Thinking about wind, snow, sleet, rain, and cold on the Appalachian Trail (in early spring)

View from Springer Mountain

View from Springer Mountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s late February or early March.  You’ve been packing and planning your Appalachian Trail thru-hike for months.  Everything is ready and you’re itching to tackle the footpath.  Looking at the weather forecast, you see fair conditions and mild temperatures have enveloped the South.  Now, you think, it’s time to go.  But, before you shoulder your pack and head for Springer Mountain, consider these facts.

While the low elevations of Georgia and North Carolina bask in sunshine, the Appalachian summits are still subject to radical changes in weather and temperature.  Blasts of rain, fierce winds, paralyzing sleet and cold, and significant snow are as common as would be found in the loftier New England mountains, and it’s wise to prepare for severe weather, or delay your departure at least until mid-April.  Even then nights can be cold in the mountains and low temperatures, rain, and wind combine to create ideal hypothermia conditions.

When I set out mid-April I carried wool gloves, a wool sweater and knit cap, and a rain and windproof jacket.  I needed them all.  You will also want reliable, warm clothing for a safe journey on the trail.




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