View Full Version : Erwin to Damascus

03-11-2011, 21:46
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Iím hoping to hike between Erwin to Damascus after the ATC Biennial this July. Being pretty much a Yankee, I have a few questions about how things are down there.

First thing that gets me is the whole no-privy deal. Up here, we tend to concentrate our waste in a central location rather than spreading it around randomly. Am I likely to find overnight sites buzzing with well-fed flies? Do I need to watch where I step when I make a middle of the night trip to tap a kidney?

I also see in various guides that there are lots of campsites in between shelters. Anyone care to recommend (or not recommend) a few?

Guides also mention water in many locations. Are most likely to be flowing in July, or will they have started to dry up (given a normal season)?

Iím pretty sure itís going to be warm in the south in July. Is it unbearably hot and humid even at altitude? I would imagine this section is pretty popular with all it has to offer scenically. Does it stay busy in July, or are only mad dogs and Englishmen (and Yankees) foolish enough to hike in the middle of the summer?

Other than the high balds (which I am really looking forward to experiencing), are there any other places on/near the footpath that should not be missed? Good swimming spots?

Weíll probably plan on an overnight at Kincora, which may be a little far to get to from Erwin w/o resupply. Any easy in-and-out resupply points between the two?

We are planning on spotting a vehicle in Damascus and plan to shower and sleep there before heading back up north. Who is best to contact regarding that possibility? Any recommended shuttlers from Damascus to Erwin on the 4th of July?

Thanks for your input.


Stir Fry
03-11-2011, 22:09
Nice hike
Expect bugs but thats becouse of weather. Not privies.
Lots of places to camp between shelters.
Water may be a problem. it starts getting dryer in May.
It will be hot but the nights will be ok.
Kincora shuttles each night. Mt Harbor does also.
Call outfitter to park and arrange shuttle.

Cabin Fever
03-11-2011, 22:16
I use to maintain in that section before moving and I will be the first to say that I avoided hiking extensively in July. Even up high, it can still be very hot. However, as long as you don't push too hard and take it easy in the middle of the day, you should be fine.

There are two schools of thought on privies - one location or several. Pros and cons to both. One reason for not having privies in the south is the maintenance. The distances in to some of the high ridge shelters makes it difficult to maintain them. Proper catholing is just as good as a privy.

You will most of the highlights of the area on the AT, but here a couple of extras. Take the short side trip to the top of Grassy Ridge just after Carvers Gap. One of three 6000 footers in the Roans. Take the short side trip to Jones Falls between 19E and Mountaineer Falls Shelter. In July, stop and take a dip in Laurel Falls and Watauga Lake. Can't miss shelters/camp sites are Beauty Spot or top of Unaka Mountain, Round Bald or Jane Bald or Grassy Ridge, Overmountain Shelter, Bradley Gap between Little and Big Hump, Mountaineer Falls Shelter, Kincora (of course), Iron Mountain Shelter.

Water is difficult in dry seasons since the AT in that area consists of long ridgeline walks. Best wait until close to your trip and check back on here. Watauga Lake to Damascus is the worst of that since it is basically 40 miles on the ridgeline.

03-11-2011, 22:37
Cabin Fever covered things pretty well. Just a few things to add:

1. Being a New Englander, I'd be curious to see if Unaka Mountain reminds you of the North; it did me, walking through the thick evergreens and smelling the balsam firs. I hiked it in early May before bugs were out but I think you'll like it.

2. You asked about other re-supply options. I re-supplied in Hampton at Bremer Castle. Hampton is a short hitch from the Trail just before Watauga Lake.

3. Enjoy the Laurel Falls, one of the most picturesque and most photographed falls on the entire AT. After Laurel Falls, it's a steep ascent up Pond Flats Mountain. After said ascent, your hard work is done. The rest of the way to Damascus is pretty easy.

July isn't ideal but were I in your position, I'd do the same and take advantage of the ATC conference to hike there. Re. temps & humidity except for the Greylock summit, Massachusetts Julys can be every bit as hot & humid as the mountain South. I think you'll do fine.

03-11-2011, 22:47
2. You asked about other re-supply options. I re-supplied in Hampton at Bremer Castle. Hampton is a short hitch from the Trail just before Watauga Lake.

I heard Bremer Castle is closed this season.

03-12-2011, 01:17
I hiked section last year. Besides what was already mentioned...

Roan Mountain is real beast. Like others in GA. Take it slow but the views on top are nice.

Stay at Overmountain Shelter if you can. Nice place with lots of room in shelter or to tent.

Stop at Mountain Harbour. If nothing else get the great breakfast!

Laurel Fork Falls area, if you are at all into geology at all, there are some interesting formations

Pond Flats: Despite what any guide may imply there is nothing of any interest on this mountain and only a trickle of water (fill up before you leave river). What hike, what a PUD! That said, Watauga Lake is at the bottom and a nice place to take a dip.

Here were my stopping points:
Indian Grave Gap (might want to stay on top of Beauty Spot or push to Cherry Gap)
Clyde Smith Shelter (this is a long day… trail is longer than guides say due to relocation of trial)
Stand Murray Shelter (shelter sucks but my knee could take no more)
Overmountain Shelter (near zero day to rest knee)
Mountain Harbour Hostel (nice)
Mountaineer Shelter (nice, like new)
Kincora (Say Hi to Pat)
Watauga Shelter
Vandeventer Shelter (nice views)
Double Springs Shelter
Damacus (another long day but you are done)

Tennessee Viking
03-12-2011, 02:02
I heard Bremer Castle is closed this season.Really I wonder what the Browns are up to. This will leave Kincora the only hostel between Hampton and Damascus.

Chaco Taco
03-14-2011, 08:29
Just dont camp at Watauga, trust me:D

double j
03-14-2011, 12:38
Just dont camp at Watauga, trust me:D
why not i did! i camped right down behind the bathrooms . all night i could hear fisherman walking by saying i didnt know you could camp here hahaha but by sunrise i was gone with no trace i was there :banana

03-14-2011, 13:12
The Greasy Creek Friendly is another option.

Also, sadly, Pat peoples died a couple of years ago.

Chaco Taco
03-14-2011, 14:52
The Greasy Creek Friendly is another option.

Also, sadly, Pat peoples died a couple of years ago.
Yea i Sent the poster a PM

Camped at Watauga Lake and despite the trash and liter that already plagues that area, had a bear rip through my tent. My own fault but should have heeded the warning signs

06-10-2011, 11:27

My wife, son & I are hiking this section starting tomorrow. I have a Garmin GPS/Map 60csx. I'll keep a journal about conditions and save waypoints on Shelters, Privies, Water Sources and their conditions, High points and Low points. Will try to post this info around June 23rd.