10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC
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Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 05/29/2014 20:09:35 MDT Print View

A friend and I are planning a 10 hike on the AT from Hot Springs to NOC in late October to early November and I have a few questions:
1. Is there an opportunity for resupply along this section or will we have to pack for 10 days?
2. Do we have to stay in the shelters in GSMNP or can we set up a tent nearby? I have never stayed in a shelter and I don't like sleeping with rats, mice and snorers.
3. What low temp should I prepare for that time of year?
4. Any advice?

Vincent Vilcinskas
(vinvil) - M
Hot Springs to NOC on 05/31/2014 18:45:44 MDT Print View

Matt. In response to your post.
There will be ample resupply opportunities along your hike. Standing Bear Farms hostel will be located not far off the trail a few miles before you enter the GSMNP. They have a fair selection of food there. It's not the classiest place but it will suffice. Half way through the GSMNP is Newfound Gap. If the highway is not closed due to bad weather there is plenty of traffic there so hitching a ride to Gatlinburg isn't too tough. NOC has an "outpost" in Gatlinburg that has a free shuttle to Newfound gap also. At the southern end of the GSMNP there are supply opportunities around Fontana damn. At Burningtown Gap, which is 13 miles from NOC,is Aquone Hiker Lodge. They'll pick you up at the trail and take you back. They'll have adequate resupply to get through to NOC.
Since you'll be starting your hike less than 50 miles from GSMNP you won't be considered a "thru" hiker so you'll have to stay in a shelter. You'll also have to have a "back country" hiking permit. All the info concerning that can be found on the GSMNP website
Temps and weather conditions that time of the year will be totally unpredictable so I'd suggest preparing for some significant winter weather.
There's a hiking website called "Whiteblaze.net" that's free and pertains only to the AT. Check that out and post your question there also.
If you can PM me through BPL I be more than happy to send you the relevant pages from this years AT Trail Guide which will be an immense help to you.

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
Hot Springs to NOC on 06/02/2014 05:45:10 MDT Print View

Thanks, Vincent! This is great information. You have definitely convinced me to upgrade my sleeping bag. My Montbell UL SB Hugger 3 will not be adequate. I may give the 20* Zpaks bag a try. I sure wish I had a few cold days to test it before I head out on a 10 day section hike.

I've not done any true winter hiking. I've read that the NRS neoprene socks with a Smartwool liner are the way to go for footwear. Any recommendations?

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Hot Springs to NOC on 06/02/2014 08:10:48 MDT Print View

I would just wear your regular hiking footwear. For me that would be trail runners and thin wool socks. You may want 3 pairs since they take a while to dry out. Or maybe 2 to rotate hiking and a thicker warmer pair to sleep in. I doubt you will see much if any snow that time of year but it is possible.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: 10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 11:22:29 MDT Print View

In some years you will have some snow by then, with there being a very good chance in the Smokies. Watch the weather forecast as you get closer and check the Mt Leconte blog too. They give daily updates on high/low temp as well as snow on the ground. Hiking in the snow is fine for me, just take socks to change into once at camp. Gaiters help in the high stuff, but you probably won't need them. Go with a 20deg bag or prepare to wear your insulation to bed with you.

I am not a fan of the Aquone Hiker Lodge as they like to thumb tack their advertisements to trees along the AT. I encourage you to use a different service in that area.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 06/03/2014 16:50:00 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 11:55:00 MDT Print View

Matt, you should go ahead and reserve your Smokies shelter. You are required to reserve and stay at the shelter if on the AT. I wouldn't worry too much about your timing, though. I really don't think they will hassle you if you are at the wrong shelter or a day off, especially if you are there on a weekday. Weekdays, you may find empty shelters. The shelters are well-used but not that bad. I've actually spent some enjoyable nights in a shelter. The Smokies get a lot of rain, so sometimes its nice to come out of the rain and into a shelter. The shelters all have bear wires and water.

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 12:11:05 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info, guys! This is all very helpful.

Just curious, what kind of rain gear do you typically use in this area and season? I usually bring only a Dri-Ducks jacket and don't worry about the pants. I know Dri-Ducks can wet through, but I'm not usually hiking in torrential rain. (The many shelters along the way could help with that.) I'm also rarely hiking in temps in the 20s and 30s, and when I do it's clear.

Either of you have any personal experience with the Zpacks sleeping bags? I'm considering the 20*. I know they run small.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 12:17:06 MDT Print View

Dri ducks will be fine in this area. You can spend more if you want, but there is really no bushwacking that might tear your top. I like to have a least a skirt packed for this time of year; a trashbag would work to keep your bottoms dry too.

I use an Enlightened Equipment quilt and like it a lot. But Zpacks has quality gear in my experience. I typically use a 30 degree quilt that time of year, but it really is forecast dependent. Quite often, a 20 degree quilt would be nicer.

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 12:27:16 MDT Print View

Hummm...a skirt. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the idea.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 14:26:57 MDT Print View

Call it a kilt if it makes you feel better. Zpacks will sell you one but there are some cheaper and MYOG vesions too.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: 10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 19:05:41 MDT Print View

Agree with Ben. A Dri-Ducks jacket is fine.

Zpacks sleeping bags - I have a 20 deg XXL/XW version with a draft collar in all black Pertex. It looks like something Darth Vader would use on the Death Star. I really love it. Standard sleeping bag hoods never really worked for me so the hoodless Zpacks model was a no brainer. I think it's 26.8oz and is very roomy.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 06/02/2014 19:11:20 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Vader on 06/02/2014 19:13:47 MDT Print View

Ok, Ryan looks like Darth Vader and I'm wearing a skirt. :\

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 19:31:07 MDT Print View

Ryan, I'm 6' 2" and 175 lbs. I was thinking of the 6'5" size in a wide. Would you recommend to go bigger? Do you have the down hood?

Ben, I'll call it a kilt.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: 10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/02/2014 20:07:36 MDT Print View

For your MIRT (Man skirt), just slice open the bottom of a drawstring garbage bag and cinch the drawstring around your waist.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
AT on 06/02/2014 21:11:16 MDT Print View

You cant make shelter reservations until 30 days before . You have to get a permit as well, and keep it with you. Leaf peep-ing time is a one of the busier times in GSMNP. Lots of folks out hiking to see the color change.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: 10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/03/2014 10:47:24 MDT Print View

Matt-

You should be fine with the Wide version. The XW is actually much more room than I need, but it's so very nice to have. My previous bag was a WM Ultralite with 59" girth which I didn't really have a problem with. Just thought more room might be nice(and it is)....I'm 6'5" 205lbs for reference.

Hood- I use a polartec grid balaclava for down to about 30F, and then add a fleece beenie for anything below that. Combo weighs 2oz.

P.S. - I am camping at Elkmont or Smokemont pretty much every weekend in October. They're only about 15mi from Newfound so I can help you with resupply if needed.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 06/03/2014 16:50:38 MDT.

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
10 Days on the AT between Hot Springs and NOC on 06/03/2014 14:06:52 MDT Print View

Ryan, thanks for the recommendations about the Zpacks sizing. I'm also considering the new EE Enigma. We are blessed to have some great cottage UL craftsman, but they sure do make buying decisions hard.

Thanks for the resupply offer. That might be a great possibility. I will discuss that with my hiking partner.