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Bubble schedule? When's it "safe" to section hike the GA sections of the AT?

I'm hoping to knock out a few GA sections of the AT this year but I don't want to get caught up in "the bubble". I definitely don't mind hanging out with good folks on trail, I just like the idea of having my pick from plenty of good hammock or tent spots and giving the trail some time to rest and heal. Looking at AT Camp, it looks like things start slowing down mid April except tax day, which seems weird. I'm not sure how much I trust the accuracy of the site just yet and thought this would be a good place to ask. I'm thinking maybe late April or early may to start sections between the Approat Trail and the GA / NC border.

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3 Replies

@nathanu - First, people talk about the bubble, but it is really like a series of bubbles starting out in short sequence. If I’m remembering correctly, the first weekend of April is usually the most popular start time for thru-hikers. If you think of it like a bell curve, the weekends get less and less popular either direction from there. Seeing that the first weekend of April is next weekend, my best guess for avoiding the (sometimes serious) overcrowding would be to hit the trail later in the month. 

The other thought is that I don’t particularly remember a ton of hammockers, so unless it has become quite a bit more popular as a thru-hiker sheltering system you’d probably just about have your pick most of the time. 

Bonus thought: I’m remembering a lot of campsites that aren’t included in AWOL’s guide. If you come to a shelter and find that it is too crowded, or if it begins to become too crowded, it is a short and easy hike to the next unpopulated sites. Seriously, there are so many sites in the early parts of Georgia. 

@nathanu - When I hiked the AT, I started on the 18th of April and though there were only a few of us registered it still seemed like a lot at some of the shelter areas.  It seemed that April 1st (is it really that funny?) was the last big day.  I would also recommend not starting on a weekend and if you can avoid popular areas on weekends, it works out best, though you can't always time things.  I also steered clear of shelter spaces other than as lunch spots and had plenty of nights to myself. 

The largest section of the Thru group is north of GA now.  I really like Ramdingo's reporting that he does:






Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.