Below are opinions / informative words from others.  
There is no particular order to them.  Enjoy!
34 Quotes and growing.

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

Hindsight is 20/20. If I had to do it over again I would seriously reduce my food drops to those places like Fontana Dam, Harpers Ferry, and Caratunk, ME just for convenience sake.

And yes you can hike the AT without doing any mail drops.                     ~ Spokes  03/19/12

About:  Misc

Some times a long shower with ever lasting hot water is worth any price...   ~ Slo-go’en   03/20/12

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

My next thru hike will change a lot because I have grown up, hike a lot more now and technology has changed so much but here are a few things that I could suggest that a lot of folks seem to do wrong (in my opinion):

Get trail shoes vs. boots (unless you think you are super heavy or an un-stable walker - then maybe re-think thru-hiking).

Plan very few if any mail-drops (only for select items - like contact lenses and new companion pages - stuff you can't just buy).

Embrace "lightweight" as best you can but don't get too caught up in "ultra-light" - to me, there is a point of diminishing return - just don't carry a bunch of stuff - like water pumps - try to get your actual carrying pack weight with food and water at or under 30 pounds - - in mid summer, you should be able to get down to the mid-20s.

Don't pump water - pumps break and clog and don't always work anyway - treat water with aqua-mira if you are going to treat at all.

Start out slow - like 8 miles a day all the way through GA - even if you can do more - - spend time gently stretching and relaxing if you finish early you'll be doubling that mileage and more before you know it.

Obviously, due to your condition - pay close attention to your body but don't over-analyze - everybody gets stinky, super tired, and hungry - part of the deal.

Oh - watch your feet - don't use mole-skin - doesn't work (at least not for backpackers) - open blisters with a sterile needle and tape 'em down with duck tape (what I do) or a Dr. Scholl's blister pad - open em and let em dry out at night - they will callous over -- your feet will hurt for 100 miles - then they will be fine.
           ~ Papa D   01/12/12

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

I'd go slower.
I'd spend less time in town. (well, I say that now, but town has a very strong gravity when it's been raining and cold for 5 days straight).
I'd try to worry less about making it to Katahdin and focus more on the day at hand.
I'd do everything I could think of to lighten my pack.
I'd blue blaze. A lot!
            ~ Monkeywrench    01/02/12

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

I would only listen to long distance hikers about gear, food, miles etc. And I would only pay attention to people my own age and abilities, and sensibilities. Take no advice from 22 year old marathon runners unless you are one.

The PCT and AT are not the same. A tarp on the AT has to contend with much more than on the PCT.

Also avoid the post office as much as possible. A PO with a bad attitude can really mess things up for you.
            ~ Bamboo Bob    ~ 01/02/12

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

If I did my hikes over again, I think I would try and worry less about mileage and not push myself so hard. I did enjoy the mileage, but I think maybe I forgot to enjoy other things as well.
            ~ Sbhikes      01/04/12

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

I'd leave Springer earlier and hike more slowly. Maybe it's just me, but I always felt the pressure to hike on, even when what I really wanted to do was to pitch my tent in a nice place with a great view and spend a day or two.

I would also cut down a bit on the number of town days. For starters ...I would only budget 2 days in Damascus instead of the 4 that I spent in 2003. I had fun but but the third and forth days weren't really necessary.
             ~ Footslogger   08/11/04

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

I'm not planning to thru-hike again, at least not for awhile. But if I were to do so, there are any number of things I'd do differently. In no particular order.....

* As others have suggested, I'd try to go slower. I'd adjust my planning
so I'd leave earlier, hike later in the season, and I'd try and take fewer
town days. I'd encourage my "town" friends to spend time with me on
the Trail, rather than spend so much of my time in town, hostels,
motels, etc.

* I'd make more of an effort to start my days earlier, which gives you the
option of taking extra breaks, exploring side trails and points of interest,
and stopping for the day earlier so you can enjoy your campsite, instead
of pulling in at the end of the day exhausted, in which case all you do is
set up camp, eat, and fall asleep. If you make an effort to start early,
you effectively own the day and have all sorts of options as to how you
spend it.

