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  1. #1
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    Default non-traditional start in 2012

    i've been considering other alternatives than starting at springer in april. thought VERY seriously about southbounding, but i want NH and ME as a climax.

    i've been looking at some scenarios on the ATC site. one, called early start, is from HF to ME, HF to GA, starting in may.

    i like this idea but instead, HF to GA, HF to ME, starting early to mid march...maybe april.

    do the easiest section first while getting my trail legs, avoid almost all the crowds, and then after getting to GA, have a normal northbound hike with the thru-hikers who made it half-way, from HF to ME.

    I also want to spend as much time on the trail as possible in decent weather, so i figure starting in mid march south from HF affords me 8 months to end by mid oct in ME.

    though i know this route isn't in any way original, i don't see much discussions about alternative ways to thru.

    anyone see major cons for doing the trail this way?

    thanks

    TV

  2. #2

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    The only con I see is extra travel cost, but on the plus side HF is easy to get to.

  3. #3
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    can anyone tell me what "typical" march weather would be like heading south from HF?

  4. #4
    Maryland Naturalist ddanko2's Avatar
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    "Typical" would be 50's during the day, around freezing at night. But wild temperature changes tend to occur in the VA-MD area, so one day it could be 75 and the next 45. Just be prepared.

  5. #5
    Registered User birdygal's Avatar
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    sounds ok to me I plan on going north first only because I have family up north in NH I plan on visiting for a 7 zero days and live only 50 miles from springer i can end at home plus if I do end up quiting the southern half is a lot easier for me to do in sections

  6. #6
    Registered User nathan2's Avatar
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    I am also considering southbound as I may need an extra month or two to save some money. We'll see!

  7. #7
    Registered User Moose2001's Avatar
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    You'll spend a lot of time by yourself at the start of the hike. Don't expect to see other hikers for a while.
    GA - NJ 2001; GA - ME 2003; GA - ME 2005; GA - ME 2007; PCT 2006

    A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will.
    —SPANISH PROVERB

  8. #8
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    Default

    Kind of related, although I am a section hiker, I live in Philly and have sprayed out from Boiling Springs, typically head South in the spring and North in the Fall. Have completed SW VA to central NH. (Skipped 100 miles in VT this fall due to Irene).

    Agree on the doing the "easier" parts 1st, for me is just turned out that way BUT..........there are VERY FEW easy parts on the AT. Just different degrees of hard.

    Toughest thing I have ever loved this much!

  9. #9
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    You can get good snows in March. And cold snaps until mid May. But I see no reason why you can't go for it if prepared.
    Plenty of hikers in VA though in the spring. But likely they will all be going NOBO. And you will definitely hit the thrus by Damascus south. It can be lonely though for the plain fact they all know each other and you won't see anyone going your way.







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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TV View Post

    anyone see major cons for doing the trail this way?
    I can not think of a single good reason why you would want to consider this. Only negatives.

  11. #11
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    Non-traditional start? The options are endless. I actually did an east to west AT thru prior to starting my NOBO in 2009.
    Last edited by Spokes; 10-03-2011 at 15:47.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by max patch View Post
    I can not think of a single good reason why you would want to consider this. Only negatives.
    and the many negatives would be?

  13. #13

    Default non-traditional start in 2012

    I've been kicking around the idea of starting at Newfound Gap, finishing in ME and then back to Newfound Gap to finish at Springer.

    Starting at Springer is beginning to feel like the movie "Ground Hog Day" for me.



    Quote Originally Posted by TV View Post
    i've been considering other alternatives than starting at springer in april. thought VERY seriously about southbounding, but i want NH and ME as a climax.

    anyone see major cons for doing the trail this way?

    thanks

    TV

  14. #14

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    Like you, I've also toyed with a non-traditional thruhike. I don't mind cold weather but I'd want to avoid hiking in July when heat & humidity and northern bugs are at their worst. Also, May, September, & October are the best months for hiking. A traditional SOBO hike means you don't hike in May whereas most traditional NOBO hikes finish before October. So I've thought about starting SOBO at HF on St. Patrick's Day, finishing at Springer in mid-late June, and starting SOBO at Katahdin around August 10-15 hiking to HF.

    This doesn't work for you since you wish to end your hike at Katahdin. Your approach will work if you're prepared mentally more than physically to tolerate mid-summer's heat & bugs in the Mid-Atlantic.

  15. #15

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    This scenario does not have you finishing in Maine ultimately but one idea would be to hike from Damascus, VA to Baxter SP from April to August and then head down to Springer and hike to VA. You'd have the Virginia terrain to get trail legs on and still not be in the pack of thru-hikers. After you finish New England you could look forward to the less harsh trail grades of GA,TN,NC portions and still have good weather in the early autumn and not be caught up in the pack. Of course, depends if once you get to Katahdin whether you'll want to head all the way down to the southern terminus. There is something about knowing you'll have gentler terrain to hike once you finish Maine.

