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Why you should NOT start your thru hike in March | Appalachian Trail

one of the many things to consider when

planning an Appalachian Trail thru-hike

is when to start and where to start

speaking of starting March is the

beginning the start of thru-hikers

season it is incredibly busy coming out

of a McCullough falls on top of Springer

Mountain heading northbound on your 18th

through hike today I am going to discuss

reasons that you may not want to start

your through hike in March so if you're

planning your 18 through hike and you're

thinking about starting at March here

are some things to consider

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hey welcome back hikers and I hope

future through hikers to follow a

Bigfoot where knowledge is our niche to

hiking the outdoors

special video here today this is

actually a video that you guys chose I

did a little bit of a poll on my channel

here this last week on four different

video topics which one would you like

for me to start with first now I have

the intention of doing all these videos

but what you guys wanted to hear from

first is reasons why you should not

start your thru-hike in March all right

well before we get into this I want to

do a very brief disclosure I am NOT

against starting your thru-hike on the

Appalachian Trail in March heading

northbound as a matter of fact I think

for many people it makes sense I know

there's probably hikers right now that

are probably sitting at the amical Falls

Lodge starting to throw out tomorrow

watching this video and thinking crap

did I make a mistake alright so don't

freak out I am going to discuss all the

reasons but for some hikers there are

things that you need to consider before

you land on starting in March now when I

was thinking about this video and the

content I came up with a list of things

that I felt were valid reasons oh why

you might not want to start you through

hiking March I did not start my through

hiking March as a matter of fact my

through hiked the Appalachian Trail I

started my hike in April April 23rd

although I did go back to Georgia the

following year in March and did the

entire Georgia section and so I do have

experience hiking in Georgia in March

but what I decided to do gather

information opinions from some of the

folks out there that deal with this

stuff every single day and the folks

that came first to mind are the folks

right there on the 80 that deal with

hikers every single March I had an

opportunity to talk to four different

people from plasini read off some of my

notes just so I can stay organized the

first one the visitor center at amiable

defaults I talked to a gentleman there

his name is hunter he's been working at

Amicalola Falls visitor center for a

little bit and I also talked to a Ridge

Runner that his area is somewhere in

that a McCullough Falls area but he was

at the Visitor Center when I spoke to

him his name is Nick his trail name is

Master Splinter and then I

maaan crossings which is at Neal's gap

which is the first major landmark they

hit on the 80 heading northbound from

Springer is also notoriously the place

where a lot of people hang it up

actually literally they hang up their

boots in a tree and they call it quits

matter of fact about one out of every

five hikers will quit at mountain

crossings but I spoke to a gentleman

there named Ryan his trail name is one

speed he threw out the Appalachian Trail

in 2015 along with the long trail and

then last year he did the PCT I decided

to call top of Georgia hostile I talked

to Bob Sir packs a lot so I got a

variety of perspective outside of just

my own on this subject after gathering

all this information from these four

experienced dudes and myself I came up

with five different reasons why you

might want to reconsider starting it

through hike in March but here's some

numbers first and then we'll get into

the reasons for the hikers out there

that start in January which is about 75

to 100 every year almost 100% of those

hikers quit I know we're talking about

March but I just thought that was

interesting

I mentioned 20 percent of the hikers

quit at mountain crossings one in five

twenty five percent of the hikers quit

at Dick's Creek gap which is mile

markers 69 and then half half quit at

Hot Springs which is mile marker two

seventy four point five now the busiest

30 day stretch in Georgia on the trail

is mid-march to mid-april

with weather conditions in March every

year they have to rescue hikers that are

stranded or stuck in the mountains of

Georgia now at the time of my discussion

with the visitor center and Amoco Falls

which was on Friday March 8th

there have been 695 hikers that have

registered at Amicalola Falls State Park

visitor center for their thru-hike

northbound now the last week they were

getting somewhere between 40 maybe even

upwards to 50 hikers starting each day

there are a lot more hikers that start

there through hike and don't register

highly recommended to register so we can

get an accurate number on how many folks

are actually on the trail and try to

manage the trail conditions a little bit

the actual number of hikers is about

doubled