* I'd buy a food dehydrator and spend lots of time learning how to get the
most out of it. With time and effort, a dehydrator will save you pack
weight and will greatly improve your diet.

* I'd try and avoid basing parts of my trip on other folks and their
schedules. It's inevitable that on a long hike, you're going to get ahead
of some folks you really like, and you'll fall behind others. Some times,
you'll meet up with them again , some times you won't. But you can't
base your trip around what other folks are doing.

* I'd keep off-trail committments to a barebones minimum. There are way
too many times I hiked further or faster than I wanted because I
absolutely HAD to be at a certain place at a certain time to meet
up with friends, attend an event, hit a hiker feed or party, etc.
One should only do big miles when one WANTS to, and not because
you HAVE to.

* I wish I'd been better about exchanging addresses (E-Mails and perm-
anent mail addresses) with Trail friends and hiking partners, especially
as the trips drew to a close. There are a great many folks I'd love to
hear from, swap photos with, etc., and I neither have their real names,
their contact info, or any other data.

* I wish I'd taken more photos of people, especially trail friends.

*I wish I'd kept better photo logs, so I would definitely know where and
when a particular picture was taken.

*I wish I'd been better about getting addresses of folks I met in towns,
especially folks who helped me out, gave me rides, asked about the
Trail, etc. I wish that every time I told someone that I'd let them know
how I was getting along that I actually would do so; likewise, I wish I'd
been better about sending completion photos and thank-yous to the
folks who'd been such a big part of my travels.

*I wish I'd kept a better journal, especially as regards the people I was
with on any given day, or where I was camping, or where the cool
campsites were. This information would be very useful in later years if
I wanted to return to favorite areas or hike certain sections. I also
wish I'd made more journal entries DURING the day, instead of at day's
end, when all I wanted to do was eat and go to sleep.

*I wish I'd paid more attention to deteriorations in my gear and in my
health. On the Trail, little things tend to turn into big ones if you
neglect them. I'd have fewer aches and pains now if I'd paid more
attention to myself earlier. And maybe I should have realized that a
healthy breakfast is not coffee, two Camels, four Ibuprofen, and a
shot of bourbon. Dinner maybe, but not breakfast.

*Along those lines, well, yeah, I wish I'd carried a smaller pack!

*I wish I'd taken more side trips and side trails, to views, waterfalls, etc.
One gets so caught up in one's "schedule" or one is so afraid of falling
behind schedule or behind one's friends, that all too often, people refuse
to go even .3 or .4 off the Trail to check something out, and often, this
"side trail" or blue blaze stuff is just as, or even more pretty that what's
on the actual Trail.

*I wish my entries in Trail registers were fewer, shorter, better, and,
at times, kinder.

*I wish I'd been less judgmental of other folks, and didn't hold them
to standards that were either unrealistic or more likely, unimportant.
I wish I hadn't let inconsequential, petty things get me down. I wish I'd
remembered that out there, you can't sweat the small stuff, and in any
case, it's ALL small stuff.

*I wish I'd done more Trail maintenance or other volunteer work while
en route.

*I wish I'd brought along some nature guides, especially as regards plants,
trees, and wildflowers. There are still things I've seen twenty times but
don't know for sure what they are. Likewise, I wish I'd brought along an
astronomy guide so I could identify more stuff on clear starry nights.

*I REALLY wish I'd taken more zero days in the middle of nowhere, even if
it meant taking longer to do a particular stretch or carrying extra food.
There are so many places I either breezed right thru or spent only a
short time at, instead of stopping for long enough to enjoy them.

*Along those lines, I wish I had the discipline to COMPLETELY throw out
my daily schedules more often; I wish that at more of the places where
I said "It's only 11, it's too early to stop" that I'd either stopped for
awhile, or even stopped for the day. Remember, most folks only do the
Trail ONCE....most of the places you see, you'll never see again. Stop
and enjoy them. When the trip is over, there are a great many folks
who regret that they travelled too quickly, and wish they'd spent more
time on breaks, enjoying a view or a beautiful campsite or whatever.
I've met very few who've felt that they should have gone faster, or
wish that they'd finished sooner.

