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  1. #1
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    Default First 100 mile plan

    Hi all
    Iím new to WB and searched this question to no avail. Maybe I just searched incorrectly or the question is just too ridiculous to ask, but hereit goes
    Iím doing a NOBO thru hike at 65 years old. I was wondering-if some of the experienced ď seniorĒ hikers could share what they actually did on the first 100 miles of the AT. Iím starting at Springer ( pics w family etc) on March 29 th ( my birthday ).
    Daily mileage ( and hours walked)
    Camping sites
    Re-supply places
    Zero or Nero day (s)
    Weather issues, temps etc
    I would like to make myself a loose plan for the first 100 and figure things will fall into place after that
    Appreciate your thoughts
    Kevin ( no train name yet)



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  2. #2

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    Welcome Kevin!
    I am not a senior hiker, but there are a lot here

    My non senior hiking advice would be to start the trail with no plans. I would suggest getting the Guthooks app, it will show you all waypoints from resupply to water sources and camp sites, road crossings and shelters. If you start March 21st there will be plenty of other thru hikers to start with and plans can evolve as the days go by.

    As the days go by, walk until you are tired, not to an expected destination. If your body only says 8 miles for the day, only do 8. The longer you stay on the trail, the further your body will allow you to go in a day.

    Good luck on your hike and keep an open schedule, it will lead to less disappointment.
    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 12-19-2018 at 10:21.
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  3. #3

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    My suggestion, set up a few slackpack days with a local outfitter. Then if you want to switch to backpacking do it later in the week. We slacked the entire state. Lot to be said for gaining that initial elevation up the approach trail with a daypack on

    Be careful on one aspect of Gambit's other wise good advice, some folks put in way too many miles on the first day. Its better to take a short day the first day and see how you feel on the second day then ramp it up.

  4. #4
    Garlic
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    I think it's curious you picked 100 miles as a metric. That's the number I use when new hikers ask my advice about getting ready for a long hike. I suggest they go out and hike at least 100 miles to learn their bodies' requirements for water, rest, and food. I think that's a good "shake down cruise."

    I don't think the AT should be your first 100 miler. Just setting foot on the AT is a major commitment in time and money from you and your family.

    Your hiking experience isn't clear from your post, so please forgive me if I read it wrong.

    I think it's good to have a plan, but be prepared to throw it away on Day 1. Battle plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy.

    Are you aware of the journals in Trailjournals.com? You may be able to find hikers in your demographic and experience level.

    Good luck with your plan.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  5. #5

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    No 2 people are exactly same.
    Age is not a equalizer here either.

    I hiked with a 67 yr a while back, on his 2nd thru hike of the CDT. He outhiked me when he wanted too.

    GA has plenty of water, road crossings, cell service, shuttlers, and people.

    Just start walking with 3 days food and 1 L water. By the time you get to neel gap youll have it figured out , and probably be hiking with a few people.

    If you have any issues call a shuttler to pick you up, or hitch from a road crossing.

    But yeah, figure out if you CAN hike , before do too much dreaming. People from 18 on frequently cant due to knee pain, etc.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 12-19-2018 at 11:02.

  6. #6

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    In my experience, both as a thru hiker and as someone who has lived close by the AT most of his life, I think the number one thing most aspiring thrus aren't prepared for is the sheer physical exhaustion that they face every day - day after day. For many, the realization of what hiking the trail is "really" like hits them around Neel's Gap and they call it quits there.

    My question is this: if you've never done a long distance hike (especially if you havent done a long hike in the last 10 years or so), how do you know that this would be an enjoyable experience? If you have, then great, you probably dont need a bunch of advice from us in that case.

    But if you haven't, then why not make that a priority? Get out this winter and do a bunch of shake-down hikes on ground that has terrain that mimics the AT. If before you head out for your thru hike, you've successfully completed and week-long hike in rugged country and you still like it (and your body has held up OK) then I think you will have dramatically increased your chances of success.

