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3 x 8 week section walks

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    • 3 x 8 week section walks

      Hi, new here. Looking into completing AT over 3 seperate 8 week trips and 3 seperate years. I cant get the time away from work or family any other way. Heading north...what would be the best start date for each leg when considering climate factors? I live in the Tropics in Australia and would ideally like to escape the Australian humid wet summer from Late Nov to start May! Thx
    • Welcome to the Cafe.

      Interesting question. Others can answer better than myself but late November to May is a crap shoot in the south as far as weather and cold. May I ask what is your cold tolerance, your gear limits, and your experience?
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • Hi Stephen, thx for the reply...no experience and no gear. I like the heat more than cold, but a higher priority if achievable, would be to complete each section in a similar climate ie avoiding extrem change from cold to hot or vice versa as this may make gear selection easier. My general fitness is ok as I run frequently and complete at least one marathon each year and did my first ultra last year. No experience carrying anything other than a day bladder. Cheers.
    • let's start with year one.

      i'd recommend starting at springer on april 1. that gives you one month in your desired time frame and one month out.

      many people start in mid march and/or march 1. starting on march 1 puts you hiking inside your desired time frame. it also guarantees you will have cold weather and snow at some point on your hike. people start thrus on march 1 (and earlier) and complete them. but in my opinion it's not optimal.

      for what it's worth i started my thru on may 1. but that's really too late and i wouldn't recommend that anyone else do that.

      caveat -- i hate hiking in snow and cold weather.
      2,000 miler
    • My recommendation would be:
      Year 1 April/May 825 miles
      Year 2 May/June 825 miles
      Year 3 July/August 540 miles

      Believe me there is no comparison between the difficulty of the first 1790 miles and the last 400. So please do not think you can chop it into 3 equal sections. This will still give you 140 miles to get your legs before things start getting tougher.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Astro wrote:

      My recommendation would be:
      Year 1 April/May 825 miles
      Year 2 May/June 825 miles
      Year 3 July/August 540 miles

      Believe me there is no comparison between the difficulty of the first 1790 miles and the last 400. So please do not think you can chop it into 3 equal sections. This will still give you 140 miles to get your legs before things start getting tougher.
      I agree with Astro except year 3 I would be tempted to slide it towards August/ September. Fewer mosquitos. Yes, it can get frosty at night in Maine in September, but the cool fall days are often beautiful. You will know by year three what you can do and what weather you prefer.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Also Soup Dragon, if you grow to like the cold, finishing at Katahdin about October 10th that should have you finishing your hike at right about peak fall foliage. The New England fall foliage is something not to be missed. Of course, the weather could also turn dicey by then.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • max.patch wrote:

      the best time to hike 8 week sections and hiking between december and april are mutually exclusive. you'll need to compromise on something.
      ^ This. ^

      If you break the AT into three sections, you would get the south, the mid-Atlantic, and New England.

      The South - Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and southern Virginia

      Almost certain to encounter snow and below-freezing temperatures through Mid-March. Ill-prepared thru hikers got frostbite in the Smokies this year at the beginning of March. If you pick March and April, you'll need good cold weather gear and a tolerance for spending every day in the cold.

      The Mid-Atlantic - Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York

      I can recall several 2 - 3 foot snowfalls in Pennsylvania that came in March. So there are no guarantees that this section would be fun in March - April. But if you can survive the elevations of the southern section during these months, the Mid-Atlantic should be feasible.

      New England - Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine

      There's still plenty of snow and ice at elevation in this section well into May. Also, the 'official' hiking season in Vermont starts at the end of May. Connecticut and Massachusetts might be OK, but the last three states would be difficult to extremely challenging. So if you want to keep your proposed time frame for all three hikes, you'll need to invest in winter mountaineering equipment (and skills) for this section. I wouldn't recommend it.

      Aesthetically, March is a lousy month to be hiking the AT. Here's a mid-March view of Carvers Gap from Round Bald, just north of Roan Mountain.
      [IMG:https://photos.smugmug.com/Hiking/AT-Section-Hike-32/i-D58jLsH/0/c5b12d4a/L/AT32%20073-L.jpg]

      And here's the same view in July.
      [IMG:https://photos.smugmug.com/Hiking/AT-Section-Hike-32/i-24bLQrb/0/81ad2175/L/DSCN0874-L.jpg]

      It's up to you, but I would rather pick the best two months for each section, not the best two months between December and April for each section.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Crawford Notch NH.