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  1. #1

    Default Fall trip in jeopardy?

    I had planned on doing the first 50 miles of the trail with my high school senior in october. I had worked pretty hard in the gym to drop 30 lbs and am pretty stoked for the trip. This is my first multiday trip since I was a teenager so I am a bit rusty

    I'm now pretty worried about going due to the lack of rain. From what I am reading on guthook many sites for water replenishment are dry or going that direction.

    How much water can you carry without being miserable? Is it possible to cache water at road crossings for the first 30 miles?

  2. #2
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    A gallon of water (basically 4 liters) is right at 8 lbs. I've had to carry that much. If my pack is 22 lbs, that bumps it to 30 lbs, but then again I'd expect to carry a liter or two anyway. I'd consider 30 lbs in my example to be very do-able.

    Also, as dry as some sources are, there are almost a few that are running or trickling. So as long as you find out where they are and use them rather than passing them by, you won't die of thirst.

    A HINT: I was in the Smokies on the AT about 3 weekends ago. Guthook listed a lot of whining comments about a particular piped water source being down to a trickle, a "slow piss" as one comment read, I believe. However, then I got there I looked at the upstream end of the pipe and most of the water was running around it, not into it. A very few minutes of repairing the "dam" and the pipe was running right back through the pipe just fine. So, be smarter (more self-reliant?) than some Guthook posters?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    A gallon of water (basically 4 liters) is right at 8 lbs. I've had to carry that much. If my pack is 22 lbs, that bumps it to 30 lbs, but then again I'd expect to carry a liter or two anyway. I'd consider 30 lbs in my example to be very do-able.

    Also, as dry as some sources are, there are almost a few that are running or trickling. So as long as you find out where they are and use them rather than passing them by, you won't die of thirst.

    A HINT: I was in the Smokies on the AT about 3 weekends ago. Guthook listed a lot of whining comments about a particular piped water source being down to a trickle, a "slow piss" as one comment read, I believe. However, then I got there I looked at the upstream end of the pipe and most of the water was running around it, not into it. A very few minutes of repairing the "dam" and the pipe was running right back through the pipe just fine. So, be smarter (more self-reliant?) than some Guthook posters?
    In GSMNP, if the water source is high up on the mountain (like many of them are along the AT thru the park), the pipe might be dry, but if you follow the ravine down hill, you might find water there.
    I know this happened to me the one time I camped at site #113 (1st campsite along the AT coming out of Fontana).

    It was a dry October and the park service was warning hikers of the possibility of water sources drying up. When we got to #113, the piped water source was dry. But I simply followed the ravine down hill somewhere between 100' and 100 yards and found plenty of water to filter there.

  4. #4

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    I would load 3 or 4 liters in your pack at home and see how it feels. Road crossing are great places to cache water and food but subject to compromise (hide it and don’t forget where you put it) don’t cancel your hike, just get edumacated and make it work!

  5. #5

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    In these kind of late summer droughts---we had a nasty one in Oct/Nov 2016 which burned Gatlinburg killing 14 people---and other wildfires which shut down Kilmer wilderness and gutted Cohutta wilderness in Georgia---the best thing to do is change your itinerary and find locations to backpack which includes 50 miles of trails or loops along significant creeks where you'll always have water.

    Some recommendations:
    Pisgah NF in the Wilson Creek area and along the Mountains to Sea trail including Upper Creek, Steels Creek, Harper and North Harper Creek, Lost Cove Creek and Gragg Prong. A great area for backpacking.

    Cohutta wlderness along the 42 crossings of Jacks River and the 38 crossings of Conasauga River. Won't run out of water down there.

    Bald River and Upper Bald wilderness in TN along Bald River, Brookshire Creek and Kirkland Creek.

    And other places.

