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medicdude332
09-28-2009, 08:59
Howdy all,
Got a question for the wise folks here- right now i'm geared up for an AT thru hike with the traditional March start date. How much modification do you think I need to do to change to a New Year start date? Any potential issues that you may see besides the 'normal' issues involving things not being open that early?

Here is my current set-up:

Blackbird double 1.7 w/ tarp (NOT a winter tarp/no doors)
Thermarest (not sure which one exactly - a light green color - got it as a gift)
3-season Yeti
NF Cats Meow 20-degree bag used as an overquilt
mid-weight thermals (top and bottom) + gloves/hat/neck gaiter

Thoughts?

KerMegan
09-28-2009, 09:12
windsock/overcover?

medicdude332
09-28-2009, 09:16
windsock/overcover?

I'm considering that - maybe the BBO for the blackbird. Have heard good things about 'em...

Cannibal
09-28-2009, 09:17
Winter tarp or a sock is strongly recommended. It's going to be cold, wet, and windy. Something to keep that off of you will be important. A 3-season Yeti is going to be pushed right to the edge of it's range, and probably a fair amount beyond. I'd suggest begging Brandon for a Winter Yeti until it warms up in mid-April. I'd also give some thought to bumping up to some heavy-weight base wear.

You'll spend some very cold nights and mornings, but you will get some serious solitude. I think it will be worth the extra weight just to see the southern section of the AT without the masses. :shades:

medicdude332
09-28-2009, 09:25
Thanks KerMegan and Cannibal the concerns you listed were the ones that I was worried about.

Winter Tarp/sock, wind protection, under-insulation, and some more snivel-gear; unfortunately I dont see having the available funds for them. :( The reason I asked is that something happened in my personal life, and itd almost be easier for me to leave sooner rather than later! :)

Well, i guess i could always just go to ground.... Woah, wait, what am I saying?!?!? :D

KerMegan
09-28-2009, 09:28
Beat feet to the local thrift shop/Goodwill- always lots of fleece/poly running suits and synthetic sweaters for cheep!
good luck, KM

Ekul
09-28-2009, 09:35
It can be surprisingly cold here in GA in January. Typically thats when winter weather actually hits this area. Rarely is it below freezing before xmas.

If you cant afford a 4 season quilt doubling up on pads would be an option. The wind and rain would be my top concern. Once your wet it sucks bc your clothes and self will not dry out at night, only freeze. <<Had personal experience hiking last new years AFSP to Dicks Creek Gap. GL STAY DRY

medicdude332
09-28-2009, 09:41
Thanks all for your words of wisdom. Unfortunately, I'm just not prepared for a winter thru hike at this time - which is why I asked this question, to see how off i really was! :D

Thanks again for your input - the folks here really are the best!

gardenville
09-28-2009, 13:11
Hi,

I may get blasted for saying this but if you really want / need to "get away" in January you might think about using the Shelter System until the weather matches your hammock setup.

If the weather isn't to bad "Hang" if the weather is bad go to a Shelter.

Wendigo
09-28-2009, 13:36
If you're not worried too much about weight maybe get a couple of cheap blue construction tarps from the dollar store that you can rig a shelter out of and then dispose of when the weather clears......those in conjunction with the tarp you already have may be the ticket.......idk just a thought. The goodwill/thrift store idea for fleece, wool or even flannel is a good idea if you just got to go asap. If you have access to a sewing machine you could hit up walmart for some ripstop and make yourself some warmth from the thrift stores. That and using shelters when needed. no shame in staying alive.

medicdude332
09-28-2009, 13:41
Hi,

I may get blasted for saying this but if you really want / need to "get away" in January you might think about using the Shelter System until the weather matches your hammock setup.

If the weather isn't to bad "Hang" if the weather is bad go to a Shelter.

'Shelter System' ? The only 'shelter system' that i'm familiar with is the Hennessy Super Shelter system, which unfortunatly wont work, as I have a Blackbird... Please explain? :confused:

I like the idea about just getting some cheap tarps and dumping them when warmer weather comes, but knowing myself I dont think that would work. Maybe in conjunction with some of the other 'upgrades' that I'd need...

Coffee
09-28-2009, 13:42
Hi,

I may get blasted for saying this but if you really want / need to "get away" in January you might think about using the Shelter System until the weather matches your hammock setup.

If the weather isn't to bad "Hang" if the weather is bad go to a Shelter.

