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  1. #1
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    Default First AT Hike. Couple of questions and tips.

    First time hiking the AT. Planning for July 28 - Aug 3. NOBO

    Driving from Michigan and staying at Franconia Notch State Park Saturday night. Waking up at 5am Sunday and getting to the trailhead by 6am.
    First question: Parking at Liberty Springs/Whitehouse trailhead. Can I leave my car here for the week? Will I get a parking space Sunday 6am?

    Hiking to Garfield Shelter (10.1 miles) first day.
    Second question: Does this shelter have tent camping? How is it?

    Garfield Shelter to Zealand Falls Hut (9.1 miles) second day.

    Zealand Falls to Ethan Pond (4.8 miles) third day.

    Ethan Pond to Naumann Tentsite (8.3 miles) fourth day.

    Naumann Tentsite to Madison Spring Hut (11.5 miles) fifth day.
    Third question: Too far? Didn't find a good stop before the hut.

    Madison Spring Hut to Joe Dodge Lodge (7.1 miles) sixth day.
    Then take shuttle to Highland Center for the night...shuttle to car next day.

    Hiking background.
    2015 - 100 miles (10 days) at Philmont Scout camp. Including day hike to top of Mt. Baldy (12,400 ft)
    2017 - 60 miles at Philmont. Mt. Baldy again.
    2018 - Cumberland Gap 4 day ridge hike. (cake walk)

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2

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    First question: Parking at Liberty Springs/Whitehouse trailhead. Can I leave my car here for the week? Will I get a parking space Sunday 6am?
    Plenty of parking if you get there at 6 am

    Hiking to Garfield Shelter (10.1 miles) first day. Be in shape for this! It's a trying hike for even a seasoned thru-hiker.

    Second question: Does this shelter have tent camping? How is it? Yes, on platforms. There is a caretaker and fee.

    Naumann Tentsite to Madison Spring Hut (11.5 miles) fifth day. Third question: Too far? Didn't find a good stop before the hut. The only spot is The Dungeon in Lakes of the Clouds Hut about halfway between the two - Do you plan on taking the side trails to all the Presidantials? Be aware that there is a significant increase to you elevation gains and losses if you do.

    Also, the stretch from Zealand to Ethan Pond is the easiest 5 miles in the Whites - You may be able to combine this with the previous or following day's hike.

    Good Luck!
    "I too am not a bit untamed, I too am untranslatable,
    I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world." - W. W.

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  3. #3
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    There's plenty of parking - https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/s...r-parking.aspx Get a good spot early if it's a weekend day (lots of day hikers).

    If the weather is good, a few of those longer days will likely be pretty challenging. If the weather is bad, very challenging, and possibly even a no-go. The elevation gain/loss and the difficulty of the footpath itself is the challenge in NH. Rocks, roots, boulders, slabs, steep trails, exposure above treeline, wind, weather, etc. Make sure you have a warm hat that covers your ears(windproof), gloves, eyewear (walking into 40 mph winds can really mess with your eyes). It can pretty cold above treeline even in mid-summer (low 40's). You also might want to consider hiking up to the ridge to join the AT (on Little Haystack) from Franconia State Park on the Falling Waters Trail instead of taking the AT past Liberty Springs - if it's not raining (can be slippery when wet). It's a prettier trail (follows the waterfalls up the mountain).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepy the Arab View Post
    Also, the stretch from Zealand to Ethan Pond is the easiest 5 miles in the Whites - You may be able to combine this with the previous or following day's hike.

    Good Luck!
    my thoughts exactly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by knemchak View Post
    First time hiking the AT. Planning for July 28 - Aug 3. NOBO

    Driving from Michigan and staying at Franconia Notch State Park Saturday night. Waking up at 5am Sunday and getting to the trailhead by 6am.
    First question: Parking at Liberty Springs/Whitehouse trailhead. Can I leave my car here for the week? Will I get a parking space Sunday 6am?

    Hiking to Garfield Shelter (10.1 miles) first day.
    Second question: Does this shelter have tent camping? How is it?

    Garfield Shelter to Zealand Falls Hut (9.1 miles) second day.

    Zealand Falls to Ethan Pond (4.8 miles) third day.

    Ethan Pond to Naumann Tentsite (8.3 miles) fourth day.

    Naumann Tentsite to Madison Spring Hut (11.5 miles) fifth day.
    Third question: Too far? Didn't find a good stop before the hut.

    Madison Spring Hut to Joe Dodge Lodge (7.1 miles) sixth day.
    Then take shuttle to Highland Center for the night...shuttle to car next day.

