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#96574 - 05/20/08 06:28 AM The big Maine trip.
12Step Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Last summer (June07) I decided that I was going to plan to hike the 100 mile Wilderness of the Appalachian Trail in September of 2009. Yes that is a long way off however, I consider myself new to backpacking after not backpacking for almost 15 years. I have gear now to do most week or less backpacking trips, however I still need some more items for the trip.

I plan on asking multiple questions in this thread as time goes by and I would be grateful for any tips. I have been doing research as far as searching around on the net. There are so many questions I would like to ask, but to start off I will only ask a few right now.

1) Have any of you ever hiked the 100 mile wilderness?

2) My pack is a Granite Gear Nimbus Access 3600, (I assume 3600 is the cu. inch of room in the pack.) Is that too small since I have to pack about 10 days of food plus whatever other gear?

3) I heard June is a bad time because of black flies. Is September a good time or should I go earlier?

Usually I am a type of hiker that like to go at my own pace, and stop to admire the beauty around me, however I know that how many miles I hike a day is of course extremely important, so I am conditioning myself when I can.

I don't know why but when I saw pictures of this part of the AT, something inspired me to challenge myself and want to do this. I feel like this is something I have to do. I guess you can say this is one of my "Things to do before I die list."


Again let me state that any advice would be much appreciated!!!


Tom
_________________________
"Let's not miss the beauty of the forest by the ugliness of some of its trees." Bill W.

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#96575 - 05/20/08 05:10 PM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: 12Step]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2751
Loc: California
Yes, I have done several 100 mile trips, but not in Maine. Can't help you with the bug question or specific local logistical issues. The following observations usually apply to most backpack locations.

As a "rule of thumb" estimate your time on the trail as 2 mph PLUS 1 hour for each 1,000 feet of elevation gain. This rate is an average all-day rate that includes a 10 minute break each hour. It is a good rate for a moderately heavy pack (say 35-40 pounds). I would also add 1 hour each day for stream crossings, map reading, etc.

A 10-mile day on the flat would then be: 10 miles x 2 mph + 1 hour contingency = 6 hours.

A 6 mile day with 3,000 feet elevation gain would be: (6 miles x 2 mph) + 3 hours for elevation gain + 1 hour contingency = 7 hours.

Elevation gain is a summation of all the uphill you do -- it is not endpoint minus start. I count the contour lines that the trail crosses and multiply by the contour interval. If you use the TOPO program you can just draw a line of travel and do a profile and this is all done for you!

Good pre-trip planning will save you a lot of grief on the trail. Know where the camp sites are, where you access water and have some options for each day --a few more miles you can add if you are ahead of schedule and a few miles you can shorten the day if you get behind.

The key for me to make my daily mileage, is to get up early and get on the trail by 8:00-9:00 AM. You should be able to get up, cook breakfast, pack up and be on your way in 1.5 hours or less. If you cannot do this now, practice until you can easily do this. It usually takes me one hour from wake up to on the trail. Also be aware of your rest-break time. It is really easy to have the breaks drag into half an hour. The problem with long breaks is that if you cool down too much it is hard to get started again. When I keep a slow but steady pace and break no more than 10 minutes per hour, I always get a "second wind".

For a 10-day trip I usually start with a bit under 40 pounds- about 10 pounds of gear that I carry + 1.5 pounds of food per day. I wear about 3-4 pounds of clothing and shoes and seldom carry my trekking poles on the pack so do not count that weight as "weight on the back". With good planning on the food, you can get about 2,600 calories per day with 1.5 pounds of dry food. I use a butane stove and the largest cannister (about 13 ounces) lasts me for 10 days.

On longer trips, particularly solo, I sometimes loose self-motivation. I like to have a pretty well laid out ittinery, so if I wake up with no motivation, I do not have to think too much - just do the scheduled hike for the day.

A light pack is also the key for your first long trip. If your "big five" are not light, I would consider renting lighter gear if you do not want to buy new gear. Also pare down the list of all those little items that you really do not need. With a lighter pack, I can get by with light hikers or low-cut hiking shoes that are more comfortable. I would rather hike 100 miles in good fitting trail runners than klunky old boots any day. Be sure to break in your shoes before heading out.

In the big picture of long-distance backpacking, 100 miles is not too long - a perfect distance for your first long trip. Good Luck.

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#96576 - 05/21/08 02:17 AM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: wandering_daisy]
12Step Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Thanks Wandering Daisy.

I'm looking to get a good detailed topical map of the trail. From what I'm told the trail is well marked so getting lost hopefully shouldn't be an issue. As many of you already know there are no resupply points so whatever I'm carrying has to be enough. As time gets closer I'll study the map and set destinations and mileage based on shelter locations, landmarks, streams etc.

Another few questions...

