Appalachian Trail

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Appalachian Trail

Postby digbyg » Fri 24 Feb, 2017 9:55 am

Hiking this trail in 2010 was a life changing event for us. If you can find the will, do it. If you can't, at least you can read some of the stories here:
https://iamfootlooseandfree.com/2017/02 ... ian-trail/
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby dashandsaph » Sun 16 Jul, 2017 10:01 pm

Wonderful and rich story. I enjoyed every twist and turn. All the best for the next big adventure!
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby findbuddha » Mon 24 Jul, 2017 8:44 pm

Thanks for the read!
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby tailwind » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 2:59 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your story. Am contemplating on walking the trail, so a narrative from this corner of the world is gold.
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby Turfa » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 7:11 pm

There are a number of forum members who have thru-hiked the AT and I'm sure would be happy to answer any questions.
It is an incredible experience, but quite different from your typical Aussie bushwalk !
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby tailwind » Sun 05 Nov, 2017 2:04 pm

Thanks Turfa.

I am trying to work out alternate plans during an extended break from work, as my original trip, coming march, has been deferred to another year.
A thru hike in the US has been on my bucket list. I was hoping to get some advice in that regard. Apologies if my queries are a bit vague or may have been covered in other posts that I'm not aware of.

1) PCT vs AT:
I would have loved to do the PCT for its varied terrain and climates, however from what I read, the PCT requires more preparation, organising resupplies etc. I understand that one can get by without mail drops on the AT and easily resupply along the way without having to hitch hike.

Would you recommend a greenhorn try the AT first, and PCT later? I bushwalk, cave & canyon with a couple of clubs around Sydney, but have never attempted any great walks or walks in the US which I suspect are a lot different from what we're used to.

2) Completing the hike before the 6 mths B-2 visa expires:
How long does it generally take to do the AT? I realise the PCT seems to have a shorter window and more miles.

Is it possible to extend visas easily in case one's running out of time?

3) Hiking solo vs teaming teaming up with others:
I'll be hiking solo any thoughts/advice would be awesome.

4) Gear:
My big 4 currently are:
Pack: Gossamer Gear Mariposa
Quilt: EE Revelation 10F
Pad: Exped winterlite or Neo Air Xlite
Tent: An old Macpac microlight.

I'm looking at replacing my tent and am tossing between a Nemo hornet 1P or TT moment DW(full mesh inner). I'm leaning towards the TT for its easy pitch, relatively free standing and various modes. Would be quite versatile back home too. Do you think the TT would hold up to the weather on the AT? Also would you recommend aluminium or carbon poles.

Recommendations of other tents are welcome too

5) Bear bag vs canister on the AT
I read mice are big problem too.

Thanks
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby digbyg » Sun 05 Nov, 2017 4:17 pm

Hey Tailwind,
Alison and I did the AT in 2010 and a 500 mile section of the PCT (walker pass to Donner pass through the high sierras) last year.

The hiking is harder on the AT, but resupply is much easier and there is lots of support on trail so you could resupply every 3-4 days if you want just by hitching (easy) to a nearby town. Pack weight stays down therefore. Our longest resupply on the PCT was for 11 days, from Kennedy Meadows south to the John Muir trail ranch. PCT trail is designed for horses, so no slope over 15 degrees and mostly under 10 but very dusty and rocky under foot. AT just got harder and more uneven footing as you went north, and fortunately got fitter to cope with it.

AT is very social, we made lots of friends that we are still in contact with by FB. PCT is much more lonely except for the 10 day john muir section, where we met 100 people every day going the other way but sharing campsites. Rarely shared a campsite apart from then, but as a couple that was irrelevant.

I started the AT carrying 55 pounds with 7 days food on board. By the third month I was down to 30 pound with 5 days food.

It took us the full 6 months, with 4 days to spare. You have to average 12 miles a day to do it in 6 months, and that's really hard at the start when you aren't trail fit. For the first month or so we were lucky to make 10 miles a day, and had basically given up the through hike as an impossible dream. Then the trail fitness started to show and we were doing 10 miles before lunch, and regularly doing over 15 for the day. By the middle, Harpers Ferry, we were back on schedule and made the finish on schedule.

7 years ago, the 6 month visa was a problem, involving us flying down from Cairns to a US embassy in mel or syd 3 months before our US flight, having fingerprints and retina scans, proof that we could support ourselves for 6 months without a job, proof of home ownership in Aust etc. It's probably harder now with the liberties being taken by immigration under Trump. Even with the 6 month visa, there is no guarantee the the officer at your entry gate will sign off on it and allow you the full time. Expect to be challenged. There would be little to no chance of a visa being extended.

The AT has also become much more crowded and there are efforts being made to spread out departure times and start points. Even for us, the first few weeks of campsites typically had dozens of tents and overflowing toilets. Friends came and went, couples formed, some married, you would never be hiking alone on the AT, and you would find the people most companionable and change your itinerary to suit if you wanted their company.

