Useful links for the Appalachian Trail.

Introductory links.

Weather

Landmarks and shelters

What other people are using on the trail (statistical surveys):

Other useful links:

My prior blogging

Miscellaneous

Maps

Me at Springer Mountain.

Happy at Katahdin

Last thoughts.

The AT is often hiked by people without experience or a hiking or a camping background. Many quit in the first thirty miles, others completely change up what they are doing at mile 30 (which just happens to have a large outfitter who will give you a shakedown and tell you what you needed to know).

Many people rely on a guidebook. There are four of them.

  • Guthooks. Computer/cell phone app based. It has the trail, real time comments by others on the trail, and better and better entries for off trail locations.
  • Whiteblaze—available guide in both paper and indexed pdf for your phone. Surprisingly good.
  • AWOL’s guides, either starting in the South or starting from the North. Identical content, just a different mile 0. Used to be the best. The competition has really improved and it was sold. Still solid. Lots of people use Guthooks (keep your phone on airplane mode) and AWOL.
  • The ATC Companion. Currently probably the best. Print and pdf available.
Pdf guides on my kindle.

My AT guides and a PCT guide I’ve been looking at recently.

My favorite hiking shorts.

https://www.costco.com/gerry-men%e2%80%99s-vertical-water-short-.product.100461095.html

My favorite hiking shorts are available for $12.99 again. Not $60 or more, not even the $49 they sell for on Amazon. $12.99.

You won’t see this price most places because Costco does not give kickbacks. Instead you will see links to Amazon (if at all) for much higher prices.

And I never see them in “best of” listings.

Enough space for your thighs with hiking muscle on them. Flexible. Dry fast. Take a beating. A zippered pocket and a Velcro pocket.

I hike in a tan pair treated with InsectShield.

PSA on fundfundraising and long trails.

TL/DR: you won’t get far asking for people to fund your hike. Longer: too many people have tried it with poor results. People won’t be patient with you

This is a rough draft post. I’m certain someone will do a better final draft on the concept.

Every year people ask for advice on how to successfully use gofundme or similar platforms to pay for a long trail (e.g. for a hike of the Appalachian Trail or the PCT or similar trail).

Often they are very forceful on how they don’t want negative feedback. This post is written to go over the issues and explain the common responses.

First. Every year there are lots of people who come up with this idea and who show no sign of ever having looked at anyone else or any prior posts in similar groups.

Second. Every year, a number of people try this approach. Most people in the community are aware that people are lucky to raise $50.00 or so this way (mostly from people who give them Christmas or birthday gifts as cash).

Third, there is always a good hook. Maybe someone has rescued a dog that is violent and just needs a long trail and a lot of good outdoor time to possibly be saved. Maybe someone is trying to be the first user of an exoskeleton to complete the trail.

Fourth, there is always someone with a more compelling hardship. For example, 2019 had Test, with metastatic cancer, post surgery for tumors, hiking the trail. She didn’t use that to fund raise.

Fifth, for everyone who is raising money and going to give the “excess” to a good cause, there is someone who is self funded and giving 100% of the money raised to a cause.

Finally, the people in the groups generally are raising money (working two jobs, selling things, saving) themselves — and many have been doing this for several years. They are not the audience to give anyone money — though they are an audience that can caution people based on experience.

So, what do the points I’ve made mean?

  1. Many people will see fundraising to support your hike as public begging for others to support your vacation.
  2. Many people will see fundraising efforts for a hike as not likely to be successful (so many people fail at it).
  3. Many people will see demands for positive attitude in an unfavorable light – as if you are demanding that they cheer lead you in a questionable endeavor.
  4. Many people will suggest that you work and save just as they did.
  5. Finally, there isn’t much good advice people can give you other than (a) save money, (b) set things up so 100% of the money goes to a charity without you touching it (the two things that have worked).

If you are aware of this going in, and that you have been preceded many, many times in your quest to have others come up with the money so you can take 4-5 months off and hike – and that many of those before you were hostile and obnoxious – then you are ready to discuss the effort and prepared for the probable result (that you will raise $50 or so if you are lucky).

Otherwise, the odds are not in your favor.

Sun gloves

A big change as we get ready for the PCT is sun protection, including sun gloves. I’ve gotten a little sun burn on my hands on the AT (Appalachian Trail) but it was transitory. For the PCT I decided that I should try sun gloves.