*I'd have talked less, and listened more, and I wish I'd given less un-
asked for advice or commentary. People have to find stuff out for
themselves, and I wish I'd have let them done so. The good Lord gave
us two ears but only one mouth.....there's a definite object lesson there.

*Oh, and I wish I'd gone swimming more often.
                   ~ Jack Tarlin  08/11/04

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

Do differently:

Some of this has already been mentioned and there are some great posts to this thread.

1. Go slower, take more time. Start earlier in the year.
2. Take more pictures
3. Eat better, eat more
4. Keep a journal and write in it every day
5. Avoid spending the night in shelters and not plan my mileage around them
6. Allot myself more money
7. "Hike my Hike" and not get caught up with a group.
8. Use very few maildrops, although I'd use a bigger bounce box
. Have no "plan" take it as it comes
10. Get hiking earlier in the morning.
11. Less zero days in towns.
12. Take my time through Maine
                   ~ Ramble~on   08/12/04

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

I'd scour all available resources to find out specifically where good campsites are from Ga to ME and mark them in my Data Book.
                   ~ Milemonster    08/28/04

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

1. Take a lighter tent so I wouldn't ditch it by Damascus
2. Stay in less shelters (as result of having a decent tent and not a crappy tarp)
3. Would balance my zeroes better
4. Maybe would try hanging out with a group more just to do the opposite of what I did the first time
5. Keep a running total of the number of snickers, ramen noodle packs, and other frequently consumed items I ate
6. Take more pictures of hikers in action
7. Do more side trails
                   ~ Rocket04     09/21/04


About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

What would I do differently..?

*I'd be a better companion to those around me. I realize I am not the happiest guy around at any given time, but I should lighten up more often.
*I'd relax a little. The mile munching mentality gets the best of me more often than not.
*More 12 mile days between Damascus and Hanover. Moreover, accept the fact that it's okay to take these 12 mile days. By the same token, instead of forbidding the 20+ mile day, recognize that there are places (or times) where this is a good thing.
*Experiment with food, be it dehydrating or experimenting with new things. I've eaten too many bagels with aerosol cheese and not enough tortillas and hummus.
*Not be afraid to take a side trip to a new town. I hitched into Glasgow last year for the first time and was tickled to find how "prehistoric" it was.
*Stay the heck away from certain towns. Hiawassee and Waynesboro have nothing more to offer me.
*Stay at fewer shelters. I'm a sucker for privies.
*Stay at fewer motels. And for fewer nights too. And split the room when I do.
*Accept that hiking out of town at 5 pm and doing three miles is better than spending the night and making it a total zero.
*Do the purist thing but....
*Take a few blueblazes to side points of interest. I'm looking at you Silers Bald.
*Stay at the Blueberry Patch and The Cabin.
                    ~ Sleepy The Arab     11/25/05

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

I have found myself hiking beyond my ability to "keep up with" friends I made. Miserable time, and after I realized this, usually met them again anyway, without pushing.

I have taken: No zero days, and suffered. Too many zero days and suffered. Nero days or zero days in the woods seem to work better for me.

No shelters anymore. I love them as social places, but from now on will stop, fix dinner, say "Hi" to all there, and move on a mile or so.

Less weight, more food. And on the same line, less JUNK.

More pictures, better picture log! I find that by the time I get home, the names of people I hiked with are lost forever.

Better log of: names, addresses, phone numbers, E-mail, etc. As I have said before: "Those "FOREVER MEMORIES" will turn out to be solidly etched in vapor once you get home."

And my number one goal next time is as others have posted several times here: "Hike slower".