We walked as a couple, so gear was set up for two. Hammocks were very popular for singles on the AT but useless on the PCT. Shellite stove worked well for us and only had to use petrol once. Gas canister was good enough on the PCT, but some resupply places had run out of canisters, so we were reliant on fires when we could. We had a friendly contact in South Carolina who mailed our AT maps on to us as we needed them, and held winter gear when we changed to summer bags etc. We used an online resupply company for about 4 food drops on the PCT and have no complaints. We were able to supply ourselves from a few towns on the trail.

We bear bagged the whole AT , saw 12 bears, one too close. Canister is compulsory on the PCT high sierras, from KM South to KM North, about 4 weeks. We needed to bear bag as well as not all our food could fit in 2 large canisters. Mice are worse in Qld.

After completing the AT, we couldn't stop reminiscing on it as it is such a life changing achievement and a mental challenge rather than a physical one. We plan to do more like it while we can.

Given all that, I would recommend the 500 miles long distance section on the PCT as the logistics are not impossible and the mountains are superb. The permit was also a lot easier to come by. We started north of the worst of the desert and late enough to miss deep snow on the passes, at least a month behind the through hiker pulse. We still had to carry enough water for the first two days, that was 18 kg on top of 5 day packs. There are excellent bits on the AT, but there is a lot of boring walking connecting the good parts, and the challenge is to do the whole thing.

Hope that helps rather than confuse, but there is a lot of other info out there as well. Good luck.
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby Turfa » Sun 05 Nov, 2017 5:03 pm

Hi Tailwind,

I thru-hiked the AT some time ago (2006) and am off to do the PCT in May. I have already hiked some short sections of the PCT. The AT is logistically easier for resupply, water etc. but is tougher walking (rough & steep) you can easily resupply every 3 days if you want to, although you will need to hitchhike to get to town from some of the road crossings. Hitching is easy in the US though, especially near the trail. I bought all my food along the way, didn't need to mail any. I did have a bounce box with some spares, maps etc. though.
Sounds like you have experience and your gear is sensible. You could have a crack at either trail really.
My AT thru took 4 months and 3 days, so no problems with the 6 month visa. I did not walk big miles, but I was consistent and did not take many zeros. My plan for the PCT is also 4 months.(mid May to mid Sept.)
Starting solo is no problem. You will meet up with plenty of other hikers, and on the trail you have plenty in common with them!

I actually used a Macpac Microlight on my AT hike. It was an awesome tent, but now consider it way too heavy and will be using my Z-packs Solplex on the PCT. The Tarptent will be fine on the AT. You just need to be mentally prepared to spend a lot of time wet !
I live in Sydney also, and would be happy to catch up for a chat about thru-hiking if it would be helpful.
Cheers,
Turfa
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby norts » Sun 05 Nov, 2017 6:55 pm

Turfa wrote:Hi Tailwind,

I thru-hiked the AT some time ago (2006) and am off to do the PCT in May. I have already hiked some short sections of the PCT. The AT is logistically easier for resupply, water etc. but is tougher walking (rough & steep) you can easily resupply every 3 days if you want to, although you will need to hitchhike to get to town from some of the road crossings. Hitching is easy in the US though, especially near the trail. I bought all my food along the way, didn't need to mail any. I did have a bounce box with some spares, maps etc. though.
Sounds like you have experience and your gear is sensible. You could have a crack at either trail really.
My AT thru took 4 months and 3 days, so no problems with the 6 month visa. I did not walk big miles, but I was consistent and did not take many zeros. My plan for the PCT is also 4 months.(mid May to mid Sept.)
Starting solo is no problem. You will meet up with plenty of other hikers, and on the trail you have plenty in common with them!

I actually used a Macpac Microlight on my AT hike. It was an awesome tent, but now consider it way too heavy and will be using my Z-packs Solplex on the PCT. The Tarptent will be fine on the AT. You just need to be mentally prepared to spend a lot of time wet !
I live in Sydney also, and would be happy to catch up for a chat about thru-hiking if it would be helpful.
Cheers,
Turfa
I have hiked both trails. AT '14 and PCT 16
Both trails have some hitching, PCT more.
I used the TT Moment DW on the PCT and a Hilleberg Akto on the AT.
I took 159 days for each hike. That includes zeroes and neroes. To give you some idea of my physical capabilites , I am an overweight 57 yr old. Thru hiking is more about your mental capabilities. You have to have a strong will to want to do these thru hikes. It definitely isnt all beer and skittles.
I found the AT physically harder but the PCT mentally tougher.
The AT isnt as spectacular as the PCT but I really enjoyed it. So much history and one mile being in a forest and then walking through a beautiful green farming valley was really pleasant.
Ppl worry too much about gear. Keep it light and simple.
Happy to answer as many questions as I can.
Just a bit hard on my phone at the moment.
Taz


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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby tailwind » Tue 07 Nov, 2017 9:53 pm

Hi digbyg, turfa, norts,

Thanks a lot for the useful info and advice.
I'm sure to have more questions as I go about doing some more reading.

Turfa, would love to catch up for a chat. I'll PM my details.

Cheers
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Re: Appalachian Trail

Postby bikehikesafari » Sat 31 Mar, 2018 1:27 pm

Hi Tailwind,

I have hiked both the PCT and AT. If I was to recommend only one trail then it would be the PCT. It just has so much more diversity of great scenery and in my opinion it is easier than hiking the AT.
Cheers
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