It is strongly advised that I at least bring 10 days of food. What kind of food should I bring?

Should I look for food that I don't have to cook so I can avoid the space and weight of packing a stove?

Are there foods that provide the right amount of nutrients that you don't need to cook?


Tom
_________________________
"Let's not miss the beauty of the forest by the ugliness of some of its trees." Bill W.

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#96577 - 05/21/08 08:42 AM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: 12Step]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2751
Loc: California
Food is a very individual thing. Go to the forum section on food and read the older posts. I personally like to cook. A fellow I know did the Sierra High Route (180 miles of off-trail travel) in 12 days on a total vegan non-cook diet! Another fellow I know did 30 days on nothing but macaroni and cheese! Whatever you do, read the food labels to be sure you get sufficient calories per day (usually 2,500-3,000) and take between 1-2 pounds per day (this means most has to be dried or freeze-dried rather than fresh or canned). If you cook, be sure the pakaged meals do not require more than about 10 minutes of cooking or else you will be carrying a lot of gas. And keep it simple. You should be able to get by on one small to medium sized light weight pot, one spoon and a drinking cup.

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#96578 - 05/21/08 04:37 PM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: 12Step]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
There is NO need to carry 10 days of food.

I say this for several reasons.

1) I've hiked the 100 Mile Wilderness. It took me 6 days. YES, this was at the end of an AT thru-hike and I was in great shape, BUT, because of a hurricane which blew through, I only traveled 6 miles on my next to last day.

2) The northern 35 miles of the wilderness are relatively flat. You can make pretty easy miles on this stretch.

3) The 10-day recommendation springs from the huge packloads of the 1980's. Pack weights are typically less than half the weight they were in those days (or even in 1999 when I thru-hiked).

4) White House Landing, .9 miles off of Mahar Tate Road (70 miles into the Wilderness for a NOBO), offers the option for some resupply (albeit fairly expensive).

5) There are options for having food cached about 1/2-way into the Wilderness. Shaw's boarding house used to do it, but since he died last year, the task has been taken over by Kathy Preble in Brownsville, ME. You can make arrangements by contacting her at svivor@midmaine.com or call her at 207-965-8464. You would mail your resupply to her and she would cache it at a pre-determined point.

I hiked in early September, and mosquitoes and blackflies were not a problem. I have heard from many resident Mainers that June is absolutely miserable for blackflies. Most of them recommend not beginning before mid-July at the earliest.

Depending on your other gear, your GG pack should be fine for you, particularly if you invest in some freeze-dried or instant/rehydrate meals (such as instant potatoes, stuffing, ramen, liptons in a cozy, etc).

For more detailed info on both the trail and services, check out the Appalachian Pages, Thru-hiker's Handbook (be sure to get the new version, not an older one by Dan Bruce, which were notoriously out-of-date), or the online version of the ALDHA Thru-hikers' Companion. They will help tremendously as the time for your hike approaches.
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#96579 - 05/22/08 02:38 AM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: Bearpaw]
12Step Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Bearpaw you are the man!!!

I will be PMing you, if you do not mind from time to time as the date gets closer. You have now just advised more info then I knew or that I have researched. A lot of what I have read or the people I have asked have through hiked the AT so when they say, "it's no big deal" or "It's no different then the rest of the trail", I assume it's because they have already hiked 2000 miles from GA


Thank you so much!!!


Tom
_________________________
"Let's not miss the beauty of the forest by the ugliness of some of its trees." Bill W.

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#96580 - 05/22/08 03:02 AM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: wandering_daisy]
12Step Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Thanks WD. Some one gave me a Snow Peak stove and three sets and sizes of Snow Peak Titanium cookware. I to am a vegetarian and have been one for about 12 years.

What about those Knorr (formerly Lipton) dried pasta and rice meals? Most of the pastas require milk to add to them but is it necessary? I've had them before with just water and they tasted pretty much the same. They all have a lot of sodium and haven't really checked the calorie and nutrition value of them. What do you think?


Tom
_________________________
"Let's not miss the beauty of the forest by the ugliness of some of its trees." Bill W.

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#96581 - 05/22/08 03:31 AM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: 12Step]
12Step Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Oh, there is some more information I need to post...

So far I have one other person who says they will definitely do this trip with me, (so far but a lot has happened which I'll explain further down this post). The guy is my soon-to-be brother-in-law. Were good friends and we have done some day hikes together. The one thing I noticed though about him is that he has a long stride and hikes much faster than I do, (at least for now.) I know a lot of the AT through hike travel essays I have read most of the authors/backpackers said that they all hiked and preferred to hike alone. If he hikes with me on this trip I don't have a problem if he's always ahead of me, I just don't want to spend the entire trip stressed out because I'm trying to catch up. I guess it's not that big of a deal because I'm gonna make sure we agree to meet up at certain landmarks, shelters, etc.

