View Full Version : Appalachian Trail - Thru Hiking ME to GA

10-22-2011, 20:49
Upon completion of a upcoming rotation to ASTAN, I will be parting ways with the Army. My next big adventure will be taking me from Maine to Georgia on the Appalachian Trail. This is an estimated 167 day trip, which I hope to cut down to 150 with any luck.

I'm a active hiker, but only on weekends. I need some advice from anyone who has done long distance hikes. Any suggestions on gear such as boots, tent, pack... whatever advice you have would be helpful.

I have read many articles on this subject but I'm looking to get opinions from others that can explain their reasoning for the choice of gear they use.

Thanks in advance for your input. Also the time-frame for this hike will be as follows: Leaving Maine in the first week of June and arriving in Georgia mid-late October.:lifter

11-06-2011, 16:15
Just did a 24 mile section this past weekend - Dennis Cove to Hwy 19E.

I'll admit, Saturday kicked my butt.

The trail is well marked and easy to stay on - but intersections to side trails are not. The leaves on the side trails are not mashed down right now so it's easy to blow past a tree with a small blue mark. The Thru Hiker's Companion is well worth the money. Pre plan, employ jump boxes for changing out gear if need be - Oh, heck read the book

Saw three southbound thru hikers this weekend. They were averaging 25 miles a day and had about 400 miles to go. Man, they moved like they had no ruck on their back at all. I asked "Pinch" about the cold weather. He said he'd picked up his cold weather gear a while back - Dude, the guys pack was no bigger than an assault pack. Damn, where was he hiding everything?

The A/T ain't humpin' a large ALICE pack. Quality, lightweight gear - and get in shape.

Good luck.

11-07-2011, 09:08
The best book I have read on preparing for the Appalachian Trail is "A Walk in the Wood's" by Bill Bryson....:rolleyes:

11-08-2011, 14:08
In the W Va and Md section, the trail is well marked and water and huts are available. On weekends during the summer the trail will be well populated.

11-08-2011, 18:15
I live in central Vermont near the AT. Give me a heads up on your schedule and I can meet you for a re-supply drop or a hot shower.

11-08-2011, 18:40
I live in central Vermont near the AT. Give me a heads up on your schedule and I can meet you for a re-supply drop or a hot shower.

Hopefully you won't get offended if he turns you down on the offer to meet him for a hot shower. :D

In all seriousness - one of the things I've come to appreciate about this forum is the willingness of members to help each other both online and in person.

11-09-2011, 09:25
About two years ago swithched all of my hiking equipment out for ultra lite. Sir, it is the only way to go. A good site to visit is www.backpacker.com it has some good general info.
Good luck

11-10-2011, 14:52
Yup. nuthin' like 80 pounds of ultra light to make things easier...:D

11-10-2011, 20:10
Heading out this weekend with a bunch of scouts and ham radio, MD section HF north for a few miles..10-20?

When you start keep us alerted to your needs etc, drops, etc.


Yes not 80 lbs just 35 lbs now...

11-11-2011, 06:37
Heading out this weekend with a bunch of scouts and ham radio, MD section HF north for a few miles..10-20?

Makes sure you set up your radio just outside the wire of the supersecret squirrel site there south of I-70. If you want to have a lot of fun, place a bundle in the culvert at the gate which has the closed circuit TV cameras watching.. The guys with guns who walk around all day long on the building roof need the exercise of running down the hill to see what you put in the culvert. :D

11-11-2011, 09:05

11-11-2011, 22:25
Thanks for the offers guys, I might take you up on it. Its nice to have people willing to help out along the way.

11-13-2011, 17:11
Now I can't do that...You gave me away...or did I already do it....

It was a cold ass night Friday..Saturday and Sunday good weather. A lot of folks night hiking, ride into a bunch of college girls......by themselves...if only the scout want with me.....gave them guidance....later some how that camped at the same location..wonder how that happen..they like the boys..reminded them of there little brothers!!!!!! LMFAF!!!!


11-13-2011, 21:20
Here's my 2 cents from 8 years in the outdoor industry. Trekking poles are a must. I recommend ones that can be adjusted like the Black Diamond (BD) flicklock system. Poles that are adjusted by twisting can slip and are somewhat finicky. The BD ones can be tightened with a multi-tool.

For footwear I believe lighter is better. I use to wear Chacoís Z2ís religiously and could carry a heavy guide pack on high peaks to desert canyons. They will also save you time at river crossings. I would only allow staff to wear the Z2 that has the toe loop for increased stability. I never got a blister with them. Like any footwear, be wearing them frequently before you start your trip. The heavy boot rage of the 90ís was a great money maker.

At first, Orikaso bowls scared me and I didnít think they would last in the field. I jumped in with 2 feet on a two week mountaineering trip 5 years ago and my bowl/plate is still working. It will save you space and is easy to clean.
Hydration bladders are great but always carry a bottle in case of a bladder puncture, which leads me to the sleeping pad consideration. I have a 16 year old Z-rest (closed cell) that still works perfectly after being stepped on by crampons and chewed on by AT mice. I do have some Therm-a-Rest pads and have had to make repairs. I canít remember the exact product but instead of buying about 10 square inches of repair cloth, you can get tape that is used for sail repair that works just as well and is about 1/10th the cost. If you are interested in this product, let me know, and Iíll hunt it down. It was so much cheaper it only came by the yard. For cold-weather conditions I have compromised by taking a closed cell pad and an inflatable to increase my R value but also get some comfort.

