To Ron and Others:
I want to reply to some of Ron's concerns. I do appreciate Ron's concern and the fact that he took the time to outline them.
I popped over to Whiteblaze and read your thread over there. While I frequently disagree with people like Jack Tarlin or Lone Wolf I do respect that they each have in excess of 10 thru-hikes on the AT so are still quite knowledgeable and whose opinions shouldn’t be summarily dismissed.
>> I have two plans, one that would put me in Maine the first of January 2007 and one that would put me in Georgia the first of January. For now I am watching the weather around the NH / ME area close.
This AT hike will not be a 5 resupply hike though.
Reply: [I would want to do a "regular resupply" AT Thru-Hike first and then see if I thought "I" could do it with 5 loads of food.]
I want this hike to be with a pack weight never more than about 20 pounds worth of food till after I am into the hike by 300 to 400 miles or so. <<
Reply: [20 pounds of food would give me up to 13 days worth of food or less days and more food per day.] [This does not include my gear - the weight of which is more or less dependent on the weather at the time.] [After 300 to 400 miles or for the Virginia area I might try a really long section or at least all of VA in one resupply.]
If I’m reading the above statement correctly, then I have extreme doubts about your level of understanding about the hike you’re planning on undertaking. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly respect the level of work you’ve done over the last few years in getting your gear pared down to the absolute minimum. I’m also well aware that there is frequently a gap between our expectations and reality. Which is why that of the thousands of people who attempt the AT each year, as much as a third drop out in the first 100 miles.
Reply: [I appreciate your concern. I have been planning and revising a winter SOBO AT hike for about 12 years. I even tried it once and ran into very heavy early snow and stopped. I have been to Maine and NH several times during the winter months, hiking, snowshoeing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and in general playing in the snow and cold to very cold weather. I have both old school cold winter gear - that means on the heavy side - and some newer lighter weight winter gear. One way or another I am good to well below "0" F. The coldest I have been was about -10 F around Mt Washington. Blinding snow and very high winds. That was "get below tree line" weather and we did. That is part of the reason I have been able to grow old. To para phrase PJ - I may be old but I am not foolish. I have had a lot of experience doing "risk" analysis. ]
One of the downsides of dwelling on theory is that it frequently draws us further away from reality. This is primarily because when dealing with theories, it’s extremely difficult to include all of the additional factors that need to be included in forming a realistic projection.
Hiking the AT in New England in January, if not impossible, would be extremely difficult.
Reply; [I have hiked in the White Mountains of NH (I used a guide service for the Mt Washington part) and parts of Maine in the winter and understand first hand how dangerous and unforgiving it can be.] [When you climb Mt Katahdin in the winter Baxter State Park requires you to use an approved Guide Service. I have investagated the use of a guide services through the White Mt's as well but it is all dependent on the snow level and if the trail is packed down enough to tell where it goes.]
It’s certainly not something to be done with an SUL pack.
Reply: [My weight definition of SUL changes with the seasons but call it what you want.]
Even hiking the southern AT at that time of the year is not something to be toyed with.
Reply: [I lived in Dahlonega, GA for 11 years and went hiking on the AT or BMT every month of the year. I understand how the weather can be in North GA, TN, NC and the Smokies.]
You should expect to carry and use snow shoes for at least some of the hiking.
Reply: [I own NorthernLite Snowshoes and Kahtoola Crampons and know how to use them.] [I have also used sheet metal screws in my trail runners for traction on ice.]
If you want to know what you’re getting into, I’d read Brian Robinsons journals (http://royrobinson.homestead.com/TrailLogs_Jan.html).
Reply: [I have read Brian's journal several times along with at least 10 or 12 other good books about or with good sections on Winter Hiking.
On his hike even Brian had to abandon hiking on the AT due to 10 deep snows in Vermont and that was in March.
Reply: [This is why I am watching the weather close. I would start earlier than Brian did (1 January) and only with very little snow on the trail. I have a bail out plan for each section of the AT in Maine. I would "bail out" if the snow got to deep or masked the trail.]
I realize this post will come across as just another negative naysayer. But I am concerned that you approach the AT with as much of a realistic view as possible. I will also admit that while I know much about your skills at making gear, my knowledge of your hiking skills is severely lacking. Have you done a 2000 mile trail before? Have you hiked hundreds of miles in deep snow and cold? What is the temperature range of your insulation gear? Will it support daytime temps in the 20’s and nighttime temps of 0 degrees? Will your diet support the additional calories needed to combat the additional cold and hiking difficulty?
Perhaps a separate thread should be created. Their you can outline your plans and expectations and request feedback.
Reply: [Good idea.]