what checks in through the ATC and an

amicable falls visitor center now for

those of you that aren't familiar with

ATC stands for Appalachian Trail

Conservancy that is the organization

that manages the 80 I did reach out to

them my friend Laurie Potter we did a

video actually together you might have

seen it last February when I did the

winners for state challenge we did a

tour of the ATC but she was out of the

office unfortunately and I didn't get a

chance to connect with Lori I would love

to have her opinion on this matter as

well but didn't get that opportunity all

right so that's enough about the numbers

let's go ahead and go in to reason

number one which is weather weather in

Georgia I think a lot of hikers think

that it's gonna be sunshine rainbows and

butterflies and that's just not the case

actually in Georgia and March it's their

rainy season they also sometimes have

extended weather from winter that's

bleeding right into March last week it

got down into these single digits and

then if you factor in the wind it

actually fell below zero negative

temperatures so you need to be prepared

for this so that's the first thing and

whether it's it's gonna be cold and I

remember actually I think it was in 2017

maybe it was yeah 2017 there was a leak

that it got very very cold I mean I

think it was a whole entire week that it

was in the single digits it might even

crept below zero and the negatives bunch

of hikers had to get off the trail

because they weren't prepared

those temperatures which everything

filled up really really quick I also

heard that some hikers had to be rescued

in the Smokies during this stretch of

March now temperatures aren't the only

thing that you have to worry about with

weather in March it is not uncommon for

to snow in Georgia in March and then

when you get into the Smokies it

intensifies 2013 there was four feet of

snow that was dumped in the Smokies so

much that Newfound Gap collapsed there

was a hiker very experienced I was told

he decided to push through go into the

Smokies got stranded no one could get to

him and unfortunately he paid the

ultimate price and ended up dying which

is something that I think everyone needs

to consider is this not just Georgia

that you're starting when you're

starting so early you

have to think about what weather's gonna

be like in the Smokies it is really

unpredictable

as a matter of fact you really aren't

clear of possible weather conditions and

the Smokies until the end of May I'm not

saying that you need to start on like

June first because you wouldn't have

time to be able to get through the

entire 80 it's just not uncommon for it

to snow and have winter conditions in

the Smokies really late so starting it

through hike in March you got to worry

about the temperatures we got to worry

about the possibility of snow and then

rain like I said earlier it is the rainy

season in March rain and cold conditions

are really serious for any through hiker

in March when a lot of inexperienced

hikers are just starting and learning

everything they don't have a lot of

skill sets and this just adds to that

list of things that you need to worry

about number two when weather hits it

shortens the learning curve for in

experienced hikers so with all these

things going on first off hikers are not

equipped to handle these kind of

conditions a lot of them are but many of

them are not so they get into these

situations sometimes survival situations

so I was talking to bobster packs a lot

every single year both him and mountain

crossings get calls for support on

trying to rescue these hikers they get

stranded they get stuck they call 9-1-1

and sometimes they ask for their

guidance and their help to try to get

these hikers to safety now specifically

to equipment a lot of inexperienced

hikers don't have the right clothing to

handle these conditions the number one

thing that you need to do is stay dry

and stay warm they handle these

conditions and do very very well in cold

and wet conditions is wool and fleece so

make sure you do your research have the

right clothing have the right materials

for the worst possible conditions that

you can experience now speaking of this

learning curve the next thing is money a

lot of hikers that are out there don't

have unlimited funds they're in between

jobs are in between schooling they just

got done graduating they don't have a

lot of money when they end up getting on

trail and they're not equipped to handle

these conditions they and

dropping a ton of money at places like

mountain crossings to get the gear that

they need in these conditions now one

thing that one speed which is the guy

that I spoke to at Mon crossing said you

can't buy your way out of this there was

actually a guy that came in just the

other day and dropped $1,000 on all

kinds of new different gear because he

didn't have the right gear to start off

with only ended up making it one day

more you just can't buy your way out of

it but for many of you out there you

don't have the money to do this anyways

so what ends up happening you buy all

this gear and even if it works and you

are able to stay on trail a lot of times

folks have to get off trail because they

