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tombolino
11-01-2016, 20:37
Hey all,

I wanna do a 2 night backpacking trip in 2 weeks, staying in shelters in the Smokies. Predicted temps for the Smokies National Park 57/30, and Im not sure if thats at park altitude (vs peaks) or not. I do have warm gear for a shelter. Im also open to car camp it and hike too if it makes more sense somehow.

I was looking at Mt. Le Conte and Charlies Bunion in the same weekend. I have read that those are two of the best spots in the Smokies to check out. Not sure if combo of those two makes sense; I havent worked out the mileage. Looking for route ideas. I would be driving from Atlanta.

Thanks

nsherry61
11-01-2016, 20:51
FWIW: My favorite mountain weather forecast site is mountain-forecast.com (http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Clingmans-Dome/forecasts/2025)

Not a two week forecast, but a great local mountain forecast that can be compared to current predicted temps vs. mountain-forecast to then estimate variability from expected into the future.

illabelle
11-01-2016, 21:49
I guess you know about the Smokies permit system? There's a shelter at Mt LeConte, and Icewater Spring Shelter about a mile south of Charlie's Bunion. You'll need reservations, and have to pay a small fee. Google smokies permits and follow links for general backcountry.

Hope you have good weather. It's been a crazy-warm fall.

HooKooDooKu
11-01-2016, 22:08
While Ice Water and LeConte are a possible combination, if you want a little bit more distance and some more views, the way I've done this hike is to park at Rainbow Falls parking lot, shuttle to New Found Gap, hike the AT to Charlie's Bunion and then on out to Pecks Corner. 2nd day, double back for a 2nd look at Charlie's Buion and then up the Boulevard to LeConte, with a sunset view at Cliff Tops (<1mile away from shelter). 3rd day, if you get up early enough (I didn't), sunrise at Myrtle Point. Then Rainbow Falls (or Bullhead) trail back to your car.

tombolino
11-01-2016, 23:23
yes i know about permits :)

tombolino
11-01-2016, 23:44
I want to reach Le Conte via Alum Trail and also see the the Bunion and the Jump Off....doable in 2 days?

TNhiker
11-02-2016, 00:05
As long as no snow---easily....

TNhiker
11-02-2016, 00:07
And an easy hitch between both trailheads...

HooKooDooKu
11-02-2016, 00:51
I want to reach Le Conte via Alum Trail and also see the the Bunion and the Jump Off....doable in 2 days?

Alum Cave Trail and it's parking area are closed Mon-Thur thru Nov 17th.
If you stay at Ice Water Springs shelter, two days to see everything you want is very easy if you shuttle between Alum and New Found Gap.
If you want to climb Alum, park at New Found Gap, shuttle to Alum, and hike to LeConte. 2nd day, hike Boulevard with a side trip to the Jumpoff, then to Charlie's Bunion, and double back to spend the night at Ice Water Springs (and if you can manage about 12 miles in a day, you could actually return to your car the 2nd day and skip Ice Water).

IMHO, I think the other way around would be better. Park at Alum on Friday, shuttle to New Found Gap, hike to the Bunion and back to Ice Water. Do the Jumpoff on your way to LeConte the 2nd day, then Alum the third. Of course that depends upon getting a Saturday reservation for LeConte.

Right now, LeConte is booked solid for Fri and Sat nights up tp Thanksgiving weeked. So that means you either need to skip Alum, or wait until after Nov 17th when the trail is no longer closed.

slbirdnerd
11-02-2016, 08:41
FWIW: My favorite mountain weather forecast site is mountain-forecast.com (http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Clingmans-Dome/forecasts/2025)

Not a two week forecast, but a great local mountain forecast that can be compared to current predicted temps vs. mountain-forecast to then estimate variability from expected into the future.

That's what I was going to say! :D

-Rush-
11-02-2016, 09:38
FWIW: My favorite mountain weather forecast site is mountain-forecast.com (http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Clingmans-Dome/forecasts/2025)

Not a two week forecast, but a great local mountain forecast that can be compared to current predicted temps vs. mountain-forecast to then estimate variability from expected into the future.

