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  1. #1
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    Default A few questions from a brand new thru hiker

    hello! Im a Virginian looking to start NOBO from Georgia in early March, and have a few questions:
    1. I would like some cold weather gear suggestions. Im good on shoes, socks and pants; mostly the upper layers are what im wondering about.
    2. If anyone knows about foraging along the trail that would be splendid to hear about
    3. What qre some of the unexpected things y'all wished you knew when you started that I may miss?
    4. Anything else that comes to mind to ask a new thru hiker

  2. #2

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    OK, I'll start.
    1/ Check out Ghost Whisperer down "puffy" type jacket. Mine keeps me warm when I stop.
    Also a gore-tex (or similar) shell for rain/wind. I use Frogg Toggs unless I expect snow, then it's goretex. You might want to start with the heavier goretex and then switch to the Froggy's when it warms up (say after Hot Springs, NC)
    2/ You probably won't have time for this although knowing something about botany and edible plants might help for things like mint, witch-hazel, but picking ramps (wild onions) is not a good idea as there are so many other hikers out there, you all will probably deplete anything that hasn't been already. Leave no trace is a good philosophy, and it includes picking wild plants.
    3/ weight is everything. If in doubt whether to bring something along, leave it home. You can always have it sent later, but starting out lightweight will save your knees/ankles/ etc. No extra clothes, just what you plan to wear the first day is my motto.
    4/ weight is everything (read my #3/)
    And as LoneWolf says: It's just walking. (hope you like to walk, it's important)
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  3. #3
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    I have used a mid weight fleece and rain jacket, fleece long johns, hat and gloves as my upper 'warm' hiking layers. A down puffy as my at camp, sleeping, and sometimes starting out the day warmth (but takeoff before sweating). Those got me through single digits no problem, however I am pretty well cold adapted. Also cap where you will start your day going uphill, this will warm you faster. The fall back position if one gets too cold, is you want to be able to set up your tent, get in, take off any wet clothes, and have a dry set that is warm enough with your sleeping bag to keep you cozy and wait it out a bit. In that it is important to keep your down puffy dry and that includes sweat. Your worst condition you should be prepared for is 30F and pouring rain, that is far worse then 0F and snow.

  4. #4

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    1. A outer water/wind proof layer, a fleece layer and a polypro layer next to you skin. Add a cap/balacava that can cover your ears and some mittens and you are golden.
    2. Foraging won't provide you much. Other than the occasional ramp, mushroom and wild berries, you won't seem much. Most of the edibles get eaten by the folks in front of you.
    3. Lighter is better.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmax4 View Post
    hello! Im a Virginian looking to start NOBO from Georgia in early March, and have a few questions:
    1. I would like some cold weather gear suggestions. Im good on shoes, socks and pants; mostly the upper layers are what im wondering about.
    Worn upper layers as others have suggested. Sleeping bag and pad that will keep you warm down to 10. You can trade out to a warmer weather bag later in the hike (central VA or so).
    2. If anyone knows about foraging along the trail that would be splendid to hear about
    Foraging is most successfully done at hiker feeds and in the produce section of the supermarket in towns. You will find very little in the way of edibles on the trails, especially in early months, and in many places it's illegal to do so. Vegetables grow on farms and in open fields, not so much in the forest.
    3. What qre some of the unexpected things y'all wished you knew when you started that I may miss?
    The importance of foot care - trying (often unsuccessfully) to keep socks and shoes/boots dry, treating hot spots BEFORE they become blisters, keeping toenails trimmed, etc. Knowing how to make and break camp, light your stove, cook, etc., in windy and rainy conditions. I've seen people who have never set their tent up before trying to do this for the first time on their first night out. It's entertaining in good conditions, but kind of tragic in storms.
    4. Anything else that comes to mind to ask a new thru hiker
    What's your prior hiking experience? This helps people replying to your posts as to explaining, content, and/or the way they need to word their replies. POST A GEAR LIST HERE on WB and let people pick through it. You'll get varying opinions of course, but you'll get a better idea by the amount and nature of the comments what gear will work - and the stuff that simply isn't needed nor suited to your hike. READ the articles relating to gear and thru-hiking here https://whiteblaze.net/forum/forumdi...eased-Articles Then ask more questions.

    There's an old saying regarding thru-hiking - "Lay out all your gear and all your money in front of you - then take half the gear and twice the money".
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 09-06-2020 at 10:58.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

  6. #6

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    If you hike real slow, there are plentiful blueberries in NY during the end of July.

