View Full Version : Trip Report-Charlies Bunion-10/25/2008

10-25-2008, 21:29
Well, this was a great day to be hiking. We left the homestead at 6:20AM and were at Newfound Gap at 8:30, without a single soul there yet. The rain had gone, but the clouds and fog had not. We could see the sun trying to burn through the clouds and fog so I thought we would be OK as far as views go.

I had my wife with me who doesn't do a whole lot of hiking really, maybe 20 or 30 miles a year, so I wasn't sure about how long this would take. After restroom and pictures at the trail head we started on the trail around 8:45AM. The climb out of the Gap was a steady one for sure. The trail was a river in water. I mean there was not a dry place to put your feet unless you walked up on the berm on the sides. We made it to the Sweet Heifer Creek Trail in about an hour, so I figured we were making decent time. We continued on with the sun out and no clouds or fog up where we were. But the fogs were still pretty thick further down in the valleys so we just got views of mountain tops sticking out of the fog. The temp was nice at around 50F. We made it to Icewater Springs Shelter at around 10:40 and took a nice pack off break. We had views here and it was clear into the valleys. Nice shelter, seemed clean and all; signed the register and was out. Debated about possibly leaving the packs here for the hike out to Charlies Bunion but was unsure of whether we would need anything and if they would be there when we got back.

Anyway, we started down towards the Bunion and the fog really rolled in, the winds picked up and it got cold really fast. The 56F and clear we had at the shelter was replaced by 42F and socked in fog by the time we got to the split to the bunion. The views were NIL, NOTHING, NADA. The rock was neat. There were 12 college students there, one in shorts, tshirt, and sandals! We stayed about 30 minutes hoping the fog would roll out, but it did not.

We went back to Icewater to cook lunch. I got really cold sitting there cooking. By the time I had cooked, ate, and cleaned up it was 37F with a good breeze stirring. We left Icewater at 12:40PM headed back to the Gap. The smell of Pine was awesome walking back towards the Boulevard trail. we had planned on doing the Jumpoff, but with the fog socked in, decided against it.

When we crossed over the ridge of Kephart just west of the Boulevard trail I felt a sudden change in the weather. It was weird really. The wind stopped, the sun was out, I could see out towards Gatlinburg, and I knew the temperature was up. I checked my thermometer after about a 1/4 mile. It had went from 37F to 54F in the course of about 1.5 miles. Common Smokies weather I guess. We had went out to Charlies Bunion and to within a mile of being back only seeing about 16 people. Now, within an earshot of the parking at Newfound, we ran into a freight train. I bet we saw 150 people in the last half mile. The trail was a muddy mess, ankle deep mud, it was bad, really bad.

We got to the parking lot at 3PM sharp and there were 29 1/2 million people there. Talk about getting some funny looks, I did. We both changed clothes in the bathrooms there to get down to Cherokee for an early supper at the buffet at Harrah's. Fat, happy, sore, and full; we decided it best to come home. Thanks!

10-26-2008, 05:49
Thanks for the good read... I hike out to The Bunion at least once a year. I met up with a husband and wife there in May. It was their first hike. They experienced one of those mountain storms that seem to come from nowhere...:-?. He was mad because his new "waterproof" hiking boots were soaked....

10-26-2008, 11:36
Thanks for sharing, Bulldawg! You gotta love the Smokies. When I finished my section this year I finished at Newfound Gap. MAN...what culture shock. Going from a nice quiet walk in the woods to the constant roar of Harleys and about 1000 people. Only in the Smokies. :)

10-26-2008, 11:55
Sounds like fun. Gotta admit Charlies Bunnion in late Oct. wearing shorts and sandals is pretty bone headed.

10-26-2008, 12:14
Thanks for sharing. Kinda bittersweet for me. I have been planning a section hike from Fontana to Erwin all year. I was supposed to have started hiking it yesterday!

Alas, things fell through for now. May make it a winter hike. Should be fun, but would like to find someone else for company (miserly loves company supposedly). Will make a good test of my new SuperStretch 0.

Anyone interested? One or two weeks through the Smokies in January or February? Anyone?.......Anyone?

Hikes in Rain
10-26-2008, 12:15
Sounds like a great trip, Bulldawg, except for that whole missing the Bunion view, of course. Maybe this will help:

10-26-2008, 12:25
Sounds like a great trip, Bulldawg, except for that whole missing the Bunion view, of course. Maybe this will help:

Wanna see my Bunion view? Give me a minute to upload it!

10-26-2008, 12:29
Here ya go!!


Hikes in Rain
10-26-2008, 12:38
Too funny! I took mine on my first day out hiking from Newfound to I-40. Your shot looks like the entire second day of my three days of "sunny" weather. Rain and fog from Peck's Corner to Cosby Knob, visibility near zero. That's the Smokies for you!

10-26-2008, 13:03
Nice trip report...great hike.
I like to catch the sunrise and sunsets from Clingman's Dome or Newfound, I live nearby and you never know what you're gonna get up there. The weather changes constantly.
-Regardless of which trail in GSMNP I usually run into a couple people out without water and wearing nothing but cotton tee shirts and shorts..too often it's pretty obvious that they are not enjoying their time in the mountains. Gene pool thinining..I guess.

papa john
10-30-2008, 16:51
Sorry we missed you, I am pretty sure we were sitting over on the wall by the water fountain resting up a bit before heading up to the shelter. We saw all those people heading out that you saw coming in!

10-30-2008, 17:47
Thanks for the report (and photo!)

My one and only time inthe Smokies was also (for the most part) fog and snow covered.

Gives me an excuse to go back there. :sun

Big Dawg
10-31-2008, 08:55
One of my favorite moments on the trail,,,, I felt like "king of the hill"

The Solemates
10-31-2008, 10:29
good times. i remember when we lived in SC leaving home at like 3am, getting up there at 5am or so, hiking 16 miles RT up to le conte, and being home by that evening for a dinner meeting. ah the memories.

The Solemates
10-31-2008, 10:30
good times. i remember when we lived in SC leaving home at like 3am, getting up there at 5am or so, hiking 16 miles RT up to le conte, and being home by that evening for a dinner meeting. ah the memories.

oh yea, and this was in september and it snowed on us.