View Full Version : May 13 th, 7 days.

04-15-2003, 22:59

My first time here. My daughter and I will be hike ing for 7 days on the AT statrting somewhere. We have been training on the Buckeye Trail in NEOhio. This will be our first time on the AT. I think we could do apx 100 miles but will have no goals except have ing a memorable adventure. My daughter wants to hike the Shenandoah section .( I think it may not represet the real AT) My first choice was somwhere around Hot Springs NC heading North, but I think it may be to crowded. My second choice was to hit the rocks of Pennsylvania. I think we will probably do what my daughter wants unless your advice gives us a better idea. We plan to use hammocks and I need to ask if they are allowed everywhere on the AT?



04-16-2003, 00:15
I suggest getting in several sections,with a little stop and go action, i.e. do a section then drive to another one...with that in mind definitely do from Carvers Gap to Elk Park, better yet start at Iron Mountain Gap and get in the Roan Mtn. climb-you will appreciate what follows more afterward, then drive up to the Mt. Rogers section and get the Grayson Highlands in....also be nice to get Max Patch in, so start there and work your way up...dont worry about crowds around Hotsprings....these are hikers your're talking about, not the goobs at Wallyworld!

04-16-2003, 06:19
Hi Feenicks,

I was curious as to where you are located here in NE Ohio. I live here in Medina county and I am always curious of where fellow hikers in the area, since they are few and far between it seems. I hike with my pack around the area in Local Parks and in the CVNP, at times. Also maintain a portion of the Buckeye Trail, in the area. Someday I would love to hike all of it but just don't like all the road walking especially by myself.

At any rate, I did thru hike the AT in 99, and since then I hike for a few weeks on it doing sections. My son has recently decided to hike and backpack, so we have done a few weeks on the AT. Anyway, in answer to your questions, I would agree with Simva about the area to hike and it is beautiful, but I would warn you that the Buckeye Trail in no way compares to what you will be hiking. So expect some very difficult days compared to the BT. Having said this, I would say you probably would not have any problem, but consider your daughter, if this is her first time of backpacking then you may consider some easier terrain. Since I am sure you would not want her to get any negative attitudes about it.

Last year I took my son from Carver's Gap to Damascus and it is beautiful along the area and is really not too difficult. Part of this is in the section that Simva mentioned however you would not have to climb Roan Mt. You will meet a lot of thru hikers probably during this time, but nothing to be concerned about at all. Also you may consider from Damascus, Va to Adkins, VA. which my son and I doing toward the end of May. This would put you in the Grayson Highlands which are beautiful, and also see the wild ponies up there... Neither of these sections are really too difficult and they are beautiful also. There are so many beautiful areas of the AT, it is difficult to choose. That is my most difficult part of hiking with my son, is finding a beautiful area that is not too difficult, since I don't want to burn him out with it. You did mention the Shenandoah, which is also nice, and not too difficult but I was not overly impressed with it. You will encounter a lot of tourist, hikers, and wildlife in the area, including bears. The bears are no problem, but if your daughter is afraid of wild animals, you may not want to put her in that position for the first hike. Of course wildlife of all types are common on the AT, but in the Shenandoah they have a very narrow band of area to roam and with all the tourist they are very common in that area.

Well, that is just my thoughts, and I hope this will help with your choices. Just keep in mind that the crowds will not really be a problem as Simva has said. Also I would suggest to keep in mind about the difficulty of hiking, and also the wildlife if it is your daughter's first time.

Hope you have a wonderful hike, which I am sure you will and if you have any further questions you would like to ask me, feel free to email. I will do all I can to help.

Ed (Never Alone)AT99

Blue Jay
04-16-2003, 08:09
In my humble opinion I think you should listen to your daughter. Yes it is easier than most of the AT, however it is also one of the more beautiful sections. Some of the faster thrus will be there and you'll get to hear many tall tales.

04-16-2003, 09:31
Skimming the responses, I don't think that the hammock question was answered. Or, atleast, I can't tell. Hammocks are fine on the AT.

For a 100 mile, challenging 7 mile stretch, start at Fontana Dam at the southern end of the Smokys and hike north along the AT, out of the park, across Max Patch, and into Hot Springs. Very nice stuff. You get Rocky Top, the Narrows, Clingman's Dome (highest point on the AT),
Charlies Bunion, the Sawteeth, Mount Cammerer, and the Max Patch massif. The AT from Icewater to Mount Cammerer is really special.

