A Sprinter On The Appalachian Trail

I know what you’re thinking. “Why would you want to sprint the AT? You’d miss the whole point of hiking?”

Yes, of course you would.

Personally, I’ve always imagined taking my time on the trail; following a blue blaze to a scenic view, exploring a trail town along the way or even taking a couple of days off from hiking and camping in a beauty spot.

But that’s not the sort of Sprinter I’m referring to. In fact, the Sprinter I’m talking about has more to do with moving too slow than too fast.

What do you mean?

I’m glad you asked.

Spring SnowHere it is April 5th. Spring officially started over two weeks ago and yet some of the north facing mountain slopes still have ice and snow on them. Winter is not letting go and Spring is taking too long to get started.

That’s the Sprinter I’m talking about! It’s as if we suddenly have to contend with a fifth season between Winter and Spring – or Sprinter, if you like.

I can only imagine how this weather is affecting this year’s crop of AT thru-hikers. Spring in the mountains is generally pleasant, with cool nights and comfortably warm days.

But this year? Ha! Not this year. We’ve had more than our fair share of bitter cold nights, cold rainy days and heavy snow at the higher elevations.

Living in an official Appalachian Trail town, we’re used to seeing hikers this time of year, but rather than being a place to “zero” or resupply, Franklin has been more like a refuge for cold, wet, tired hikers trying to get out of the wicked winter weather.

Here are some local stats to give you an idea of what this year’s thru-hikers have been dealing with. In the last 35 days we’ve had…

  • 16 days of snow and rain
  • 23 nights below freezing
  • 2 nights below 20 degrees
  • 13 days with highs below 45 degrees
  • 5 days with highs in the 30s

And – this is the recorded temperatures in the valley. It doesn’t factor in the higher elevations, which can be anywhere from 5 to 15 degrees cooler, or the wind chill factor you will experience on the ridge lines and mountain tops.Dogwood Blooms

But don’t despair hikers! There’s good news coming your way! Sprinter seems to be on its last legs and Spring should be in full bloom any day now.

The forecast for the rest of April is looking good. They’re predicting daytime highs over 60 degrees and night time lows over 40 degrees for the rest of the month.

A welcome relief, I’m sure.

So, what are some of your tips and tricks for staying warm on the trail? Let us know in the comments below.

See ya’ on the trail,

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