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  1. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    The clocks moving forward don't give you any more daylight...
    It just seems that way. There's the psychological effect of it not getting dark at until 7 PM instead of 6 PM.

    But once you get used to rising with the sun and setting with the sun, the O'clock doesn't really matter any more. The real point is the closer you get to the summer solace, the more hours of daylight you have. And the farther north you are, the more hours of daylight you get. The hikes I did in the Canadian Rockies in July it didn't get dark until Midnight, so we didn't start hiking until noon.

    Talk about thread creep...
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  2. #42
    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crushed Grapes View Post
    What was your bubble situation (if any)? I'm starting the second weekend of March, and the appeal of much more daylight/bigger miles is really very attractive.
    The bubble was there but not a big deal after the first few days except for the in the Smokies. I caught the early April starters and with dayhikers two of the three shelters were overflowing. Avoiding Springer, Fontana, Barn near Roan Mtn and other popular shelters helped. I mostly camped near shelters. As long as there weren’t any partiers I didn’t care how many people were there.
    If I wanted to do a fast hike again I’d probably start early May. Though mid late April gave me good enough weather for the Smokies it was still too close to the start that not all the pretenders had thinned from the heard.

    I passed most of the bubble while they were in shelters. If there was another shelter within four miles of where I started it was usually still full when I hiked past or stopped for water. Same for people taking long lunch breaks or stopping early in the afternoon.

  3. #43
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    Food drops have been covered by many. I agree there is a plus an a minus for them. For me, a drop felt like Christmas when it worked out well! Yet, sometimes it didn't (rushing to make it before the PO closed, or making the PO after it closed.... - OR - the WORST: due to my current supplies, finding I didn't need 1/2 the food and just gave it away to others (although there is fun in that - just not cost efficient~). I don't "drop" anymore, unless there is something extremely special, such as meds or vitamins, etc.

    Regarding savings on town stays... I agree that I tend to spend more money when I am with a "pack" - a Trail-family. It is a social time. I can save money by doing my own food (or some of it..to save on ordering as much in a restaurant) and by charming my group to get BYOB (even if we share) to bring back to a room or hostel: cheaper than drinking in an establishment.

    As many mentioned, a "fast hike" later in the season would help with expenses. Start later - at the end of April, but make sure you are in tip-top condition. Many NOBO's start out hiking shelter to shelter (meaning they are only doing 5-10 miles per day) until they get their trail legs on. Get your trail legs on earlier by conditioning. I have found a stairclimber with my pack on is best (Keep your pack weight down - at least below 30 pounds with water and food). I do the step climber with my pack (have the weight down to 21 pounds) for two hours a day in the month prior to my section hikes, and once I hit the trail, I average 10-20 miles each day.

    Good luck!

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crushed Grapes View Post
    What was your bubble situation (if any)? I'm starting the second weekend of March, and the appeal of much more daylight/bigger miles is really very attractive.
    You could:

    Start later. Use the time to get in better shape(physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually), dialed in, and to save up maybe more $$$. Be patient but apply the time wisely with an overall LD plan - YOUR PLAN - rather than a more chaotic Zombieing north towards Mt K - the supposed terminus of the AT - wondering where the next AT lean to is all the time or so and so's pocket UL guidebook or App says is water. Strongly consider limiting or even avoiding the mind numbing data, info, and opining overload sites like WhiteBlaze that overwhelming are based on advice given from the perspective of how someone else has done THEIR HIKE. You might have a greater adventure. Start in shape ready to go bigger from the get go. Better weather. Even more daylight. By not limiting yourself to backpacking during daylight that too can add to MPD Avgs and a faster overall(less total duration on trail) more rewarding hiking experience. Another thing shared many times before. Hike behind the bubble liberated from the Interstate AT NOBO Thru hiker congestion. 90+ at Springer Mt shelter, 8 in line to get H20, two with dogs simultaneously allowing their 'support pets' in the water to ruin and def ; 65- 75 at the Fontana Hilton, you're # 12 waiting to use the bathroom; 85+ at Ed Garvey Shelter. Eek. Might as well do an urban 'hike' through Manhattan. Amp it up as you hit the masses. You'll be way ahead of the curve as you reach the tail. Blast through to get ahead of the masses. This is the agenda of some FKTers and speedier hikers. Don't do as the cookie cutter sheeple do if you don't desire a cookie cutter sheeple experience. BREAK OUT OF THE BOX! So easy to read or say it; so few do it.

    *It's also an approach to a truly frugal thru hike. Frugality of finances, frugality of time, frugality of perhaps fewer town visits that tempt one to spend spend spend,....


