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#106879 - 11/23/08 07:01 PM first long distance hike
LOBO Offline


Registered: 11/23/08
Posts: 1
hey all,

i am planing a hike on the AT between high point in NJ and just south of harrisburg in PA in early spring of next year, either april or may. this is my first long distance hike and im just looking for any advice people can give me on it. right now im still gathering gear and trying to learn what to expect out there.

any tips you can give on this part of the trail, gear, or what i should try to do to get ready would be greatly appreciated.

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#106880 - 11/24/08 11:37 AM Re: first long distance hike [Re: LOBO]
hafdome Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 395
Loc: Portland, Oregon
If you ask more specific questions you will probably get better responces. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Deeds can't dream what dreams can do. e.e. cummings

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#106881 - 11/24/08 06:04 PM Re: first long distance hike [Re: LOBO]
Spock Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 679
Loc: Central Texas
Lobo,
Check out Whiteblaze.net and get a copy of the Thruhikers Companion from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Whiteblaze has lots of articles on planning, gear, other issues as well as topical forums. Read up before posting. Whiteblaze participants tend to be cranky about folks who haven't done their homework.

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#106882 - 11/25/08 04:06 PM Re: first long distance hike [Re: hafdome]
walkerat99 Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 61
Loc: Medina County, OH
I would suggest you get the AT Maps for that section from the ATC website and the AT Trail Guide from Trailplace dot com. You do not actually need either one, to do the hike, but it will help in planning and give you a lot of information along the trail than can be very helpful.

You can also download a copy of the AT Thru-hiker companion trail guide at
ALDHA dot org.
which also has a lot of information and it is free to download and could give you a good idea of what to expect.

Feel free to ask me any specific questions and I will try to help. I have thru-hiked the AT and done many sections of it 4 or 5 times.

Best of everything.

A link to a google map of the shelters as well as a list is available at the whiteblaze website.

Have a great Thanksgiving and many happy trails.
_________________________
There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still. - FDR

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#106883 - 11/29/08 01:33 PM Re: first long distance hike [Re: LOBO]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Lobo,
One thing about long hikes. You are no longer hiking for a short period of time between point A and B. Instead you are LIVING in the wilderness, which is VERY different and you need some different stuff. You will want a real towel, vitamin c, other meds and first aid, everything that you need to keep clean and rash free - soap and some vaseline or polysporin and other items to ease a body that's been too long on the trail and too long since a shower. And take the best sleping pad you can <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#106884 - 12/01/08 07:46 AM Re: first long distance hike [Re: Jimshaw]
Spock Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 679
Loc: Central Texas
Right on, JS!
You have to live WITH a long trail rather than live THROUGH it. That requires the adaptations you mention as well as an attitude adjustment. A long trail is a home, not just a visit.

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#106885 - 12/01/08 10:00 AM Re: first long distance hike [Re: Spock]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1143
Loc: Washington State, King County
I suspect that most of us can agree with that, without necessarily agreeing on the specifics that it translates to for each individual.

A "real towel"? I like carrying the smallest size thin blue pack towel that is available, but can't imagine carrying anything heavier than that. In SoCal I didn't have that and didn't miss it; things dry out pretty fast on their own there.

Different people will have different approaches to other things mentioned --- vitamins, meds, first aid, etc. I carried Doctor Bronner's soap and literally never used it, while others swear by it. I didn't carry vaseline and didn't miss it --- I did use some lip balm in the first few hundred miles (didn't seem to need it after the first weeks), ditto sunscreen --- I used almost none after the first few hundred miles. I'm sure that others used more.

"take the best sleping pad you can" That's hard to disagree with, again with the caveat that the best sleeping pad you can take might be wildly different between any two hikers. My best sleeping pad turned out to be a thin torso inflatable on top of a full length blue foam pad --- one of my luxuries was more padding than most carry. Others will carry more padding than that, perhaps a big honking Exped D.A.M. or the like, while for many thru-hikers the "best" pad is just a thin torso pad or a single foam pad of some sort, or even no pad at all.

IMO the best way to sort out what's personally optimal is to do some relatively long shake-down hikes in preparation, if that's possible, and/or, recognize that the mix of gear will change during the trip (that's what post offices and outfitter stores are for ...).
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#106886 - 12/01/08 04:25 PM Re: first long distance hike [Re: Jimshaw]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
Quote:
Lobo,
One thing about long hikes. You are no longer hiking for a short period of time between point A and B. Instead you are LIVING in the wilderness, which is VERY different and you need some different stuff. You will want a real towel, vitamin c, other meds and first aid, everything that you need to keep clean and rash free - soap and some vaseline or polysporin and other items to ease a body that's been too long on the trail and too long since a shower. And take the best sleping pad you can <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />


There are some caveats for this approach on the Appalachian Trail. The AT is NOT a wilderness trail in the classic sense. A thru-hike is basically stringing together a series of 3-5 day hikes for 5-6 months. It's a much more "civilized" affair than the Continental Divide Trail or even the Pacific Crest Trail. Due to its location along the eastern seaboard, it is rare to hike more than a day without hitting a road of some kind. Even in the famed "100-Mile Wilderness" of Maine, there are logging roads and shuttlers will cache food for you if you so desire along the logging roads you'll hit every 15-20 miles.

BUT, what Jim says really does hold a great deal of merit for a thru-hiker or long-distance section hiker. As your conditioning increases, pack weight will become less important. When you buy a pack of batteries, you'll carry all of them rather than toss the extras. You'll often carry a bottle of ibuprofen rather than a couple of packets. A small pack towel is worth its weight simply to save money at hostels where owners routinely charge $1-2 extra for using a towel.

Town stops provide important opportunities to clean yourself and your clothing, especially socks, as well as chowing down on high-calorie, high-interest foods that you can't reasonably pack on the trail. This looks a lot like cheeseburgers, fries, ice cream and beer in the Bearpaw memory book, but towns become nice places to replenish waning body fat stores.

And DON'T skimp on sleeping comfort. Over the course of weeks, and maybe months, poor sleep is a painfully easy way to wreck your body and ruin your hike. Shelters can be convenient, but the floors are wood and your neighbors will likely snore. And mice will typically try to collect their rent from your food bag. A tent or hammock with oversized tarp may be more of a haven than shelters. Tenting near a shelter can mean amenities like picnic tables to cook on and relax while enjoying the company of other hikers while allowing privacy once you return to your hooch.

If you have other questions, PM me or check on Whiteblaze for the hotbox of MANY varied opinions.
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#106887 - 12/01/08 04:39 PM Re: first long distance hike [Re: Bearpaw]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I always suggest practicing as much as possible with day hikes and single overnights, and simple everyday living. You will be taking more or less the same body you are in now. Take it for a test drive. Kick the tires.

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