                     ~  Doctari   11/26/05

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

--I would do a better job of pre-studying the ecology, so I could name wildflowers and other vegitation on the trail
--I would not have many mail drops - there are enough markets to resupply
--I would carry less weight. Minus five pounds of my father's ashes would help, but I know some gear I could cut out or go lighter with.
--I would keep even more detailed journals.
--I would set up an agreement with a newspaper to post regular articles while I was hiking.
--I would pay better attention to my ankles early in the trip, or before the trip
--Ideally I would bring a friend or two.
I would carry a fly rod at least in Maine. Maybe VA and all of NE.
                     ~ The Professor   12/28/08

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

I would stop and observe more.
I would heck out every shelter(there are so many new ones since I did the trail in 1992).
I would carry less food and take more advantage of the food along the trail.
I would carry more fresh food when I could.
I would take alot more pictures and get to know every hiker I met.
I'd stay in touch better with those I had met, after the hike.
I would eat at as many AYCE as I could stomach.
I would not hike further in a day just because every else was.
                    ~ Different Sock   11/15/09

About:  If I were to hike the A.T. again...

1) Tent at the shelters instead of staying in the shelter.
2) Stop at every shelter and read the journals. I feel like I missed a lot of the info regarding those who were ahead of me.
3) Write down more names and email addresses. I meet so many great people that I wish I could have stayed in touch with after the AT.
                     ~ Lumberjack2003    01/28/10

About:  After the hike

It took me more than 30 days after finishing my AT thru-hike to start becoming civilized again. I know there were some thru-hikers who were still camping out on their porch after 30 days.  
                     ~ Datto   03/25/12

About:  Will I get cold in mid-March?

If you get a chance, try a mid-teens night on a weekend car camping trip before you start your thru hike. I had several nights in the teens, with blowing snow, in the high country in the South in April. Nobody can really answer how you will do, not knowing your physical condition, your basal metabolism, what you've eaten, and if you'll be exhausted, dehydrated, or wet when you go to bed. Good luck dialing in your set-up.
~ Garlic   03/27/12

About staying in shelters

I wish it were. I have zero desire to sleep in a dirty rodent filled box in the middle of a beautiful forest. I really don't want to be forced into one in the Smokies but as things stand now I would have to, or risk getting caught trying to stealth camp.

~ Vamelungeon   03/25/12

About Rain Gear ...

I dunno- for my pack, I always use a heavy duty trash bag- one inside as a lining, one outside with holes for the straps.

BUT, on the subject of raingear, I'd have to disagree. On my thru (which was eventually chopped down to a 1,400 mile section), I decided to send my rainpants home in Virginia right before entering the Shenandoahs. I thought, hey, it's late May, warm, I'm a good hiker, it'll be fine.

So I kept just a poncho. There were four days of pouring rain, back to back. One of the days was chilly and windy, and I went from feeling bad to worse. (As I look back, this makes me feel very stupid) I was wearing shorts, my short sleeved shirt and my poncho, and I was shivering like crazy. I was feeling very, very bad. Not thinking straight, hating being where I was, and finally realized that I was going to have to set up camp and change, or I might end up in real trouble. Right as I was about to burst into tears, a sobo sectioner came my way, and gave me his rainpants (who carries extra rainpants? Wonderful people). I warmed up almost instantly. I could not believe the huge difference it made. I feel IMMEASURABLY better almost immediately.

Moral of the story? Raingear can make a huge difference. Not because it keeps you dry, but because it keeps you WARM.

                   ~ ShelterLeopard   03/24/12

About A Cold Backup ...

Of course this is a stupid idea as a planning strategy for so many reasons - I suppose it might be better than nothing as a last resort, BUT, one cold rainy afternoon when you hit a shelter and want a break before your last 8 miles to the next shelter and you are sort of cold - maybe chattering a bit (but if you get your bag out, you might quit for the day) - tuck your legs into a black plastic contractor bag - you will be amazed how nice and warm it makes you - learned this trick from triple crowner, "Sicily B"

~ Papa D  03/28/11

About Pack Covers / Trash Bags ...

