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[at-l] misc

Sandy, re your headings 

Day: Wed  Date: 12/18/96  Weather : 3 F (WC -35 ) light snow 
AT mile : 0     Miles for day: 4   Total miles : 776

That's almost exactly what I did.  Then at the end I counted up how many
days were wet (the one in three statistic was pretty close), how many days
were less than five miles, five to 10, 10 - 15, 15-20, 20+, 25+   While my
average was 12 something including days off, it varied enormously for me,
with a lot of 3 or so miles into town (why pay for a room if you don't have
to, as long as I got there in time for breakfast!)  I took off a lot more
time than planned  - somehow it often happened that on my second day, the
day I was to leave, it would be pouring rain.  It is very hard to leave in
those circumstances!

Do you have any opinions on the following in the Whites,
The Perch, or Valleyway Campsite , good things or bad.

We did a long day over Kinsman with a night in North Woodstock on either end
and a chance to slackpack.  Cheap inn - great breakfast.  Then hiked to a
campsite whose name I have forgotten, then Ethan Pond campsite where the
bear ate our food, then up to Mizpah where we paid full price to sleep on
the floor of the hut (to get dinner), then on to an illegal campsite about
1/4 mile past Madison, then on to Pinkham, then on to Carter (both our knees
were total blown, so we helped out at the hut in return for a free stay),
then on to the campsite between there and Gorham.  Then Gorham (for three
days of resting the knees).  Going north to south, your stops will obviously
be different, but all the named campsites in the Whites are pretty good. 
The main point is that in the Whites, don't expect to do more than 10 miles.
 It is very rough going.  i.e. the descent into Carter notch is about 1400'
in a little less than a mile, the climb is about 1300.  That is steep going.
 Dispersed campsites are very hard to find because of the terrain - steep,
rocky and krumholz (the stunted alpine vegetation - tough going).  So plan
for the named campsites as much as possible.  Places like the Crag and the
Perch are good in theory, but they are about a mile down (DOWN) the
mountain.  Also, in June you will likely have black fly so bring your bug
dope.  Greenleaf is the prettiest hut, but it isn't on the AT.  The view
from there up to the ridge is fantastic though.

>Do you know of anyone who does shuttles from Boston to Baxter ?  
That is a long way.  Try Keith Shaw though in Monson.  For enough money, he
would probably be willing to do it.   He's a character.  You would probably
do better to take public transportation as far north as you can, then get
Keith to pick you up somewhere in Maine.  Buses do go to Millinocket, I

Would you or wouldn't you use the post office on Mt. Washington for a mail
drop ?  Last I heard, it was closed.  Check it out before you mail anything.
 If you can, I would use it, though you might be able to get mail sent to
Pinkham Notch hut.  Anything to lighten the load.  The Carter Moriah range
is a tough one.  Alternatively, find out about the AMC shuttles.  You could
shuttle back to Gorham, pick up mail, and return to the trail from several
different places in the Whites.

>If you were only going to stay in one hut in the Whites, which one would it
be ?
Wherever you hurt the most.   It varies.  Going north to south, you might go
from Gorham to Carter Hut in one shot, and stay there, leaving the worst of
the range for the next day, into Pinkham Notch (there is camping beyond
there, and showers are available at Pinkham, even if you don't stay there.) 
Then Pinkham to Madison or possibly to Lake of the Crowds (Clouds).  I
forget what comes next, but camping should be possible from there on. 
Lonesome Lake is nice, but there is also a nice shelter there.  Plan low
miles going over Kinsman.

If you did mail drops what item(s) did you find you really over did it on ? 

Go light on candles and batteries - that's what Jim overdid on as I
remember.  We each used one set of batteries the whole way (once its dark,
you'll be asleep).
I know its obvious, but don't bother with any long cooking or complicated
foods.  It is amazing how much rice and beans gets left behind in the hiker
boxes.   When you are exhausted, you don't want to wait to eat.  10 minutes
is tops for most people.

Was there any one (or more) town stop(s), that if you had to do it over
again, you would avoid like the plague ?

Every place I stopped was great.  I met wonderful people all the way up the
trail.  Even the campground that was put down so badly a few days ago I
remember very fondly.  They had great showers, good chile and a laundromat. 
The owners were very nice to us, giving us Easter cake once and birthday
cake on my second thruhike.  

The problem comes from expectations not meeting reality, and sticker shock
after you have been out on the trail for a few days.  One thing to remember,
most of the AT is very very rural.  The towns are very very small.  Going
north to south, Monson could be a disappointment.  The stores carry
absolutely nothing.  The diner was pretty good though and there are two good
places to stay - Shaws and the pie lady.  Going north, Hot Springs gets
built up as something special.  It is a nice town but very small. The stores
are not much more than convenience stores.  You may have to go to one store
for peanut butter and another for bread.  Accept what is, and read the
planning guides carefully.  If Wingfoot says good for longterm resupply -
believe it (except for Monson).  If he says short term only, that means it
may have nothing more than tobacco and cokes (Adkins VA and the little store
just north of Hot Springs come to mind).  I often found that the registers
would talk negatively about a place that I had enjoyed, where I had been
treated decently.  The difference was in my attitudes and expectations. 
While trail magic does happen, you can't expect it or count on it or demand
it.  Thru-hikers who expect special treatment, are generally disappointed. 
If you realize that the people in the towns along the way are trying to make
a living as best they can, don't feel like you're being cheated because they
are making money from the strangers passing through.  They provide a
service, and many genuinely like the thruhikers, but they are also trying to

A very good overnight I recommend is Apple Valley Inn in New Jersey.  It is
a bed and breakfast, and the owners are wonderful people. There is something
 strangely wonderful about hiking 20 miles, then sipping beer by the pool
and swimming in your hiking shorts.

Only two negatives:

Anyplace that had a shower and food was a good place to stop.  However, on
my first hike I stopped at Wind Gap in PA because I had heard that Delaware
Water Gap didn't have a laundromat.  Turns out the hiking store would
shuttle people to the nearest big town Stroudsburg, and the hostel at DWG
was a nice restful break.  So I spent $35 for a shower and the chance to
wash clothes in Wind Gap, then stayed at DWG anyway.  That wasn't necessary.

The Doyle Hotel in Duncannon is an experience, but not one I would
recommend.  Many hikers refused to sleep in the beds or take baths there,
thats how bad a fleabag it was.  This was a few years ago, and it has not
gotten better.  The town has the amenities though, so barring the hotel, you
will likely spend a little time there.  I spent all night awake, in a
sweatbox of a room, and left at 4:00 to walk to the truckstop outside of
town for breakfast, then left as the sun was rising over  the river.  Worth
it all in all.

Time to go.

Ginny Owen
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