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Thread: 2021 sobo

  1. #1

    Default 2021 sobo

    Put it off this year, but will take a great deal to make me do so again. Will be 58 this year, not ancient, but not a spring chicken. Am taking an unpaid leave to do the hike, not going to run, but will make more getting back to work sooner than I can save economizing on the trail. Iíll be solo.

    1. I understand Katahdin trail opening varies year to year. Is there anyway to have a sense a week or so out? Or a month? I can leave things to pretty much the last minute at work. I want to start early to capture as many hours of daylight as possible. Getting extra miles night hiking doesnít appeal to me. If I canít get KSC site for night after,Iím cool paying up for extra night in town.

    2. Iíll assume the Covid impact on the 2021 cohort is net neutral. How often would you guess Iíd be able to sleep at shelters by myself or with one other? I prefer them for the get up and go aspect in the morning.

    Thanks for any wisdom

  2. #2

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    1) June 1st is generally a safe bet.

    2) hard tell'en, not know'en. Impossible to say. If there is anyone left alive next spring, it could be very busy with pent up demand. Generally there will be few others in Maine during June (bugs, rain). It would depend on how many others think +/- June 1st is a good time to start and how quickly others bail (a lot do, Maine is not forgiving), along with relative pace. Once into NH it will get very busy. Then in the south it will get less busy as the heat drives people off the trail. At some point you'll pass through a big bubble of NOBO hikers.
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  3. #3

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    On the date, I’m wondering how far in advance one can guesstimate the trails opening. And what sources one might use to do so. I’d think that by mid-April or so you’d have a sense of the snowpack, etc. if you could predict with 85% confidence that “Trails will open in the next 7 days”, then I would head to Millinocket. Going to try to take Amtrak, so trip from Chicago takes a couple days.

    On the shelters, I will assume an average number of hikers of all types for that time of year.

    Both questions oriented towards more hours of hike time per day; the first via more days with maximal sunlight, the second via quicker camp set up and breakdown.

    All of this probably a symptom of too much postponement induced daydreaming!

  4. #4

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    Maybe TJ aka Teej will see this thread as the opening date is something he posts about yearly. If you search there are archived threads stating the date, how many I am not sure. June 1 is a good estimate IMO though. It seems BSP is generally conservative about opening (not particularly early). If you plan on riding Amtrak, I have found it generally cheaper to get your tickets as early as possible as the rates are usually cheapest further out, particularly if you are interested in a sleeper. Occasionally sales run though.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  5. #5

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    May 15th is the absolute earliest Baxter will open. More often then not, its at least a week later. Pretty hard to guess unless you live there.

    If traveling by Amtrak, definitely book at least a month in advance. Chicago to Boston is a popular route, so you may have to book 6 weeks out to be sure. I've traveled a lot by Amtrak, mostly to Florida and back but also to Colorado and Montana. If you book last minute you pay an extra $100 or more depending on what's left. I've gotten hit by that a few times when I suddenly decided it's time to go home, like the next day.

    Buses have the discount fare about week out. Midweek is cheapest. Traveling by bus isn't the most pleasant way to go. I'll do an overnight, but no longer. They often have to be used as connectors though.

    It's worth putting the Greyhound and Amtrack apps on your phone. Electronic ticketing and all that.

    Due to the above, planning on June 1 is prudent. Once you buy the ticket, they are pretty generous in allowing a refund or schedule change nearly up to the last minute. Trust me, you really don't want to be in Maine any earlier then June 1st anyway and later would be better. Maximum daylight occurs end of June.
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  6. #6

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    I’m looking at 15+ hours of daylight, and brighter twilight late May in Maine, vs 10+ in N.C. late Oct. All things being equal, two days earlier start in the north shaves off three at the south end. I’m generally planning on 1 June, but if it looked like an earlier year, say 20 May, I would be all over that. Would save me 5 days. I’m giving up salary by the day to do this.

    Pretty armchair at this point. But as Louis Pasteur said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind“

  7. #7

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    Having ridden both Greyhound and Amtrak multiple times, I would definitely recommend Amtrak. You can sleep the entire time except when making a connection. On Greyhound you have to get off the bus every two to three hours for around a half hour, even if you are still riding the same bus. While the first time all the prison stories on the bus might be interesting, it gets old pretty quick. With Amtrak it is also easier to keep your pack with you.
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
    Richard Ewell, CSA General


  8. #8
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    do a flip - flop.

    start in harpers going north - have trail legs prior to hitting nh/me, have a known start date, amtrack going directly to the trailhead, assurance that baxter will be open.

  9. #9
    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    Default SOBO hike

    Sounds. Like you are playing your time frame kind of close. Trying to save a day hear and there and being concerned with the amount of day light hiking hours.

    I have thru-hiked at a advanced age, 66 years old, and know you canít hike using a tight schedule. Starting SOBO in Maine in early June is like coming up to bat with two strikes against you. In my estimation, at your age and starting in early June, your chance of finishing a true thru- hike would been less than 10%.

    Rethink your stated plan. Consider a flip, flop hike. It would increase your chances of finishing and it would be a better adventure for you.

    HankIV;2273180]Put it off this year, but will take a great deal to make me do so again. Will be 58 this year, not ancient, but not a spring chicken. Am taking an unpaid leave to do the hike, not going to run, but will make more getting back to work sooner than I can save economizing on the trail. Iíll be solo.