    Hiking background.
    2015 - 100 miles (10 days) at Philmont Scout camp. Including day hike to top of Mt. Baldy (12,400 ft)
    2017 - 60 miles at Philmont. Mt. Baldy again.
    2018 - Cumberland Gap 4 day ridge hike. (cake walk)

    Thanks for your help.
    assuming youre staying at zealand falls hut i would suggest doing franconia notch to galehead hut and stay there instead of zealand falls and then to ethan pond the next day.

    its a doable hike. plenty of people will tell you how hard it is, and they arent wrong per se, but it isnt in the realm of super human feat by any means.

    i would also consider lakes of the clouds instead of madison spring. ive done lakes to pinkham in a day and i have to wodner if thats not easier than doing naumann to madison spring.

    of course then you'd be going ethan pond to lakes. might be tough. is there anywhere closer to crawford notch to camp besides ethan pond? memory escapes me and i'm not in a googling mood.

  6. #6

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    Yea, its a tough hike by any measure. Zealand to Crawford is pretty easy, but Crawford to Newman is a killer.

    Tenting in the Whites is on tent platforms. At Garfield, they are big enough for three tents. Self supporting tents work best on platforms, or make sure you have enough cord to get to the tie bolts along the side of the platform.

    The end of July is peak time for the Whites. Early Sunday morning the parking lot will be still be full from Saturday and won't start to clear until noon. A better option is to park at Crawford notch and use the AMC shuttle back to Franconia. The only problem with that is the late start, you don't get back to Franconia until 11 am. When I did that trip in June, I barely made Garfield before dark. I had just come back from doing 300 miles of Northern VA, so I was in top form too.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  7. #7

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    Once you get to Zealand, Ethan Pond is an easy stroll. Garfield to Ethan is a reasonable day and that sets you up better for Newman. Plus you save the expense of staying at the hut, spend that money at lake of Clouds instead to make the traverse easier.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    A better option is to park at Crawford notch and use the AMC shuttle back to Franconia. The only problem with that is the late start, you don't get back to Franconia until 11 am. When I did that trip in June, I barely made Garfield before dark. I had just come back from doing 300 miles of Northern VA, so I was in top form too.
    You barely made it to Garfield when starting at 11am? Or did you start earlier?

    The parking issue was one of my main concerns. I figured Saturday hikers would still be there Sunday morning. That's why I asked.
    Maybe I'll just push it back a day at start Saturday morning. That will give us an extra day on the trail.

    Thanks.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by knemchak View Post
    You barely made it to Garfield when starting at 11am? Or did you start earlier?

    The parking issue was one of my main concerns. I figured Saturday hikers would still be there Sunday morning. That's why I asked.
    Maybe I'll just push it back a day at start Saturday morning. That will give us an extra day on the trail.

    Thanks.
    Actually, the shuttle didn't arrive at the trail head until 12:20 PM. And yeah, took a good 7 hours to get to Garfield. It's 1 MPH trail.

    Everyone knows you have to get there real early on Sat morning to get a parking spot, so everyone gets there real early. There might be a shuttle running from the Canon Mt parking lot, that was set up to keep people from parking along the side of the highway. Not sure if it is still being funded or not.

    Weekends are always very crowded. Pushing it back to Monday would be better. It will still be crowded, but not quite as insanely so. Thru hikers are starting to show up too.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  10. #10
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    You probably already know this, but just in case...
    The AMC huts are pricey! They're not like the free shelters elsewhere on the AT. If you get a one-year AMC membership, you'll get a discount that can pay for itself if you plan well.
    If you have more questions about it, the locals can fill you in.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by knemchak View Post
    You barely made it to Garfield when starting at 11am? Or did you start earlier?

    The parking issue was one of my main concerns. I figured Saturday hikers would still be there Sunday morning. That's why I asked.
    Maybe I'll just push it back a day at start Saturday morning. That will give us an extra day on the trail.

    Thanks.
    I did part of this section last fall. Based on advice received here I started one day earlier in the afternoon, and hiked up Liberty Springs trail to the Liberty Springs campsite. Visited Mts. Flume and Liberty that day, then got an early start up and across the ridge the next day. As a result, I had plenty of time to get to Garfield Ridge campsite day 2. It worked out well.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterQ View Post
    I did part of this section last fall. Based on advice received here I started one day earlier in the afternoon, and hiked up Liberty Springs trail to the Liberty Springs campsite. Visited Mts. Flume and Liberty that day, then got an early start up and across the ridge the next day. As a result, I had plenty of time to get to Garfield Ridge campsite day 2. It worked out well.
    That's an idea. That would help with the shuttle coming in late. Easy first day.