I'm not going to blast you, but agree with you. You will see sub zero temps. Not to mention a lot of darkness. Did I mention a lot of darkness? I finished my southbound AT thru Jan 20th in 07. There were times it was freakin cold, other unseasonably warm. Prepare for the really freakin cold.

Be ready for sub zero and then some. If I were you and dead set on hammocking (I went to the ground after it was a certain temp all the time), still be able to go to the ground when needed. Have a warm pad which is also great in the hammock to add extra warmth.

Warm water bottles and all the other tricks are ok for awhile, but unless you want to night hike a lot, plan on a lot of time in the hammock.

A huge thing for me was eating in my sleeping bag in the morning (yeah right not going to do that when I am froozen). I would sleep with all my clothes in my bag, then get dressed in almost everything while in the bag. Than jump out quick, throw everything in the bag, and take off down the trail. A mile or two later I would warm up enough to relayer or do anything else needed.

Good luck. If I would end up without a job I would join you. Too many people around in the woods sucks...........Southbound Pride!

TinaLouise
09-28-2009, 13:50
pick up some of those instant heat thingys. toe, foot, hand warmers, whichever ones you can find. Having something like this in your first aid kit will make the difference between freezing some night and sleeping warm. Also, make sure you're packing enough food. Not eatting enough at night will cause you to sleep colder than you have to. And you might be able to string up your hammock inside the shelters!!!

Wendigo
09-28-2009, 13:51
just remember that any quickly designed and built warmth system that you make will probably not last more than one good trip and could fail the first time out. but I think its the adversity that you are looking for to work out those internal demons. with that in mind I wish I was in the position to go suffer that with you.

medicdude332
09-28-2009, 13:57
but I think its the adversity that you are looking for to work out those internal demons.

Well I DEF do have some demons, but that's not why I'm thinking of pushing up my start date - I get off military orders this month. I can live off my savings for 2 months to start in January - not really the case with a March start date. That means finding a job for 4, 5 months. It can work, but I'd much prefer being on the trail rather than working while daydreaming about hiking when the weather clears up.

Wendigo
09-28-2009, 14:07
'Shelter System' ? The only 'shelter system' that i'm familiar with is the Hennessy Super Shelter system, which unfortunatly wont work, as I have a Blackbird... Please explain? :confused:

I like the idea about just getting some cheap tarps and dumping them when warmer weather comes, but knowing myself I dont think that would work. Maybe in conjunction with some of the other 'upgrades' that I'd need...

and I think the shelter systems he was referring to are of the permanent type that sit along the trail not something you actually take with you. those will come in handy if you go in Jan. think of them like rest areas on the side of the highway.

medicdude332
09-28-2009, 14:10
and I think the shelter systems he was referring to are of the permanent type that sit along the trail not something you actually take with you. those will come in handy if you go in Jan. think of them like rest areas on the side of the highway.

A-HA! That makes sense - wow, for whatever reason I TOTALLY FORGOT about them! And I wish I was joking about that statement!

Doctari
09-28-2009, 14:11
Just so you know: Even with a start date in March you can get some cold weather.
I was "with the pack" tween Erwin & Damascus last year, got near freezing temps a few nights, & even snow one night (less than 1/16 inch, but visible snow). After I got to town (Damascus) after the snow fall, the Flatland weather man said it got down to the 60s that night, so flatland weather reports / predictions are near useless in the mountains.
On a happier note, one year as I passed thru the Smokies, the weather report (on someone elses radio) said "Severe T-storms all night, beware of flooding!!!" We all laughed cause above the clouds where we were, it was sunny. That was the first time I saw lightning from atop the cloud cover, , much cooler than below. :D

Coffee
09-28-2009, 15:12
just remember that any quickly designed and built warmth system that you make will probably not last more than one good trip and could fail the first time out. but I think its the adversity that you are looking for to work out those internal demons. with that in mind I wish I was in the position to go suffer that with you.

From what I saw, people with issues to work out dropped out. If you can't handle something in your current life. Going on a hike is the worse thing to do. You have all the time in the world with only your thoughts.

medicdude332
09-28-2009, 15:18
From what I saw, people with issues to work out dropped out. If you can't handle something in your current life. Going on a hike is the worse thing to do. You have all the time in the world with only your thoughts.

