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Help a GA-ME first timer

Brief answers to brief questions now, but I'd be glad to answer any other 
questions you  come up with before you go.  I've done the AT twice 88 
and 92, so have some idea of what worked for me.

1. stove - know how to take it apart and clean it.  If it's 
impossible to fix, and you're several days from a road crossing, 
fires may be possible, borrowing a stove may be possible. Depends on 
who you are  hiking with.  Most thru-hikers will help if possible.  
My stove broke one day out of harpers ferry, so I went to DC to 
replace it.  I knew someone who had to hitch out of Fontana to get 
his replaced.  Near the mountains, rides are generally easy to get.

I had camp shoes, many don't.  They'll help if your boots break down 
irreparably.  Carry shoe goo in case.  Jim's broke down 12 miles from 
a road, he glued them together, waited a day for the glue to dry, 
and a kind pair of section hikers 
drove us 50 miles to a store to replace them in Hanover.  I've used 
both.  Tevas don't have as much support if you want to use them as 
replacements for broken boots, but they can be light (not always).

I went through 2 sets of 3 pairs, not that I had holes, but I had 
mailed myself a replacement set halfway.  My socks lasted, still are 

I only use gaiters in heavy snow, never on the trail.  I only had 
snow 4 days.  

Definitely take a tent.  Those people who trusted the shelters were 
hiking before the number of users got so large.  In 1988 I didn't 
have a tent, and only twice had to do 22+ mile days because it was 
raining and the shelters were that far away.  In 1992, the shelters 
in the south were often full, if I hadn't had a tent, I would have 
been sleeping in the rain, often.  Although the rule is "there is 
always room for one more"  30 people in a 9 person shelter is too 
much.  And it is very definitely first come first serve.  If you want 
to turn your hike into a race to get to the shelter before anyone 
else, or do 7 mile days so that you can stop at noon and get there 
first, then don't take a tent, but  I know, it is not a good way to 
hike.  Freedom is a tent, despite the rain.  It means you can camp 
when and where you want.  You can cook at the shelter, and sleep at 
the overlook.  You can get away from people when you need to.   Tarps 
are sometimes lighter, though they weigh about 2 lbs. and a good 
backpacking tent is 2.8oz or 3 lbs., but tarps dont keep the rain 
from running underneath (when the ground is saturated, you can have 
an inch or more of water on the ground), nor does it keep the snow 
out, nor the mosquitos.  I prefer a tent.

After Roan Mountain in Virginia, you can get rid of most of your warm 
things until  you reach the Whites (i.e. Glencliff, NH or North 
Woodstock).  Then get them back.  Still, the weather in the mountains 
can turn cold, even in the summer.  Jim and I each kept our polartech 
jackets all through the trail, and needed them off and on most of the 
way.  The Shenandoahs can get cold at 3000+ feet, even in June.  If 
nothing else, they made good pillows.

Good luck, good hiking.

Ginny "Spirit Walker" Frost