If you do this, be sure to call the Smokys right away to get shelter reservations (you can do so up to a month in advance). You'd probably want to stay in something like Russell Field (or Spence), Siler Bald (or Double Springs), Pecks Corner (or Tricorner), and Davenport Gap (or outside the park), from Davenport Gap to Hot Springs is about 35 miles and is really pretty, with great Mountain Laurel. If the weather is nice, haul water up and camp on the far side of Max Patch (small grove of trees off the summit). This would be around 100 miles and is certainly doable. I did this stretch in 5.5 days last spring. The hiking isn't terribly difficult (at least once you've made the climbs out of Shuckstack and Davenport). You could avoid the permits in the Smokys altogether by starting and ending 50 miles outside the park, but racking up 200 miles in 7 days is pushing things a bit.

The Roan Highlands section around Carver's gap is, I think, the single prettiest stretch on the southern AT. But, this is a short, 20ish mile section which leads into my least favorite section of the southern AT.

04-16-2003, 22:27
I called for reservations at shelters in the Great Smokie Mountains and was told that we would not be able to use our hammocks at all because of bears. So I think that this first time out we will start at Rockfish Gap heading N. This works out well because my wife will drop us there on her way to visit my other daughter at Camp LeJeune N.C. Rockfish is about half way to Camp LeJuene and Front Royal is about halfway on her way back home.:)



max patch
04-17-2003, 07:38
Although the SNP was (in my opinion) the worst part of the trail (too many rules about where you can camp, too many road crossings, too many ticks) I like your plan.

I would normally caution a beginning hiker that a 100 mile hike may be too aggressive a goal, however, the SNP gives you many opportunites to revise that goal downward if need be. There are also opportunities for "real food" as you pass thru the park. And, most importantly, its what your daughter wants to do.

04-17-2003, 08:53
Originally posted by Feenicks
I called for reservations at shelters in the Great Smokie Mountains and was told that we would not be able to use our hammocks at all because of bears. What the heck does a hammock offer to a bear that a tent, or tarp, does not?

Now if they don't want you to use your hammock in a shelter because of space concerns, I can understand that. But bears!?!?!

Also, you can't camp at shelter locations. So, maybe they were thinking you were planning to hang your hammock in a couple of trees outside a shelter. Which, I guess, is considered camping. But bears?!?!!

I might have to call GSMNP just to get clarification on this one. That is just plan strange.

04-17-2003, 09:40
One isn't supposed to camp at shelters in GSMNP and there always seems to be some sort of confusion over when it is okay. Some people have told me that only thruhikers can camp if the shelter is full (everyone else supposedly has reservations). However, I think that if you arrive at a shelter with a reservation and find it full, camping is no problem.

There are some shelters in GSMNP that are heavily patroled by bears. Specifically, Mollies Ridge, Russell Field, Spence Field, and Derrick Knob. The proximity of these shelters to Cades Cove (where all the family campers go) brings bears to the shelters. I had a 30 minute encounter last May with a bear at Spence Field. The bear wasn't aggressive, but he did eat one of my socks and wasn't about to be scared off. Thankfully, I was not wearing the socks at the time and had a bottle of Dickel to sip while I watched the show.

I would agree with Max Patch that a 100 mile trip for a beginner, even on something as forgiving as the AT, might be a bit much. However, there is nothing wrong with diving in headfirst into the AT. After all, you can always hop right out if things go bad.

04-17-2003, 09:47
I understand the bear issues in GSMNP, but I fail to see what a hammock has to do with bears.

04-17-2003, 10:01
I would assume that due to the high bear traffic and history of bear encounters at these shelters (a bear suprised a woman in the privy at Spence a week or so before I was there), the busybodies in the NPS are worried that something stinky swinging between the trees might get mistaken by a bear as a food bag. Or, at least something fun to play with. A good argument? No, but it may be the rationale that the administrators are using in this case. The memory of the women who was killed two (three?) years ago on Goshen Prong (north of Double Springs) is still around. She was asleep under a tree and an emaciated sow and cub killed her, presumably for food.

Blue Jay
04-17-2003, 10:12
I hiked through the Smokies both those years and do not remember hearing about anyone being even attacked and certainly no one killed killed. Please no more bear halucinations/hysteria.

04-17-2003, 10:14
Someone was killed there in 2000? 2001? Give me a minute and I'll find the article again.


It was in May 2000. HEre is a link to an article...


I think there is another thread on WB on this very topic, but I can't find it.

