Springer mountain to Neels Gap in 3 days?

11:15 a.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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myslef and a couple of my buddies are planning on hikeing the first 37.7 miles of the appalachain trail from springer mountain to neels gap this will be our first time on the AT but have been on many day hikes and are looking for some insite on our goal of 3 days?,advice,gear,ect

12:08 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Welcome to Trailspace, cup tater! 

I think you will find there is a wealth of info and advice to be found here on trailspace to help you prepare for your trip.  To get started, I would recommend "mining" the existing forum threads, as much of the info you're looking for is there in abundance.  

But to answer more directly, we'll be able to help you most effectively by starting with what equipment  and experience you have presently. Let us know what length and level of hikes you have done so far, and post a list of your current gear.

My initial thought is that I think it is unlikely that you would all be able to achieve a 13 mile-a-day pace for three days straight. Anywhere along the AT you are going to experience many dramatic elevation gains and losses, which are very strenuous. Thirteen miles in that terrain is ambitious for most hikers. I find that ten miles a day will leave someone in moderately good shape and fitness quite tired and sore. I think you would all enjoy your trip much more if you choose a route that is a little less challenging. Something that is 5-8 miles/day will give you a very rewarding trek, while not leaving you trashed and miserable.

 

1:29 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Welcome to trailspace CuP.

+1 on what Gonzan said.  Take your time and enjoy the scenery. 

Here are some more questions that will help us give some good advice.

I'm assuming from where you live that you hike in similar terrain to the beginning of the AT. How far do you currently hike on your day hikes and what is the weight of your day pack?

When do you plan to do this hike? 

Here are a couple of maps of the AT that provide detailed info on it. This first one is for the GA section only.  Wish it was for the full length.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=http://stewartholt.csoft.net/AT-Georgia-gm.kmz

This second one has varying info for 19 different trails.  It has distance, elevation, shelter and trail head locations. To see the distance you have to click the "show distances" link and then put you mouse over the trail. If you are zoomed in you will have to move up and down the trail to get the pop up.  It also has a MY TOPO version of the map which is better than the terrain view on Google in my opinion.

http://postholer.com/gmap/gmap.php#

1:50 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Tater,

I agree with Gonzan. Have you ever hiked that far with a backpack on before? If not, I would recommend some test overnight hikes…day hikes may not fully prepare you for the rigors of the pack weight, sleeping somewhere probably less comfortable than your bed at home after exerting yourself for multiple hours in a day, etc…

 There are many ways and methods when it comes to enjoying a backpacking trip and I fully appreciate the athletic challenge of multiple big-mile days myself.

I love your ambition…what a cool way to get into trekking! Like G said, get your gear in order (the people doing big mile trekking usually aren’t doing so with 45lbs and over pack weights) , and find out how reasonable your goals are based on testing yourself in controlled circumstances.

I would also not embark on such an endeavor without being assured that my companions were capable. That’s a primary reason I go solo most times.

So I encourage you to proceed with caution but go for it when you are ready!

2:04 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Just to put my suggestions in context, I am 5'8" and 188lbs, but I am physically strong, and a fairly experienced backpacker. Last fall I bagged over 30 miles in three days at high elevation in the Tetons. My goal the first day was 11 miles, but the elevation completely kicked my but, and I quit pushing at 8,500 feet and 8 miles in. That meant I had to pull a 14 mile day at over 9,000ft on my second day. It was an amazing trip, but that second day was brutal, and I was trashed by the end of day three. If I hike the Teton Crest Trail again, I will either take a couple more days or do a shorter section.  

2:24 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Hey tater Welcome to Trailspace....

 Gonzan and Patman have given you some food for thought..I find their advice true.Testing your fortitude with some overnights at 5 miles but I would work up to  10.  Because the more your use to a pack on your back the easier the hike. Section hiking is alot different than thru hiking . You never get what we call your hiker leggs. It's actually harder to section hike..Because most section hikers do less fitness consecutively when going on a short hike..But it can be done..Just take and hike everyday when you get home or in the morning for x number of  miles amd carry a pack with your pack weight. Move your milage up untli you hit 13 miles. 13 because its over your 10 mile aday target..You be hiking from 3782 in elevation to a gain of 4461 by blood mountain shelter. you alspo need to adjust the amount of gear your taking to make it as comfertible as possible and safe..

2:44 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Tater, welcome to Trailspace. 

Patman said:

(the people doing big mile trekking usually aren’t doing so with 45lbs and over pack weights) 

...Hey wait just a minute there. Tipi where are ya? ;)

Distance hiking is gonna be a tad different for ya than day hiking. 

Take into consideration the different variables:

Pack weight is going to be more although with multiple folks logging the miles with ya everyone doesn't have to pack items such as a stove, tents(unless you are all using solo tents) filters, etc.