"The trash compactor bag is one thing I have never tried. Doesn't the stiffness of the compactor bag take away from the volume of your pack?"
No. The bags I use are so voluminous that they're substantially bigger than the pack. They're not stiff.

"Do you just jam you sleeping bag in there without an additional sack?"
Some do, I don't; I find it easier/safer to use a light cuben or silnylon "drybag". With a down bag if I'm in rainy weather I'd rather err on the side of overkill. If on a "little rain expected" trip, I'll leave off the contractor bag but still use the drybag.

"Do you place wet items on the between the compactor bag and your pack?"
Personally, I keep wet items outside of the pack entirely, but at times I've folded over the top of the contractor bag and put wet items inside at the top; whatever works for you here is the right answer.

             ~ BrianLE  04/03/12

About Sleeping Pads ...

I used a 1/8" thinlight pad for both AT and CDT, putting the ccf pad on top of the neo-air on colder nights, and under the neo-air on not-so-cold nights. Heck, with a thinner inflatable I used a thicker ccf pad for part of the PCT too. I *think* that this approach helped me avoid punctures (of course I have no way of knowing for sure).

One caveat, however, is that any ccf pad (including one that's just 1/8" thick) can easily pick up embedded tree needles or other similar debris. And then later apply same to your inflatable when pressure points line up in an unhappy way. So if you're going to go for a combination approach like this, I'd suggest that you also follow the process that became just sort of automatic for me each morning: when putting away the ccf pad, feel along it as you go to at least try to reduce anything embedded in it.

~ BrianLe  04/03/12

About Shelters…

Since the shelters are often near the water supply, I often will stop to cook my evening meal around 5 or 6 and socialize a little, then put the pack back on, carry a litre or two out of there and walk another few miles.
This serves a few purposes: 

Get's me camping away from the bears and mice, where it's quiet (all night long) (no smell of food cooking to chum the animals in either)
and not damp (camping near a stream or water source is usually where the dew generates)
I often get to camp at a viewpoint or high up.
Also this is the time of day when you are more apt to see wildlife on the trail.

I usually figure on a half litre of water during the night and a cupful for coffee in the morning and have some left for the first 5 miles or so.

Works for me.
Nobody complains if I have a beer, a smoke, or play my guitar either.

            ~ Fiddlehead  03/13/12

About Ticks / Lyme Desease…

I'm gonna put 6oz bottles of pyrethrin in drop boxes spaced ~6 weeks apart, starting in northern Virginia. I'll treat my socks, trousers and shirt, and wear deet on exposed skin around ankles and wrists.
            ~ ChillyWilly  02/13/12

About Starting / Fitness

Your best bet is to start slowly (both pace and daily mileage), building up slowly over the first month until you hit your stride. If you're in reasonable shape at the start, then I'm sure you will feel as if you will be able to crank out 20-milers within a week or two. However, it's unlikely that your joints and ligaments will be up to that level of sustained abuse so quickly. If you are serious about completing your thru-hike, then don't get caught up with the crowd...keep to a very comfortable pace well below your initial fitness level; take breaks throughout the day; limit your mileage to a level where you're not totally beat; and grow that mileage by 10% or so (others please chime in) each week. So, you might start at 10 miles per day the first week, and bump the daily average up by a mile or two each week. I would hope that by the time you get to Hot Springs you'll be ready to crank up the mileage to something that feels right for you.

         ~  Kerosene   09/03/02

About Duct Tape…

I have about 3/4 of an inch wrapped around a pencil that I have carried on my hikes for the last 5 Or 6 years. I really don't use a lot of it out there. I find it useful for hot spots and I think I patched up a boot once. I find good cordage is more useful.

           ~ Waasj   04/20/12

About Crowds…

I hiked Thursday night March 31st thru April 10th starting at Springer.

