On this wilderness backpacking trip we travel along one of the Appalachian Trail's most interesting sections, from Dicky Gap to Elk Garden, at the height of the rhododendron and azaleas in bloom.This section of the Appalachian Trail is known for high alpine meadows, towering rhododendron, azaleas, wild pony herds, other more indigenous wildlife, and spectacular views. It is the perfect setting for learning all about wilderness backpacking or, if you have backpacked previously, learn techniques from our expert guides that will keep your pack under 30 pounds. On this trip you will learn everything you need to know to start backpacking on your own. We keep our mileage low on this trip so that everyone has the energy and time to learn. Maximum group size: 8
This trip is rated a 3 because, while you will be carrying a 30 pound pack on a trail where there are some sustained challenging ascents and descents, the mileage is quite moderate to allow time to learn and practice skills. However, do not underestimate the physical challenges of this - even 5 miles when you're carrying a backpack for the first time can be quite an eye opener. Rating: 1 2  4 5. A rating of 3 requires aerobic conditioning for a minimum of 30 - 45 minutes 3 to 4 days a week.
This is a backpacking trip, but it is also much more than a backpacking trip. It is a chance to learn the skills, equipment, and mindset necessary for lightweight backpacking, from how to hang a bear bag to how to cook meals efficiently. You will also learn the history and culture of the Appalachian Trail. If you are an experienced lightweight backpacker looking for a higher mileage and more physically challenging trip, our AT Section Hike is a better choice.
We spend the first two nights at A Rivers Edge in Damascus, VA. Our spacious lodging gives us plenty of room to lay out our gear and get packed. The next four nights are camping, having only what we carry in our packs. Some of our campsites will be at shelters with fire grates and pit toilets; others will be primitive. We spend our final night at a motel in Abingdon, VA, where hot showers and warm beds are a revelation after our 5 days on the trail.
Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.
the opportunity to learn from such experienced guides while still being as independent as i want
I learned sooooo much and really got a chance to unplug and experience nature.
I learned so much! This was a fantastic intro to backpacking, from the introductory info provided before the hike to the practical and hands on experience throughout the trip. T
The trip more than exceeded my expectations. And it was wonderful to learn all about the basics of backcountry survival and backpacking.
The AT had been calling to me for more than 40 years, but family circumstances kept it beyond my reach. While I'd done a few short backpacking trips 25 years ago, I knew I needed a refresher on gear, skills, safety (everything!), and I wanted the safe support of an all-women environment. This trip was the perfect choice. The guides were excellent -- experienced, personable, fun to be with. The trip was well planned -- challenging but within our capabilities. The variable weather was gave us a chance to test our rain gear, packing and camping skills. We were well prepared and in good spirits. All in all, a truly enjoyable experience in good company. Couldn't ask for more.
The guides were wonderful and supportive. The new friends were cheerful and ready to give a hand when needed. The path was well chosen: beautiful and varied. Challenging but not overwhelming.
And then some. My bag did not arrive with me and did not get to me till 24 hours later. I was so very happy we had our first day staying at the Hiker Inn learning about the trip and what to expect. I did a lot of praying that day.
It did but the pace of our hiking did not allow time to "smell the flowers". I would have liked to take more breaks to look around.
As always the company of like minded women traveling. The guides were spectacular, so knowledgeable and helpful. I was wanting to relearn/learn backpacking skills since it has been years since I went last time. They did not disappoint. Learned so much. At first I thought I would be disappointed with the miles since I am used to the miles of the slackpacking trips. It was very well balance with the need for extra time in camp to learn and get chores done at the end of the day. I can't think of anything I didn't love. The itinerary is perfect for the idea of it being a learning trip.
Backpacking. Wonderful guides. Awesome hiking fellows. Hearing the birds, the river and the rain while lying in the tent. Wild ponies. Beautiful landscape.
Learning to backpack in the wilderness. Beautiful and breathtaking landscape. Wonderful comradery. Outstanding guides.
Support of the other women on the trip Finding out I COULD do it, if I tried hard enough. Being a wild baby pony popsicle. On our only sunny day, I found my happy place.
Everything. I thoroughly enjoyed everything. My biggest highlight came day three when I was just walking along midday and realized I can do this. I am doing this!
The ladies on the trip were amazing. I learned so much about backpacking. Karen was so supportive and helpful. The scenery was beautiful.
Wonderful ladies as guides. Couldn’t have had better. Learning so much even the bears stealing our food was a great experience.
the highlights of this trip were plentiful. The very best part of this trip were the guides and the ladies I got to share it with.
The teamwork of this group of women. The many, many laughs shared as well. The many skills I learned. Oh, and the food.
I learned SO much. Karen and Tali were knowledgeable, patient and full of information. Learning all kinds of new things from the other women was wonderful, too. And the fact that the whole group got along and worked well together was the bomb.
Having injured my ankle last year that ended my thru hike, I was anxious to get back on trail to see if it was healed. Going on trail with AGC gave me the safety cushion that felt correct. Plus I always learn from the others as well as the guides.
Challenge of hiking with backpack, instructions and tips, company and of course trail, nature and wildlife.
Learning about back packing (learned A LOT) and meeting/getting to know all the women on the trip
Learning to hike the trail. The confidence in knowing that I can do this.
The hiking group was a good mix, varied terrains on the trail, scenery, being outside and away from civilization for 5 days! I added to my hiking skill set. I enjoyed it most when the group was spread out so that I had my quiet time on the trail.
I have a lot of backpacking experience, but little light weight experience. I learned a lot.
The entire experience was amazing. I did not want it to end. I felt like a "rock star" when I successfully completed each new skill. The experience was empowering. I walked up hill, in the pouring rain, carrying 30 pounds, and I LIKED IT!
Many highlights, but the goals of learning about compass navigation, bear bag hanging, water filtration and fundamentals of lightweight backpacking were certainly met.
Jan and Tali were wonderful guides…. I learned a great deal from them both and the hike was fun and rewarding. Great choice of location for a first time AT backpacking trip.
Learning the skills. Filtering water, cooking, tent, packing, bear bags ect were the highlights.
Seeing the ponies was great. The physical part was challenging at times (rocks, rocks and more rocks) but it was a big sense of accomplishment for me and I completely enjoyed my time and plan to do more trips. The whole experience with the company has been great and Jan and Tali were awesome!
I came on this trip to learn how to get my pack down to 30 lbs or less and I did. I also wanted to learn techniques for using trekking poles more effectively and I did. I also wanted to gain skills and confidence to do trips on my own or with a few other people and I did.