View Full Version : BMT completed through Smokies - Long report

05-10-2011, 20:17
I completed all sections through GSM National Park but not the way I wanted to. At 33 miles from Twenty Mile the sole came off my right boot. With some gorilla tape (thanks to hiker Marcus), medical tape and a small bungie cord, I was able to hike to Lakeshore Dr and get a ride into Bryson City from some day hikers. No boots available in Bryson City so I called Jeff at the Hike Inn and got a shuttle back to my car. Rather than drive all over looking for boots, I decided to do some day hiking and after studying the map, I figured I could do the rest of the BMT by moving the vehicle to different places and going out and back each day. Here is my report:

4/29/11 After dropping off two hikers from FL at Amicalola, I head up to Twenty mile Ranger station, got the permit and map and arrived at campsite 93 (1.7 miles) at 8:30 PM.

4/30/11 Hiked about 14.9 miles to campsite 81. Had to ford about 5-6 creeks. Met hiker Marcus (Little Engine) who just completed an AT thru hike late last year as a flip-flop.

5/1/11 Hiked 11.3 miles to campsite 98. A number of trees were down across the trail from the last storm. The maintainers had not been through yet on this part of the Lakeshore Trail. Marcus was about 40 minutes ahead of me and had an encounter with a rattlesnake that he could not navigate around so I caught up with him. That night, Marcus slept down by the lake while I found a good flat spot up near the horse area. Marcus always slept under the stars with the good weather.

5/2/11 There were still a few downed trees across the trail and one was extremely difficult to get around and it took about 15 minutes of going down into a ravine and coming up a very steep and slippery climb through lots of brush. The Leki poles were a lifesaver here. Marcus explored some of the ravines, often coming back out with Mason jar lids from old stills and describing the remnants of homesteads and parts of old cars he saw. As I hiked on, all of a sudden I felt something wrong and saw that the sole of my boot was completely detached and only held on by a gator strap. That is when I stopped and tried to tape up the sole to the boot which lasted about 3 miles. I found a small bungy cord in my pack and wrapped it around the toe box which held the sole on until I was able to get to the parking lot on Lakeshore. That ended the backpacking trip. After getting my car, I got a shower at Fontana Dam and a campsite at Cheoah Point, not really knowing what I was going to do from that point.

5/3/11 I drove back to Twenty Mile trail head and day hiked up to Gregory Bald. I had a pair of old running shoes and a water bottle hip pack. I improvised a simple shoulder pack from the top of my regular backpack and put some food and rain gear in it. My legs felt awesome from the previous days of hiking with 40 pounds and I even jogged back to my van the last 2 miles in the rain. That evening I studied the maps and decided I would try to complete the BMT by day hiking out and back. This Tuesday night there was a pretty serious rain storm, but it ended by morning.

5/4/11 I drove to Lakeshore Dr and parked at the Noland Creek trailhead. I fast packed up to campsite 64 which is very nice with lots of space and picnic tables. I crossed the creek and took a little trail to the right up to a relocated cemetery. Strangely, there is a port-a-can outhouse right at the start of this little trail. That was too weird for being so far from civilization. Later on, the bridges ran out on the Noland Creek trail and I had to make some pretty tricky creek fords. I went all the way up to the Noland Divide Trail and turned around, often jogging the good sections back to my van. I snacked at campsite 64 on the return trip just as 2 campers were getting set up for the night. I figured that I went about 18.4 miles with the out and back.

5/5/11 I parked at Smokemont and went southbound on the Newton Bald trail to the Deep Creek Trail. I did not do the section which includes the the Deep Creek crossing because I completed that last year in a loop from Deep Creek campground, including all of the Pole Rd Creek trail. As I mentioned last year, the Deep Creek crossing is a serious and potentially dangerous crossing, especially after a hard rain like we had Tuesday night. On the return trip up to Newton Bald, I came across a big wild boar and about 15 piglets. Fortunately the monster mother boar snorted in distress and took off away from me with the piglets following. My heart was beating a hundred miles an hour. I could find no rocks right at that spot, so my next best move would have been to try and get up a tree if she charged me. The Newton Bald campsite (52) looked pretty nice, but I did not have time to check for water availability. I went a bit over 22 miles that day and was pretty beat.

5/6/11 It was Friday all ready and I was running out of time. I decided to drive up to Straight Fork Rd and catch the trail where it comes out on the Rd. I went southbound all the way to the Hughes Ridge trail intersection (8.1 miles out). I stopped for a short while at campsite 47 which is the Raven Fork river ravine area. It was absolutely beautiful. There were 3 guys from Indiana camping there. This site has pulleys on the bridge for hanging bags plus a separate hook pole fixture that you can put bags on by using a long loose pole to hoist up the bags to the hooks. I guess they had to do that because of lack of trees to support an overhead cable system. Further up the trail there was another creek crossing ford with remnants of the old bridge laying down in the water. I slept in the van that night and used the picnic tables and port-a-can at Round Bottom horse camp. There was no one around and after about 7:30 PM, there was never another car that came up the road. It felt strange for a Friday night that no one was around the area.

5/7/11 I went up the northbound section of trail, eating lunch at Laurel Gap shelter (pretty run down). The water source was only about 100 yards away and flowing good. I continued up the Mount Sterling Trail to Pretty Hollow Gap (4 way trail intersection) and turned around logging 16.8 miles with the return trip. I met a few hikers heading to the shelter and beyond, including two women and 1 guy from NY State. Again, I slept in the van and once again no one came around after 7:00 PM. Very strange for a Saturday night.