Coincidentally, my daughter Rachel sent me a pair of https://www.amazon.com/Outdoor-Research-Active-Spectrum-Gloves/dp/B01N3R2KLW for Father’s Day. 

Now I need to get used to wearing them.

A very useful link for PCT information:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rreYsoVU8pcsYOoECMdf5XCYzHE8zPr6/view?fbclid=IwAR027OHnXrDAV19Jl7E35FC4oc6yqx0DyW-xB6ASi-V3lMDhXEGqbLFgzrY

Tents

I wrote a long essay on tents.

https://www.trailjournals.com/journal/entry/596186. That is the TL:DR (too long, don’t read) essay. Below is the TL:DR (too long, didn’t read, so read this instead, it is shorter).

The short answer on tents is to set them up at an REI and crawl in and out of them. That will give you a good idea if you will fit and if front entry or side entry works best for you.

Our Triplex on the Appalachian Trail

Then decide if you need freestanding or not. A freestanding tent doesn’t need tent stakes or pegs to set up. All of them work better if you stake them down. Eventually most people start staking them down and then become comfortable with a non freestanding tent.

Most individuals are happier with the room in a two person tent. Most couples are happier with the room in a three person tent.

For a couple, the two best choices are either a Big Agnes Copper Spur 3p tent or a ZPacks Triplex.

We’ve hiked with a 2p Copper Spur. Good tent but I found myself wanting to use shelters. And using a polycro tarp to set up under when it rained.

The triplex weighs less and is a palace. In the rain you can set it up and then crawl inside and take off rain gear. I don’t need the tarp.

It absorbs no water. Which means that being rained on doesn’t make it heavier.

Too bad ZPacks has been unable to make the freestanding kit for the Duplex size up for the Triplex (I corresponded with them and found out that they’ve been trying to do that, but were unable to so far). That would help in places where it is hard to use stakes.

But I no longer gravitate towards shelters. Good thing since the PCT really doesn’t have them.

Afterwards

For other tents, etc.

The Big Agnes Dyneema tents have bad reviews because they have a history of spontaneous failures from being too lightly and flimsily made. Otherwise I’d have seriously considered the Tiger Wall 3p.

We even set one up and looked seriously at it.

Tarptent makes a Dyneema Double Rainbow that looks like a great tent.

The link for what people are using on the PCT: https://www.halfwayanywhere.com/trails/pacific-crest-trail/pct-gear-guide-2019/

The link for what people are using on the AT: https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/2019-appalachian-trail-thru-hiker-survey-top-tents-shelters/

There is a lot to be said for looking at what everyone else who finished a trail did and that isn’t a bad place to start looking at tents.

You will miss out on some things and there are reasons trends aren’t always right, but there are positives too.

Triplex is 22 ounces. https://zpacks.com/products/triplex-tent

Copper Spur 2p 2 pounds, 12 ounces (48 ounces).

https://www.rei.com/product/110209/big-agnes-copper-spur-hv-ul-2-tent-2019. The 2019 version is discounted everywhere and I like it better than the 2020 version.

Polycro tarp. https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/how-to-make-a-polycryo-a-frame-tarp/

11 ounces. $20 or so. Great for setting up and then setting your tent up under it. I’ve done that for years. Until we got the Triplex. But 59 ounces vs 22 ounces and it starts to add up.

I currently use shepherd’s hook titanium stakes than weigh hardly anything. They hold well enough. Where they don’t I put a rock on top of them. I also have three v stakes.

And that is where five-six years of experience has gotten me from starting with a five pound half dome and two pound Noah’s Tarp to 22 ounces of tent.

When Guthooks starts working again… (and it is working now).

On the bad side Guthooks appears to have torched their entire user base with the last update so people can’t access their maps other than the one they currently have open.

Fixes aren’t working.

On the other hand they have a neat feature for following friends and family on the trail.

Social Features

How to Send a Check-In in the Guthook Guides App

IF I’M FOLLOWING SOMEONE AND I DON’T PURCHASE THE FULL TRAIL GUIDE, WHAT CAN I SEE?

If you’re following a hiker and choose not to purchase the full trail guide for their trail, you will be able to see any location and check-in that they share, no matter where it is, but you will only be able to see the line of the trail and the waypoints for the demo section or any sections you have purchased.

Update

I just deleted the app and restored from the App Store. That solved everything.

It even kept all the data from when I tracked where we were on the AT. Neat.