    This is not new information. It is not rare information. Consider embracing more adventure; break away from the everything has to be familiar and done before mindset. Don't turn your mind off! That's the cause of many problems...too many sheeple not willing to think outside of the common thru hike norms. That's what's been going on all the way back to Earl Shaffer, Bill Irwin, Grandma Gatewood, and..._______ Space reserved for you IF...

    If WhiteBlaze had been around, as popular, and similar as it currently is Earl, Bill, and Emma may have never did what they did - exhibit creative intelligent will.

  5. #45

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    I will confirm again....the way to hike cheap is hike fast, stay out of town.

    The problem with that, is your on vacation and would like to enjoy yourself.

    Also problem, hiking fast, you cannot carry and eat enough food. You have to binge eat in town when hiking 20+ mpd, or you will waste away.

    If you dont have the money.....wait until you do. Dont plan unrealistically.
    $10-15 /day is easy to spend on trail food, if have a little jerky and couple candy or protein bars. $100/day in town aint hard either. Shoes and gear....another $1000.

    Sometimes its thinking of that cheeseburger, fries, milkskake that gets you to town.

  6. #46

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    A fast hike maybe a more frugal hike, but it might not be the most enjoyable hike. Pounding out consistant 20+ mile days is more physically demanding and results in having to eat more food. You also have to do a lot more camping between shelters to get in those extra miles and that can be challenging. In some places illegal. It's also a much more solitary hike as your not camping at shelters very often and moving faster then most of the others.

    There's also increased risk of injury by pushing hard. Many mishaps occur at the end of the day when your tired. I meet a guy in NY who had been pushing 30-40 mile days for some reason and was complaining his feet really hurt. Turns out he had some serious stress fractures which took him off the trail.

    Maybe, just maybe, you like hanging around the campfire with a bunch of others and just wandering up the trial at a moderate pace. Or wasting an hour or two at a nice vista during the day with no pressure to do miles and miles.

    But I will agree that starting out on the same day as 100 others is pretty crazy. So far I've been able to avoid that. One advantage of being a long distance section hiker.

    Just another one of the many trade offs which has to be considered. As they say, HYOH. Which means find your own pace.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  7. #47
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    Everything is more expensive north of DWG. No more $25-30 hostels up north. Food, transportation, lodging, everything cost at least double of what it cost in the south. Plan your budget accordingly, that is my advise.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    ...Sometimes its thinking of that cheeseburger, fries, milkskake that gets you to town.
    Dang, you forgot the pizza.

    I'll add another ditto
    To mastering the art of the near-o.
    "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

  9. #49

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    First, I'm not complaining about hostel pricing, they're running a business and you are getting a solid value for the cost, you're paying for trail side convenience, and they need to meet their expenses, and make a profit.

    But, for me, I spent a whole lot of my food budget at "cheap" hostels. A lot of them have piecemeal pricing. Cheap bunk. $5 for shower, $5 for laundry, a bit more for shampoo, and detergent. Sometimes these were included, sometimes not. It's entirely your choice what you decide to purchase. It was very easy for me to spend on the more expensive convenience food (Again, I'm not suggesting it was overpriced, because it wasn't. They had to travel, shop, purchase and stock shelves, all very real expenses. ) But, it was considerably more expensive than grocery stores. It's really easy to spend $50 for two meals at a trailside hostel. (in 2016 money) Frozen pizza, ice cream, chocolate milk x2, V8 x2, some nuts, some candy, a couple of microwave breakfast sandwiches, a big stickybun, and literally anything else tasty they have that's a break from dehydrated trail food.

    Then of course, it's very tempting to resupply at that cheap hostel with "more expensive" dehydrated trail food, tuna packs, nuts, bars, and candy, because that might let you avoid another stop at the next town. It might even be cheaper to do so, as it might save you the cost of a shuttle, or it might not.

    Maybe some people had the force of will to eat their packed in Ramen/Knorr sides at the hostels, but I sure didn't. All I'm really saying is budgeting food costs is really difficult when you're eating 5,000 calories a day, losing weight and are really hungry.

  10. #50
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    It's been mentioned once or twice above, but I think it's well worth amplifying the concern. If your idea is to save money by buying bulk and/or less expensive food to be shipped for resupply, the cost of shipping will likely kill any frugal food buying benefits. When you figure $10 to $20 added onto the price of every resupply box you send, plus adding the few boxes you miss or skip because timing of delivery and/or your arrival didn't work out, your savings all just disappeared and may well have become an added expense. Not to mention there is significantly increased workload for your preplanning, prepacking and communicating/coordinating your resupply along with the time and effort of whomever is managing your shipping. If you have access to corporate discount shipping through work so your shipping is about 1/2 what you would otherwise pay, you might make it come out ahead, but at what time and convenience cost?