5/8/11 It was Sunday and I was about to run out of time. At this point I did not think I would complete the trail on this trip. At about 7:00 AM, I drove down to Cherokee and had a big breakfast at the Waffle House. I parked at Smokemont and headed northbound on the BMT to Hughes Ridge (6.6 miles). I met the same 2 women and guy from NY from yesterday who were just resting there. I got back to my van at about 1:30 PM and even thought about hitting the road for Florida, but instead, thought I would drive all the way around to Big Creek and check it out. I got there at 4:00 PM and at the spur of the moment decided to finish the trail by going to Pretty Hollow Gap and back. I packed my lights and my same rigged shoulder pack and water bottle hip belt and hustled up the trail as fast as I could. At 1 hour up, it occurred to me that this section has the greatest elevation change of the entire BMT in the Smokies. At 2 hours I was still hustling while breathing hard, but not at the top. Finally at 2 hours and 10 minutes I got to the firetower and chatted briefly with a few backpackers who were camped up at 38 (Mount Sterling). I found out that Marcus had completed his hike and was killing time before trying to get a ride to Trail Days. I still had 1.4 miles to go to Pretty Hollow Gap and I hustled down this rock strewn trail, finally arriving at the spot I was at yesterday. I sat on the same log and snacked for a few minutes. It took me almost 3 hours to get there and I had hoped to get back in 2-1/2 hours. The return trip was tough going back up to campsite 38 but once I started going back down, it went fast until I got caught by darkness. My lights were really not bright enough to do any trail running and at one time I stumbled while crossing a creek and got me feet pretty soaked. I really questioned my sanity at times, thinking I am way too old to be doing this night stuff any more. However, my legs were still felling strong from all the days of hiking and I continued on through the night seeing the reflections of animal eyes, spiders, and whatever else was out there looking at me. lol
It took me 2 hours and 40 minutes to get back to Big Creek and I hauled butt out of there for a motel in Maggie Valley for a well need shower and a good meal

So that is my BMT story... not quite the way I expected it to turn out, but quite an enjoyable adventure anyhow. I really lucked out on the weather, only getting rained a little on Tuesday.
I now have completed most of the BMT except a few road walk sections and the trail from the dam to Deals Gap. I can knock those out with no problem the next time I am up there.

05-10-2011, 20:26
Man, that's what I call making lemonade out of lemons!

Congratulations and thanks for the report. I just finished the BMT and it's fun to hear people describe the places I was just at.

05-10-2011, 21:40
I just finished that section Southbound on the 6th (I got a ride up to the Thomas Divide trail and did it to Newton Bald instead of the Newton Bald Trail though, I really like ridge-walking in the Smokies) and ran into Little Engine. It's always cool to run into another thru-hiker even though he was a SOBO. We tried to figure out where we had crossed paths on the AT but never could. You must have been the guy he told me about going into Bryson City.

Yeah that trail was blow down city and I saw probably 20-25 pigs. The Rangers told me the pigs were a big problem and that they would have a crew out shortly to take care of the blow downs. I definitely thought the Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail was the highlight of the hike. Overall I thought it was a pretty good trail, I'm not used to fording streams so that was a nice aspect.

05-11-2011, 09:46
10K, I had just finished reading your report before I left FL. You gave me the confidence that I could cross the creeks, assuming no more heavy rains. In my original plan, I was hoping to make it across Deep Creek at the end of Pole Creek Rd before the Tuesday rain. I had 6-1/2 days of food with no planned stop in Bryson City or Cherokee. That made my load a bit heavy, but I figured by the time I would have made it to the steeper climbs, I would have eaten enough to reduce the pack weight.

Brian, I would have crossed paths with you about Tuesday. Little Engine was going into Bryson for re-supply but would have caught up to me. He is in great shape after his thru hike.

BTW, the failed boot was an older pair of Vasques, but not the Italian made ones. I believe my pair was made in China. I think it is a crime that they used the name when they changed from the quality Italian made boots to the Chinese junk. These were old boots with about 400 to 500 miles on them, so in all fairness, I accept some fault for starting off in older boots. That is the first time I ever had a problem like that, but I hear that most modern hiking boots are only good for a few hundred miles. I just ordered a pair of Keen boots, so will see how long they last.

10-23-2011, 19:14
Just a question: what did you do with the Rattle snake that Marcus could not do alone before you caught him up?

What do you do if a car is coming toward you and an acident is imminenet? do you standstill ? no you move to save your life. Do the same to wild boars, they really charge like buldozer and you can empty the ground. I have been in boar huting and catching before. I do not understand why some people keep their ground when a wild boar is charging, it is as pointless in theory as they keep their ground in a pedestrian car accident!!.

Good report and congraulations,

02-01-2012, 16:54
Just a question: what did you do with the Rattle snake that Marcus could not do alone before you caught him up?

What do you do if a car is coming toward you and an acident is imminenet? do you standstill ? no you move to save your life. Do the same to wild boars, they really charge like buldozer and you can empty the ground. I have been in boar huting and catching before. I do not understand why some people keep their ground when a wild boar is charging, it is as pointless in theory as they keep their ground in a pedestrian car accident!!.

Good report and congraulations,

Well I missed your post from last year. :)
By the time I caught up to Marcus (Little Engine), the rattle snake was gone. He waited it out. Why is it that these snakes always pick a place to sun on the trail where one side of the trail is a sheer cliff up and the otherside is a sheer cliff down? There was just no way he could get around that sucker. I believe he said when he tried to move it with a pole, it lunged at him, so that was enough for him. He just backed off and waited it out.

I've never been charged by a wild boar, so I guess if you jump to the side, they don't make a 180 and come charging back like a bull?