Backpacking in the southeast?
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Hal Potts
(halpotts) - F

Locale: Middle Tennessee
Backpacking in the southeast? on 08/26/2010 15:29:11 MDT Print View

Right you are Sanad - what they are saying is that if you are staying in a black backcountry site then there is no need to call and make a reservation. But for a purple site or a Shelter you do.

The 70 mile "AT thru the Smokies" hike you refer to is a classic and a very nice hike at that. All the sites on the AT are Shelters which do require a reservation. In the Smokies Shelters are open sided wood buildings. In other words, on the AT there are no black or purple sites, they're all Shelters. Yes, you're supposed to plan in advance to be at a particular Shelter, but once you get out on the trail you will probably not run into the Shelter Police.

As for stealth camping, same thing. Rangers will say "Help us preserve your park and only camp in designated areas please." But do people stealth camp? Every day. If I am forced to stealth camp I am even more careful than usual to "Leave No Trace."

As for the shuttle I would suggest either the two car method with a friend or call one of the shuttle services in the Smokies. Just Google Smoky Mountain Shuttle and read up.

I'm not sure which map you are using but if you can get the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map 229 it clearly differentiates between the types of campsites.

I am heading over that way on Sunday to do a part of the AT myself from Newfound Gap northward.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Smoky Mountains it is! on 08/27/2010 01:41:07 MDT Print View

Ok, I ordered the map and I found a shuttle service for the Smoky Mountains. I will be calling them tomorrow to get a quote... hopefully their prices aren't outrageous. I am trying to avoid taking two cars because that would double the gas money. Unless this would still be cheaper than the shuttle service (I hope not)... I'll find out after I call them.

I am also going to call and see if I can reserve any sites but it says on the website that you have to make reservations a month in advance... for this reason I will most likely just stealth camp. I am a "Leave No Trace" camper, so technically I won't be breaking the rules ;)

Although this is most likely the hike I will do, please don't hesitate to make other suggestions if you think there's somewhere I would like more. The reason this hike is so appealing to me is because it has the highest elevation, so it should have the lowest temperatures in the southeast.

Now if someone can answer me this, I would really appreciate it... What can I expect as far as weather and bugs in the Smoky Mountains this time of year? What kind of night time low temperatures can I expect?

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Smoky Mountains it is! on 08/27/2010 05:05:28 MDT Print View

Most of the peaks in the Shining Rock Wilderness of NC are > 5k ft and offer far better views with less crowding than you'll find in the Smokies.

Edited by simplespirit on 08/27/2010 05:07:53 MDT.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: Swiss Alps / Southern Appalachians
Re: Re: Smoky Mountains it is! on 08/27/2010 07:14:38 MDT Print View

Hey Sanad - I'm not sure if you saw my trip report that I just posted for the AT through the Smokies. My report and some of the other posts might help you with some info.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=36325&skip_to_post=309193#309193

Between my post and one more from Brad Rogers there are three options to quote for a shuttle.

For weather, definitely check on NOAA.gov right before the trip to get an up-to-date weather report for temperatures. When I was there 2 weeks ago the lows were in the upper 50's even at the higher elevations but it can get into the 40's pretty easily at any time of year. It actually dropped to the 30's on top of Mt. Leconte last July.

I didn't find bugs to be a problem at all on my hike.

Usually it isn't very tough to get a reservation for one. If you call the backcountry reservations desk now I would not be surprised if you got your first choice of shelters for the trip.

Let me know if you have any other specific questions on the route or trip - I'd be happy to try and help.

Trevor

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Shelter on 08/29/2010 13:56:35 MDT Print View

Well, I was surprised when I called the reservation desk and I was able to get a reservation for all 4 nights. Now the only thing I still need to take care of is the shuttle. I got one quote from Ronnie to shuttle me and my friend but he can only do an end of hike shuttle, which I would rather not do. So, I will be trying to find someone else that can shuttle me at the beginning of the hike.

Now, since I am going to be at a shelter every night... do I even need to bring a shelter with me? Could I get by with just a bivy? Or should I bring my tarp just in case?

-Sid

Hal Potts
(halpotts) - F

Locale: Middle Tennessee
"Backpacking in the southeast?" on 09/02/2010 08:58:28 MDT Print View

Hi Sanad, Yesterday I just got back from a 3 day hike on the AT in the Smokies. My Buddy and I ran into only 4 other hikers out there at the shelters and none of them had tents with them, their plan was to stay at the shelters, so no tents, tarps, or bivies required. So, Yes, weekend hikers sometimes go without any shelter and it is generally no problem. I personally always carry a tent because I want to have options. I am a very light sleeper and sleeping in close proximity to others can involve snorers, smokers, loud people, people getting up, making noise at night, etc so it just results in a miserable night of sleep for me. Other people I know are heavy sleepers and it is a total non-issue for them. I always take a tent so I have the option of sleeping near but not in the shelter. It works great for me.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: "Backpacking in the southeast?" on 09/02/2010 09:00:37 MDT Print View

I always take a tent so I have the option of sleeping near but not in the shelter. It works great for me.

Until you get a fine. :-)

Hal Potts
(halpotts) - F

Locale: Middle Tennessee
Backpacking in the southeast? on 09/02/2010 13:44:35 MDT Print View

"Until you get a fine. :-)"

True Chris. I always have to carefully weigh the options. "Hmmmm...Pay the fine, or sleep with those guys...Hmmm...pay the fine or sleep with those guys...Let's see, how much cash do I have on me...?"

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Backpacking in the southeast? on 09/02/2010 14:32:54 MDT Print View

I understand. I don't even know how serious the Rangers are about it, I just like to make sure people know they're taking the risk.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Labor Day Smokies Trip on 09/02/2010 16:07:46 MDT Print View

I would recommend taking at least a bivy even if you plan to stay at shelters because of the safety factor. Injury, changes in weather, & fatigue can all alter the best of plans. Also, the AT thru the GSMNP is easier to hike SB compared to NB. Also realize that the altitude will slow you down as you live near sea level. On the Georgia AT I average about 2.7 MPH. In the GSMNP last Labor Day weekend I averaged 1.9 MPH, hiking NB.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Awesome Hike!! on 09/07/2010 18:11:34 MDT Print View

Well, I got back to Florida this morning around 5 am. This was an incredible hike. It was me and two other hikers. We completed the hike on schedule. Left Thursday night and got to Fontana Dam right on time for our shuttle at 8 am Friday Morning. Because of our shuttle driver's recommendation, we ended up starting at Cosby Knob instead of Davenport Gap. First day it started raining hard around 5, so we stayed in Tricorner Knob instead of the intended Pecks Corner. That was probably the coldest night, a ranger told me it was probably in the high 30s. On Saturday we went from Tricorner Knob to Mount Collins. On Sunday we went from Mount Collins to Spence Field. This was probably our toughest day... the climb right before Thunderhead mountain was pretty much straight up. On Monday we went from Spence Field to Fontana Dam where my truck was parked.

This was a very fun hike. The biggest mistake I made was over estimate how tough my feet are. I took only my Vibram Fivefingers KSOs for this trip... oh how I regret this decision. I didn't realize how rocky the terrain would be in these mountains. Needless to say, my feet are probably 3 times their original size now, and will need a couple of days to recover. I will post another thread in the trip reports section once my buddies send me the pictures from their cameras. We also took a few videos which I will need to figure out how to post or at least link to. Now... I have to get back to nursing my poor abused feet.

-Sid

Brad Fisher
(wufpackfn)

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Awesome Hike!! on 09/08/2010 16:46:45 MDT Print View

Great area. Glad you had a blast. Looking forward to the pictures.

Brad