    Whatever you do, good luck and have fun!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  11. #51
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    I met a thruhiker in his seventies in NH long ago. His theory was hike from dawn to dusk at a slow pace. He would be up and on the trail by the time the sun rose in front of the shelter and would stop to camp right around sunset. He observed that the folks who had stayed with at the shelter would catch up with him in the AM and then he would pass them in the PM at a shelter as he got in his extra hours. If there wasn't shelter near where he was planning to camp he might stop at the shelter for supper to use the water source and the picnic table but he would then put on his gear and keep hiking until sunset.

    A unrelated thought is folks advocate sending supply boxes to places than Post Offices. Remember that the vast majority of those non post office options are in business and will make it quite tempting to spend a few bucks or an overnight. Some legitimately charge for folks who are not staying while some don't really care. There is no option to refuse the package and get it sent forward at any place other than a PO.

  12. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    You could:

    Start later. Use the time to get in better shape(physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually), dialed in, and to save up maybe more $$$. Be patient but apply the time wisely with an overall LD plan - YOUR PLAN - rather than a more chaotic Zombieing north towards Mt K - the supposed terminus of the AT - wondering where the next AT lean to is all the time or so and so's pocket UL guidebook or App says is water. Strongly consider limiting or even avoiding the mind numbing data, info, and opining overload sites like WhiteBlaze that overwhelming are based on advice given from the perspective of how someone else has done THEIR HIKE. You might have a greater adventure. Start in shape ready to go bigger from the get go. Better weather. Even more daylight. By not limiting yourself to backpacking during daylight that too can add to MPD Avgs and a faster overall(less total duration on trail) more rewarding hiking experience. Another thing shared many times before. Hike behind the bubble liberated from the Interstate AT NOBO Thru hiker congestion. 90+ at Springer Mt shelter, 8 in line to get H20, two with dogs simultaneously allowing their 'support pets' in the water to ruin and def ; 65- 75 at the Fontana Hilton, you're # 12 waiting to use the bathroom; 85+ at Ed Garvey Shelter. Eek. Might as well do an urban 'hike' through Manhattan. Amp it up as you hit the masses. You'll be way ahead of the curve as you reach the tail. Blast through to get ahead of the masses. This is the agenda of some FKTers and speedier hikers. Don't do as the cookie cutter sheeple do if you don't desire a cookie cutter sheeple experience. BREAK OUT OF THE BOX! So easy to read or say it; so few do it.

    *It's also an approach to a truly frugal thru hike. Frugality of finances, frugality of time, frugality of perhaps fewer town visits that tempt one to spend spend spend,....


    This is not new information. It is not rare information. Consider embracing more adventure; break away from the everything has to be familiar and done before mindset. Don't turn your mind off! That's the cause of many problems...too many sheeple not willing to think outside of the common thru hike norms. That's what's been going on all the way back to Earl Shaffer, Bill Irwin, Grandma Gatewood, and..._______ Space reserved for you IF...

    If WhiteBlaze had been around, as popular, and similar as it currently is Earl, Bill, and Emma may have never did what they did - exhibit creative intelligent will.
    Are those numbers real???

  13. #53

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    This is one of the best thru-hiking threads I have seen in some time. Really good input from lots of experienced folks. I will add a couple more comments for your consideration.

    There are many reasons on many days to go home. No shame in that. But odds are against you from the beginning, so don't back yourself into a corner. Most people invest a great amount of time, money, energy and passion in getting to the trail. I think going out there with less than $3k would be extremely difficult. Having a $4k budget would be very doable, using some of the tips provided in this thread, primarily moving at a good clip and being cautious about how much time and money you spend in towns.

    At the end of the day, there is no one way to thru hike the AT. If you can imagine it, some crazy person has done it. Hell, one guy carried a tuba. You have to eat and you will need some "rewards" along the way to lift your spirits. Give yourself some latitude for these. It is very much a mental/emotional test. Some of my best memories of the trail were in towns/hostels. Good luck.