    1. I understand Katahdin trail opening varies year to year. Is there anyway to have a sense a week or so out? Or a month? I can leave things to pretty much the last minute at work. I want to start early to capture as many hours of daylight as possible. Getting extra miles night hiking doesnít appeal to me. If I canít get KSC site for night after,Iím cool paying up for extra night in town.

    2. Iíll assume the Covid impact on the 2021 cohort is net neutral. How often would you guess Iíd be able to sleep at shelters by myself or with one other? I prefer them for the get up and go aspect in the morning.

    Thanks for any wisdom[/QUOTE]
    Grampie-N->2001

  10. #10

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    D2Maine and Grampie, thanks for the flip flop idea. Certainly appeals from a scheduling standpoint. And I know the logistics are easier, as last summer I took the train to HF and sectioned to Port Clinton. Somehow for my first thru though, I relish the concept of an end to end.

    I don’t have a hard end date or timeframe, but am looking at ways to be efficient with my time off.

    I should have mentioned I’m in pretty good shape. Not carrying a belly. I know it will take me a week or two to get my trail legs.

    If I have to slow it down and take an extra month, so be it. But absent catastrophic injury or family emergency... I’m finishing. Still have my USMC mission orientation.

  11. #11

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    Hi Hank!
    Dates a trail up Katahdin has open can be found here: The 2020 SoBo’s Guide to Baxter and Katahdin

    Until 2019 a trail up had opened before June 1st every year for over two decades. 2019 was wicked wet and the Park's new trail steward delayed the opening til mid June. 2020 had other issues, and the Park itself didn't open til July.
    I always suggest the first week of June as the earliest target SoBo start date.

    Have fun planning!
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  12. #12
    Registered User Water Rat's Avatar
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    June 1st (depending on the virus) is a pretty good target date. Though, this past June, the trails most likely would not have opened to allow a June 1st start date. There was still too much snow. That is mostly due to the May 9th snow where Katahdin saw around 12" of snow (it was snowing on the coast of Maine, too). Spring can be an iffy time in Maine. It will all depend on how much snow we see this winter and when winter decides to let go of its hold on Maine.

    Baxter does a pretty good job of communicating when they think the trails will open, but their predictions tend to fall closer to a week out, rather than a month out. It will all depend on spring snows and when the trails are ready (after the thaw and melt) to be opened for summer use.

    You shouldn't have a hard time getting shelter space in June. The thru-hikers have mostly not arrived, and there usually are not a lot of June SOBO starts. The water crossings tend to be running high, the bugs are plentiful, and the trail is often muddy. Of course, these are observations from a normal year. In addition to the weather, the virus and people who put off their hikes this year will possibly impact what is normal for the trail.

    Flexibility in plans is probably a good idea. A flip-flop hike might be a wise choice considering the possible logistical (park opening date, virus) hurdles. Maybe make a Plan A, and a Plan B. Keep an eye on Maine's winter, then make a decision closer to go-time, if possible.

  13. #13

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    So watch the weather, esp post 1 May and be ready to go. Probably should go ahead and buy a flex fare Amtrak ticket now. Target to start 1 June, but ready to flex. I’ve read of the bugs, will have light colored insect shield long sleeves and legs. Good water shoes for fording. All those daylight hours on the front side of the solstice are just too tempting.

    If odds look good for shelters, might skip my Nemo Hornet 2P for a OR Bivy and save a pound.

    Thanks all for the comments and suggestions.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    So watch the weather, esp post 1 May and be ready to go. Probably should go ahead and buy a flex fare Amtrak ticket now. Target to start 1 June, but ready to flex. I’ve read of the bugs, will have light colored insect shield long sleeves and legs. Good water shoes for fording. All those daylight hours on the front side of the solstice are just too tempting.

    If odds look good for shelters, might skip my Nemo Hornet 2P for a OR Bivy and save a pound.

    Thanks all for the comments and suggestions.
    You might want something bigger than a bivy to retreat to if the bugs are bad, at least until you get out of black fly territory.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    If odds look good for shelters, might skip my Nemo Hornet 2P for a OR Bivy and save a pound.
    Thanks all for the comments and suggestions.
    A few reasons to bring the tent:
    1. On your theme of "maximizing daylight", you may want the tent so you're not stuck to shelters and you can hike further. Some have larger distances between shelters.
    2. Bugs.
    3. Annoyingly loud people (talking, snoring, etc).
    4. You may just get tired of staying there.

  16. #16

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    I wouldn’t go without a shelter alternative, would bring at least a bivy. I have the impression shelters are less crowded SOBO, and I like them for the quicker in and out. Bugs, good point.

  17. #17

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    [QUOTE= If I can’t get KSC site for night after,I’m cool paying up for extra night in town.
    A question. How do you plan to get back to town?

    One option would be to show up at KSC and if Baxter isn't open, hike south to Monson and hitch back to Katahdin.

    For some amount of money you could get a shuttle all the way to KSC.

  18. #18

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    Quote =How often would you guess Iíd be able to sleep at shelters by myself or with one other?
    I prefer them for the get up and go aspect in the morning.

    In my 1999 sobo I didn't have a full shelter more than 5 times. I started south in mid-may. Did not keep count of number of people in the shelter so can't speak to that.
    YMMV

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    If traveling by Amtrak, definitely book at least a month in advance. Chicago to Boston is a popular route, so you may have to book 6 weeks out to be sure.
    Also just recently announced that they would be cutting this train from daily to 3 times per week, likely due to lower demand. No idea how long that might last, but something extra to check on as it gets closer.

  20. #20

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    Thanks Southwalker, esp on shelter use levels.

    And the reminder to go ahead and book Amtrak.

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