    I never cease to be amazed at the number of folks whose first significant hike is their attempted thru hike - and while a surprising number of these selfsame people are successful the vast majority are not. Presumably, one of the principle reasons you're going to hike the AT is because you really, really like backpacking for long periods of time thru the mountains. If you're not certain this is true of you - give it a serious try first.
    Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    My suggestion, set up a few slackpack days with a local outfitter. Then if you want to switch to backpacking do it later in the week. We slacked the entire state. Lot to be said for gaining that initial elevation up the approach trail with a daypack on

    Be careful on one aspect of Gambit's other wise good advice, some folks put in way too many miles on the first day. Its better to take a short day the first day and see how you feel on the second day then ramp it up.
    Do I have experience? Yes and no, I was an Eagle Scout and did lots of hiking. At 20 years old did Clingmans to Bear Mt NY. Got the fever to do the entire thru hike but life got in the way. Iíll be the class of 2022 so I have plenty to prepare which I am doing now. I havenít really hiked much recently but have completed many, many marathons, a few ultras and three Ironmans. Iíve read some trail journals but most have been young bucks doing 16 miles on day one! This isnít going to be me. I just wanted to tap into some older (realistic) folks
    I remember vividly the first 100 was the hardest


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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by MyMusclesHurt View Post
    Do I have experience? Yes and no, I was an Eagle Scout and did lots of hiking. At 20 years old did Clingmans to Bear Mt NY. Got the fever to do the entire thru hike but life got in the way. I’ll be the class of 2022 so I have plenty to prepare which I am doing now. I haven’t really hiked much recently but have completed many, many marathons, a few ultras and three Ironmans. I’ve read some trail journals but most have been young bucks doing 16 miles on day one! This isn’t going to be me. I just wanted to tap into some older (realistic) folks
    I remember vividly the first 100 was the hardest


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    With that amount of experience, even some of it 40 years in the books, you will do great. I would be focusing on fine tuning my gear, pack weight, and relearning my body and its capabilities as a senior versus how you performed at 20. Sounds like you have the right mentality, and you know from ultras and marathons that it will be painful sometimes, and suck sometimes. Perhaps you could select a shorter trail to complete between now and 2020 like the sheltowee, BMT, Pinhoti etc to give you the gist of thru hiking. basically it is going to be aexactly like your Clingmans to Bear Mt hike except logistics will be much easier than they were 40 years ago, pack weight will be much lighter, and there will be many more people.

  9. #9

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    It all depends on what kind of shape your in when you start. If your 40 pounds overweight, most of the walking you do is from the couch to the fridge, and your popping twelve different pills, then the first 100 miles will be slow and painful. If your in excellent health, in really good shape and have years of hiking and camping experience, then the first 100 miles is a breeze. Most people will fall somewhere in between.

    There are three major stops in the first 100 miles. First is Neel gap, second is Hiawassee and third is Franklin. Most people will spend a night at each one of these places. Maybe two depending on weather. Getting back on the trail when it's raining takes a lot of will power, especially at an advanced age. I like to take a zero after the first 10 to 14 days. I'm about due for a rest by then.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  10. #10
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    Keep your pack light and your expectations low.

  11. #11
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    I started the trail in 2016 as a LASHer. and did 325 miles and came back a few months later and did another 207. If that experience will help, you can take a look at my blog to see what I did. Not all your questions will be answered but maybe some will. Blog address is below in my signature lines. When you get to the "Appalachian Trail" blog click on the "2016 April" link under "Appalachian Trail Hiking" on the right side of the page. The blog is sorted by the latest dates to the earliest dates, so you will have to go to the bottom of the last page to see the first entry (page numbers are at the bottom of each page).
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
    Blog - www.tonysadventure.com

  12. #12
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    I was 55 when I did my thru, but I don't consider myself a senior. I spent the night before starting at the former Hiker Hostel with 4 other retirees, 3 who were my age and one about 10 years older. Josh at the hostel told us when he dropped us off to not go too fast and not too far for a week or two. I followed his advice for several days until I found my rhythm. Of the 4 of us who started only one other hiker and myself finished. One hadn't hiked for 20 years or so and was carrying too much weight. He made it to the Smoky Mountains. One went home for his son's graduation after a month on the trail and never returned. The oldest of us 4, who was attempting his third thru, quit around Franklin.

    I don't believe that one needs to have a backpacking resume to be a successful thru hiker, regardless the age. I agree that many who quit did not realize how tough physically and mentally hiking day after day can become. If you are healthy and have somewhat physically fit and like living in the woods, I think you will have a good chance to finish. The trail today is such that it is easy to resupply and reinvigorate by jumping off temporarily.
    More walking, less talking.

  13. #13
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Download Mr. Tarlin's resupply article that can be found on this site. Couple that with Map Man's hiking mileage statistics, also available here, and you are set as far as planning. Buy a guidebook, any of them work, and just go for it. I created a spreadsheet based upon the above two sources and it was all the planning that I did (maybe 3 hours worth of work). If you would like I could send this to you as well as an edited version of Mr. Tarlin's resupply plan. My particular plan was for a 5 month hike but if you take the larger number in the article it probably equates to a 6 month plan. PM me if you want this information.