04-17-2003, 10:20
Yes, someone was killed there and this is not hysteria. See, for example,


Blue Jay
04-17-2003, 10:35
Yes, I thought it was that one. A grand jury could not find enough evidence, but it was clear that the husband killed his wife and fed the body to the bears. There were many witnesses to various fights and threats he made prior to her death. He did not even fight for the insurance money. Animals are useful covers for murder.

04-17-2003, 10:54
I may have started something here. Sorry. When I called to make shelter reservations I was told that in the GSMNP you must stay in shelters because of bears. You can not use a hammock in the shelter, so for 1 week of hike ing in GSMNP on the AT we would not need to carry hammocks. I guess that if you come to a shelter and it is full you would have to camp elsewhere, I should know by now not beleave everything Ranger Bob has to say.



max patch
04-17-2003, 12:32
Hope this clarifies the rules re camping in the GSMNP:

Shelter use is required on the AT in the GSMNP. A hiker must have a reservation/permit to use a specific shelter that is also date specific. (i.e. shelter A on night 1; shelter B on night 2, etc.)

An exception is made for thruhikers. Thruhikers are given a special permit which allows them 8 days to get thru the park without designating a specific shelter. If the shelter they wish to stay at is full then the thruhiker is permitted to camp within sight of the full shelter.

As Feenicks is not a thru hiker he and his daughter are required to stay in the shelters and are not permitted to camp. Accordingly, hammocks are not an option for him on this trip.

04-17-2003, 12:36
GSMNP designates anyone who start and ends their trip 50 miles outside the park as a thruhiker. So, if you start at Wayah and hike to Roan, you should be classified as a thruhiker.

04-21-2003, 14:38
Not bear hysteria... had my happy butt chased by a bear while going thru the GSMNP. However, also hiked by a mother with 3 cubs( all in trees) less than 20 feet from me. It was right by a shelter and you were on them before you realized it. I just kept strolling right on by and she didn't even give me a 2nd look.

04-21-2003, 14:43
Chased? Do tell.

04-22-2003, 15:04
Yeh, chased...after he got close enough and I knew he wasn't stopping. Damn things are QUICK!!! We had encounters earlier in the day and this was just before dusk. I won't tell you what I did because most people wouldn't believe me. .....Ahh, the stupid things we do and live to tell about them. Oh, and yes, I have some bear knowledge and have been around them in Alaska(lot bigger than these guys).

04-22-2003, 15:45
I have done a lot of stupid things that people don't believe. So you can tell me what you did. If I had run from a black bear and realized that I was about to be caught I guess I would turn and yell at it as loud as possible. I am pretty sure that I would not run from a bear. I would back away slowly.

Blue Jay
04-23-2003, 09:35
You're right I don't believe you.

04-23-2003, 12:54
That's exactly what I did. I started slowly backing off but after I realized he wasn't stopping I hauled butt. We were on top of a ridge and I realized I couldn't outrun him. So I stopped, yelled and flung my arms. He stopped, turned and started to leave. The stupid part was I chased him. Why, I don't know. It took him all of about 2 seconds to dissapear into the woods from less than 20 feet.( these guys are quick and agile,couldn't believe how fast he vanished). I just went to the ridge to watch the sunset and change my attitude, that's all. Didn't even think about something like this happening>
Bluejay, that is fine. If i was in your place I might feel the same way. I have no reason to spout crap at this site as I hope to use it for along time.
Earlier in the day, the bear would not let 2 hikers(brothers) pass this point on the trai. Every time they tried to walk by, he would come out of the bushes and challenge them. They finally put a pack of cookies on the ground and he took them and left. NO, I don't agree with this but it was their decision. Heard a few weeks later that someone had their pack practically ripped off them. I figure it was the same bear, but don't know for sure.
Take it for whatever it's worth.....

04-23-2003, 13:14
My vote for a 100-miler would include Mt. Rogers National Rec Area and Grayson Highlands, very beautiful and not overly tough hiking. Head south and end up in Damascus, then shuttle to Hot Springs and head south to Max Patch and into the northern end of the Smokies which is easier and more scenic hiking than the southern end.

P.S. I hiked through the Smokies last week and saw hammocks in use by thrus at most of the shelters. Of course they offer no more or less protection from bears than tents, but it is fun to tease hikers who like to sleep in these "bear burritos". Anyhow Feenicks, have fun and don't push too hard!

04-23-2003, 13:59
Thanks ga me ak, I believe you. what else could you do. It was a mistake for someone to feed the bear and transfer the problem to someone else.

We will be hike ing Shenandoah + or - 20 miles. Next year we will do Mt Rogers or one of the other suggestions. Thanks.