    Also---go ahead and carry one of these in your pack just in case you get caught adjacent to a wildfire---makes living in smoke and hiking in smoke much easier.

    surgical-face-mask-500x500.jpg

  6. #6

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    There are people out here section hiking some areas. What section did you intend to do? For an enjoyable experience I highly recommend getting good water info from someone that just hiked that area in the past week. Ask for specific shelters with water.

    You may be able to carry 4 liters but it will suck and you will drink it soon enough. And nothing is quite as demoralizing as carrying 4 liters of water up a mountain only to find a cold, trickling spring.

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    Cache some water and carry plenty and then quit worrying. It's going to rain as soon as you get on the trail.

  8. #8

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    I am going from Springer to Unicoi Gap in mid october. I took my 10 year old up to the top of blood mountain on Labor day carrying 4 liters because I knew that was a dry camp and I wanted her to have all the water she wanted. 2.5 liters would have been plenty for that trip for the 2 of us.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    Cache some water and carry plenty and then quit worrying. It's going to rain as soon as you get on the trail.
    I know how the rain gods work. I considered going without my hammock rain fly. That is guaranteed to cause a downpour not seen since Noah.

  10. #10

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    Don't put much belief on web info. It may be perception, but it is not reality. Plus, if it's coolish weather you won't need to drink much water. Get out on the trail and these things will sort themselves out. It's not like you are hiking in a desert.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pacific_Creek View Post
    I had planned on doing the first 50 miles of the trail with my high school senior in october . . . I'm now pretty worried about going due to the lack of rain. From what I am reading on guthook many sites for water replenishment are dry or going that direction.
    There are water sources, and there are water sources. The springs may be less reliable, but the creeks aren't going to dry up, and the AT crosses a lot of creeks in the first 25 miles. The shelters tend to be located near more reliable water sources as well.

    So there are only a couple of stretches (like Hawk Mtn. shelter to Justus Creek, or Gooch Gap to Lance Creek) where it's more than 3-4 miles between good sources.

    Cross a creek? Pass a shelter? Take a minute to drink some water and fill your bottle. If your pack weight is reasonable (leave the 10 lb. tent and the hardback books at home), carrying 2 litres should be plenty, and 1 litre is probably enough for most intervals.

    Beyond Neels Gap, there are fewer creek crossings, and you'll want to carry more, but by then you'll have a better feel for how much water you're actually consuming and need to carry.

  12. #12

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    Thank you all for the input and calming my anxiety. Looking forward to the trip!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pacific_Creek View Post
    Thank you all for the input and calming my anxiety. Looking forward to the trip!
    A bit more information here:


    "I just got this from the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club: Conditions are very dry but there is water at the better year round sources. No water at Springer nor on the approach trail. Plenty of water at Three Forks, the water fall and most likely at all of the shelters. Remember that there is never water between Hawk Mountain shelter and Justus Creek. Based on history I assume Woods Hole shelter is dry."

