Shenandoah National Park / Skyline Drive

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Just an hour west of Washington, DC, lies a beautiful, long, and narrow ridge of Appalachian mountains known as Shenandoah National Park, one of the most accessible and easily reached National Parks in the USA. We will hike over 100 miles on the 2200 mile long Appalachian National Scenic Trail which spans the entire length of the park.

Our trek parallels the famed Skyline Drive, traversing miles of fine hardwood canopy, all on a ridge high above the surrounding valleys. You'll almost certainly see deer and maybe even some black bear

If you have heard about the Appalachian Trail or were inspired by A Walk in the Woods and want to see the AT for yourself, this is the trip for you

Itinerary

The Shenandoah National Park Fatpacking Trip will be from May 8-22, 2010. Here is the proposed itinerary. After the first week, we spend 2 nights in Skyland Lodge (lodging but not meals included). The next day is a day off that includes a high ropes course in nearby Stanardsville (included).

Unlike most Fatpacking trips where we exclusively sleep in tents, on this trip we will spend 1 nights in a cabin, 2 nights in front country campgrounds (tenting) and many nights in campsites that have huts/shelters -- open faced structures that sleep up to 12. There are tent sites at every shelter, which we encourage you to use, however if the weather is inclement or you just don't feel like setting up a tent, you may opt for staying in the shelter if space is available. Shelter space is unreserved and is on a first come first served basis. At Big Meadows Campground, a coin-op shower is available, but since we will be there before the official opening of the campground, it's unknown whether the showers will work or not. Here are trail maps for the first week and the second week.

Our journey will begin at the South end of Shenandoah NP and go through the entire length of the park. The first day will involve a fairly steep climb to ascend the ridge that joins the Appalachain Trail. From there, we'll hike Northbound every day for almost two weeks, staying near AT shelters, car campgrounds, and in cabins.

Difficulty

The trails through Shenandoah National Park are well groomed with good footing and moderate elevation gain and loss (although it may not seem like that while hiking). Difficulties arise because there are several days of 10+ mile hikes planned. While this may not seem like much while sitting at your computer or even after say, 7 miles of hiking, cumulative fatigue sets in and every subsequent mile becomes more challenging. The upside is that in May, there will be as much as 15 hours of daylight, which gives plenty of time to complete our daily mileage. By the end of 2nd week of the 2009 trip, some participants decided to hike 21 miles in a single day.

Weather

Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s & 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s & 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures in the 80s and night temperatures in the 20s. Here is the historical May weather. We experienced brief snow on both the 2008 and 2009 trips.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg, who lives in Hull, MA has many years of backpacking experience over a variety of terrains and guides most Fatpacking trips. He is a SOLO certified Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Trainer, and Certified Food Handler.

Jeff Wagner lives in Roswell, GA and thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2008 (Trail Name: Jukebox). This will be his first time guiding a Fatpacking trip.

Jon Facemire lives in Lusby, MD, and is a Wilderness First Responder who thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2009 (Trail Name: Pooh Bear). Most recently, he guided the January 2010 Florida Trail Fatpacking trip. Unfortunately, he will only be with us the first 2 days.

Equipment List

Here is a list of equipment we suggest you bring. The list is extensive and can seem daunting, but please don't let this deter you from the trip. You can rent top notch quality gear for reasonable prices from Lower Gear or Outdoors Geek. It may also be possible for us to provide some gear for you at a nominal fee if you let us know far ahead of the trip. Unfortunately, we're not in the gear business so the selection of our available inventory is unpredictable. Please feel free to discuss any gear with us before the trip.

Menus

We don't believe in austere eating regimens. Backpacking is a rigorous, rewarding activity. You must feed your body in order for it perform. Your body will dictate that you eat often, so it's important to have fuel to feed it. Please check out the sample menus. This list is not comprehensive and may be altered or augmented. If you want to bring personal food, say a 5 pound chocolate cake, go for it. You'll not only hate carrying it over 100 miles through the Virginia mountains, your body will reject the empty calories and prefer nutritious food.

Cost

$1700 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 4 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Dulles, personal equipment and any restaurant meals eaten off the trail. The reason for this is to avoid lavish dinners with bottle after bottle of wine that occurred when restaurant meals were included.

Covered expenses include 4 hotel nights, 1 cabin night, campground fees, 12 days of trail meals, ground transportation, National Park permits, a ropes course, insurance, and 3 awesome guides.

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