I like this site too, but it was wildly inaccurate for the Smokies when I was there two weeks ago. Not sure if that was an anomaly or not, but I'm glad I was prepared.

-Rush-
11-02-2016, 09:53
I want to reach Le Conte via Alum Trail and also see the the Bunion and the Jump Off....doable in 2 days?



Day 1
36799

Day 2
36800

HooKooDooKu
11-02-2016, 11:36
I wanna do a 2 night backpacking trip in 2 weeks, staying in shelters in the Smokies. ... I was looking at Mt. Le Conte and Charlies Bunion in the same weekend. ...

I want to reach Le Conte via Alum Trail and also see the the Bunion and the Jump Off....doable in 2 days?

yes i know about permits :)

Alum Cave Trail and it's parking area are closed Mon-Thur thru Nov 17th. ...
LeConte is booked solid for Fri and Sat nights

In the next two weeks, you can't hike Alum Cave Trail AND stay at LeConte shelter.
The hike up Alum Cave to LeConte and then on to Ice Water Springs shelter is 10 miles with a cumulative 4,000' elevation gain (excluding any side trips).
You also can not stay at the same shelter two nights in a row.

So for the average hiker, the only reasonable plan that I can come up with that allows you so see everything you want to see:
1. Park at Alum Cave Trailhead on Friday morning and take a shuttle to New Found Gap.
2. Hike the AT to Pecks... visiting Charlie's Bunion along the way. ~10 miles with ~2,500' accumulated elevation gain.
3. Double back to Ice Water Springs... getting a 2nd look at Charlie's and taking a side trip to the JumpOff. ~8.5 miles with ~2,000' accumulated elevation gain.
(This includes the fact you have to pass Ice Water and come back to it to do the JumpOff on this day, but given that it is the shortest day, seems like the best time to do the JumpOff)
4. Hike Boulevard and Alum Cave back to your car. ~10 miles with ~1,700' accumulated elevation gain (~4,000' accumulated elevation loss).

I don't see any other way to hit all of your check boxes without doing some serious distances and/or serious elevation changes.

importman77
11-02-2016, 14:59
FWIW: My favorite mountain weather forecast site is mountain-forecast.com (http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Clingmans-Dome/forecasts/2025)

Not a two week forecast, but a great local mountain forecast that can be compared to current predicted temps vs. mountain-forecast to then estimate variability from expected into the future.
I've been hoping to find a decent weather site for the mountains and I looked at this but I have a question. Looking at the link, the predicted high temps and low temps are sometimes the same or a lot of the time the low is only a couple of degrees lower than the high. Is that accurate or am I just looking at it wrong?

HooKooDooKu
11-02-2016, 17:11
I've been hoping to find a decent weather site for the mountains and I looked at this but I have a question. Looking at the link, the predicted high temps and low temps are sometimes the same or a lot of the time the low is only a couple of degrees lower than the high. Is that accurate or am I just looking at it wrong?
From what I understand, the temperatures are derived from some sort of calculation rather than an actual forecast at the given site.

And I know from experience that mountain weather can be a bit peculiar. But in this case, I must admit that those numbers look a little fishy.
Here's the current mountain-forecast for Mount LeConte (http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Mount-LeConte/forecasts/2010).
Here's the NOAA historical measurements of temperatures actually experienced on Mount LeConte (http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&issuedby=MRX&product=RTP&format=CI&version=1&glossary=0) (I think the actual recording station is a few hundred feet down the mountain around LeConte Lodge).

The forecast never shows more than a 10 temperature difference from hi/lo for any given day.
The record for the last week shows a typical temperature difference of about 15 to 20.

STICK
11-02-2016, 18:21
I have done this piece of trail several times. Very pretty area, and fun, but can be crowded. I am actually taking my 2 children (this will be my sons 3rd time up there) and a couple of friends (1 that has never been hiking before) up to do this as an easy 2 night trip in a few weeks. We will do Icewater the first night, then LeConte the second night, and hike out via Alum the last day (it's after the 17th, so the trail and the LeConte shelter is open - we have already reserved them).

However, I am wondering if anyone can comment on the water near Icewater? I know the source is north of the shelter on the AT, but wondering how that is looking at this point? As for LeConte, we have always filled up from the hand pump at the lodge. I assume this is also a reliable source even during times of drought?