ran out of money and they can't afford

to keep on hiking so I'll just say this

again when and where you start you

through like make sure that you do your

research and you are prepared for the

absolute worst possible conditions so

that you don't land into the worst

possible outcomes of those conditions

moving on to my third reason if you're

starting your through hike and early

through hiking season March or earlier

you have to bring more gear or the gear

that you bring is gonna be heavier

because you need to have the right gear

to handle the conditions that you might

experience now stating the obvious here

you're bringing more gear heavier gear

your pack weight is gonna go up which

means you're gonna hike less miles

you're going to spend more money because

you're on the trail longer you are

spending more money on this gear that

you have to upgrade to reason number

four the trail is overcrowded I

mentioned earlier that hunter from

Amicalola Falls State Park visitor

center said that 690 folks have

registered so far this year half of

those are probably in the first seven or

eight days of March because they're

getting forty to fifty a day double that

and that's probably close to a more

accurate number of hikers probably

somewhere around 14 to 1500 hikers that

are on the trail right now now I spoke

to one speed among crossings about this

overcrowding thing and he looked at it

as hiking through a city he said it's

very common for that Hockman shelter

which is the first major shelter on the

80 to have 50 to 60 hikers stay in there

in March if your intention to throw in

the Appalachian Trail is to seek

solitude then this is

probably a bit of a problem starting at

March in Georgia now finding solitude in

March isn't impossible to do this if you

want to stay at a place that no one's

staying at you're gonna have to find the

Stealth campsite that probably means

that you're gonna have to end your hike

early for the day or you're gonna have

to hike more miles to find the spot now

with over Carney of hikers this also

poses a major problem for the trail

itself the conditions of the trail when

I spoke to hunter he wouldn't a little

bit deeper with us there are so many

hikers you have so many hikers out there

a lot of them aren't digging the proper

cat holes proper cat hole should be six

to eight inches deep in four to six

inches wide a lot of hikers out there

aren't even digging there is pooping in

the woods and they're leaving it right

there remember it's rainy season the

rain washes that away and where do you

think that goes it goes into your

nearest water source not just to mention

that but you have people peeing

everywhere so the combination of the pee

and the feces the rainy season and all

this overcrowding gives the higher risk

of very unsanitary waters in these areas

now hunter recommended that you have two

different ways to be able to purify your

water first your filter he recommends a

Sawyer to squeeze second that you bring

something to help purify that after you

filter it like aqua mara or some sort of

tablet the more people that we have on

the trail the worse that it gets I

strongly empower all of you to be his

trail advocates when you see people that

aren't following proper trail etiquette

I did a video on trail headed kid and

I'll link it above here if you haven't

seen it yet you see something say

something

the behavior of these very few

individuals never change and sometimes

they encourage others to do the same

when you see something say something my

fifth and final reason due to the

overcrowding you just have a greater

chance of no vacancy where you would

like to stay whether it's in town or at

a hostel during this busy season

especially during the month of March

now speaking with bobster packs a lot on

his hostile topic georgia every single

day by noon they fill up in the month of

March plan ahead but not

a head sometimes Bob we get calls from

people that were at Neal's gap which is

mile-marker like 32 or something trying

to book their stay at Dix Creek gap for

a week later when there's a lot of

things that can happen in a week but Bob

recommends is call the night before or

the morning of typically if you call in

the a.m. or the p.m. the night before

you'll be able to get a spot reserved at

his hostel so that wraps up my five

reasons or five things to consider

before you are set to start your

thru-hike in March but I have some

advice all the guys I talked to we ended

our conversation with me asking them

what advice do you have for through

hikers

for through hikers that might want to

start in March or other times a year or

just advice in general first piece of

advice which was from Master Splinter

that bridge runner in Georgia he says

flip-flop flip-flop is highly encouraged

and I know it's something that the ATC

highly encourages starting somewhere

like Harpers Ferry and heading

southbound and then you can flip around

and then go back to Harpers Ferry and

head northbound or even going southbound

second piece of advice and this one is

from Sir packs a lot to avoid most of

the severe weather conditions that

you're gonna see in Georgia try to plan

starting your thru-hike no earlier than

