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  1. #1
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    Cool Starting in the bubble, Zero days?

    Hello all,

    Just wanted to ask some former thru hikers here how hard it is to get a bunk/room for zero days in the middle of the pack? Any advise, suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks everyone.

  2. #2
    Nalgene Ninja flemdawg1's Avatar
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    The popular hostels have a good chance of filling up before late afternoon . But there's almost always an alternative place to stay nearby, especially if you don't mind sharing (cabins, hotel rooms, etc.).

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    Nalgene Ninja flemdawg1's Avatar
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    If the hostel is full, they will usually let you pitch a tent. So you can still get a shower, do laundry, do a resupply run,etc.

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    realistically it isn't the zero "night" you have to worry about its the day you get there. Worst case you spend the first night after hiking all day in your tent, and then the next morning someone is going to leave andyou can have that bunk spot the next night after your day of zero hiking.

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    You got to get there early or make reservations if they accept them.

    A couple of years ago, late April in GA I was hiking with another guy. As we approached the Top of Georgia hostel, we called and tried to make reservations for that night. No need for reservations we were told. Of course it was a rainy day and everyone who was there the night before decided to zero and everyone who was at the near-by shelter got there before noon. By the time we showed up late in the afternoon after hiking in the rain for 15 miles they were full. After standing in the rain for half an hour at the road, we finally scored a ride into Hiawassee. The budget motel was full. We finally found one room left at another motel in town for $60. Almost had to spend $90 for a room in the holiday inn. And this was at the end of April, when the big bubble was well ahead.

    So yea, it can be an issue especially if the weather is rotten. As for tenting at a hostel, there maybe some that have that option, but not many that I recall.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #6
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    Zero days, starting in the bubble, tips:

    If you're going to Zero make it a higher quality experience.

    With some hostels that have more limited occupancy even if you do get a bunk late afternoon on a rainy day or after several rainy days or in mixed weather involving snow/ice/rime the best bunks can already be taken. There can be some bunks more desirable. This equally applies to shelters. Wet smelly gear can be laying all over the place - apparel, shoes, packs, and bags scattered around like Hurricane Sandy blew through. Large hostel bunk rooms can resemble a landfill of dirty wet unsanitary pack explosions. This gets more noticeable some 300+ miles into an AT NOBO when it becomes more obvious which thrus disregard the importance of having some personal cleanliness and maintaining gear to a decent standard. Make note of this. Uncared for, abused and old footwear and socks can wreak! Made worse when dirty and wet!

    Observe others at shelters on trail. Trail habits are taken into town and vice versa. Getting to a hostel late in the day can entail experiencing to a greater degree CHEAP arse thru hiker habits like not spending $4 to launder clothes at a laundromat washing clothes and gear in a hostel shower or bathroom. Showers after a bunch of thrus have used it can resemble landfills of debris, scum, discarded used Band Aids, bacteria and fungi. Personally, I value the health of my feet and self more while still factoring in how I impact others. FWIW, foot problems are a major concern to avoid for hikers!

    Sometimes it's better to get a private room to share with 1-2 other thrus that you've ascertained have similar habits. I look for those with light or UL kits(less gear to throw around that takes up less space), carry less consumables(most thrus doing Zeros also use the time to resupply/supplement meaning less food to throw around a space, TIP: look for hotels or hostels that have areas where resupply can be accomplished outdoors possibly under a roof not in the bunkhouse or private room), maintain greater personal trail hygiene, sometimes an older thru(not guaranteed though), someone that displays on trail more than a responsibility to self!, keep their apparel and gear maintained on trail, maybe have some money and own a home, etc to share a room. Take clues! When willing to respect and act appropriately towards all with added awareness of privacy I'm not adverse to sharing a room with a female hiker or two. The many female backpackers I've met, as a group, are cleaner, more aware of personal hygiene and how it and their other habits impact not only themselves but others, and not having the odors that many male thrus gravitate which can carry over to shared room experiences. IMHO female thru's kits tend to be more kept/organized too contrary to what some may assume. Could be a delicate situation but perhaps it can work. I'd often rather take the added $15-40 hit sharing a room with another maybe two or three thrus or sectioners, and overall keep my under a roof in town stays to a minimum reducing in town costs. How? By mastering the Nero and preparing ahead to stay on trail more often in adverse weather we can limit in town Zeros. Some tasks can be accomplished on trail rather than in town. Even if we don't get all those tasks completed it sets us up the next day for doing a Nero. It can save $ and time. FWIW, an AT shelter near a popular cheap easy to get to hostel or motel on the most foul weather days may have plenty of open space as the hostel/in town vortex sucks in more folks than are willing to stay on trail.

    Master the art of the NERO - no in town stay may be required!


    By not gravitating to extremely popular or thru hiker preferred closest to the trail hostels and motels possibly giving greater wt to not adding to the melee when thrus tend to seek those in town under a roof stays you'll be more likely to get a bunk or room. Don't so absolutely associate Zero Days with needing an in town under a roof in hostel or hotel stay. Zero days can be experienced outside the box!

    For myself, LD hikes are approached as a wide corridor experience perhaps as much as 100-200 miles wide. I seek out many activities and experiences that aren't so absorbed always going literally forward in one direction on an unbroken 30" wide tread. Lodging opps extend far beyond the closest to a TH making for greater roof and adventuring opportunities. Dont always do as the masses and you have higher odds of not experiencing what the masses problematically experience. HYOH.