  14. #14

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    I generally plan 1 liter per 5 miles for drinking and then add for cooking and cleaning. When it is cooler, that figure is a bit generous but not so much that I reduce it. So, you will be looking at approximately 10 liters for the whole length for drinking plus. You are likely to find one or two water sources in that distance with water. Its dry but not a desert. When you find a water source, fill up unless you are certain of your next water oppportunity. If you get in a real pinch hitch out, find a farm house, quit cooking and hike it out. If you are doing 20 mpd you should be able to make that distance in 2 1/2 days or so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakpro View Post
    I generally plan 1 liter per 5 miles for drinking and then add for cooking and cleaning. When it is cooler, that figure is a bit generous but not so much that I reduce it...
    That sounds like an extremely small amount of water for the average hiker... except for level or easy downhill hikes.
    It seems like I usually use about 1/2 liter of water per mile if I'm hiking up hill (usually GSMNP), and perhaps 1 liter per 2 or 3 miles otherwise.
    Hiking the JMT, I'd say that I likely used about 5 liters per day (averaging 13mpd).
    Grand Canyon National Park's recommendation is to plan for 1 liter per hour.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    That sounds like an extremely small amount of water for the average hiker... except for level or easy downhill hikes.
    It seems like I usually use about 1/2 liter of water per mile if I'm hiking up hill (usually GSMNP), and perhaps 1 liter per 2 or 3 miles otherwise.
    Hiking the JMT, I'd say that I likely used about 5 liters per day (averaging 13mpd).
    Grand Canyon National Park's recommendation is to plan for 1 liter per hour.
    I believe hiking in mid October I will be shielded from the sun by the tree canopy and won't be dealing with temperatures anywhere near what you would see in the Grand Canyon which should decrease what I will need for basic cooking and hydration. It looks like the temps will be in the mid 70s during the day and low 50s at night. I plan on carrying 3 liters the first part of the trip and pickup an extra liter when I resupply (is it extremely soft to resupply after 3 days and 30 miles? Yes, yes it is) at Mountain Crossing for the drier part of my planned hike.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pacific_Creek View Post
    I believe hiking in mid October I will be shielded from the sun by the tree canopy and won't be dealing with temperatures anywhere near what you would see in the Grand Canyon which should decrease what I will need for basic cooking and hydration. It looks like the temps will be in the mid 70s during the day and low 50s at night. I plan on carrying 3 liters the first part of the trip and pickup an extra liter when I resupply (is it extremely soft to resupply after 3 days and 30 miles? Yes, yes it is) at Mountain Crossing for the drier part of my planned hike.
    There's something that happens in the Fall---esp at higher elevations in the Southeast---All the tree leaves are gone and so your normal shady camping spots are now in direct sunlight. This sucks because October daytime temps can be hot and there's nowhere to "hide".

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    Also a good idea to carry something that can work with small sources.

    Having just posted in the Sages post, I remember that the second night of that backpack was at the Race Brook campsite, and being in August we were filtering water (with the older style pump filters) out of what looked like puddles that were what remained of the stream.

    Others who didn't have something like that (or even a small container to collect the water for another type of treatment like the chemical or now the larger bag type filters) would have had probably had problems or suggested there wasn't any water available.

  19. #19
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    We hiked the AT/BMT loop from 3 Forks to Springer yesterday and there was water, but you had to plan. Stover Creek (just down from the shelter of the same name) was running with plenty of water. There was water at the spring at the Springer Mtn shelter, but it was a trickle. I was able to collect from a small pool that had water flowing into it with a shallow cup. There was a report that Black Mtn had water but it was slow. I heard reports that there was no water at Hawk Mtn, but I think that was from people who walked across the dry creek, not 200 yards back to the good spring. Caching water is not a bad idea, but the Army may have some tanks out. There was one at the intersection with Winding Stair Gap road, which leads me to believe that there would be a tank at Cooper Gap as well.

    Yellow jackets. At the Stover Creek crossing right below the shelter there is a next under the rhododendron right next to the bridge. Two of our group got stung, one got hit about 8 times. A couple we met at the Springer Shelter reported about 20 stings after their dog disrupted a nest. As long as it stays warm, keep an eye out and carry some sting kill.

  20. #20

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    Thread Footnote about hornets: This after all is peak yellow jacket season. I got hit on the side of the head and stingkill did nothing---but I still carry an "emergency" stingkill kit in the tiny zipper pocket of my shorts---one stingkill swab and one bandaid to keep the swab in place over the sting until all "juice" in the swab is gone. It provides a placebo effect I guess.

    Thankfully we have a variety of mammals which dig up yellow jacket nests so with slow going and careful looking you can prevent 80% of all backwoods yellow jacket stings. Their dug up nests are easy to see---and usually they become inactive---although don't bet on it---Some examples:

    P1000283-XL.jpg

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    TRIP 125 056-L.jpg

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    TRIP 148 111-XL.jpg

    Trip 193 Pt 2 (81)-XL.jpg

    These are the ones you can see---the little swarming holes are pretty much invisible---and they seem to like to build next to foot trails.

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