiking opinions such as 800 milers - TN Hiker, HooKooDukoo, etc. Many if not most will tell you they restrict hiking the AT. GSMNP is SO SO MUCH MORE than the AT. Hiking/backpacking, even relegated to the east, is SO SO MUCH MORE than the AT. Tipi says it as well. The AT is NOT the center of the hiking/backpacking world!

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX Aggie View Post
    ...from all the stories I hear just as a casual observer is that the Smokies during the bubble are just simply a nightmare. Iím not going to debate the merits or issue with the policies except to say that IF I were to ever do a thru hike, avoiding the bubble in the Smokies would be priority #1 for the first section of the trail.

    It's not just the bubble AT times. Offering some greater perspective, GSMNP is stated as the most visited NP in the country. The AT through GSMNP is the most used trail. Assemble experienced GSMNP hiking opinions such as 800 milers - TN Hiker, HooKooDukoo, etc. Many if not most will tell you they restrict hiking the AT. GSMNP is SO SO MUCH MORE than the AT. Hiking/backpacking, even relegated to the east, is SO SO MUCH MORE than the AT. Tipi says it as well. The AT is NOT the center of the hiking/backpacking world!

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TX Aggie View Post
    ...from all the stories I hear just as a casual observer is that the Smokies during the bubble are just simply a nightmare. I’m not going to debate the merits or issue with the policies except to say that IF I were to ever do a thru hike, avoiding the bubble in the Smokies would be priority #1 for the first section of the trail.

    It's not just the bubble AT times. Offering some greater perspective, GSMNP is stated as the most visited NP in the country. The AT through GSMNP is the most used trail. Assemble experienced GSMNP hiking opinions such as 800 milers - TN Hiker, HooKooDukoo, etc. Many if not most will tell you they restrict hiking the AT. GSMNP is SO SO MUCH MORE than the AT. Hiking/backpacking, even relegated to the east, is SO SO MUCH MORE than the AT. Tipi says it as well. The AT is NOT the center of the hiking/backpacking world!
    At the risk of doing it wrong, would it be more enjoyable to hike the BMT from Springer and continue on the AT after the Smokies? And I know it's not a novel idea, but a way to avoid overcrowded shelters and chewed up trail.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by devoidapop View Post
    At the risk of doing it wrong, would it be more enjoyable to hike the BMT from Springer and continue on the AT after the Smokies? And I know it's not a novel idea, but a way to avoid overcrowded shelters and chewed up trail.
    I apologize for my ignorance of that area, does the BMT not run thru SMNP? Different rules vs AT? (Not trying to be an ass, I honestly donít know.)


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  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX Aggie View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by devoidapop View Post
    At the risk of doing it wrong, would it be more enjoyable to hike the BMT from Springer and continue on the AT after the Smokies? And I know it's not a novel idea, but a way to avoid overcrowded shelters and chewed up trail.
    I apologize for my ignorance of that area, does the BMT not run thru SMNP? Different rules vs AT? (Not trying to be an ass, I honestly don’t know.)


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    I just meant if the crowds are the problem and they are concentrated on the AT in March and April, why not take another trail through the Smokies.

    For what it's worth I met an early starter at Overmountain red barn last February and I'm pretty sure he said he started early because that's what worked with his schedule.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX Aggie View Post
    I apologize for my ignorance of that area, does the BMT not run thru SMNP? Different rules vs AT? (Not trying to be an ass, I honestly don’t know.)
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    The BMT goes through the Smokies, mostly at a lower elevation. So far as I know there are no shelters, only campsites. Per GSMNP rules, you would not qualify for the relaxed AT thru-hiker rules, so you would have to get a reservation for each campsite you use.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by devoidapop View Post
    I just meant if the crowds are the problem and they are concentrated on the AT in March and April, why not take another trail through the Smokies.

    For what it's worth I met an early starter at Overmountain red barn last February and I'm pretty sure he said he started early because that's what worked with his schedule.
    Yeah, I get that part I just didnít know if the restrictions in SMNP applied just to the AT or on all the trails.

    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    The BMT goes through the Smokies, mostly at a lower elevation. So far as I know there are no shelters, only campsites. Per GSMNP rules, you would not qualify for the relaxed AT thru-hiker rules, so you would have to get a reservation for each campsite you use.
    Thanks for the info. That sounds like even more of a PIA than using the shelters.


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  8. #68
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    I wonder if starting TOO early could cause the hike to be longer due to more time needed off trail due to inclement weather such as snow and ice.

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    The BMT goes through the Smokies, mostly at a lower elevation. So far as I know there are no shelters, only campsites. Per GSMNP rules, you would not qualify for the relaxed AT thru-hiker rules, so you would have to get a reservation for each campsite you use.
    One shelter, Laurel Gap. By my count 20 backcountry camp sites.

    I wonder if the ATC would consider the BMT through the Smokies as a legitimate alternative to the AT through the park. And still consider it a thru?

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmitchell View Post
    One shelter, Laurel Gap. By my count 20 backcountry camp sites.

    I wonder if the ATC would consider the BMT through the Smokies as a legitimate alternative to the AT through the park. And still consider it a thru?
    I doubt they would consider such a thought without buy in from the NPS and the Benton Mackay Trail Association.

    If memory serves it has been discussed here, and it was stated that The BMTA was not on board with becoming an official alternate AT.

