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Mileage planning springer to clingmans

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    • Mileage planning springer to clingmans

      I am looking for mileage advice on hiking a section of the AT this spring in late April to early May. Have about 12 days that I can hike. Would like to go from Springers to Clingmans Dome where my wife will pick me up. That would be 199 miles or an average of 16.6 miles/day. Will resupply by stores along the way and/or a hostel or two. Planning to carry 4-5 days of food at a time. I am an experienced 62 yr old hiker who did a solo 251 mile / 17 day hike on JMT and HST a couple of years ago, which was mostly above 10,000 feet. Once acclimated to altitude, did about 15-22 miles/day. No zero days. On on my 3 resupply days, generally got in 8-10 miles for the day. I like to hike sun up to sun down and during the spring in Georgia/NC, that will be about 13 hrs/day. Have read lots of blogs where advice is usually 10 miles or so but that seems to be a target for those who are starting on the AT as their first hiking adventure. Want to avoid overestimating what is reasonable and so looking for guidance from experienced hikers. Appreciated!
    • Sounds aggressive, but doable. I have not done the JMT or HST, but perhaps some who have can provide a comparison. Waiting until late April/early May should help you avoid some of the potential nasty weather that slows some down in Feb-Apr.

      If you decide to slow down and enjoy yourself some, NOC and Fontana Dam also provide good points for your wife to meet you (and no need to make it a death march). On the other hand if you decide to go even faster, you could finish the Smokies and meet her at Davenport Gap. Lots of flexibility. :)
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • i would never ever, not ever, recommend that someone hike springer to clingmans in 12 days. i would also never recommend that someone plan to hike for 12 days without doing laundry and taking at least 1 zero.

      however -- you seem to be experienced and have covered this distance in the past -- so who am i to tell you that is too aggressive? you know your abilites more than anyone else on this site, so go for it. it's not unreasonable for an experienced hiker who has shown they can do this type of hike right out of the box.

      since your wife will be picking you up, i assume you can be in contact with her during your trip. i'll just point put that the nantahala outdoor center (137 miles) and fontana dam (165 miles) are both easy pick up locations should you decide to dial back your mileage a bit.

      if you have any specific questions about this section feel free to ask.

      edit to add: i assume you are aware of the permit required in the gsmnp and the short no camping zone (without bear canister) in georgia.
      2,000 miler

      The post was edited 2 times, last by max.patch ().

    • great help from astro and maxpatch. seems like there is cell contact along most of the route which allows much flexibility. Only had cell contact on jmt at the resupply stops. that is when i did laundry - overnight stops with hot meal, shower. two places along the trail and once by jumping off trail to a town that caters to jmt hikers. have hike lots in colorado, glacier, alps but no long distances along the AT and so trying to get a sense of reasonable daily mileage expectations.
    • Kevino, what cell phone carrier do you have. I have Verizon and had coverage over 90% of the time. Folks with AT&T did not fare so well. Of course this was 6-7 years ago, so some of the other carriers may have improved.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Kevino, what you suggest is doable, but aggressive as others have stated. You should expect your mileage to be lower in this section than what you experienced on the JMT. The JMT may be high altitude, but once you get use to the altitude it is comparatively easy walking.

      The positive side of the AT being in less a more developed part of the country is that you have lots of options. As Astro suggested, if your pace exceeds expectations, you can hike a bit further down the trail, if your mileage is lower you can adjust and end your hike in Fontanna (for example). Lots of options.

      Hike the pace you are comfortable with and take your time to enjoy the sights and towns along the way.

      Also, you did not say how you were getting to Springer, but if you are using the approach trail you need to add about 8.5 miles to your total, if you are using FS 42, add about one mile.

      If it were me and I were in better shape I might shoot for Fontana Damm in 12 days averaging about 15 miles/day including the approach trail. Of course that would not allow for any zeros or long days in town.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”

      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • I agree with all that has been mentioned. It's doable if you have your trail legs. The AT is conseriably tougher than the JMT. Lots of ups & down as opposed to the gradual elevation change of the JMT. On the flip side, re-supply is a lot more available along with hostels & laundry. I reccomend getting "Companion" guidebook from ALDHA. aldha.org/ You get a free PDF copy when you join, all for $10. Other options are AWOL's trail guide & the Guthook app that many use. If you want , I have some Trails Illustrated maps in PDF I can email you. Just PM me an email address & I will send them to you.
    • as scotty mentioned, you have a couple options for your starting point.

      you can start at amicalola falls state park and hike the 8.8 mile approach trail to springer. getting to afsp is all on paved roads.

      you can start from the parking lot on usfs 42 and hike 1 mile south on the AT to springer and then turn around and, retracing your steps, start hiking north. some people leave their pack in their car for this short 2 mile out and back section. usfs 42 is a 6.5 mile drive on a good forest service road which can be driven on by any passenger car.
      2,000 miler