  14. #54

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    Meet Grandfather! I met him in 2017 in the Roan Highlands. He claimed that he was on his 3rd AT Thru Hike in a row and he only had 11 more to do after that year. He said every year he allotted himself $1000 for the journey from Maine to Georgia. AND he was quite excited because that year he had an extra $40 to spend because the previous year he had only spent $960. Now that is called being comfortably homeless (IMO) seeing that he intentionally took 7 months to complete the walk every year.
    IMG_5217.JPG

  15. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Meet Grandfather! I met him in 2017 in the Roan Highlands. He claimed that he was on his 3rd AT Thru Hike in a row and he only had 11 more to do after that year. He said every year he allotted himself $1000 for the journey from Maine to Georgia. AND he was quite excited because that year he had an extra $40 to spend because the previous year he had only spent $960. Now that is called being comfortably homeless (IMO) seeing that he intentionally took 7 months to complete the walk every year.
    Nothing wrong with being homeless and a backpacker. As I said, when you're backpacking and hiking and don't have a house or a vehicle or bills associated with these things you can live cheap. Old codgers seem to get this message more than others---I guess they see the value of becoming forest hobos---an honorable title in my opinion. I mean, we're all Neanderthals at our roots---and belong outdoors.

    And Grandfather's 7 month thruhikes is wonderful---the longer the better. Heck, once a backpacker gets social security he can live out permanently and depend on his monthly check for everything.

  16. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Nothing wrong with being homeless and a backpacker. As I said, when you're backpacking and hiking and don't have a house or a vehicle or bills associated with these things you can live cheap. Old codgers seem to get this message more than others---I guess they see the value of becoming forest hobos---an honorable title in my opinion. I mean, we're all Neanderthals at our roots---and belong outdoors.

    And Grandfather's 7 month thruhikes is wonderful---the longer the better. Heck, once a backpacker gets social security he can live out permanently and depend on his monthly check for everything.
    I would like to add that I in no way am judging Grandfather. I think his ability and mental game is rock solid. I don't think I could do it

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthN View Post
    Are those numbers real???
    Yup. Personally experienced. Do consider those are key congregating sites with larger lean tos.

  18. #58
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    We didnít send any resupply boxes to ourselves when we did our thru hike last year and we loved not having to be tied down to a schedule like that although some places are ridiculously expensive (Fontana, Neels Gap etc.). If we would ever do this again (and we wonít!!) we would order resupplies from zerodayresupply.com. As good as sending resupplies to yourself without having to worry about getting sick of oatmeal packets that you thought would be good when you bought 6 months worth of it. (Donít know if I will ever be able to enjoy oatmeal again). We didnít actually get any resupplies through them but there prices seem reasonable. So donít know how they are to work with but may be worth checking out.

    One bit of caution/advice. Gear doesnít keep you on the trail. Your mind does. You might need to spend more than you think on food to keep your head in the game. Itís easy to think you can get by cheap when your not that hungry at home. Half starved on the trail is a little different story!!

    And good luck on your journey!! Itís awesome!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  19. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boardin12 View Post
    We didnít send any resupply boxes to ourselves when we did our thru hike last year and we loved not having to be tied down to a schedule like that although some places are ridiculously expensive (Fontana, Neels Gap etc.). If we would ever do this again (and we wonít!!) we would order resupplies from zerodayresupply.com. As good as sending resupplies to yourself without having to worry about getting sick of oatmeal packets that you thought would be good when you bought 6 months worth of it. (Donít know if I will ever be able to enjoy oatmeal again). We didnít actually get any resupplies through them but there prices seem reasonable. So donít know how they are to work with but may be worth checking out.

    One bit of caution/advice. Gear doesnít keep you on the trail. Your mind does. You might need to spend more than you think on food to keep your head in the game. Itís easy to think you can get by cheap when your not that hungry at home. Half starved on the trail is a little different story!!

    And good luck on your journey!! Itís awesome!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    As far as oatmeal goes---I love it. Never gets old. On trips I often eat it for dinner as it's a change of pace from my usual salty dehydrated meals. Heck, carry 10 lbs of oatmeal and go to a town once every two weeks. Wild edibles also mix well in cooked oats---esp wild mustard greens and violets and chickweed. And a pot of oatmeal accepts cream cheese and/or cheese and butter and peanut butter and almond/cashew butter and honey etc. One more big bonus---You can cold soak oatmeal and eat it w/o cooking. All Hail Therefore the Humble Oat etc.

    Regarding your next quote---
    "Gear doesnít keep you on the trail. Your mind does."

    I read something similar from a guy named Spirit Eagle in his "Thru Hiking Papers". He says---

    ""The Trail isn't about equipment, it's a head game---and a heart game." "If you start The Trail with that realization, you'll increase your chances of finishing immeasurably"

    "Your 'attitude' is infinitely more important than what pack or stove or water filter you're carrying."

    Infinitely more important? Tell that to a winter backpacker at -10F in a 50mph blizzard sitting inside his 4 season tent and wrapped in his -20F down sleeping bag. In such a scenario if I had "attitude" on the one hand and "sleeping bag" in the other, I'd always pick the sleeping bag. Survival is often all about gear and equipment and less about attitude. Just my opinion of course.

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