  16. #16
    Registered User MissMagnolia's Avatar
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    Default starting in Hot Springs

    I'm also considering a non-trad thru-hike in 2012. I can't start till mid-April and I don't want to be rushed, or caught up in the crowds, but I don't want to hike alone either. So right now I'm looking at starting in Hot Springs (or Damascus as a second choice but Hot Springs seems easier to get to) in mid-April and hiking all the way to Katahdin (which I've already hiked). I can summit Katahdin with friends I've made along the way. Then I'll come back down to Hot Springs and head SOBO to Springer.

    I know I won't be able to keep up with the people I meet at first, but I won't be alone and then when I head SOBO I'll be with others as well. I truly hope to avoid the biggest crowds and would rather hike in the south in Sept/Oct than March.

    Does anybody have thoughts on my plan?

    Thanks!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by MissMagnolia View Post
    I'm also considering a non-trad thru-hike in 2012. I can't start till mid-April and I don't want to be rushed, or caught up in the crowds, but I don't want to hike alone either. So right now I'm looking at starting in Hot Springs (or Damascus as a second choice but Hot Springs seems easier to get to) in mid-April and hiking all the way to Katahdin (which I've already hiked). I can summit Katahdin with friends I've made along the way. Then I'll come back down to Hot Springs and head SOBO to Springer.

    I know I won't be able to keep up with the people I meet at first, but I won't be alone and then when I head SOBO I'll be with others as well. I truly hope to avoid the biggest crowds and would rather hike in the south in Sept/Oct than March.

    Does anybody have thoughts on my plan?

    Thanks!
    I like your plan with one minute exception: I'd start at Erwin instead of Hot Springs. Why? Because on the southbound portion of your hike, you need to start 50 miles from the Smokies to qualify as a "thruhiker" and thus avoid the necessity of reserving space in shelters. Hot Springs is less than 50 miles. I recommended Erwin because it's the next trail town. If you want to start near Hot Springs, then obtain a shuttle up to Allen Gap for your start. This is what I did on my '04 SOBO section hike.

    Happy hiking!

  18. #18
    Registered User MissMagnolia's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookerhiker View Post
    I like your plan with one minute exception: I'd start at Erwin instead of Hot Springs. Why? Because on the southbound portion of your hike, you need to start 50 miles from the Smokies to qualify as a "thruhiker" and thus avoid the necessity of reserving space in shelters. Hot Springs is less than 50 miles. I recommended Erwin because it's the next trail town. If you want to start near Hot Springs, then obtain a shuttle up to Allen Gap for your start. This is what I did on my '04 SOBO section hike.

    Happy hiking!
    Thank you Cookerhiker! I never even thought of that with the Smokies.

  19. #19
    Registered User joshuasdad's Avatar
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    TV,

    HF to GA (SOBO) and HF to ME (NOBO) is essentially my itinerary, but I am taking a year--and lot of zero days--to get there. I just want to experience the best of the trail given my circumstances, and if that means doing some sections out of order, so be it. HYOH, so they say.

    If I were to pick a "best" itinerary for me as a "full-time" hiker (which is not going to happen anytime soon), it would be:

    1) Harrisburg, PA (local bus to Carlyle drops off on Route 11, or take commuter bus to Duncannon) to Waynesboro, VA SOBO (somewhat early start, maybe March 15th or so, easy terrain to get in shape)

    2) Then in early-to-mid April, Amtrak to Gainesville, GA (or take bus) for NOBO start at Springer (hiking with the masses, yes, but perhaps a lot more relaxing then going against the grain and needing to pass every...single...hiker...on a narrow trail...) and hike back to Waynesboro, VA.

    3) Then finish up with Harrisburg, PA to Katadhin (via Amtrak from Staunton, VA or bus), getting the best weather for the VT/NH/ME section, and hopefully no black flies. Optimally, you would time things to be in certain towns for festivals (like Traildays in Damascus).

    In short, I would consider using a SOBO portion to get in shape, and then enjoy the rest NOBO.

    "Forty-two"

  20. #20

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    I am also making plans for a non-traditional start. As of right now, I am planning on leaving Harpers Ferry and heading north on April 7th. Once I get to Maine, I have a number of options which I haven't decided on yet. I could turn around and yo-yo, I could go to HF and head south, I could go to GA and head north. But mainly, I just want to avoid starting in springer in April because I don't want any kind of a deadline on my hike.

    The main upside as I see it is good weather throughout. I've matched it up and you hit all the states at the best times to hike(at least according to the ATC website). The main downside is the lack of people. There will others people doing the same thing, very early northbounders, and then southbounders on the way back, but it will be more sparse than doing a normal thru. Honestly, this doesn't bother me, but it might turn some people off.

    Still have to decide which of the three to do after I hit Maine though....leaning towards HF southbound so I'll be with a pack of southbounders and I'll have a mountain finish, rather than a "welp, I'm at the HF train station" finish.

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