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  1. #1
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    Thru-Hiking the AT

    I'm planting my feet firmly on the trail mid-March 2013 at Springer (I'll be hiking the approach trail, too), and I would really prefer to hang for the entire trip.

    I'm aware that there are going to be times that I won't be able to and have to go to ground, but I wanted to know from any AT thru'ers here that could shed some light on the pros/cons, and why they ultimately chose to hang over taking a tent.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member OldRagFreeze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hang_time View Post
    I'm planting my feet firmly on the trail mid-March 2013 at Springer (I'll be hiking the approach trail, too), and I would really prefer to hang for the entire trip.

    I'm aware that there are going to be times that I won't be able to and have to go to ground, but I wanted to know from any AT thru'ers here that could shed some light on the pros/cons, and why they ultimately chose to hang over taking a tent.

    Thanks in advance.
    I've seen plenty of posts about this and the consensus is usually that you will never have to go to ground.

    Asking for pros and cons for hammocks on a hammock forum will give you some seriously biased opinions.
    "We're the Sultans of Swing."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldRagFreeze View Post
    I've seen plenty of posts about this and the consensus is usually that you will never have to go to ground.

    Asking for pros and cons for hammocks on a hammock forum will give you some seriously biased opinions.
    HA - good point, I should have known better to ask that here

    I guess I'm hoping to get into some serious discussion from thru-hangers that could share their sage advice, and maybe go through my hammock gear specifically to identify any areas I need to, well, "tweak".

  4. #4
    breyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldRagFreeze View Post
    I've seen plenty of posts about this and the consensus is usually that you will never have to go to ground.
    I've seen the same thing. Some mention deciding to go to ground in a shelter due to a really bad storm (easier for that person to set up in a shelter, I guess). But, many, many folks (including Cannibal, I believe) have thru-hiked 100% with a hammock.
    Brian
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    Quote Originally Posted by breyman View Post
    But, many, many folks (including Cannibal, I believe) have thru-hiked 100% with a hammock.
    Thanks for the heads up, I'm excited to get some dialogue going. Cheers, breyman.

  6. #6
    My son started off in shelters, and then made a buddy with a hammock hanger. He bought a Clark North American, started hanging somewhere in Virginia, and never went back to ground that I am aware of. He thru hiked in 2011 and had to outrun Hurricane Irene up near the end. He said he would have never made it to the end without the hammock. He said the weather shield on the Clark was what saved the day keeping him dry at night at least.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by breyman View Post
    But, many, many folks (including Cannibal, I believe) have thru-hiked 100% with a hammock.
    True, but I don't deserve the moniker of thru-hiker...I finished my hike a couple of hundred miles south of Big K and refuse to be a section-hiker, so I'll have to start over again someday.

    OP, I could try to talk you out of the approach trail like folks did me. But, knowing how much I listened to them, I won't waste the time. One exception, if you're hiking it because of Bill Bryson you should keep in mind that the book is fiction. Just sayin....

    While I didn't finish my formal Thru, I have actually seen the entire trail, save Big K. The only area where things get awkward for a hanger is in the Whites. It requires determination to hang through there because much more often than not, you'll need to come down off the ridge a bit to find a suitable hang. Going down at the end of the day is nothing. Going back up in the morning SUCKS! But, as long as you are a northbounder, you'll be able to scramble up there without much issue by that point in your hike.

    The Smokies are no problem. Stealth, hang in shelter, hang next to shelter. There are a hundred ways around sleeping in the shelter and most are perfectly legal. A site devoted to the AT will give you all the options in great detail. Other than SMNP, you're pretty much in the clear until the Whites. There are a couple of areas that claim not to allow hammocks. I seem to remember a State Park in Virginia that the trail goes through for about 10ish miles. They don't allow hammocks (at least in 2008), but then again, it's a short stretch of trail and easily planned for in advance.

    The only other hazard that presented itself was the impact of not having a sleeping pad. I still wouldn't carry one, but there are a handful of hostels that don't have pads on their racks. Inconvenient, but little more. I just skipped those hostels and kept on keeping on.

    Other than these very few things, the AT is like Nirvana for a hanger.
    Trust nobody!

  8. #8
    Dos's Avatar
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    I thru hiked this past year in a hammock.

    I would say maybe 15% - 18% of the hikers were hammockers.

