One of my favorite areas. I would join you, but I just got back from a trip in the Sierra's. Would like to do this area in the fall if you plan another trip.
Couple thoughts on your trip:
- If you don't want to head all the way to Thomas Knob (it's a great section however) you can get water close to the intersection of the AT and Crest Trail. Down the crest trail a little.
- The best camp spots are on the crest trail which runs parallel to AT. Open spots with great views as opposed to the enclosed AT spots. Also a great spot on the AT on Wilburn Ridge (before you make the descend the the AT/Crest Trail intersection.
- Pine mtn trail is mostly in the woods. I find the Crest Trail over to scales has much better views. You have to deal with the horses but not usually a problem.
- Night two campsites. South on the AT from scales is a great spot on Stone mtn. Right off the AT. Camped here many times and no crowds. Need to take water. It is only a mile from scales, so you might you could do other sections if you camped here. Another great spot is on bear pen trail. About half way down behind the large rock. Can't miss it. No crowds.
So many options and the trip you have planned is a good one.