Since we planned this trip my soon to be brother in law is about to be a father (I'm going to be a uncle) and him and my sister have bought a house. Those are some major changes in ones life, (I've been there) so there is a decent chance he may not be able to go. There are two other people I know that are interested, but the chances of them actually going are very slim. My fiancee and I have discussed this trip in great detail. She wants me to go but not go by myself. To tell you all the truth, I'm not real comfortable doing this trip by myself, and will probably not go if I can't find anyone to go with me.

I have recently joined some hiking and backpacking clubs in the area where I live where they meet up and day hike and backpack. This looks to be a good opportunity to meet fellow hikers/backpackers that may be interested.

Again I am determined to do this, however if I cannot for whatever reason, I have to accept that. I see it as God having other plans for me. So far though plans and conditioning are being made and done, (my fiancee got me a gym membership for my birthday because of this trip). I'm gonna keep this thread alive and bump it on occasion when I have more questions, comments, and updates.

Thank you all for all the information you have given me!!!


Tom


Edited by 12Step (05/22/08 03:33 AM)
_________________________
"Let's not miss the beauty of the forest by the ugliness of some of its trees." Bill W.

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#96582 - 05/22/08 05:56 AM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: 12Step]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
Feel free to PM any time. I hope I can help out.

For your concerns about hiking solo, it's worth knowing that the 100-Mile "Wilderness" is not nearly so remote as the name implies. There are hard-packed gravel logging roads an average of every 20 miles or so. For this reason, you'll see a surprising number of weekend and even dayhikers in the area, particularly around the Gulf Hagas area, at least in September. When I was there, I was among a small tidal wave of thru-hikers, but there were even more section hikers (the area is especially popular with French-Canadians) and short-distance hikers.

The result is that unless you take great pains to stealth camp, you won't be "alone" any more than you would be if you and a partner hiked separately and met up at predetermined points. This is especially true if you stay or camp at shelters, which accumulate hikers the way a salt lick attracts livestock.

Hopefully this will relieve some nerves about going on a long-distance solo.

Best of luck,
Bearpaw
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#96583 - 05/22/08 07:43 AM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: Bearpaw]
12Step Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Yes bearpaw that does releive me. Now it's just "the woman I need to convince...lol.


Thanks again.


Tom
_________________________
"Let's not miss the beauty of the forest by the ugliness of some of its trees." Bill W.

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#96584 - 05/22/08 02:34 PM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: 12Step]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2751
Loc: California
Knorr "sides" are great! Each package is almost a meal for one person. Each pack is about 500 calories- a little short. You need to add some protein and oil - a few extra spoons of olive oil, cracker crumbs, nuts, sunflower seeds, soy nuts, (cheese and sausage or tuna if you are not a vegetarian). As for the salt, do not worry - you need extra salt when you backpack. If the taste is too salty, you can "cut" the saltiness by adding a quarter to half cup of regular noodles or instant brown rice. I find that they cook fine with 5 minutes on simmer (if you be sure to get the water boiling before adding) and 2-3 minutes of "resting" with the stove turned off. Just try each at home with the additions you choose to be sure you like them. If you want them to be spicier, bring some pepper or red pepper flakes.

Soups are also great. I just bought some Kikkoman instant tofu miso soup (3 packets per bag) at WallMart for $2 a bag. Each soup packet only weighs 0.3 oz. and they are really satisfying. Cup-a-soups can be used if you put them in snack-sized plastic bag to save space.

You also need a real treat each night to reward yourself. My favorite are 3-4 coffee flavored hard candies each night. Or a small piece of quality dark chocolate. Or a rum soaked cookie ball. Food is also psychological - do not discount small amounts of comfort food!

Take plent of tea bags - they weigh nothing and you can also stick a few in your water bottle and make sun tea on the trail.

I do not get too obsessed with nutrition on a 10-day trip. Calories are the most important. More fat or salt than is "recommended" for the average sendentary person is fine. Just be aware that you will have better longer lasting energy if you rely on complex carbs rather than lots of sugar- that is why I prefer nuts and dried fruit over candy bars or trail bars.

Although expensive I always take some freeze-dried food. My favorite are fd tomatoes, pinapple, strawberries, apples and raspberries. Freeze dried fruit is really crunchy and light - the soft stuff is simply dried - lot more weight. Also FD Wasabi peas (in Asian section of most grocieres), dried mushrooms (usually hanging up in the produce section of stores).

A trip to any large grocery store will be quite revealing! You would be amazed at the number of suitable backpacking foods are available.

