Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Planning: Updated Appalachian Trail Stages

Before I can work out what resupply I need to complete my Appalachian Trail (AT) hike, I need to figure out how long I'll be on the trail and how long the stages will be.

I sat down with the 2022 A.T. Guide, the updated version of the guide I used to plan my original thru-hike attempt.  I changed things up a little from last time.  I originally started out short and increased the miles per day over several months.  It turns out I will be doing this over thirty days which doesn't give me time to build up the distance.  I decided to aim for a 10 mile (16 km) average per day to complete the 298 miles (480 km) I have left of the AT.

I'm starting at the same hostel where I quit last time near Gorham, NH.  It is located across the street from the AT.  It turns out that, walking ten miles a day, you pass near a town every four days (more or less).  By 'pass near' I mean within a shuttle ride (only one or two of the towns are actually within walking distance from the trail).  These towns will be my supply points.  Not all of these towns look great for resupply but they all have post offices.  A lot of my resupply will thus be done by mail.  More about this in a later post.

Speaking of towns, during my 2019 attempt I took a lot of zero days (days in towns when I walked zero miles).  I will not be doing this as often this time.  Of the five towns I will be visiting, two will be Nearo-Zero combinations and three will be Nearos.  A 'Nearo' is a day when you walk nearly zero miles into a town and stay one night in a hotel or hostel.  The Nearo-Zero combos are a short hike into town with a  two night stay in a hotel or hostel.  In hindsight I should have done a mix of Nearo and Nearo-Zero stops on my first attempt.  It would have saved time and money.

Another lesson I learned during my 2019 attempt was that I was fixated on staying in shelters.  I talked about this here.  When I set up these new stages I also aimed for shelters but I hope I will apply my lessons learned and let these shelters just be brief stops before I continue a bit farther each day.

Now, I said each stage was going to be around four days long.  This is good since it means I don't have to carry as much food.  There is one caveat tho.  The northernmost part of the AT is known as the 100 Mile Wilderness (it is actually 110 miles ... details, details).  There are no close towns or main roads in this long stretch.  In the old days most hikers had to carry enough food to do all 110 miles.  In more recent times there are services which will do food drops on some of the back roads.  I am waiting for one such service to confirm they can do this.  If this can be done, I will be able to do the wilderness in two four day stages.  If not, I would have to do six very long days.  'Six' because that is the maximum number of days worth of food I can fit in my pack.  'Very long' because I would have to hike 18+ miles (29+ km) per day.

I have updated the Appalachian Trail tab above with the new, updated stages.  You will have to scroll down to the last thirty days to see the new stages.

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