March 31 Springer Shelter Full and about 6 tents around
April 1 Hawk Mtn Shelter Full and twenty tents around by 2pm kept hiking a spent a night alone on Sassafras Mtn (dry)
April 2 Gooch Shelter 1/2 full by 1pm, hiked on to about 1 mile past Jarrard Gap and camped wit h 4 other hikers.
April 3 Neels Gap Hostel full, 5 tents on hill behind it.
April 4 Deep gap Shelter full by 5pm, a dozen tents around.
April 5 resupply in Helen, 4 thru hikers in same hotel, saw maybe a 7 others in town.
April 6 Tray Mtn Shelter, full by 6pm, 10-12 tents around.
April 7 Plum Orchard Shelter 4 hikers in larger double decker shelter, 3 tents outside.
April 8 Standing Indian Shelter 5 in shelter, 6 tents about.
April 9 Rock Gap Shelter, full shelter by 6 pm, 5 tents around.

So basically if you like solitude, stay away from shelters.

            ~ Flemdawg1   04/27/12

About waterproof footwear...

Gortex will fail. If you rarely hike, maybe only the big vacation, Goretex is wonderful stuff. Love it.

I want my trail shoes to keep sand out and to drain well: shortie stretch gaiters help with sand.

If you expect frequent water crossings or muddy trail, water shoes begin to make sense. I carry water shoes and use them as camp shoes as well.

For even moderate exertion rain pants get sweaty. That is why I use rain chaps or long gaiters, especially if the "rain" is from wet brush. Others use a rain shirt or rain wrap, but I want my knees out of the rain.

I like a poncho, if no strong wind.

~ Connie  04/28/12

About waterproof shoes...

I've had a few pairs of 100% waterproof shoes and they remain 100% waterproof as long as you keep them 100% away from water.

~ Pioneer Spirit  05/02/12


About staying in shelters

More often than not, I'll cook and eat dinner at a shelter. About half the time I'll set up a tent within 1/4-mi. of the shelter....but never sleep in the actual shelter. Other times, I'll get water there but after dinner I'll hike on until just before dusk and set up the tent in a good place (level as possible/views/near stream or spring).

Of course, bad weather will necessitate being more flexible but I hardly ever sleep inside a shelter.

~ Skyline  05/31/12

About When To Start

Unless you are really out of shape and only doing 5 miles a day, mid-April is the best time to start. No ice storms, less chance of major snowstorms, less rain, lots of flowers and green in the mountains instead of lifeless gray and brown. Most folks seem to be starting in March these days, so starting later works well to avoid the crowds, plus the weather is usually better so it's easier to stay away from the shelters. Starting early means more time spent in towns waiting for the weather to improve - thus more money spent. In February it gets dark at 5:30 or so, so nights feel very very long. It also means you will likely get to New England long before leaf change, which is something worth seeing, especially if you are not used to seeing real autumn color.

I was raised in Tucson, so I know that in Arizona, March is full spring. In the Appalachians, it's still winter.

~ Spirit Walker  06/15/12

About When To Start

If you start in mid-Feb, the first couple of weeks while in Georgia probably won't be too bad. You'll think "this is okay, what was all the fuss about?". Then you hit the mountians of North Carolina, where it's a whole different world. Now, your going to be cold and wet most of the time for the next month or two. Early on, you'll wake up to frozen boots more often than not - along with everything else you weren't able to get into the sleeping bag with you.

Remember, two weather fronts clash along the AT all winter and into the spring. It's not until early May that the pattern starts to change around the NC/VA area. One front is the warm, moist air from the gulf. The other is the cold air from the Mid-west, which started out in the Artic a few days earlier. When these fronts meet above the AT, it rains or it snows or it sleets depending on your elevation at the time. This happens at least once a week for a day, but sometimes lingers for a couple. When it clears out, it gets cold. Everything which got wet the day before is now frozen.

When it's 35 degrees out and you wake up to a fog or drizzle and frozen boots, it's really hard to get out of a warm sleeping bag and face the trail. So, you'll end up waiting for the sun to get higher and maybe warm things up a little or at least lift the fog. Most days you'll be lucky to get going by 10 am.

That sure sounds like fun, doesn't it?

~ Slo-go’en  06/17/12

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