    As Cannibal said, the Whites were a little more challenging. But still very doable. Honestly, I would have rather hung that stayed in the work-for-sty huts.
    I did NOT like feeling like a 2nd class citizen.

    hair_bair made a post a while ago about this very topic. Some very good suggestions were made on there.

    and my vote is ,"No" to the approach trail. Blech.
    While start at minus 8?
    a Few hikers did it. Not alot. By the time you get to VA, nobody cares if you did it or not. lol! Made no logic to me.

    I have a blog on did on trail journals last year.
    By 300 miles in, you'll know what gear works for you and what doesn't.

    I did end up using a sleeping pad though.
    I could have stayed with my Z lite.
    But I went with the Neo Air because a couple of times it absolutely poured right when I got to camp, so I chose the shelter a couple of times.
    the Neo Air worked MUCH better for those situations.
    ( I started with an UQ in GA).

    Shoot me a PM if you want.

    I did like this part of the process of the hike-anticipating the weeks and days countdown
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    In some mysterious way woods have never
    seemed to me to be static things.
    In physical terms, I move through them;
    yet in metaphysical ones,
    they seem to move through me. -
    John Fowles


    GA --> ME '12

  9. #9
    Dos's Avatar
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    oh -
    to address your OP (LOL! sorry)

    I joined hammock forums in October and learned everything I could in a couple of months without much opportunity to try. Good thing I am big on research!
    I thru hiked in a Hennesey Hyperlite.

    Several hammockers had Warbonnets (their setup was much quicker than mine by 2-3 minutes. not that is matters. )
    I saw 3 Clarks the entire way.
    I was with those 2 guys in the beginning and at the end.
    They really loved their Clark

    Alot of hikers (as well as day hikers and section hikers) had alot of questions about my set up. they were very impressed with all the details I had researched
    and I think I converted several

    I would never go to ground again.
    I had to Kent, CT in a town park. That was miserable. But I used my hammock as mosquito netting on the ground.

    If you're using the setup you have listed under your name,
    you are good to go.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    In some mysterious way woods have never
    seemed to me to be static things.
    In physical terms, I move through them;
    yet in metaphysical ones,
    they seem to move through me. -
    John Fowles


    GA --> ME '12

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannibal View Post
    True, but I don't deserve the moniker of thru-hiker...I finished my hike a couple of hundred miles south of Big K and refuse to be a section-hiker, so I'll have to start over again someday.

    OP, I could try to talk you out of the approach trail like folks did me. But, knowing how much I listened to them, I won't waste the time. One exception, if you're hiking it because of Bill Bryson you should keep in mind that the book is fiction. Just sayin....

    While I didn't finish my formal Thru, I have actually seen the entire trail, save Big K. The only area where things get awkward for a hanger is in the Whites. It requires determination to hang through there because much more often than not, you'll need to come down off the ridge a bit to find a suitable hang. Going down at the end of the day is nothing. Going back up in the morning SUCKS! But, as long as you are a northbounder, you'll be able to scramble up there without much issue by that point in your hike.

    The Smokies are no problem. Stealth, hang in shelter, hang next to shelter. There are a hundred ways around sleeping in the shelter and most are perfectly legal. A site devoted to the AT will give you all the options in great detail. Other than SMNP, you're pretty much in the clear until the Whites. There are a couple of areas that claim not to allow hammocks. I seem to remember a State Park in Virginia that the trail goes through for about 10ish miles. They don't allow hammocks (at least in 2008), but then again, it's a short stretch of trail and easily planned for in advance.

    The only other hazard that presented itself was the impact of not having a sleeping pad. I still wouldn't carry one, but there are a handful of hostels that don't have pads on their racks. Inconvenient, but little more. I just skipped those hostels and kept on keeping on.

    Other than these very few things, the AT is like Nirvana for a hanger.
    Thanks for the great feedback, Cannibal, this is exactly the kind of info I wanted to hear.

    Should I give the approach a miss? I wasn't planning on hiking it a-la Bryson to be honest - I didn't enjoy his book (the bloody cover has a grizzly on it for crying out loud - there are no grizzlies on the AT). I'm happy to start at the summit of Springer and just head out from there.

    I may take my small inflatable mat in case... my pack weight will be around 16lbs so I can afford another 12oz in case I have to go to ground.

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