Agreed!
P.S. and as I mentioned earlier, I started this thread b/c of work timing and the military :)

Wendigo
09-28-2009, 15:22
From what I saw, people with issues to work out dropped out. If you can't handle something in your current life. Going on a hike is the worse thing to do. You have all the time in the world with only your thoughts.

it would all depend in what conditions are causing you problems in life....is it something that can actually be handled while in front of you or is it something that you need to get your mind off of to be ale to see through it. not all people or problems are equal. For some a non-issue(personal life) adversity can be just the thing to clear the mind right up, and for others like you saw, nothing can help them. Personally I hate being alone with my thoughts while my issue lingers in front of me with no definable cure. Man, I may need that hike more than him.

medicdude332
09-28-2009, 15:23
it would all depend in what conditions are causing you problems in life....is it something that can actually be handled while in front of you or is it something that you need to get your mind off of to be ale to see through it. not all people or problems are equal. For some a non-issue(personal life) adversity can be just the thing to clear the mind right up, and for others like you saw, nothing can help them. Personally I hate being alone with my thoughts while my issue lingers in front of me with no definable cure. Man, I may need that hike more than him.

LOL - Meet ya at Springer in 10 days? :lol:

Wendigo
09-28-2009, 15:26
LOL - Meet ya at Springer in 10 days? :lol:

yeah....we can trade army stories......lol. I wish I was prepared for that. two people would be better..one can carry camp gear and the other food.

keys?
09-28-2009, 15:41
Howdy all,
Got a question for the wise folks here- right now i'm geared up for an AT thru hike with the traditional March start date. How much modification do you think I need to do to change to a New Year start date? Any potential issues that you may see besides the 'normal' issues involving things not being open that early?

Here is my current set-up:

Blackbird double 1.7 w/ tarp (NOT a winter tarp/no doors)
Thermarest (not sure which one exactly - a light green color - got it as a gift)
3-season Yeti
NF Cats Meow 20-degree bag used as an overquilt
mid-weight thermals (top and bottom) + gloves/hat/neck gaiter

Thoughts?

Jeeze, I'm starting first part of Feb, and my setup includes:

Clark NA with mini pocket quilts and end foot insulator
pad
-16* bag
baselayer
and possibly a sock
gloves, hat, buff, fleece

Do ya'll think I need a sock?

Leads me to wonder if I'm overdoing it? Don't want to carry more than I need, obviously.

Coffee
09-28-2009, 15:52
Jeeze, I'm starting first part of Feb, and my setup includes:

Clark NA with mini pocket quilts and end foot insulator
pad
-16* bag
baselayer
and possibly a sock
gloves, hat, buff, fleece

Do ya'll think I need a sock?

Leads me to wonder if I'm overdoing it? Don't want to carry more than I need, obviously.

-16 might be a little overkill if you sleep hot. I am a human popscile and would have liked it at times. The problem is some nights will be warm in the 40's or so and others will be below zero. Just need to be able to sleep over a wide range.

This is one of the big things that makes thru hiking harder from a gear prospective than a weekend. Over a weekend you know what weather you are going to have, over a long period you need to be ready for anything.

Good luck everyone. I need to stop reading this before I quit my job and join you.

Coffee
09-28-2009, 15:54
If you are really in doubt, send yourself a mail drop for a week in. Stock it with things to make you warmer and things if you are too hot. Replace and mail back what you don't need.

keys?
09-28-2009, 15:57
If you are really in doubt, send yourself a mail drop for a week in. Stock it with things to make you warmer and things if you are too hot. Replace and mail back what you don't need.

Good idea :D

gardenville
09-28-2009, 16:03
A-HA! That makes sense - wow, for whatever reason I TOTALLY FORGOT about them! And I wish I was joking about that statement!

Hi,

I guess I could have made the "Shelter" statement a bit clearer. They are nice when the weather gets really bad or everything you are carrying is wet.

I don't think it takes as much to keep "ME" warm sleeping on the ground or in a Shelter as it does in my Hammock. You need to think about setup time when you are really cold and just want to get into your sleeping bag to warm up.

I love my Hammock but I think I can get everything setup faster when it is real cold if I am sleeping on the ground.

It seems like every year their are a few folks start the AT the first of January so you may not always be alone at night. That is unless you want to be alone.

Coffee
09-28-2009, 17:10
Hi,

I guess I could have made the "Shelter" statement a bit clearer. They are nice when the weather gets really bad or everything you are carrying is wet.

