Backpacking trips on the east coast

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of May 22-28, 1997
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Backpacking trips on the east coast
Question: I am a second-year medical student who has only 3.5 weeks of vacation in June before I have to devote my life to medicine, and the word "vacation" will drop from my vocabulary. I have always enjoyed outdoor activities; I was hoping to do some backpacking.

My problem is funds, as student loans have sucked up my pocket book. I have done packaged backpack trips in the past, but they tend to be expensive. I wanted to do some backpacking on my own and rent the needed equipment for this trip.

I am planning this trip with my sister who is 17 and I'm 24. Can you suggest a loop trail in the east section of the United States? How can I go about finding equipment to rent? I am also a novice with little experience hoping that you can guide me to some information on how to go about this trip. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Jason Lue
Miami, Florida
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Since you'll be coming from Miami, I'm not sure how far you'll want to travel, but unless you want to hop on the Appalachian Trail, your only options for a real long-distance backpacking trip in the East are to head north. Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness trail is actually the tail end of the Appalachian Trail. It is densely forested and one of the more remote, least populated sections. It would take you 10 to 14 days to hike, and it's not a loop trail, but you could probably arrange transportation if you planned well enough ahead of time. For more information on campsites and outfitters, write to the Appalachian Trail Club, P.O. Box 283, Augusta, ME 04330.

If Maine is too far away, but you still want the feel of a rugged, high-peaks wilderness, the Adirondacks in upstate New York are a great bet. The Adirondacks Mountain Club (800-395-8080) is a great resource and can give you a more specific itinerary and tips on where to rent equipment.

If both of those sound out of the question because they are too far away, the whole state of North Carolina is lovely. You can start your trip by driving up I-17 and camping at Carolina Beach State Parks or another one of the dozens of state parks on the Atlantic Ocean. Then drive inward to Pisgah National Forest and Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Since Pisgah is a National Forest, you can just find a trail, start to hike, and camp anywhere. In the Great Smoky Mountains, you'll be restricted to campgrounds and designated backcountry sites. For more information on the Smokies call the main park number at 423-436-1200.

What to pack: a good, lightweight tent, a 20-degree sleeping bag, a plastic tarp to keep you out of the rain, a sleeping pad, a water filter, water bottles, a cookset, a backpacking stove, stove fuel, kitchen matches, pot holder, maps, bug dope, sunglasses, suntan lotion, flashlight, knife, toilet paper, first-aid supplies, a pair of hiking boots, heavy wool socks, lightweight wool socks, baseball cap, rain gear, shorts, a pile jacket, t-shirts, and of course plenty of trail mix.

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