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  1. #1
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    Default Vermont start in May for a flip-flop?

    I'm at the very beginning stages of planning a thru-hike this year. Long been my dream, and with the intersection of good career timing, finances, and need to get away from whatever "normal" is now, it feels right.

    I want to avoid crowds and strain on the trail and to start a little later in the season, so I like the idea of a flip-flop. But I would love to finish on Katahdin - I live in NH and it would be special to end in the Whites and Maine. None of the ATC's recommended flips end north, though. It came to me that maybe a start at the VT/NH border could work, going south and then coming back up to finish NH and ME.

    I was thinking May 1st as a start date. That would give 5.5 months to finish by Oct 15th. Concerns: still mud season in Vermont in May, hiking the South in the heat of the summer, maybe not giving myself enough time to finish.

    Good or bad idea? Is there another way I could do a flip-flop and end at Katahdin?

  2. #2

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    Well, hard to say, but I for one would not want to hike Vermont in early May. Even it it turns out to be a fairly dry spring.

    I'd suggest starting a bit farther south, like at the NJ/PA line in the DWG, which is easy to get to by bus. May is a good month to do PA, but physically going SOBO, a bit of a rough start out of the gate. But still easier then Vermont in May. You should then be able to get to the higher elevations in NC by early July and that helps with the heat.

    It's easy to flip back to the DWG. Being in full thru hiker shape, you'll then get from the DWG to Vermont in no time.

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  3. #3
    Registered User jigsaw's Avatar
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    slo-go'en is spot on stay away from vermont in may.nothin but black flies and mud.
    keep coming south down to the mass or conn line. you wont be sorry

  4. #4
    Registered User jigsaw's Avatar
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    slo-go'en is spot on stay away from vermont in may.nothin but black flies and mud.
    keep coming south down to the mass or conn line. you wont be sorry

  5. #5

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    Unfortunately to this plan, VT closes trails in the spring due to mud season issues. These are combined State closures and requests from the Green Mountain Club to stay off their trails to curb the tremendous damage of hiking in these conditions, especially in sensitive habitat and alpine areas. Typical these closures lift in late may, with May 30th (Memorial Day) being considered a "safe" date to plan hiking activities.

  6. #6
    I plan, therefore I am Strategic's Avatar
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    An honest question on this...why flip-flop? If you're starting May 1st, you'd still have 5 1/2 months to do Springer to Katahdin if you did a traditional NOBO hike and you'd get to end at Katahdin just like you want to. That's only needing to average a bit under 13 miles/day (or just under 15 miles/day if you took a weekly zero day) which is completely doable if you're in decent shape. Indeed, once you get into Virginia and north through the mid-Atlantic states, you're likely to be averaging a good bit better than that in the less challenging terrain and with your thru-hiker legs under you. You're not going to save yourself much in the way of avoiding summer weather by doing the flip-flop, and you won't avoid cold at the end since you're still planning to do late September and October in NH and Maine. I'm not sure what advantage you're gaining by flip-flopping. It just seems like you're complicating the hike unnecessarily for yourself.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strategic View Post
    An honest question on this...why flip-flop? If you're starting May 1st, you'd still have 5 1/2 months to do Springer to Katahdin if you did a traditional NOBO hike and you'd get to end at Katahdin just like you want to. That's only needing to average a bit under 13 miles/day (or just under 15 miles/day if you took a weekly zero day) which is completely doable if you're in decent shape. Indeed, once you get into Virginia and north through the mid-Atlantic states, you're likely to be averaging a good bit better than that in the less challenging terrain and with your thru-hiker legs under you. You're not going to save yourself much in the way of avoiding summer weather by doing the flip-flop, and you won't avoid cold at the end since you're still planning to do late September and October in NH and Maine. I'm not sure what advantage you're gaining by flip-flopping. It just seems like you're complicating the hike unnecessarily for yourself.
    Have to agree with this. Years ago, the normal start date for a NOBO was April 15. Then as the trail got more crowded, and to a lesser degree as cold weather gear got lighter and winters became milder, people started leaving earlier. Now it seems March 15 is the old April 15. At age 27, a May 1 start should leave you plenty of time for a NOBO (May 1 to Oct 8 = 160 days = 13.7 mpd avg) You'll miss the crowds of earlier starters and start in better spring like conditions rather than end of winter weather, and you won't catch up with the NOBO carnival until it's thinned out.
    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.

  8. #8
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    Thanks much all, this is the perspective I needed. My start date of May 1 was kind of a shot in the dark trying to balance finishing at Baxter in reasonable time while not starting too early for spring in New England. I could start anytime between Apr 15-May 1. I'll rethink a flip-flop starting further south, or a late NOBO. Good argument for the latter.

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