Also to add, for weather forecast/conditions, I just keep up with the blog "High on LeConte (http://www.highonleconte.com/daily-posts)". They typically post each day of actual temps and condition actually at LeConte. It is easy enough to figure out weather for Icewater based on the conditions on LeConte.

HooKooDooKu
11-02-2016, 20:45
...As for LeConte, we have always filled up from the hand pump at the lodge. I assume this is also a reliable source even during times of drought?...
Seem like I once read some statistics about the lodge and one of them was that the natural spring that supplies the water to the lodge have never been known to go dry.

TNhiker
11-02-2016, 21:15
Seem like I once read some statistics about the lodge and one of them was that the natural spring that supplies the water to the lodge have never been known to go dry.



thats what ive always heard as well...

not sure how this summer, which has been the driest ive seen it in the 20 years ive been here, has fared though...

ill ask someone i know up there now....

TNhiker
11-02-2016, 21:19
i would also like to see how Moore spring is flowing....

that is another one that years past has been reliable.......

but, this summer is dry dry dry dry.....

HooKooDooKu
11-03-2016, 00:27
i would also like to see how Moore spring is flowing....
I was there about mid October. The flow was down, but plenty enough to easily water up.

-Rush-
11-03-2016, 02:09
I have done this piece of trail several times. Very pretty area, and fun, but can be crowded. I am actually taking my 2 children (this will be my sons 3rd time up there) and a couple of friends (1 that has never been hiking before) up to do this as an easy 2 night trip in a few weeks. We will do Icewater the first night, then LeConte the second night, and hike out via Alum the last day (it's after the 17th, so the trail and the LeConte shelter is open - we have already reserved them).

However, I am wondering if anyone can comment on the water near Icewater? I know the source is north of the shelter on the AT, but wondering how that is looking at this point? As for LeConte, we have always filled up from the hand pump at the lodge. I assume this is also a reliable source even during times of drought?

Also to add, for weather forecast/conditions, I just keep up with the blog "High on LeConte (http://www.highonleconte.com/daily-posts)". They typically post each day of actual temps and condition actually at LeConte. It is easy enough to figure out weather for Icewater based on the conditions on LeConte.

sdf

As of 2 weeks ago there was good water at Icewater Spring, and the hand pump on Leconte was alive and well. I posted a water update from Fontana to Leconte to Davenport a week or so ago.

tombolino
11-03-2016, 12:36
So I made reservations and permit one night (Sat) in Ice Water Shelter, next night (Sun) in Mt Le Conte. This will be not this weekend but next.

DAY 1: Plan is to drive in via Cherokee side (coming from Atlanta) and park at New Found Gap. Hike to Ice Water Shelter, check out Charlies Bunion, maybe Jumpoff. From what I see, the hike from New Found to Ice Water shelter is short so looking for your suggestions on what else to explore that day? Maybe I dont have to start the day by heading straight to Ice Shelter but checking out something else and then later hike to Ice Shelter....?Clingmans Dome? Chimney Tops?

DAY 2. Hike back to Newfound Gap and either hike or hitchhike to trail head for Alum Cave (yes open on Sunday I check), hike up to Le Conte via Alum Cave Trail, spend night in Le Conte shelter.

DAY 3: Hike back down via Boulevard, then to Newfound Gap/car drive home.

illabelle
11-03-2016, 13:16
So I made reservations and permit one night (Sat) in Ice Water Shelter, next night (Sun) in Mt Le Conte. This will be not this weekend but next.

DAY 1: Plan is to drive in via Cherokee side (coming from Atlanta) and park at New Found Gap. Hike to Ice Water Shelter, check out Charlies Bunion, maybe Jumpoff. From what I see, the hike from New Found to Ice Water shelter is short so looking for your suggestions on what else to explore that day? Maybe I dont have to start the day by heading straight to Ice Shelter but checking out something else and then later hike to Ice Shelter....?Clingmans Dome? Chimney Tops?

DAY 2. Hike back to Newfound Gap and either hike or hitchhike to trail head for Alum Cave (yes open on Sunday I check), hike up to Le Conte via Alum Cave Trail, spend night in Le Conte shelter.

