Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Murfreesboro, TN
Hammock: Underquilts.com doublenest
Tarp: 12x10 DIY w/ doors
Suspension: Woopie/Tree Strap
Great things to know, gearing up to do the full trail next year starting in March. This is some great info. I definitely would stray away from the dog idea, only because of certain wildlife encounters and the dogs natural territory gene.
Join Date: Mar 2013
Hammock: HB Single
I used to take my dog with me on all of my AT trips (except in the Smokies). She's too old now, though. I never had a problem of any kind, and she loved it. I tied her off to one of my trees at night, and she slept under my hammock on a small pad I brought with me.
In late March, the water will likely be much more plentiful than any guide will tell you. Other than the section from Hawk to Justis, you probably won't go far without finding water. Once summer comes, a lot of seasonal sources start to dry up. Fall can be pretty dry.
You can hang just about anywhere along the AT...parks being possible exceptions, although I hung every night on a trip through the Smokies last fall...either from or near the shelters. The only ranger that I encountered asked a lot of questions, but did not have a problem with it. At least HE understood that the prohibitions against tent camping at the backcountry shelters are intended to minimize impact...and that hammocks also minimize impact. That doesn't mean there aren't rangers who wouldn't feel this way.
The parking area is about 1 mile N of Springer on FS 42. It's a very safe parking area in my experience.
I do not own a bug net, and have never felt the need for one. Nearly all of my trips are on the AT between GA and VA. Of note, I also do not go backpacking anytime from mid-June to September.
+1 on the recommendation to carry a guide of some sort. The trail is well marked, but there are still plenty of reasons you might need a guide. I photocopy the applicable sections of the USGS map and the pages from the AT data book. I keep them folded up in a ziplock bag with the data book information facing out for easy reference.
Thanks again to everyone, this forum is by far the best on the net!!!
"Life's short, if you don't stop and look around every once in a while you might miss it". FB