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AT Spring Break
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“I decided to do a bit of a different non-beach spring break trip this year. its the last "spring break" of my life so i thought id make it memorable by doing a section of the AT. I live in blacksburg, va and i'm a little tired of this area of the AT so i'd really like to go down to north carolina and hike a bit there.
My question is where. I'm sure a ton of you have seen the beauty of the smokies, so i'd like to know where youd recommend going. I plan to hike for about 7 days and anywhere from 10-15 or so miles depending on elevation change.
Any suggestions are helpful. Thanks”
“You could do the entire section of the Smokies. The only tough thing would be getting shelter reservations that time of year. A thru-hiker is defined as starting and ending 50 miles, I think it is, outside the park boundaries.
I wonder how long of a hike Hot Springs to Roan Mtn is?”
“This mileage calculator may help: http://www.mikecalabrese.com/users/mikec/applications/atdist/atdist.html
Hot Springs to Apple House Shelter, which I think is the end of the Roan sectin, is 114 miles. 7 days * 13 miles = 91 miles. You may want to start a little north of Hot Springs if you wanted to finish with Roan.”
“ A thru-hiker is defined as starting and ending 50 miles, I think it is, outside the park boundaries.
yea, but no one checks. and theres usually tent-space at the shelters”
“wow thanks for the incredibly quick responses. it looks like the majority of great smokies national park is in tennessee (correct me if im wrong) so maybe thats what i'm really looking for.
basically, i want the prettiest hike i can get, if i can get it, with shelter reserves etc.”
“GSMNP accepts reservations for shelters during thruhike season.
They limit the reservations to no more than half the spaces.
Of course having a reservation does not mean having a space.”
“hot springs to apple house is an awesome section
overmountain shelter was voted campsite with the prettiest valley in backpacker magazine”
“smokies are about half in nc, half in tn”
“amd, theres probably more regular posters on the board from nc/tn than from anywhere else in the country. you picked the right board to come to
last edited: 2/11/08 6:12:03 AM”
“In seven days, you could do a pretty good loop up the AT from Fontana, back down to Lakeshore Trail via Hazel Creek and back to Fontana.
If you want to get away from the crowd, maybe the Sheltowee (sp?) Trace from Pickett State Park north.
The Foothills Trail along the NC/SC border is an option. I can't think of the trail along the KY/VA border but it crosses Pine Mountain. I was looking at it not long ago and there is a thread here somewhere.”
“ can't think of the trail along the KY/VA border but it crosses Pine Mountain
i believe thats the pine mountain trail”
“of course, i could be wrong, and totally look like an idiot for sarcastically italicizing at you”
“hey chili, whats the name of that one trail? you know, that one, i cant think of the name of it, but it crosses the appalachian mountains....
oh, and this is really bugging me, but whats the name of the trail that runs the length of the pacific crest.....? something like pa...pass....specific...crust...tail?
last edited: 2/11/08 6:27:02 AM”
“thanks chili, a loop would definitely be preferable but if i need to hitch hike thats a thought.
i'll be going the 29th of february - the 7th of march. for all you nc/tn hikers, what are the temps on the peaks around this time of year? are we looking at 0, 30...?
thanks again for all the help”
“colder than a witch's tit”
“A loop might be jsut the ticket. You could get some high elevation time and some creek time. I personally prefer the creek hikes.
That time of year you could have 0 for lows and 20's to 40's for highs. This is for about 5000'. Creek bottoms will probably be 20-30 for lows and 40-60 for highs.”
“have an exit plan. you could get blizzarded in somewhere”
“Temps? Bottom line is you just can't tell until about 4 days before the hike.
Last week was warm...70's in the Valley.
By the time you get up there it could be zero with 3 feet of snow on the ground. (No snow cap present at this time).
However, I would expect temps to be in the zero range above 5000'”
“Southbound --> Hwy 321 to Carvers Gap and beyond.. depending on your speed.”
“Out of the sections of trail that I have done, I would have to recommend including the Roan Highlands. I have seen lots of good views on trails elsewhere, but I have never seen as many 360 panoramic views as on this section; it was totally breathtaking. In fact I enjoyed it so much when I did it last fall, I am trying to work it in to my backpacking plans this year as well, and I don't normally hike the same section twice so close together.
If you do decide to do the Smokies instead (they are nice too donít get me wrong), you might try and catch Max Patch (just a few miles north of Davenport Gap) as it is also a bald with some great panoramic views.”
“Another helpful link: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/productview.php?pil=RTPMRX”
“I would have thought it was colder than 12 on top last night. That cold front just sort of swept in during the late afternoon.”