I don't think it takes as much to keep "ME" warm sleeping on the ground or in a Shelter as it does in my Hammock. You need to think about setup time when you are really cold and just want to get into your sleeping bag to warm up.

I love my Hammock but I think I can get everything setup faster when it is real cold if I am sleeping on the ground.

It seems like every year their are a few folks start the AT the first of January so you may not always be alone at night. That is unless you want to be alone.

I remember a few of them. Funny thing is I was finishing up at the same time they were starting. Made me think of the northbounders I saw finishing when I was starting. Both times I thought they were a little off.

Coffee
09-28-2009, 17:12
Good idea :D

Thanks, another one that helped me out a bunch was to number all the gear I left with my family. Along with some food. That way I could say send #12 or whatever, and have them send food to the next stop to save a little money since I was getting a box anyways. Didn't always work, got to love how a mom wants to send you extra warm clothes and food.;)

Perkolady
09-28-2009, 18:24
Leads me to wonder if I'm overdoing it? Don't want to carry more than I need, obviously.

Sarah, unless you're a really super warm sleeper, IMO, you're not overdoing it. One thing that will really make things seem a lot colder is the wind !

You never know WHAT will be thrown at you weather-wise here on the GA AT in Feb. Could be Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it (as grandma used to say).

At the beginning of the AT, there are a number of road crossings where, if you ran into trouble either way, you can arrange for a ride. You can also arrange a mail drop or mail gear home pretty easily too.

Maybe before you leave, you'll have some kick-butt weather you can test things out in to find out what would work best for you .... :)

Coffee
09-29-2009, 00:04
Over do it at the start. Everyone does. Bring change and listen to it. If something works better change. Too many people need to justify their expensive gear by keeping it when there are better options or telling people they should do the same. You'll figureit out. Go with the flow and listen to your body. Don't freak out with the planning.

Cannibal
09-29-2009, 09:07
Over do it at the start. Everyone does. Bring change and listen to it. If something works better change. Too many people need to justify their expensive gear by keeping it when there are better options or telling people they should do the same. You'll figureit out. Go with the flow and listen to your body. Don't freak out with the planning.
Best advise so far. :shades:

keys?
09-29-2009, 09:23
Sarah, unless you're a really super warm sleeper, IMO, you're not overdoing it. One thing that will really make things seem a lot colder is the wind !

You never know WHAT will be thrown at you weather-wise here on the GA AT in Feb. Could be Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it (as grandma used to say).

At the beginning of the AT, there are a number of road crossings where, if you ran into trouble either way, you can arrange for a ride. You can also arrange a mail drop or mail gear home pretty easily too.

Maybe before you leave, you'll have some kick-butt weather you can test things out in to find out what would work best for you .... :)

Yeah, I have been thinking about the wind factor, will probably be a major contributor to cold weather. I will definitely do a few gear tests this winter, it gets pretty cold here in Iowa, also might make a trip to MI in december weather permitting, to hang.


Over do it at the start. Everyone does. Bring change and listen to it. If something works better change. Too many people need to justify their expensive gear by keeping it when there are better options or telling people they should do the same. You'll figureit out. Go with the flow and listen to your body. Don't freak out with the planning.

I have been freaking out a little with the planning, well I should say it comes and goes in waves ;)

beep
09-29-2009, 09:44
Not to hijack your thread, but I found this interesting link about gear for a North Pole trek last spring...(boggled at the $1,000 boots:boggle:, etc.).

http://gearjunkie.com/north-pole-gear-test

OK, back on track. When it's cold (especially at less than 20 degrees F.), the wind becomes a HUGE factor. IMO, experimenting and practicing both hiking and camping in winter conditions is a big deal and worth the effort before you start out. Gear that looks interesting and useful in the store or in the comfort of home may be much less desirable when trying to use it in a 20 mph wind while wearing mittens at -5 degrees wind chill.

Wendigo
09-29-2009, 11:18
Not to hijack your thread, but I found this interesting link about gear for a North Pole trek last spring...(boggled at the $1,000 boots:boggle:, etc.).

http://gearjunkie.com/north-pole-gear-test



someone needs to do that trek starting out with a speedo and a buck knife......then I would like to see them return with polar bear clothes, penguin shoes and a caribou backpack....maybe Les could pull that off.

most likely not feasible but I would definitely watch that show.

now back to more serious matters......