March 21st so March 21st is the first

official day of spring typically most of

the severe weather is passed in Georgia

at that point now you still have to

worry about the Smokies but by the time

you get up in the Smokies you are

probably sitting somewhere in April and

again the chances of likelihood are less

you can get severe weather conditions in

the Smokies as I said earlier as late as

late May one-speed had a couple of

pieces of advice first and I think this

is fantastic know your self attributes

to help in your decision on your start

date now if you know that you're gonna

have a much slower pace and you're gonna

be on trail for seven months then yeah

maybe you you do need to start March so

that's okay but make sure that you are

prepared knowing your self attributes is

going to really help make a lot of

any decisions for you when you're

planning your through like especially

like when you need to start the second

thing that one speed said is make sure

that you set achievable goals for

yourself to strive for I think that's

really important and that's something

that drove me every single day I had

some sort of goal maybe it was a goal of

how many miles I wanted to get in today

maybe it was a goal of how much water

that I wanted to drink to make sure that

I'm staying hydrated maybe it was a

certain mileage of where I wanted to be

at noon I think you need to have some

sort of goals and it helps keep things

real and it tricks yourself your mind a

little bit or else things start to

become like Groundhog Day it's the same

thing day after day after day and this

just changes things up a little bit does

some good things for mind now this next

piece of advice every single person I

spoke to gave this piece of advice and

this is one of the number one things

that I tell everyone dial in your gear

and get out on the trail and hike in a

variety of conditions if you have the

ability to get out there on the trail

when you know what the conditions are

going to be really wet all weekend what

a great way to not just test that all

you get it works but to get you the

experience of using this gear in those

conditions but also what I think is

extremely important is to get experience

so you know what to expect this is the

mental side of things what box our pack

alots recommended is booked a plane

ticket and fly into Atlanta the airport

is so big you can get really great deals

on tickets and then range some

transportation to get up to Springer

Mountain and do a section hike in

Georgia my own opinion here I can't

think of a better section hike to get

ready for an 80 through Ike then doing

Springer Mountain to kneel gap I think

that is a perfect way to get accustomed

to what life is going to be on the trail

now contrary to this video being about

reasons why you should not start your

through I can March Master Splinter that

Ridge Runner actually recommended to

start your through hike in March for

most people again if it makes sense he

thinks from a timing standpoint

most folks are going to take six months

to do their thru-hike and for them to be

able to get to Katahdin safely before

you get really bad conditions up there

which is mid-october and on you're gonna

need to start earlier in the year and

you don't want to be pressed for time

now one thing that hunter said a

positive thing about hiking in March in

Georgia is typically Bears aren't active

at that time so there is obviously

positives and a lot more than just that

- also hiking in March and lastly

bobster packs a lot gave this piece of

advice and I think this is spot-on

because I saw this a lot on the trail

don't allow pride to camouflage good

decision-making so many times we are so

prideful and hard-headed because we told

everyone we're gonna through hike dat

and then the last thing that we want to

do is come home with our tail between

our legs so instead we push we make poor

choices poor decisions and that can lead

to some of these stories I said earlier

about people in survival situations or

just overdoing it and getting injured

so don't let pride get in the way of

making good solid decisions now I'm

gonna wrap up the content of this video

with the four most common reasons why

people quit their thru-hike their

northbound thru-hike at Neal's gap at

bone crossings I got this from one speed

one speed has been working among

crossings I think this is third or maybe

fourth season among crossings so he

talks and sees a lot of hikers and I

said earlier about one in five hikers

will quit here number one reason why

hikers quit Neal's gap is it's not what

they thought it would be the second

reason whether they just can't take the

cold the rain the conditions the third

reason no views remember what I said

about March being a very rainy season

lots of overcast in Georgia and I

actually added a number four in here why

we get to number four but I feel like in

my opinion that the fourth reason is

some sort of injury or just body

discomfort in general they're they're

just

not happy with how they're feeling

they're in pain and they can't go on

well that wraps up the content of this

video if you found this video to be of

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