    Bring ear plugs. Lip balm sticks or the small tin of Berts Bees Res Q Ointment I typically have can be dabbed under the nostrils to avoid nasty human "inspired" odors. It's a natural essential oil containing fragrance peppermint lavender, etc. Wakes me up too.

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    I try not to zero in town. But that only works in the warmer months when you don't have to be hiking to stay warm.

    If you want to zero in GA/NC this time of year (March/April), you probably don't want to do it in the woods. Which means motel or hostel depending on where you are. The only problem is the demand is greater then the supply of accommodations for those two months.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
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    If the weather is good and you get there early afternoon it shouldn’t be a problem. There are a lot of cheap hikers who will Nero in and out of town, but if it’s bad more hikers head to town and those already in may decide it’s a good time for a zero. Count me in the latter group. If I’m going to be out for five days and can avoid having my stuff drenched on the first day I will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlsters View Post
    Hello all,

    Just wanted to ask some former thru hikers here how hard it is to get a bunk/room for zero days in the middle of the pack? Any advise, suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks everyone.
    Like others have alluded to
    If you want the cheap bunk room at the best place
    Be quick on your feet and quick with your phone

    If you want the most expensive place
    Not nearly as difficult

    And when weather causes people to stack up in town for a couple of days, there won't hardly be any place available.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    Bring party favors.

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    I would suggest a Nero, walk almost to town, perhaps 3 miles to go or so, camp out then be in town early for second breakfast. You should be able to score a place and get all the town chores done in plenty of time to enjoy everything that a zero offers. Also at about 3 miles to town you know you will be there and you can call ahead the night before to reserve if that's a option.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    I would suggest a Nero, walk almost to town, perhaps 3 miles to go or so, camp out then be in town early for second breakfast. You should be able to score a place and get all the town chores done in plenty of time to enjoy everything that a zero offers. Also at about 3 miles to town you know you will be there and you can call ahead the night before to reserve if that's a option.
    And the Nero can be facilitated by beginning your normally in town tasks possibly while still on trail. It takes discipline. Even if you do wind up with a Zero the next day you'll spend less time doing required tasks having more time to rest, explore the town, hang out in the pub, shoot the shart, help someone, ride a bike, fish, flip out on a trampoline while tanning, gather from the Inn or Hostel garden what you'll eat that night, strum a provided guitar, etc that hostels sometimes provide, whatever, with less on the must to do list. If ya going to do a Zero spending money make the most of it. Getting into town early in the day sets ya up for a quality less stressed by time Zero and easier to obtain bunk or room or if deciding to be more frugal with time and money getting stuff done and heading back out. Doing Neros instead of Zeros plays into a less expensive and faster hike. Doing a Zero this way frees up resources like time for a wider possible number of different added experiences than always having that gotta make miles mindset. It also keeps at bay the mental and physical boredom that some thru hike quitters state as their reason for quitting. You're in charge if you feel bored! That's on each individual not the trail!

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    What is "nero?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Game Warden View Post
    What is "nero?"
    Nearly a zero.

    When you camp near a town so you can get in early. That lets you do your town chores without rushing and can relax for most of the day.

    Or leave town but don't go too far before camping and spend the rest of the day hanging around in the woods.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Game Warden View Post
    What is "nero?"
    My style near-0, is hike into town about lunch..thats a 10-12 mi day. Spend afternoon eating, resupply, laundry. Good night in a bed, and leave late morning next day after a good breakfast. 3 good meals, good nights sleep, and leave feeling great.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  16. #16

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    Does available transportation factor into these decisions? I'm clueless about how to get to laundry, grocery store, hotel, etc. The AWOL guide obviously lists shuttle services. Hostels often provide this service. Someone may spontaneously offer a ride. So do people just wing it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    My style near-0, is hike into town about lunch..thats a 10-12 mi day. Spend afternoon eating, resupply, laundry. Good night in a bed, and leave late morning next day after a good breakfast. 3 good meals, good nights sleep, and leave feeling great.
    There, he's working out his hike.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Does available transportation factor into these decisions? I'm clueless about how to get to laundry, grocery store, hotel, etc. The AWOL guide obviously lists shuttle services. Hostels often provide this service. Someone may spontaneously offer a ride. So do people just wing it?
    AT Thru hiker Companion lists what's available in many trail towns. Yogi's also does a good job in her TC books which also include a simple map to rent yourself. I'm not sure if she reg updates her AT one. There are other sources that others can offer up opinions on answering your question.

  19. #19

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    We certainly "winged it",with mostly good results. Many motels have laundry available,often grocery store or Dollar General were walking distance away. And then there is Uber.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Does available transportation factor into these decisions? I'm clueless about how to get to laundry, grocery store, hotel, etc. The AWOL guide obviously lists shuttle services. Hostels often provide this service. Someone may spontaneously offer a ride. So do people just wing it?
    Depends on where you are. Some times it's only a .3 or .5 mile walk to get to a store. Those you walk. Some hostels which are close to the trail but far from a store will shuttle everyone staying there to town as part of the deal. Other times you just put out your thumb and hitch. It usually doesn't take too long to get a ride.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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