"Of course having a reservation does not mean having a space.‚ÄĚI thought that a resevation entitled one to a space. I hope you're just passing one at some of the inconsiderate people that are sometimes there. I have found just about everyone to be considerate.
I have never experienced a problem with the matching of spaces with reservations, except once at Cosby Knob Shelter. I was a guilty one. A group of four arrived late one evening at Cosby, saw the shelter was almost full and went down the hill about 20-yards and pitched their tents near the fire-ring down there. Later, one of them returned to the shelter and started raising hell with one of the two leaders of a seven person group with five teenagers. The man complained that because of the crowd, his group was forced to tent! I was ready to give up my space, but this guy raised so much hell that I decided to say nothing. The group leader claimed to have a reservation for his entire group and had been almost ready to get up and throw the guy out. The guy complaining did not want the one space remaining,(I would have given him my space, which would open things for two people.) and so he went back to his tent. The other couple claimed to have a reservation, too. Someone was not telling the truth, unless the Park screwed-up by overbooking.
The only overload situation that I recall was when a group of young scouts talked their leader into doing a night hike from Tricorner Knob Shelter to Cosby Knob Shelter. They wanted to catch the other part of their split group. Their leader was dead wrong in allowing it. But I learned that they made it OK and crowded-in at the shelter, which slept 17 people that night.”
“NS - I had that happen to me. chili was there and we were the guilty party. I had changed my reservation before the trip and made it a shorter trip with the days that remained staying as originally booked. The person doing the reservation knocked off the extra days but pulled all of our days forward. In other words, Mon - Sun trip, called back to make it a Thur-Sun trip. They changed it to Mon-THur trip contrary to what how I asked it be changed. Just a miscommunication. We're at the shelter, no one has a tent, and 20 folks are there. We decided to hike out the 8 miles to Big Creek and car camp at Cosby. We'd sent one guy ahead to grab a campsite.”
“If one has a reservation in a shelter and shows up to find 20 people in it...you probably won't get any of them to agree that they don't have a reservation.
THAT is what the RidgeRunner is for. he/she is supposed to sort that out.”
“Most folks are cool. Some aren't. Luck of the draw.
I've been in a situation where the park screwed up the reservations. Some dude started raising hell and we had cell reception so we called the reservation office and validated our res #s. All of us had valid reservations.”
“That's why I try to get up, get moving and get to the shelter as early as possible. Posession in 9/10 of the law.”
I'm not kicking anyone out but if I'm in the right I'm not moving out. I will move over though.”
“Thanks to that trip, I will always take at least a tarp, just in case I need to tent it.”
“Thanks to that trip, I will always demand to see verification on permits.”
“Yeah, those scouts didn't have permits. I think they admitted that the rain changed their plans....but they didn't have tents.”
“If you are in the Smokies and you don't have permits then you don't really have plans.”
“Speaking of spring break, chili's beach trip has inspired us to try a family beach camping trip this spring break. We're thinking we can explore some of the old Spanish forts, check out the NAS air museum, goof off on the beach, and eat seafood while in that area.”
“Right on John. Should be a great time.”
“I wouldn't do the Smokies. There are a lot of sections of the AT that are as beautiful where you aren't restricted to staying in the shelters. Spring Break can make for a very crowded trail. If you want a loop, how about Grayson Highlands? Or the loop around Rainbow Springs? Or the Shenandoahs?”
“TD - I wanted to go to the Smokies but my wife was afraid of the lows with the 17 month old. I mentioned chili's trip and she was all for it. The more we talked about it the more we liked it. I have an aunt and uncle that live 10 minutes from the NAS so we've been there lots, but camping there would be a different spin.
last edited: 2/11/08 9:45:32 AM”
“To amd618: I still say.. Roan Highlands.. Start about Hwy321 and go south till you get to Carvers Gap (at least), .. That's a 3 or 4 day for sure.. if you and a day on top of grassy ridge.. and push on to Roan Highland shelter.. Now you are probably at 5 days.
To Dayhiker: Sounds like a lot of fun! Dayhike, base camp, eat seafood.. etc.. etc..
last edited: 2/11/08 9:48:25 AM”
As much as I like the Smokies I'd have to say that if your heart is set on doing the AT you would probably be better off doing a section outside of the park itself. Mostly because getting reservations during spring for the AT shelters is a pain in the rear.”
“Many folks over on whiteblaze.net suggest the Benton MacKaye Trail as a more scenic alternative to the A.T. in the Smokies with more water and without the shelter hassle.”
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