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Thread: Long Trail in the winter

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    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    Long Trail in the winter

    Does anybody know if the Long Trail has been hiked end-to-end in winter? I've been wondering about this for a while and I've never heard of it happening before. I know many reasons why you wouldn't want to do something like that, but there's got to be someone crazy enough to hike it...

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    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guthook View Post
    Does anybody know if the Long Trail has been hiked end-to-end in winter? I've been wondering about this for a while and I've never heard of it happening before.
    Tom Sawyer asked the same question around 1980 and did it as section hikes over a couple of winters. He also discovered it had been done maybe 30 years earlier, or long enough ago that most everyone had forgot :-)

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    Senior Member bcskier's Avatar
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    Even crazier, has anyone done the AT end-to-end between Dec. 21 and March 21 of the same year?

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    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    So someone did it in the 50's? That must have been one craaaaaazy person

    Quote Originally Posted by bcskier View Post
    Even crazier, has anyone done the AT end-to-end between Dec. 21 and March 21 of the same year?
    The year I hiked the AT, I started in the south on Feb 24. The day before, two guys had finished a SOBO thru-hike that they'd started in September (trail names Iceman and Tundra Wookie). That's the craziest winterish long distance hiking story I've heard in that regard. They said it was a long and lonely trail when they were on it!

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    I'm sure it has been. I've run into people on the AT in the winter.
    Not the season I'd choose to do it, but at least there are no bugs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guthook View Post
    The year I hiked the AT, I started in the south on Feb 24. The day before, two guys had finished a SOBO thru-hike that they'd started in September (trail names Iceman and Tundra Wookie). That's the craziest winterish long distance hiking story I've heard in that regard. They said it was a long and lonely trail when they were on it!
    As I recall, people that go for the calendar year triple crown (AT, PCT, CDT) start on the AT in January and shoot for completion by April. That lets them avoid winter in the Sierras or the Rockies.

    I pity anybody trying that this year. I have no idea how much snow the Blue Ridge wound up with, but I'd wager it's a hell of a lot. And I don't imagine it's much fun digging yourself out of a shelter in the morning.

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    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guthook View Post
    Does anybody know if the Long Trail has been hiked end-to-end in winter? I've been wondering about this for a while and I've never heard of it happening before. I know many reasons why you wouldn't want to do something like that, but there's got to be someone crazy enough to hike it...
    That's an interesting question. I recall reading (perhaps either in the LT Guide or else some GMC publication) that for many years the GMC prohibited hiking the LT during the winter, then gradually relented, but discouraged it. Now, they don't have a problem with it at all, but do point out the physical difficulties of doing it - namely, 1) it isn't brushed out very high, and since it follows ridgelines it can be difficult to navigate, and 2) the blazes are white, and either may be buried in snow or obscured.

    People has done it, but it's tough. As an alternative, you might consider the Catamount Trail, which is a backcountry ski trail. Ben Rose, who heads up the GMC, was instrumental in helping to design/cut that trail.

    About the only sections I've done regularly in winter are those around Mt Abraham, Camels Hump, Killington, and Jay.

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    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    People has done it, but it's tough. As an alternative, you might consider the Catamount Trail, which is a backcountry ski trail. Ben Rose, who heads up the GMC, was instrumental in helping to design/cut that trail.
    Oh, I'm not planning on doing it... except as a wild pipe dream fantasy

    Good point on the Catamount Trail. I'd imagine its existence probably lures away the very few people who are crazy enough to get the idea of a winter backpacking trip.

    I definitely agree that following the AT or LT in winter is insanely hard. It's kind of weird how you can see a blaze on one tree, then look around for a half hour all over the place and not find anything that resembles a trail...

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    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    During a winter hike of SW Twin many years ago, Tom & Diane Sawyer entertained our group with their tales of section hiking the Long Trail in winter. I think Diane completed it, too, but am uncertain on that.

    As for the Appalachian Trail, Dan Allen completed the AT in winter months in 2001, also as section hikes over many years... but still! Unsure about others. Believe he was the first. He wrote the book Don't Die on the Mountain among other achievements.

    If you had a very low snow year and don't mind the cold...

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    Senior Member vegematic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guthook View Post
    Oh, I'm not planning on doing it... except as a wild pipe dream fantasy
    In other words, you'll be doing it next winter?
    If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat

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    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vegematic View Post
    In other words, you'll be doing it next winter?
    There are just way too many things on my list of crazy sh*t to do! And too many things on my shopping list (remember, I have basically no winter backpacking gear).

    Maybe after our backpacking trip at the end of this month I'll see if I like winter backpacking enough to start thinking about maybe possibly in several years.... you get the idea.

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    Some people are now starting their NOBOs in January, so I suppose they could finish by April. Feb 1 is apparently the new March 1. When I was at Trail Days during my thru in 2008, we were told that they had already had people through Shaw's in Monson (early May). We wagered they never saw a leaf their entire hikes. I wouldn't want to-you can get pretty severe weather in the South on the ridges during the winter.

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    Senior Member mirabela's Avatar
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    so I suppose they could finish by April
    That's just nuts. When I think of the load you'd have to carry on a lot of legs of such a trip ... I just want to cry.

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    Senior Member Solitary's Avatar
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    Not in one winter that I know of, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by bcskier View Post
    Even crazier, has anyone done the AT end-to-end between Dec. 21 and March 21 of the same year?
    Here's an excerpt from the "about the author" of Don't Die On the Mountain by Dan H. Allen.

    "The author hiked to the top of Mt. Monadnock when he was two, and he backpacked with his parents to a shelter in the White Mountains of New Hampshire when he was six. At age sixty-five, he is walking the 2100 mile Appalachian Trail during calendar winters, much of the time with others. He has completed the northern half and does about 250 miles per winter..."

    It is my understanding that since that blurb was written, he completed the trail in winter.

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    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    I recall reading (perhaps either in the LT Guide or else some GMC publication) that for many years the GMC prohibited hiking the LT during the winter, then gradually relented, but discouraged it. Now, they don't have a problem with it at all, but do point out the physical difficulties of doing it ...
    I've never heard that, and I lived in VT ~1960 and hiked some pieces. Certainly a trail designed for winter hiking wouldn't have white blazes :-) The spring hiking ban didn't exist then, either.

    We talked about hiking the whole LT in winter then, but not seriously. One difference was that back then there was a closed cabin with woodstove every 20 miles or so which would provide some sort of respite.

    There was an AP article when Dan Allen completed the AT in winter with a map showing what year each section was done, but I didn't find it in a quick look online. This is the best I could do: http://alumweb.mit.edu/classes/1955/1102.html

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