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Hello from VA! I'm planning a section hike on the AT

Hi, Russ near Williamsburg, VA.  I will attempt, for the third time to plan a section hike on, partially, the AT. I'm combining it with the Virginia Creeper Trail. As both cross in Damascus, VA that part of planning is easy. It's a combination route; south to the first shelter in Tennessee, Abington Gap, back through Damascus and up to Mt. Rogers and Turner Knob shelter. Reverse direction back to Damascus to pick up the Creeper Trail. Somewhat about 110 miles total.

  The first issue is waiting for my COVID vaccines. I won't register with ATC for a section untill I have the my shots. Gear isn't a major issue as I have been hiking since I retired 6 years ago. Just need a few bits an pieces.

 The greatest impediment is convincing family that I need to do this. Two weeks roaming the mountains alone doesn't sit well with them. The fact that I want to go for my 72nd birthday plays into the equation as well. I would imagine some of you folks in my age group go through that from time to time. I go out locally weekly, 10 to 12  miles is an average but the terrain here is a bit flatter.

  There it is, the start of adventure planning in what some would call my "golden years". Not sure where the gold is buried😎. I can't see sitting about rotting away watching tv and obsessing over the issues of the day

 Have fun outside, stay safe. Treat your fellow human as you would want to be treated


Toano, Va


5 Replies

Hi @Russ1663 - Welcome to the community! It's great to hear that you're planning to section hike on the AT. You have definitely come to a good spot to ask questions about a plan like yours, though it sounds like you are well versed already. We look forward to hearing your stories and learning from your expertise. There are also probably a lot of people here who would also love to hear what your backpacking gear setup is - especially if it's been keeping up with you for six years!

@nathanu@Philreedshikes@Shaxby - do you all have any tips or advice for Russ? Maybe in the way of safety and plans while he is communicating with his family? 

We're so happy to have you here and look forward to the conversations ahead. Happy hiking! 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi CarterC  My pack is pretty straight forward.  Civilian built military design, 45 liter, MOLLE loops and such with outside for various pouches for quick access to different items.  Most of the gear is from REI, some military holdovers from the past. As for hydration, a Geigerrig 3 liter hydration Engine. It has a pressure seal and a pump bulb to pressurize, looks like a blood pressure pump. Really neat, you can pull the bladder, turn it inside out and clean it in the dishwasher. In really cold weather the system can be replaced by water bottles which I carry any way.Most every thing else is standard. Still need a sleeping mat that will fit my hammock, suggestions?  I do have a SPOT Gen 3 for back country trips. Water filter, GRAYL Geopress.  Ha, being "old"? I carry my med box(s) in a 2 liter Sea to Summit dry bag. Lots of fun.


@Russ1663 that's awesome, thank you for sharing your adventure and thank you @REI-CarterC .  It sounds like you've got most of the bases that I'd think of covered.  I'm a (very) slightly newer model but ran into the same issue with friends and family who could only imagine me falling off of the side of some mountain.  I got a Garmin InReach Mini and enable the tracking anytime I'm in the backcountry.  Not sure if the Spot does, but the Garmin let's me send and receive text messages from my phone, which she seems to like.  I also use the GaiaGPS app to plot my course and then I print 3 copies.  I keep one in my pack, one under the drivers seat of my truck (parked at the trailhead) and give one copy to my wife.  We set waypoints on the map for me to text her when I'm passing them (and I tell her when I *should* be passing them).  Seems to ease everyone's mind.  Happy Trails! 🙂

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The SPOT gen 3 is a one way, position location every 10 minutes but can be set for ad much as an hour. I can load a send preprogrammed "I'm ok" and such as reached today's destination. It resets these messages through the SPOT website, thus you need cell service. It works and fits the budget. I have used it locally for two years. 

One item I need is a bear canister or bag. Haven't decided which yet. Bear spray, would hate to be without but hope never need to deploy it.


I thought immediately of some sort of PLB, but you have that covered.  Perhaps folks might b mollified if you had an appointment with your doctor and obtained some sort of physical evaluation.  I have no experience with the AT (a western guy) , but I don't believe you are in a trackless wilderness and that you will not be isolated....

I am approaching 84 this month and their concerns have  some validity.  Address them forthrightly and let logic prevail.

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