Today I enjoyed a long hike in deep snow.
If you get into snow on a long hike, which is not unlikely, you know how much time and energy it will eat up.
Brian Robinson in his successful Triple Crown Hike of 2001 had to switch trails because of the floundering in deep snow as he neared Vermont. He ended up hiking the New Mexico portion of the Continental Divide Trail the month before heading to the Pacific Crest Trail in late April.
We met a couple hikers heading south on the PCT in 2001. They had come through 23 days of snow, and were just about to call it quits. Happily, the snow levels shrunk so they could make some miles.
Much more food, fuel and time is needed to deal with snow. Snow shoes and skis are not used due to the narrow trail, rough climbs and general long distance hiking style.
An ice ax and rarely, crampons, are used in the High Sierras. They are sent in a drop box to Kennedy Meadows and then sent home from Yosemite. Snow levels will determine if you'll make it up to Whitney before late June. Each year is different, and the general guidelines is to not leave Kennedy Meadows before June 15th.
If you're heading north on the Appalachain Trail, snow may be encountered in the Smokies, the White Mountains, and Maine. Remember to get to Baxter State Park, and climb Mt. Kahtadin before late October. They will close the mountain and you will not be able to complete the hike if its closed.
Sometimes thru hikers will wait it out in the shelter. Other thru hikers will "flip" ahead, seeing that they are too late to make it to Kahtadin before snow flies. They will get transportation to the Northern terminus, then head south until all the trail is completed, connecting on the final day at the place they flipped from.
Tomorrow we'll discuss hiking on a budget.