My GF and I will be attempting our first long distance hike on the AT. We're looking at doing the span between Bear Mountain Inn, NY and Delaware Water Gap, PA (108 miles). Is it unheard of to tackle 10 miles per day (10-12 hour day) on this section? I've got the maps and it doesn't look like there's a whole lot of elevation changes. It's looking like our packs will be weighing in at around 35-40lbs.
Also, how does this span compare to the section between Bear Mountain Inn and Great Barrington, MA? I've got this section's maps on order (should be here later this week). According to the AT Thru-Hiker's Companion, it looks similar as far as distance (about 124 miles) and elevation changes.
Just as a background, we're in our late 20's, we live in CA and do a couple of hikes a month. Mostly all day long hikes with 1500+ foot elevation changes and can usually knock out 5 miles in 2-3 hours.
wilit-- Bear Mtn to DWG, given reasonable condition for you and partner, 15 mi/d should be possible, at least in was for me in favorable early November weather. North of the Taconic Parkway to a bit north of Great Barrington the trail was a little more demanding in places in December and January. Walt
10 miles a day shouldn't be a problem. Just FYI, there's a section of trail just west (south on the trail) of Harriman State Park that's pretty taxing. The ups and downs are pretty steep in that area. Harriman is a great section, and if you time it right the blueberries will be in season... a great excuse for taking your time on the trail.
I would suggest trying to lighten your packs if possible down to the 30 lbs range instead of the 40 lbs range. Those ten pounds make a world of difference in terms of hiking comfort.
Loc: Rock Springs, WY
I am planning a though hike of the at starting in march of next year with my girlfriend. both of us have all the gear we will need and are working on planing things like food and stops. what are some good resources to look at? books? websites? i have a few books that have been helpfull but am looking for more specific information. thanks.
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
I would check out Whiteblaze.net. There is a lot of great information there from experienced AT hikers (and wanna/gonna be's).
Also look at Trailjournals.com and read a few of the journals of people that have done the time. Look for journals that have lots of read entries. There usually the best. One of our favorite authors is a guy by the name of Bearpaw. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I can recommend a few others I've read but prefer to do that in a PM (private message).
From these journals you can find out a lot of information about the area you want to hike, but you have to dig through to find it.
You can also check out www.appalachiantrail.org. You can order all the information you need about the various sections of the AT.
I would also say, don't plan too much, because most of the planning you do beforehand usually gets thrown out the window within a couple weeks.
Also, maildrops are not needed on the AT at all, but if you do use them, they take minimal pre-planning. If you have someone mailing them for you, you can just give them a call a couple weeks before you get where you want the drop and have them send it.
Food can be bought all along the way with no problems, unless you have special dietary needs.
Most AT hikers I know, including myself, would just plan out a week or two in advance, and then adjust that plan as needed.
Sounds like reasonable mileage for that stretch, although I second the thought about lightening your packs to less than 30 lbs, or better yet, make life easier and go for 20-25 lbs. Make a gear list and get ruthless, or post it and maybe we can help you pare it down.
Loc: Central Texas
I agree with Ender: don't plan too much. You can hike the AT with virtually no planning and generally have a better time. I've done it both ways. The first time, I planned - out of anticipation, boredom and maybe insecurity. Most of it went to waste. Since then, I have planned nothing at all except when, more or less, I would leave and what gear to take. It sounds loosey-goosey, but it really is a lot more fun than obcessing over schedules and so on.
1. Get a good guide book such as the Thru Hiker's Companion from the ATC. Sales support trail aquisition and protection.
2. Buy the map set from ATC. Some go without maps, and they are generally not necessary except in an emergency or when things get confusing. I use them. Sales support the activities of the local clubs and are usually their only source of revenue.
3. Arrange for someone reliable to mail maps and prescription medications (if any) as you request them (just call them a couple of weeks before you need something). 14 days is time enough to get a small package through the mail. Have your mail sent to hostels or outfitters rather than post offices (which are closed 1.5 days out of 7, not counting holidays.
4. Use the money you save by not buying and mailing food and supplies to buy what you need as you need it. You can find almost everything you need along the AT as long as you are not too picky. Food? Spend a few minutes in a trail town supermarket planning and buying food to last until the next town, then spend a few more minutes sitting on the sidewalk repackaging it and meeting someone who will offer to take you back to the trail.
Remember, the how-to books MUST give you a lot of complicated information such as schedules and recipes and garbage to fill pages. Just do it. You'll be OK if you have any gumption at all.
Loc: Rock Springs, WY
This sounds like my normal mode of travel, go someplace and then figure out where to stay/what to do. I think I will be following your advise. planing food and everything before hand is getting a little stupid, seems like it should not be this much work, and indeed, it does not have to be. I will be picking up the guide books soon.