Long Trail water availability? and more...
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will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
Long Trail water availability? and more... on 08/19/2010 15:44:46 MDT Print View

I'm planning an 8 to 10 day 'alpine style' attempt soon, schedule permitting. I know its been dry, but has anyone been up there recently and know a bit more about water availability?
Also, does sleeping in a shelter still count as unsupported? or would one have use their shelter every night?

Thanks, and more questions to come as I keep working on this...

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
h20 on 08/19/2010 17:10:55 MDT Print View

I was out on Mansfield and north of Camel's Rump on Bamforth Ridge this past weekend. Conditions are definitely dry, not like last year where we had a wet June and July. There's water out there on along the trail, but there are defiantly some dry patches. North of Camels Hump is dry until you get to Gleason Brook and the "Cascades." I ran into a couple LT thru hikers (one who was out of water on the ridge). They all said it was dry, but not too bad.

I haven't been down there in a while, but the ridge between Mt Ab and the Ap Gap at Route 17 is always dry. I wouldn't count on any water there at this time of year. That's where I've run out of water before even with 3 liters. Don't count on any water at Theron Dean, that source can be low in July.

Overall, if you're careful about filling up when you have the chance, I'd guess you would be fine. I was up between Route 58 and Journey's End a couple weeks ago and people coming south kept telling me how dry it was up north, but it didn't seem too bad. That said, that was a month ago and there's no rain in the forecast for the next seven days.

I don't know anything about "supported" definitions. Some of the shelters are plush and some are kind of gross. Also, some are kind of small, so I wouldn't rely on staying in a shelter if you're on a tight schedule. I've found that late August and early Sept are some of the most crowded times to be on the LT.

Have you done the LT in the past? Is there a reason you're aiming for 8 days? Just wondering.

Best,
Vino Vampire!

Good luck!

will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
Thanks Man! on 08/19/2010 20:05:06 MDT Print View

Thanks for the detailed reply Thomas.
I thru'ed the LT in a normal fashion last summer, pretty much the entirety of july. I need to be at school on Sept. 3rd, and would like to fit the LT into my available time. I'd also rather not resupply to avoid the trouble of it (which I am sure is less than I think).
I just finished a NOLS trip and am used to carrying 9 days of food in a 60-70lb pack, so the duration seems about right. Its a fair bit of miles each day, which i think I would be able to do, but would be very challenging. I think 9 days is the goal.
If all goes according to plan I'll get a ride up on saturday, start early sunday and finish Monday night (the 30th).
Any other information you have, water related or not, would be super appreciated.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
of course on 08/19/2010 22:24:27 MDT Print View

Well, that sounds like a great adventure! That's an intense schedule for an unsupported LT Thru hike. Since the LT is about 272 miles (plus Pine Cobble and Journey's End), that puts you at 31 miles every day. Totally doable down south, but a bit more work up north.

Depending on the daytime temperature and your time table, you may want to consider some serious night hikes. Actually, I could see that being really fun either hiking past sunset for a few hours or starting pre-dawn around 4am. I've been known to break camp at 4am to get some good miles in during the cooler part of the day just for fun. That may be unnecessary, but it's something to consider.

Just out of interest, did you have any problems resupplying when you thru hiked last year?

If you're on the trail Aug 28/29, you may run into me up on Division 12. If my NH Presidential trips falls through that weekend, my backup plan is to be up that way. I usually wear a blaze orange hat.

Best!
-v-

Edited by vinovampire on 08/19/2010 22:25:37 MDT.

will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
morning hiking on 08/20/2010 06:11:40 MDT Print View

I'm trying to work out a good daily schedule now. Heat is definitely a consideration, as well as getting to shelters before they fill up, or at least early enough that i can keep going if they are crowded. One of the 'rules' I have is no hiking at night, set by my mother, and I need a ride from her so that is to be obeyed. the average civil twilights for the trip( aka when it gets light out/dark out, but before sunrise/after sunset) is 4:42 and 7:07. So I totally dig the idea of getting up at 4 to start hiking. Do you do breakfast in camp, or hike for a while and then eat? Sleep is also very important to me, so that might come into play.

