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SUL GSMNP AT Thru Hike in 3 days...coming soon...


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Posting this a bit prematurely, but I am super-excited about me and my buddies upcoming hike later this month! We will set a few new milestones for us so that is always cool... Anyway, I just wanted to go ahead and share the details...

So, a buddy and I have got our shelter reservations to do the 72 miles of the AT through the Smokies in 3 days later this month! This is pretty exciting to us since this will be our biggest miles per day so far. At this point, I think we both have just over 20 miles in a day logged (and feel pretty good about them), so this will be a little bigger, and 3 of them, back to back! We are excited...

So, first off, here is our shelter itinerary:

Day 1: Fontana to Derrick Knob Shelter: 23 miles

Day 2: DKS to Peck's Corner Shelter: 28.4 miles

Day 3: PCS to I-40: ~23 miles

A few things about our hike:

We will both be going with SUL packs (which we are defining as a base pack weight of less than 5 lbs). Right now, my BPW is 4.47 lbs and with food and water, my total pack weight will come to about 11.5 - 12 lbs starting off. (And just so ya know, this includes my regular size (20x72) original NeoAir, so I will be comfy on the trail and in camp! Yeah!) My buddies BPW is around 3.5 lbs and not sure what his final weight is looking like, but it will probably be a little under mine. We have both been in the UL range for a little while now, and actually more recently on the verge of UL/SUL. So, we are familiar with our gear and have been using it, so we are not setting out with no experience with it (although, I only have use with my new Poncho Tarp in my front yard). Saying that, we are looking forward to hitting the trail with our first SUL pack and know that it will make carrying it over those mountains a little easier!

Another thing that should help us is the long days. Being the end of June, we should get a pretty early sunrise and a late sunset, which allows us a lot of daylight hours in between to lay down trail! However, we are planning to be up and going before sunrise each morning...our goal is to be on the trail hiking at 5 am each morning. We are bringing along good/bright headlamps (ZebraLight H51!)to assist us in the mornings (or night if it takes longer than expected). I am really looking forward to this part of the hike though, being up and about before the sunrises. Those couple hours before sunrise is nice and relaxing... Plus, it is cooler which makes a nice time to be hiking! As well, it will be nice to know that we have already put in a few miles before sunrise.

My wife and children will be dropping us off at Fontana the first morning (and being that we will be started by 5 am, they are probably not looking forward to being up and going so early...) As well, after they go back to the hotel and get some more sleep they will be driving into the Gatlinburg area and staying until we all leave on Sunday. As well, if we can get our times right, and some reception on top of Clingman's, then we will arrange for her to meet us at Newfound Gap with some burgers for lunch... yum. Then of course, she will pick us up on I-40 when we finish.

So, why do we want to do this hike in 3 days?

Quite honestly, we just want the challenge. We feel like we can do it and want to give it a go. It is not the only hike we will ever do again, and it is not he only hike we have done so far, but for this particular hike, this is how we want to do it. I don't know how else to say it...

I would like to add in here though, we are planing an average speed of between 2 - 3 mph, although we expect it to slow on some parts and speed up on others. Regardless, I do not view this is as a fast speed, and based on experience, it will allow us to still be able to stop and take in views, and have breaks for a nice little lunch or whatever. We will be up and hiking early each morning, and don't mind hiking in in the dark (which we are aware may happen on day 2).

Basically, this hike is a hike, and not a campout. This is what we want to do for this hike, and we are happy with this.

But we also wanted to create a little bigger challenge than just hiking it. We want to do it in what we consider a quicker time than normal, although, it has been done in a much faster time than 3 days, but from what I read, many do it in 5 days, some 4 days. Then of course there are some that do it in 6 or 7 days. Personally, I see no problem with how one wants to hike this section, I understand that we all have our own reasons.

As well, being the gear nuts that we are, we also wanted to push ourselves a little more than normal and go with a SUL pack (rather than a UL pack). Again, this is what we are doing and want to do as just a little extra challenge.

Our goal is of course to have fun, and enjoy our time outdoors. With this in mind, we do not feel like our plans are taking away from us being able to do just this!

Also, for those that are interested in my gear list (as well as my food planner), you can check it out here:

GSMNP Thru Hike Gear List

Edited by Stick
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Stick...you are amazingly organized. Your gear list and food list is fascinating reading..gives me an idea of what is needed out on a trail..albeit SUL. Do you have old lists of what your overnight gear looked like pre-ultralight.

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Thanks TollerMom! As you may can tell though, I have spent a fair amount of time behind the computer... :)

I have only been using these spreadsheets for about a year now, so I don't have a lot of my old gear list. Here is one of my first ones I made using this format though:

June 2011 AT Hike Gear List

Also, if you would like, feel free to use one of my list as a template for your own stuff. You can copy it quite simply, retaining the formulas and all, and just simply putting in your gear and weights. To do so though you have to have a Google Docs account. Once you have and are signed into your account:

~Open one of my gear list (I would go with the SUL one I posted first. It is more detailed than the one in this post.)

~Click on "File" in the upper left hand corner.

~Click on "Make A Copy"

~Rename the file to whatever you want.

~Click "OK"

Then the file will open up and you can begin to take my info out and put yours in.

Hope this helps!

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