DAY 3: Hike back down via Boulevard, then to Newfound Gap/car drive home.

Only about 3 miles from NFG to Ice Water. Depending on what time you arrive, Clingman's dome could be a good choice. Plus it's accessed from NFG. Chimney Tops would be a harder hike. I counted 600+ steps (stair steps, not 600 paces) after it was rehabbed a couple years ago. Tiring. And you have to drive past Alum Cave trail to get to Chimneys. Not sure how that fits with your plans.

HooKooDooKu
11-03-2016, 15:50
... From what I see, the hike from New Found to Ice Water shelter is short so looking for your suggestions on what else to explore that day? Maybe I dont have to start the day by heading straight to Ice Shelter but checking out something else and then later hike to Ice Shelter....?Clingmans Dome? Chimney Tops?
The hike to the shelter is 3.0 miles, and to Charlie's Bunion 4.0 miles (i.e. 5 miles total).
A side trip to the JumpOff will add 0.8 miles (1.4 miles if you skip it on the way in and hike from the shelter back to the JumpOff).

An easy way to add some mileage is to hike down Sweat Heifer to Kephart Shelter, then Grassy Branch and Dry Sluice, approaching Charlie's Bunion from the other side. That makes for a 10.6 mile day (12 miles if you add the JumpOff).

Another thing you might find interesting is to check out the ruins of False Gap Shelter. Hike about 2.5 miles beyond the bunion and at False Gap, you'll find an old side trail on your left. If you follow that trail for about 0.2 miles, you will come an opening where the rock walls of False Gap Shelter still stand.


... hike or hitchhike to trail head for Alum Cave...
It's 4.3 miles from New Found Gap to Alum, and includes a 100 yard long tunnel. IMHO, the tunnel is far to dangerous to hike thru (too narrow with too much traffic). But looking at it in Google Earth, there appears to be a foot path around the tunnel.

I personally don't like relying on a hitch hike to complete a loop, but hitch hiking IS an activity expressly allowed by the GSMNP compendium of rules and regulations.

TNhiker
11-03-2016, 15:56
you will come an opening where the rock walls of False Gap Shelter still stand.



and theres a spring down here-------------that of course, could be dry right now.....




but hitch hiking IS an activity expressly allowed by the GSMNP compendium of rules and regulations.


and in this general area of being on newfound gap road-----its real easy, for at least one person, to catch a ride....

ive done it a bunch and havent had to wait more than 10 minutes along the road..........


i wouldnt hike the road-----too many cars not paying attention, along with not sure how the path around the tunnel would be....

but, if you really do start hiking along the road----i dont think it would take more than a few minutes before someone would ask you if you need a ride....

TNhiker
11-03-2016, 15:58
bAn easy way to add some mileage is to hike down Sweat Heifer to Kephart Shelter, then Grassy Branch and Dry Sluice, approaching Charlie's Bunion from the other side. That makes for a 10.6 mile day (12 miles if you add the JumpOff).




this is a great loop to be honest......

ive enjoyed all the trails of this one, when i did them in pieces and not a loop....

coming down sweat heifer was such a great hike.......

tombolino
11-06-2016, 22:25
To do this suggested here, where do I park and start.....at New Found? I will sleep 1st night in Ice Water.

hike down Sweat Heifer to Kephart Shelter, then Grassy Branch and Dry Sluice, approaching Charlie's Bunion from the other side. That makes for a 10.6 mile day (12 miles if you add the JumpOff).

HooKooDooKu
11-07-2016, 00:53
To do this suggested here, where do I park and start.....at New Found? I will sleep 1st night in Ice Water.
To do the Sweat Heifer loop, you still park at New Found Gap and hike the AT to Sweather Heifer. After camping at Ice Water, come back out to New Found Gap and hitch to Alum.

But if I were you and if I had the money for a shuttle, I would park at Rainbow Falls parking, shuttle to New Found Gap, hike the Sweat Heifer loop, then LeConte returning to my car via Rainbow or Bullhead, and save Alum for another day... after all, if you are in Atlanta, this trip shouldn't be the only time you try to experience Mt LeConte.