Then again this also will have a bit to do with whether or not you all are relying on shelters and dependent on season I don't necessarily know if I would count on space being available. 

I didn't see mention in your original post exactly when you all are planning on hitting the trail so season is going to play a substantial role in what ya take and pack weight.

My pack weight for my typical solo in the warmer seasons hovers around 40lbs.

Winter is close to 70lbs for a week. Heavier tent, heavier sleeping bag, blah blah blah. Plus I am carrying all of my food. My bladder fully engorged alone weighs 6lbs.

So 37.7 in 3 days... 1 multi-day trip. 

As others have stated definitely work up to this. 13 miles/day is not outlandish by any means but at the same time a 13 mile day-hike is one thing.

You can go home and rest those aching muscles but when you are still staring down the barrel of 2 more 13 mile days thats a different story. Then you take into consideration the elevation gains and losses under the weight of a heavier pack it can become somewhat grueling if not conditioned for it. 

Like I said there are quite a few variable to take into consideration.

I recently decided to do a trail that is quite familiar with me and try to set a land speed record for myself. It is 70 miles and I am hitting it in the late spring.

The trail was around 80 miles up until a few weeks ago due to a detour. They rebuilt the bridge that spans the Pa turnpike so its back down to 70 miles.

I am going to try and complete the trail in under 72hrs. 

On my last trip I met up with a few guys and we were talking about whether or not the trail could be completed in 3 days. I took the bait(thanks Dane!!!)

Please if ya could elaborate a bit on when you are exactly planning on doing this trip season wise. This will pay dividends on the advice ya get in regards to what ya may or may not need to carry.

2:45 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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denis daly said:

Hey tater Welcome to Trailspace....

 Gonzan and Patman have given you some food for thought..I find their advice true.Testing your fortitude with some overnights at 5 miles but I would work up to  10.  Because the more your use to a pack on your back the easier the hike. Section hiking is alot different than thru hiking . You never get what we call your hiker leggs. It's actually harder to section hike..Because most section hikers do less fitness consecutively when going on a short hike..But it can be done..Just take and hike everyday when you get home or in the morning for x number of  miles amd carry a pack with your pack weight. Move your milage up untli you hit 13 miles. 13 because its over your 10 mile aday target..You be hiking from 3782 in elevation to a gain of 4461 by blood mountain shelter. you alspo need to adjust the amount of gear your taking to make it as comfertible as possible and safe..

 

yeah what he said! Good stuff Denis...

Tater,

I live close to the Smokies and go there a lot, so I see folks on their first backpacking trip quite often. So many times they over-estimate their capabilities and their first trip turns in to a "death march".

I’ve seen them miserable and crying; sometimes making deals with God to “just please get me off this mountain”.  I saw in your profile that you love hiking so this probably wouldn’t happen to you, but it’s worth mentioning.

 Lol…are we being too harsh?

2:48 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

 My bladder fully engorged alone weighs 6lbs.

You might wanna' see a doctor about that, my friend.

;)

2:53 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Patman said:

 Lol…are we being too harsh?

I hope not :( 

All the advice to work up to it is because we've all bitten off more trail than we could chew, one time or another, and want to help you have the best trip possible. 

Around here we're kind of a "band of brothers" (and sisters :), and welcome new folks to the group, and the opportunity to help where we can

 

2:56 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

Patman said:

 Lol…are we being too harsh?

I hope not :( 

All the advice to work up to it is because we've all bitten off more trail than we could chew, one time or another, and want to help you have the best trip possible. 

Around here we're kind of a "band of brothers" (and sisters :), and welcome new folks to the group, and the opportunity to help where we can

 

I don't think so. Regardless of how it comes off when ya break it all down we all just look out for one another. 

Hope for the best and expect the worst and you will never be let down. :)

3:07 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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Patman said:

denis daly said:

Hey tater Welcome to Trailspace....

 Gonzan and Patman have given you some food for thought..I find their advice true.Testing your fortitude with some overnights at 5 miles but I would work up to  10.  Because the more your use to a pack on your back the easier the hike. Section hiking is alot different than thru hiking . You never get what we call your hiker leggs. It's actually harder to section hike..Because most section hikers do less fitness consecutively when going on a short hike..But it can be done..Just take and hike everyday when you get home or in the morning for x number of  miles amd carry a pack with your pack weight. Move your milage up untli you hit 13 miles. 13 because its over your 10 mile aday target..You be hiking from 3782 in elevation to a gain of 4461 by blood mountain shelter. you alspo need to adjust the amount of gear your taking to make it as comfertible as possible and safe..

 

yeah what he said! Good stuff Denis...