    Thanks

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by knemchak View Post
    That's an idea. That would help with the shuttle coming in late. Easy first day.

    Thanks
    It ain't easy. Short, yes but not easy. Its a serious climb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterQ View Post
    It ain't easy. Short, yes but not easy. Its a serious climb.
    Right. Easy as in short, not intensity. 3 miles instead of 12 for the first day.

    That will be a 3000 foot climb.

    My son and I have done Mt. Baldy at Philmont twice. That was from 8000 ft (campsite) to 12,400 ft. We did that in about 4 hours. The second time we got 3 inches of sleet on the way down. That was not fun. Beautiful hike on the way up and an hour or so on top. Then we saw the clouds moving in and figured we'd better get down. Then about half way down it started sleeting. And had to hike 3 miles or so in that. Painful.

    Thanks

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    There's plenty of parking - https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/s...r-parking.aspx Make sure you have a warm hat that covers your ears(windproof), gloves, eyewear (walking into 40 mph winds can really mess with your eyes). It can pretty cold above treeline even in mid-summer (low 40's). You also might want to consider hiking up to the ridge to join the AT (on Little Haystack) from Franconia State Park on the Falling Waters Trail instead of taking the AT past Liberty Springs - if it's not raining (can be slippery when wet). It's a prettier trail (follows the waterfalls up the mountain).
    Thank you for this tip. We thought about it being cooler, but didn't 'really' think about it. So we'll make sure we bring all this stuff. I took a winter cap the first time we went to Philmont but left it home the second time. I probably would have not brought one this time if someone wouldn't have said something.

    Also, I know if sounds corny, but the whole point of this trip is to do the AT. So I want to stick strictly to the AT path. I was looking at the map and the trail you suggest looks like it would be nicer. Maybe a day hike in the future.

    Thanks

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    You probably already know this, but just in case...
    The AMC huts are pricey! They're not like the free shelters elsewhere on the AT. If you get a one-year AMC membership, you'll get a discount that can pay for itself if you plan well.
    If you have more questions about it, the locals can fill you in.
    Yep, it was a shock. Looks like I can save over $100 (after the price of membership) if I get the family membership. My son and I are going.

    Right now I'm thinking we'll stay at the Highland Center before the hike. Galehead Hut. Lake in the Clouds Hut. Joe Dodge Lodge.

    Thanks

  17. #17
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    Liberty Springs/Whitehouse parking is pretty large. Worse case is go the next exit north and park at the Basin which is 4 times bigger and only used by dayusers. The Liberty Springs trail (AT) is about half way between the Basin and Liberty Spring lots along the bike path. There is avery well rated AT hikers hostel just down the road in Woodstock NH. It would be a shorter drive to the trailhead than the Highland Center. I have heard that the Highland Centers breakfast is great but starts later than most hikers want to wait in the AM. There is no great options for breakfast between the Highland Center and Franconia Notch. There are plenty in Lincoln which is between the hostel in Woodstock and Liberty Springs parking. Planning for water the first day takes a bit more planning. The hike up from the parking lot is flat and level for a bit but once it starts climbing, its straight up slope, no switchbacks just one steep stair climb. Many people get over enthusiastic on this stretch, take it slow or you will regret it later in the day. No need to carry a full load as Liberty Spring has a reliable water source (needs to be treated like all of the whites). Tank up there as there is no reliable water sources until the climb up Garfield. Half of this stretch is above treeline and is easy to run out of water. There is water at Galehead hut but its about 1 mile down and 1000 feet elevation loss. They have good snacks but for many its not worth the walk down.

    Folks do this all the time without staying at the huts. Consider Garfield Shelter to Guyot (about 1/2 mile walk from the AT). Stop at Galehead Ht for snack and refill your water from their source so no treating. Next day Guyot to Ethan Pond, stop by Zealand hut fora snack and refill water from their source (No treat). Note that the hike up From Galehead Hut to South Twin is even steeper than the hike up Liberty and instead of stone steps its boulders. Take you time as once you are on South Twin is relatively flat to Guyot. If you do stay at Guyot its going to be zoo on weekends but there is a caretaker there to manage the chaos. One thing to do is if its nice night is take a short walk to West Bond and watch the Sunset.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 01-25-2019 at 17:48.

  18. #18

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    Great plan, you'll kill it.
    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change". Charles Darwin

  19. #19
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    Thanks for all the info. I was actually sitting here this AM trying to figure out how to get thru the Whites.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    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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