I apologize for the long delay in getting back to you; I had a family emergency that tied me up for the past week.
The Blue Ridge Parkway was closed leading to Black Balsam Knob, so we started our trip from the Boy Scout camp. If the Parkway to Black Balsam Knob is opened when you begin your trip, I would recommend that you take that route over starting at the scout camp due to it being easier and more scenic. We pretty much had the area to ourselves the first two days, and didn't see a single person until Saturday when it seemed to start getting a little more crowded. I didn't see any sign of bears, but we hung everything out of reach as several people have mentioned earlier. Regardless of which starting point that you use, I think Deep Gap is a pretty good place to spend the night if you're heading to Cold Mountain. It was a great trip, and the worse part was the slipping and sliding due to the slushy snow on the trail leading up and down to the scout camp. I wouldn't worry too much about the bears if you're taking all the necessary precautions. If you are going to cold mountain, then there is a pipe near the summit that was running really good that can help you top off on water. It should be a good trip and the trails should be a little more clear when you make it up there.