I use to live near the southern terminus and would see people starting and finishing. People starting had about 50% larger packs. Less is more. Be prepared to ship items home that you realized you do not need.

Mice. In the shelters you will encounter colonies of mice that will eat through your gear. Generally, leave your pack zippers open and stash your food appropriately. With the zippers open the mice will just crawl into your pack rather than eat through it. They can be aggressive. I have a pair of down booties that I was wearing when they started chewing into them.
As for your schedule, if speed/number of days is your goal then great, go for it. However, everyone I know who has done either the PCT or AT has gotten off the trail for other experiences that were either scheduled or just came up by meeting people along the way.

A deck of plastic playing cards is a must.

If you are interested in documenting your journey with photography then you should look into a monopod system for one of your trekking poles. Youíll be up early and ending your days at sunset with great lighting conditions for shots. Youíll just need a stable platform for the best ones.

The only place I have found using a backpack cover worthwhile was in the torrential downpours of the South. If you have a good pack and pack it well, you may not need the cover, just something to consider.

Stuff sacks are great for OCD organization but add weight. Your backpack does just as good as job holding the items. Just make sure you have one for hanging food.

I am a fan of bivy sacks. The smaller the better. If you are getting one with an elaborate pole system you might as well get a one person tent.

Warning-very tree hugger advice follows. Take a sarong. In warm to mild temps I hike in a pair of paddling shorts or essentially swim trunks. At the end of the day wearing a sarong will allow you to air the boys out and do all your river laundry at once. It can also serve as a pillow and as cravats in a pinch.

Best of luck.

11-14-2011, 04:35
....Mice. In the shelters you will encounter colonies of mice that will eat through your gear. Generally, leave your pack zippers open and stash your food appropriately. ..........

The more popular shelters are infested with mice. So that many hikers will stop and chat at a shelter - but then move on a bit to camp for the night. Bad, rainy weather and they get full - first come first served.

I had one mouse at the shelter I stayed at. I'd hung my food on the mouse hanger but the critter was walking over my plat, spoon, cup and boiler I had on the picknick table. After getting hit with the light a couple of times he moved on - but crapped all over the stuff .

I use a nylon butt pack for a food bag. Holds a weekends food easy, has a wide mouth, can be hung from a mouse hanger and used while open.

Mouse Hangers in the old shelter.

12-27-2012, 23:17
This hiking adventure has probably already been completed, however a tip for those considering a hike along the AT.

Carry a weapon or be prepared for trouble. Those who think it safe - forget it, especially women who think they can hike the trail safely alone. It would be good not to forget about bears, feral dogs and other dangerous animals (including man). There are many missing persons, murder, rape and other violence that happen on the trail.

I know locals in my area (North Georgia) that never hike without their handguns.

Trapper John
12-28-2012, 16:31
The PA section of the trail is very rocky. You will actually cross moraine fields left over from the last ice-age. Trekking poles will be next to useless here. I also prefer a much lighter flexible boot/shoe with a soft sole for better gripping on slippery rock. I also recommend polypropylene inner socks with light weight wool outer socks. If you put the inner sock on so that it is smooth it will prevent blisters and it wicks away moisture. Your pace will drop off substantially through this section, but you will pick it up again once you get into MD. I like light weight packs fitted snugly so there is no weight shifting to throw off your balance. A hammock here will be much more useful than a sleeping bag. You won't find a spot to bed down even with a sleeping pad that doesn't have rock in your back or hip. I don't know, but my guess is that there have been many sprained ankles and knees and a few broken legs along the trail through PA. If you want, you can send me a PM and I will give you cell phone number so you can call when you are entering the area. We can arrange a meeting location for resupply and if nothing else a commo check just to make sure you are OK. Good luck. BTW Ratterdaughter's advice about a side-arm is not a bad idea. You will encounter quite a few folks along the way and not a bad idea to be prepared just in case your encounter some whaco.

12-28-2012, 22:04
I read this post with much interest as this trek is on my bucket list. So JASG, did you ever go through with it & how did it turn out?

I agree with QP Brush Okie & Trapper John, a hammock is probably the way to go. I just got my ENO double nest hammock in the mail today. While my original purpose was to test it on the next deployment, I'd like to take it out in the bush for a 3 day to try it out in the field.

As far as the 'added protection' goes, is there any legitimate concern for getting jammed up by local law enforcement/park service for open or concealed carry while on the AT? I'm thinking more of the Northeastern states rather than the Southern states. ;)



12-29-2012, 10:17
While not directly related to the AT, this story came into mind while I was reading through the posts. Pretty good read :lifter : Summer of '61 (http://www.mountaindiscoveries.com/images/fw2011/biketrip.pdf)

The story is about two brothers that decided back in '61 to ride bicycles from Frederick, MD to San Fransisco, CA. Times have certainly changed!