  11. #71
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    For a good recent AT winter perspective, check out The Legend of Tear Drop on YouTube, as he hikes through PA this winter. There's nothing like sleeping in an OLD 16 degree bag when it's -10 to -20 in the snow. FYI: This may not be "family friendly" due to language. However, this is the real world on the AT.

  12. #72
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    my take: feb in southern AT is 90% nice days

    July on the AT, other than maybe the N 400 miles is 90% sucky hot

    I will gladly trade more of the former for less of the later

  13. #73

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    Last year's Reddmage, from LA, started 'round Feb. 5, and as a first-timer newbie non-party hiker did some of his hike just fine in winter. He was very inspiring to me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9BnzcwxRdA

    Nothing that I know of to do with him, but maybe all this talk about BSP limits contributes to the problem.

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidNH View Post
    I wonder if starting TOO early could cause the hike to be longer due to more time needed off trail due to inclement weather such as snow and ice.
    Often yes.
    Most people don't budget two weeks in town before gsmnp, but it happens. And they run out of money. Often they make no faster Pace than people that start later overall.

    Then there's people who have to leave the trail permanently due to things like....frostbite damage of fingers and toes. Or even hospital visits b they slipped and hurt themselves.

    Can really just depend on what weather you hit.

    But to me they probably have a very unique and interesting and adventurous time if they stay in the mountains and try to weather out the storms as opposed to running to town

    There's people that can do it though there's even people that will thrive in the conditions when they get bad. Quite a few other people though will have their tail handed to them and slink back home. To me that's their decision. Especially since they're old enough to use Google and know what they're getting into..

    The hiking vikings sobo deep winter hike was nothing short of amazing. Some people can do really incredible things. Far more people however think they can do incredible things ,and are wrong.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 02-10-2018 at 03:42.
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  15. #75

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    A couple people have speculated about completion rates for people who start early and about how long early starters take to complete the trail. Here are some numbers that address those questions -- first, an estimate of completion rates for different starting date groups:

    8% -- January or earlier
    19% -- February
    19% -- March 1-7
    24% -- March 8-14
    24% -- March 15-21
    31% -- March 22-31
    31% -- April 1-7
    29% -- April 8-30
    28% -- May or June

    This estimate was taken from this post:
    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/115608-NOBO-start-dates-and-completions?highlight=

    Second, completion times for those who do make it all the way to Katahdin, by start date (taken from one of the comments to this article: https://whiteblaze.net/forum/content...ion-by-Section) -- notice that the earlier successful completers start, the more zero days they take:

    Zeros~~~Total Days~~~Departure Date
    26.0.............170.2..........Jan. 1 -- Feb. 24
    23.3.............174.2..........Feb. 25 -- March 10
    21.1.............173.2..........March 11 -- March 24
    18.4.............167.4..........March 25 -- April 7
    16.1.............151.0..........April 8 -- May 20


    Last edited by map man; 02-10-2018 at 09:59.
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by devoidapop View Post
    At the risk of doing it wrong, would it be more enjoyable to hike the BMT from Springer and continue on the AT after the Smokies? And I know it's not a novel idea, but a way to avoid overcrowded shelters and chewed up trail.


    This is what several non confined to, non infatuated with the AT typical NOBO hiking itinerary box have suggested. In context of a very early start, which is what this thread was originally about, this could and IMO should be considered because as said the BMT route is generally at a lower elevation making for perhaps less severe winter weather. Comparatively the BMT is much much less used and competition for CS's and the two shelters is hence much less than anything on the AT.



    The BMT crosses or connects with the AT in several places so one doesn't have to take the BMT entirely, rather than the AT, all the way from Springer to the northern area of GSMNP if they don't want. They can take piece(s) of the BMT as an alternative. For example, just taking the alternative BMT through GSMNP. This has already been well mapped out and logistically analyzed. The ATC and in general the hiking community have not officially recognized this in 2000 mile certificates or AT NOBO thru-hikes though. I wish they would. All of this has been discussed several times on WB and several other sites. This already occurs to various degrees on the CDT and PCT. I sincerely hope it never changes on those hikes.



    Another worthy less cookie cutter early starting NOBO alternative is starting on the Pinhoti Trail that connects to the BMT that connects to the AT. It doesn't have to take a longer time/much longer time overall to do it either. Again, all the stuff is in place to do it other than the willingness "stuff" inside a hiker to veer from the cookie cutter mentality.


    This more accurately reflects how the AT was envisioned by its founders...as a part of a larger interconnected trail system. The AT was but one "super trail "part of this system.


    This is some of what I was thinking about when stating earlier, "and, if they(early starters) are aware of it(higher drop out rates) how are they, if they are, addressing it for their individual attempts?"

  17. #77
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    Thanks to MapMan for posting those stats. They confirm much of what was stated. They are revealing. Early starters who are desiring to complete thru-hikes/their hikes, have very frugal budgets, very narrowed or set timeframes, limited or no winter LD hiking experience at a generally higher east coast elevation, etc. might(should) consider them.

  18. #78
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    Iíll take the cold over the crowds any day.


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  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    I’ll take the cold over the crowds any day.


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    So says the Floridian probably laying in his Pawleys hammock warm with sunshine on his face.

  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    So says the Floridian probably laying in his Pawleys hammock warm with sunshine on his face.
    Haaaaaa....you must be psychic! Actually chilling in my new Dutchware chameleon with the pup...itís a balmy 75*....as soon as my UQ gets here Iím headed out for a lil section to beat the crowds!


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