    Businesses in the resupply article are probably dated by now but the fundamental plan is sound.
    Lonehiker

  14. #14

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    I started overweight, out of shape and recovering from a broken foot. I was in shape prior to the foot break. I started in early March from Springer with a group of 10 hikers or so who'd spent the previous night at a hostel. A couple of people just flew away never to be seen again. I caught two of the speedy hikers at Neels Gap, where they were recovering from massive blisters.

    I managed 7 miles a day, which conveniently put me at the early shelters/tentsites. I didn't move fast, I stopped for an hour each day at lunch and aired out my feet. I was fairly exhausted on some days. I carried far too much food, which translated to far too much weight which didn't help either. The first four days I was trudging, and not particularly hungry. The next four days, I put in about the same kind of mileage, but I felt capable of hiking longer into the afternoon.

    Within a month, I'd shed some of my excess weight and felt far stronger, and put in a few more miles per day. By two months, I was putting in an average of 15 miles per day and feeling good about it.

    Start slow. Avoid any hint of blisters. There will be early opportunities to get off the trail for low mileage days. Take those opportunities earlier, rather than later.

    My hiking buddy for the first few months was a 70+ year old guy, in better starting shape, but unused to climbing.

  15. #15
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    Not on the AT, but I hiked the Wonderland Trail (a bit under 100 miles with a lot of elevation gain and loss) a couple of years ago at 64. It took my son and me 10 days. I'd suggest getting your routines for cooking, sleeping, etc. in order first. Also get your gear sorted out. You may want some different choices than you used 50+ years ago.

    Mostly I suggest lightening up your pack, to the extent you are comfortable. Many clothing items are much lighter and better than what we used decades ago, especially footwear. Also, you can't start out too slow. Beating yourself up is no fun. On the WT we met a couple (twice, as the were doing the loop the other way) who were 65 and 75. They had a 14 day itinerary, and seemed happy and strong both times. That should be you.

    Take advantage of you location. From your home you can get to Harriman State Park and do a few short shakedowns. Winter is often not bad there, and the shelters may suit you.

    Mostly, have fun.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  16. #16
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    Lots of great advice above. I'm surprised I haven't seen this yet. BUT . . .

    My #1 suggestion, neah, my #1 plea: keep your first two weeks of hiking days shorter than you want to!!!

    Probably the greatest cause of failure in long distance hiking, for those that have the mental fortitude to succeed and have managed to train to a reasonable level of fitness, is overuse injury caused in the first two weeks of hiking. Getting your body hardened, especially those of us that that are a bit older, takes time, about two weeks to get past the first bit. Out minds and bodies both are ready to go and push hard for a few days. The problem is kinda like long distance running. If you start off as fast as you think you can and want to, you won't make it for the whole run! No matter how hard it is to do it and no matter how how frustrating it is to do it, hold back for the first two weeks.

    Good luck.

    Have fun!!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  17. #17

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    There's no way around it. Those of us who are now in the geriatric club just have to plod along the best we can. In my 30's it took 2 weeks to become a lean, mean hiking machine. In my 60's it's more like 4 weeks. At which point I start to think maybe I've had enough and it's time to go home.

    There's another potential issue and that is illness.
    It's pretty easy to pick up something while traveling in the early spring while mingling with lots of strangers.
    Starting out with a bit of a cough can blossom into a serious chest cold pretty quickly. That's what happened to me last time I went to Springer in the spring. It was a week of cold rain, which made what ever I picked up hit me big time. I'll spare you the details, but I had to call it quits at Hiawassee.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Welcome Kevin!
    I am not a senior hiker, but there are a lot here

    My non senior hiking advice would be to start the trail with no plans. I would suggest getting the Guthooks app, it will show you all waypoints from resupply to water sources and camp sites, road crossings and shelters. If you start March 21st there will be plenty of other thru hikers to start with and plans can evolve as the days go by.

    As the days go by, walk until you are tired, not to an expected destination. If your body only says 8 miles for the day, only do 8. The longer you stay on the trail, the further your body will allow you to go in a day.

    Good luck on your hike and keep an open schedule, it will lead to less disappointment.