I hiked it last year as a trip that the summer camp I used to go to ran. So it was a group of 9 of us, and all of our resupplies were meeting someone at a road crossing. I'm avoiding resupplying for a few reasons. First, I'd like to maintain the illusion of being in the backcountry. Second, it is simpler without, and third, My parents would have issues with me hitching rides to towns and being in them, they feel much better about me being in the woods(safety wise).

I'll keep an eye out for you, it would be awesome to run into someone. At that point I'll be the famished, tall, long haired, 16 or 17 year old.

Edit: also, what are your thoughts on bear-bagging? I want to keep all of my food, but hanging a bear bag is also annoying and a big time-sink, especially if you are rolling in at or after sunset.

Edited by wjsawyer on 08/20/2010 06:18:25 MDT.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
bears on the Long Trail on 08/20/2010 12:31:52 MDT Print View

Ha! I hear what you're saying; you don't want to make the "Momma Grizzly" angry (nod to Sarah Palin) by hiking at night or hitching. I'm a grown man and I still always make sure to tell my GF and mom the route I will be taking before I go out on a hike and then call them both as soon as i get off the trail. It's good to have people watching out to make sure you get home safe.

In regard to your questions: First, everybody does things differently when it come to meals, but I always try to break camp as fast as possible and then eat a Pop Tart or something at my first natural rest stop.

Second, lately, I've gotten into the habit of always bear bagging unless I'm in a 4-walled shelter. I use the PCT method, which never takes me more than a few minutes once I've found a good branch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgBLDMuPuvE

That said, I know that the VAST majority of people who stay in shelters don't bear bag and I haven't heard of any bear problems, except at Seth Warner. Of course, that's the first shelter on the LT and to keep on schedule I'd guess you'd have to stay around Kidd Gore on your first night out. As you well know from your hike last year, 25 to 30 mile days are reasonable in the southern part of the LT. I guess my recommendation would be that if you're in a shelter, just critter bagging should be fine, unless otherwise noted.

Also, on another note, keep an eye out for the UVM Wilderness TREK kids. I know that start out on the LT this weekend, so you may run into a couple groups of them at various points along they way. I did TREK back in college and they're usually nice, friendly little groups. They use tarps, so they shouldn't be a problem with the shelters.

Again, good luck, enjoy the trail, and make sure to post a trip report when you finish your hike!

will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
slight plan change on 08/20/2010 14:13:13 MDT Print View

The pct method looks great, I'll have to try that out. I'm being forced to end a day earlier than I had planned because my dad needs to get to NYC for business, so down to 8 days for the hiking....my legs hurt just thinking about it. I made a google docs spreadsheet of food, milage and where I'll be. google docs because I don't have excel on my computer. Feel free to take a look, https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Amj0tCfFegdCdEkwVWxJYWxMaURVaFJTbWZMX2tZanc&hl=en&authkey=CKvYj44H

So hopefully story spring shelter first night. And I have vivid memories and blurry pictures of that bear at seth warner. What a way to start a hike!

Huge thanks again for your interest and help.

will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
back, and a bit early... on 08/26/2010 10:15:09 MDT Print View

I bailed on day four after suffering quite a bit of foot and joint problemson the second and third days. Unlike many people (it seems) I can't completely run myself into the ground, both the mental block and the fact that I have to start running cross country in a week and need my feet for that. I did the 33 the first day, made it 30 the second, and then 12 on day three, then 7 on the last day to get out to a highway. Any there was plenty of water! especially falling from the sky.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: back, and a bit early... on 08/27/2010 09:50:01 MDT Print View

Well, I hope you enjoyed the trip! That's the most important thing on the trail and in life in general.

You planned a really intense schedule that very few people would even think think about doing, never mind accomplish. I remember that Andy Skurka tried and was unsuccessful at to do the LT in 8 days (actually the plan was a 16-day Yo-Yo, but you get the idea). From his trip report, he bailed on day 4 too. Check it out here: http://www.andrewskurka.com/LT06/index.php

On the LT, I tend to think of anything over 20 miles as a big day. I've done more, but never planned, always when I've just been on a "runners high" and couldn't get myself to stop.

Best,
Vino Vampire!