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Re: [at-l] departures

> > Anyone else thinking about starting in February?  Anyone else start in
> > February in years gone by?
> >
> The past few years have shown a lot of people leaving Springer pretty early.
> This year was a particularly good year, with very few snows and only brief
> cold snaps. There was one brief snow in the 3rd week of March. Of course,
> 1992 had the blizzard that endangered a heck of a lot of hikers in the
> Smokies. Yet, the NC bomber started his marathon "hike" in Feb 97, and
> apparently has been moving along with few hinderances.
> A benefit of leaving in February includes fewer bugs, fewer people (I'm not
> sure which is more irritating), and more selection at Neel's Gap when you
> figure out what you really needed when you started. A problem is the need
> for more clothing, hence weight, to deal with the cold and weather that is
> likely. It would be a very good idea to learn survival skills regarding
> snow, ice, freezing rain, and cold _before_ loading you pack. Hypothermia
> kills, and enjoys a snack on fingers, toes, and noses.

Thanks for the info.  I've been culling journal wisdom from early
starters trying to figure out what the environment will be like. 
Personally, I enjoy winter camping and backpacking but as I am
originally from Ohio and now Michigan I just don't know what to expect
on the southern AT in February and March.

Currently my great debate revolves around whether or not to take my
snowshoes along in the beginning.  No journal writer that I've read has
done so but a few have mentioned (one in UPPERCASE) how they wished for
a pair.  One journaler mentioned seeing a snowshoer cruising merrily
along so I know some people see the merit.  Anyway, my distilled
thoughts on the subject are 1) snowshoes aren't needed, but 2) shoeshoes
don't have to be worn all day to become worth their weight, and 3) I
really want a picture of me standing on top of a drift next to someone
postholing their way through it. :)

Any thoughts?  I can't guarantee that I'll heed all advice but I would
like to hear it so I can make more of an informed decision.

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