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  19. #19
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    Default First 100 mile plan

    Quote Originally Posted by MyMusclesHurt View Post
    Hi all
    Iím new to WB and searched this question to no avail. Maybe I just searched incorrectly or the question is just too ridiculous to ask, but hereit goes
    Iím doing a NOBO thru hike at 65 years old. I was wondering-if some of the experienced ď seniorĒ hikers could share what they actually did on the first 100 miles of the AT. Iím starting at Springer ( pics w family etc) on March 29 th ( my birthday ).
    Daily mileage ( and hours walked)
    Camping sites
    Re-supply places
    Zero or Nero day (s)
    Weather issues, temps etc
    I would like to make myself a loose plan for the first 100 and figure things will fall into place after that
    Appreciate your thoughts
    Kevin ( no train name yet)



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Iím 50 and my wife is older than me.

    We did the following on our first time out on the AT:

    1. We planned for 10-12 miles a days.

    2. We used a combination of Guthookís iPhone App and AT Trail guide to locate water camping, etc. Ultimately we stayed at/near shelters in our tent.

    3. We planned resupplies every 2-3 or 3-4 days to reduce our overall carry/weight.

    4. We tried to take a zero every resupply just to recover a little.

    5. Typically it takes an hour to break camp/eat breakfast and typically the same amount of time to setup/prep, eat dinner.

    6. So if you average 1.5 miles an hour including breaks, etc and you walk 6 hours you can do 9 miles. If you walk 8 hours you could do 12 miles. Iím not a fast hiker and easily averaged 2-2.5 miles an hour.

    7. Do some day hikes and weekend hikes/camping to get your gear sorted out.

    8. Have Fun and Live a Lifetime in Every Step.


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  20. #20
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    Kevin,

    First of all, I think that here on WB, in deference to Another Kevin, you should be known as Yet Another Kevin.

    I started the AT this year at 64 and it aged me, I had my birthday on the trail. I did the southern half of the trail.

    Everybody's advice above is good, though I take one exception. My military and professional required a plan, but I agree that the plan didn't survive contact with the trail (apologies to van Moltke) but having a plan and understanding the hike provided flexibility in the execution. When I started planning my hike I didn't know anything about when or where anything was. I started planning my hike in 2013 when I bought the Thru Hikers Companion, then the 2015 and 2018 AT Guide and Guthook's app. I lurked here and on Trail Journals, read all the books, listened to podcasts, you tubes. Like lonehiker, I used mapman's and Baltimore Jack's articles to guide the planning, made a spreadsheet, etc. I wrote everything I learned (rocks, climbs, good/bad shelters/tenting spots, resupply places, etc) in my AT Guide, that helped with daily planning. (I'd sell it to you but I still need it to finish the trail.)

    Below is the info that you asked for:

    8 April - Slackpacked SOBO down (Mama didn't raise no fools) the steps on the Approach Trail ( 1.1 miles )
    9 April - Top of the falls to Springer Mountain ( 7.7 miles, 6.3 hours, tent )
    10 April - Hawk Mountain Shelter ( 8.1 miles, 6.2 hours, tent )
    11 April - Gooch Mountain Shelter ( 7.6 miles, 5.8 hours, tent )
    12 April - Lance Creek ( 8.2 miles, 5.4 hours, tent )
    13 April - Neel Gap (7.2 miles, 5.2 hours, Mountain Crossings hostel, mail drop )
    14 April - Low Gap Shelter (11.5 miles, 8.2 hours, tent )
    15 April - Unicoi Gap ( 9.7 miles, 5.4 hours, motel at Helen )
    16 April - Tray Mountain ( 5.7 miles, ?, shelter ) (? notes are scant, probably due to cold )
    17 April - Dicks Creek Gap ( 11 miles, ?, Top of Georgia hostel, mail drop )
    18 April - Muskrat Creek Shelter ( 11.8 miles, 7.9 hours, ? ) (? probably tent but not in my notes)
    19 April - Carter Gap Shelter ( 12.5 miles, 7.8 hours, ? )
    20 April - Rock Gap Shelter ( 12.1 miles, 7.9 hours, ? )
    21/22 April - zero at Franklin Baltimore Jack's Place Hostel )

    The hours are hiking hours not total day hours, I took out my breaks, lunch, etc. Total days probably ranged toward 10-12 hours. I usually walked from 0730 to 1800. I am not fast, overall I averaged 12 miles a day (range 7-16 miles) at an average 1.6 MPH (I rarely exceeded 2 MPH). I took short pack off breaks every two hours at first, the interval became longer later in the hike.

    I don't have good notes on the weather but remember mostly good weather except cold pouring rain hiking to Unicoi Gap (main reason we went to Helen) and 27* with light snow at Tray Mountain Shelter.

    I'm currently planning my 2019 finish of the northern half of the trail, PA -> ME, working in lessons learned from this year.


    RangerZ
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    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18-19 AT NOBO 1540.5

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