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 2190 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 we usually see black bear as well.

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 Fitpacking Trip will be from May 11-25, 2013. Here is the proposed itinerary. After the first week, we spend 2 nights in Skyland Lodge (lodging and breakfast included, but not lunch and dinner) for what Appalachian thru-hikers call a 'zero day', when you do nothing but rest.

Unlike most Fitpacking trips where we exclusively sleep in tents, on this trip we will spend 2 nights in cabins, 1 night in a front country campground (tenting), 1 night in the backcountry 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 (this map's route is a little different route than the 2013 trip) and the second week.

Our journey will begin at Rockfish Gap at the South end of Shenandoah NP and go through the entire length of the park. The first day will involve a somewhat steep climb to ascend the ridge that joins the Appalachain Trail. From there, we'll hike Northbound every day for almost two weeks, staying in or near AT shelters (lean-tos), 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 30s. Here is the historical May weather. We experienced brief snow on both the 2008 and 2009 trips and hail on the 2011 trip.

Trip Leaders

Rick Romine lives in Pleasanton, CA and is a Wilderness Medicine Institute certified Wilderness First Responder. A life long outdoor enthusiast, Rick is the founder of the wilderness education site HowToWilderness.com. Rick has been leading backpacking treks and teaching outdoor skills to both youth and adults for over 10 years.

Adam Kaufman lives in Brooklyn, NY and is a SOLO certified Wilderness First Responder and American Heart Association certified Heartsaver CPR/AED. (View Certifications) He thru-hiked the entire 2650 mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2010.

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 Traverse Outfitters, 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

$1800 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 (although breakfasts are included). 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, 2 cabin nights, campground fees, 12 days of trail meals, ground transportation, National Park permits, insurance, and 2 awesome guides.