    The biggest mistake new thru hikers make is thinking March is a good time to start a thru hike.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  7. #7
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    Im trying to reach the end of Virginia by the end of May, and I'm in good physical condition (currently work trails crew in northwestern montana hiking with a chainsaw 4 days a week) when do you think I should leave if not March?

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    March is a terrible / great time to start. It just depends on your experience / disposition / outlook / and weather conditions. It could be much better or worst if you leave later. For every one recommending earlier there's one recommending later. I left on April 2nd and the weather was great until then, then I had tornadoes, and several months later a hurricane. But it turned out nice in spite of the calamities.

  9. #9
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    See that's kinda what I was thinking. I think I'm cool to leave in March because the weather in that part of the world is so unpredictable (unless you count relying on it to generally be wet and cold with random warm spells in between until late april early may) that I may as well leave early march and start soon after my birthday (March 4th). Thank you for the input all of you I hope for more.

  10. #10
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    I'm getting a gear list together right now and posting it to the gear forum thank you. I'm pretty well seasoned, I currently work Trails Crew for the Forest Service in NW Montana, which entails hiking around with a chainsaw at least 6 if not 10 miles a day 4 days a week. I haven't been on any week long expeditions in a long time (4 years I'd say) but am perfectly fine with being outside for prolonged periods of time. I have a feeling that the first week-month will be challenging until I settle in and get my habits set, but that I can manage. Feel free to blow that mindset apart though I'm always looking to expand my thinking. Thanks for the input!

  11. #11
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    ^I thru-hiked in 2018 and now I'm on a trail crew in AZ (although recently finished a month-long project up in WY, more your neck of the woods), and I'd say the fitness/lifestyle transfers pretty well from one to the other. I'm on a backcountry crosscut crew so we're in the woods 8 days out of 14, which involves carrying a MUCH heavier pack than I ever carried on the AT, so if you have your thru-hiking gear dialed in, it will feel really easy to carry in comparison! I recently went up to Wind River for a weekend and with a 20lb pack instead of a 45lb pack and trekking poles instead of a 6ft crosscut, I felt like I could fly down the trail! I hiked 19 miles the first day and 12 miles the second day and it felt like a breeze compared to a 10-mile day with saw work.
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hiker
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  12. #12
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    Right on you're doing wilderness hitches then? It's pretty crazy work when you think about it. We're in and out everyday (no camping unfortunately I thought there'd be more) but we BIKED 7 miles in to do saw work just the other day; carried the saws in on a little buggy behind one of the bikes. We're not even wilderness but we're still remote with saws which I'm desensitized to now but its kinda insane when one stops and thinks about it. Definitely feels like I'm floating on the trail due to relativity now. Carrying a chainsaw, a fairly heavy pack with a gallon and a liter of water, 3 liters of fuel or oil and then food gets pretty dang heavy.

  13. #13
    Leonidas
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    If you are thinking about leaving around March 4th, you might as well show up for ATKO on the 5th-7th. You can get a good shakedown there and head out with the crowd.
    AT: 471 mi

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmax4 View Post
    Right on you're doing wilderness hitches then? It's pretty crazy work when you think about it. We're in and out everyday (no camping unfortunately I thought there'd be more) but we BIKED 7 miles in to do saw work just the other day; carried the saws in on a little buggy behind one of the bikes. We're not even wilderness but we're still remote with saws which I'm desensitized to now but its kinda insane when one stops and thinks about it. Definitely feels like I'm floating on the trail due to relativity now. Carrying a chainsaw, a fairly heavy pack with a gallon and a liter of water, 3 liters of fuel or oil and then food gets pretty dang heavy.
    Yep, since it's a crosscut crew, we work in wilderness areas where chainsaws aren't allowed, so all our hitches involve camping. Sometimes it's front country where we're at a campground/trailhead with the truck and trailer and we just hike to the wilderness boundary each day, so we have a lot more resources available at camp, but usually it's back country where we haul everything into a campsite 5-10 miles from the road. Recently finished logging out 13 miles of the CDT near the San Pedro peaks in NM. Fun stuff! During the day I'm usually just carrying food, water, raingear, and tools, so that's only around 15 pounds, but when we're hiking into the back country at the start of a hitch with all our supplies for 8 days, my pack has been up to 50lbs plus carring an axe/crosscut/polesaw/etc in hand. Makes me understand why so many people quit thru-hikes early on if their packs are too heavy!
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hiker
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