Tater,

I live close to the Smokies and go there a lot, so I see folks on their first backpacking trip quite often. So many times they over-estimate their capabilities and their first trip turns in to a "death march".

I’ve seen them miserable and crying; sometimes making deals with God to “just please get me off this mountain”.  I saw in your profile that you love hiking so this probably wouldn’t happen to you, but it’s worth mentioning.

 Lol…are we being too harsh?

 Tater

I saw 3 people quit the trail when they hit neels gap and they were going to thru hike. Part of the propblem is they were out of shape and they took too much gear...We just want you to have a good trip and succeed in your plans..Any advice we can give to help you just ask. Also a list of what gear from pack etc down to tooth brush we can help you save some weight or you can share gear with your friends..

10:22 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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 is their any section that anyone would suggest or should i start in springer and slowly hike from start to finish?

10:29 p.m. on February 2, 2012 (EST)
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longest day hike is about 14 miles round trip with some pretty steep terrain i will be useing the same gear for this trip unless i need to upgrade ( in-put please) i am currently useing:

mnta 30 pack

pocket rocket stove and cook wear

eno double hammock and sm tent (should i take hammock or just tent also i do not have a sleeping bag yet what is a good light weight sleeping bag blanket ect to use)

2 camelbak bottles

columbia rain gear

poles

black diamond headlamp

thanks for all the in-put and great advice im asking because i just dont know so expert advice is great so please keep it coming

 

we re planning on this trip for the second week in march and hopeing on parking at neels gap and catching a shuttle to springer ( good idea or not, too far? should we go springer to blood?)

 

1:57 a.m. on February 3, 2012 (EST)
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While there is the allure of the AT involved I would recommend for your first backpacking trip maybe doing a shorter loop hike. That way, as already mentioned, you could enjoy the scenery and also not have to deal with the logistical issue of the shuttle.

if you live near that area there are tons of great loop hikes in the surrounding national forest and public lands.

4:12 p.m. on February 3, 2012 (EST)
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tater its easier to keep track of section hiking from springer on in my opinion. There's parking by Henry Gap thats only 23 miles in. You could still have the people from Mountain crossing shuttle you to springer or you could call the hiker hostel at Dahlanega I ould also suggest either www.theatguide.com

 

 or the At companion guide.. They are very helpful guides and must haves either one. Your also going to need water purification tablets or pump or water droplets..

 

11:56 p.m. on February 3, 2012 (EST)
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Here's a section you can hike.  It's not that far from you either. This is my trip report on it. 3 days 2 nights on the AT from Carver's Gap to 19E

If you have hiker legs you can easily do this stretch in a day.  I know because when we parked our cars at the hostel/B&B we met a woman who is section hiking the AT several hundred miles at a time.  We met her the next day @ Stan Murray shelter eating her lunch.  I asked her how much further she was going to hike. She said she was going another 8-10 miles. 

9:26 a.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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 man that looks and sounds like an awesome trip, after reading about all you guys trips it makes me want to go even sooner at 10 places at once so much to think about but you guys help make things simpler. thanks

 

1:24 p.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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With thinking about gear you might want here's a small list to start.

First Aid kit with ibprofen and extra moleskin.

rain jacket

2 pairs smartwool socks.

2 pair inner socks these are xat your descretion but helped me on my thru.

map and guide   ATC has  maps..

water filter or droplets.    I used droplets.

mummy bag or Quilt under 3lbs..

Tent or hammock whichever you perfer.

Down sweater or Pataguchi nano jacket.

para cord 50ft. Bear bag or Stuff bag.

these are just to give you an idea of a gearlist and start one. You want to keep your packweight at no more than 25pds..

 

9:20 p.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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Hi Tater - I think you'll have a great hike.  I'd like to echo several folks here: Don't bite off more than you want too!  I don't have any doubt that you and your friends could hike that stretch in two days, but the question is: What do you want to spend time doing?  If you want to relax in camp with a cigar for a few hours prior to dark, plan shorter days!  I've hiked all of the AT, and each time I head out, I start slow.  5 miles the first day, 7 the second, 10 the third, and then a week or so of mid-mile days before ramping up a bit. Trailspace is a GREAT place to get information on gear.  Keep in mind: Don't carry things you don't need, so you'll have some space to pack the luxuries you really want!  I bring a thin foam pad and a tarp.  This saves me a lot of weight that is quickly taken up by various beverages and books.  Hike your own hike though!

2:42 p.m. on February 12, 2012 (EST)
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Good Day Tarter,

Four days in October 2011 was the pace we had and with 45 lbs plus I didn't want it faster. Water was a problem for us at that time. We had to carry 3 to 4 liters the last 1/2. Your shuttle into springer isn't a short ride, plan your time well. Have a great trip, we did.

PS: Bear cables do not stop flying squirrels.

October 22, 2014
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