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#96585 - 06/06/08 10:07 PM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: wandering_daisy]
trekkin Offline
member

Registered: 02/05/07
Posts: 19
Loc: PNW
Hi there,
I will respond as someone who hiked it recently ('07) in June-July with my wife. We were out for 20 days total, starting near Andover, ME and finishing at Katahdin. We spent 7 days in the HMW. It was a wonderful, although challenging(!), trip and I recommend it highly. I had previously (1974) hiked north from Shenandoah to Andover. Here are some impressions and suggestions for you:

1. Bugs were not bad, although we took the trouble to soak all our gear in permetherin prior to the trip (recommended). We noticed that other hikers were engulfed in clouds of mosquitos, while we were mostly unbothered. Generally we hiked in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. As long as you keep moving you don't get bit much. It was no worse than what I've experienced in the Midwest or Pacific Northwest during the same months (and not as bad as Alaska <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />). Don't hesitate to do the trip because of bugs.

2. It is tough. Pretty steep learning curve for beginners. Good hiking, but not easy. We (fit, experienced hikers w/ 25-30 lb packs including 9 days food) averaged about 1 mph. We had plenty of falls and slips on rocks and roots. Everyday there are brutal climbs and descents. I recommend that you get fit and know your equipment before you go hike there. Even then, plan maybe 12-15 miles/day, which might well be a 10 to 12-hour day.

3. There are a lot of hikers in the HMW. We saw maybe 30/day, versus less than 10 in SW Maine. Leat-tos were crowded (we always camped). And, the closer you get to Katahdin, the sorrier the Southbounders look; huge packs, out of shape, moving slow, and complaining. A LOT of them bail out at White House Landing or at Monson, basically as soon as they can once they found out it wasn't what they expected. Many of these people intended to hike the Whole AT; <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> although the harsh reality of the HMW filters out 9 out of 10 (real statistics from Monson). I'm just reporting what I saw. No value judgement against these folks. More power to them for trying. Really, a lot of people were having horrible days, getting huge blisters and putting duct tape on them <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> We carried a foot care kit with lubes, tapes, etc that we used quite often, and I would recommend against using duct tape. Read the book FIXING YOUR FEET before you go.

4. There were a few huge (20-30) groups of young (teens-20's) folks that were real loud all day long, and dominated the lean-tos and campgrounds. Heaven help you if your schedule matches theirs. You will never have a quiet moment or a decent campsite. One of these groups was a lot (30) of French speaking girls from Quebec. Imagine constant high-pitched French screaming for days on end!! Not what you want to hear in the middle of the "wilderness".

5. Don't expect to re-fuel much at White House Landing (WHL), unless you like expensive candy. The boss there seems to think that all we hikers eat is junk food. Maybe most do. I asked for nuts and dried fruit and he told me I was the first one ever to ask him for that, as if it were a stupid question <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

6. We carried food for 9 days; mainly home dried fruit, gorp, pasta, soup mixes, jerky, etc. No problem, really, just plan out every single meal and make them adequate but as light as possible. The all-you-can-eat breakfast at WHL was worthwhile and saved carrying a meal or two, although his dinners were not very good for the (high) prices. Again, just fatty (burgers, pizza) and suggary foods (ben and jerrys, brownies) which certainly was attractive in a sinful sort of way, but is poor fuel for endurance sports IMHO. You can carry all the food you need and have a pretty light pack if you get lightweight gear and use your head about packing.

7. You will see some northbounder thru-hikers with their heads down, pounding out big miles just to finish the AT as soon as possible. With few exceptions, they are just sick of it and want it to end. Section hikers make better company, again, IMHO. You will meet some real cool folks.

8. We always camped (in a Shires tarptent). Worked fine. Usually camped near lean-tos, but stealth camped a few times in the HMW to get away from noisy large groups. I think its important to have the option to camp; you need a light, bug-proof tent.

9. Personally, I would consider doing other parts of the AT. The HMW has a mystical attraction, although actually it is neither 100 miles long, nor wilderness (a good road goes into Gulf Haggus). There are some great 4000 ft mtns in SW Maine, a lot fewer people hiking, and better logistics for access and resupplying.

10. Katahdin is divine. You might just want to spend you time in BSP.

--"Coffee" and "S'mores"

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#96586 - 11/08/08 03:08 AM Re: The big Maine trip. [Re: trekkin]
RobA Offline
member

Registered: 05/21/02
Posts: 92
I feel this estimate is about half too conservative.


"A 6 mile day with 3,000 feet elevation gain would be: (6 miles x 2 mph) + 3 hours for elevation gain + 1 hour contingency = 7 hours."


If that takes you 7 hours, go back to the gym, get on a lung machine whatever.


Get in shape and knock out 20 mile days. Enjoy whitehouse landing. Go in Mid september and see all the leaves in color. Enjoy the sound of Lunes on the lakes.

When you finish the 100 Mile Wilderness, you might as well climb the big K.


Don't push your trip into October if you do you could see early snow storms.

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