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View Full Version : Activity on trail: late September NC



Buffalo Skipper
09-03-2012, 12:10
Four buddies of mine and I will be on the trail the last week of September. We will be NOBO from Rock Gap Trailhead to Fontana. How crowded will this section of trail be during this time of year? We will be camping near but not in the shelters? What should we expect for other company? Will shelters be filled? Our last 3 prep hikes, we have run into no other backpackers. There is no such illusion on our part that we will have that kind of experience on the AT, but just trying to get a feel of what to expect.

Also, I noticed NOC has their Guest Appreciation Festival (http://www.noc.com/noccom/festivals-a-events/guest-appreciation-festival/) the weekend after we will be passing through. Our plan is to stop at NOC for the night on Tuesday, where we have reservations. Will their weekend plans have any impact on our stay?

Finally, what temps should we expect across this region at this time? The first 2 camps will be right at 5000' while the last 2 will be about 4000' (NOC in the middle). Just trying to get some ideas at elevation.

Train Wreck
09-03-2012, 13:24
Four buddies of mine and I will be on the trail the last week of September. We will be NOBO from Rock Gap Trailhead to Fontana. How crowded will this section of trail be during this time of year? We will be camping near but not in the shelters? What should we expect for other company? Will shelters be filled? Our last 3 prep hikes, we have run into no other backpackers. There is no such illusion on our part that we will have that kind of experience on the AT, but just trying to get a feel of what to expect.

Also, I noticed NOC has their Guest Appreciation Festival (http://www.noc.com/noccom/festivals-a-events/guest-appreciation-festival/) the weekend after we will be passing through. Our plan is to stop at NOC for the night on Tuesday, where we have reservations. Will their weekend plans have any impact on our stay?

Finally, what temps should we expect across this region at this time? The first 2 camps will be right at 5000' while the last 2 will be about 4000' (NOC in the middle). Just trying to get some ideas at elevation.

This is a popular area. We've hiked this area the same time of year as you, and it was not crowded, but not isolated, either. You will run into other hikers, but there will probably be room at the shelters, unless you encounter a Boy Scout group or something over the weekend. Water sources are good throughout the area, so if you carry a data book or something, you can plan your camping spots accordingly. Expect day hikers and tourists around Wayah Bald, Wesser firetower, and NOC for sure.

There's always some event going on at the NOC. The GAF is going to be a total zoo during the weekend of the festival, especially if you're trying to drive through the area or find a parking spot. It will take you forever to get a meal at the restaurant if you show up during the GAF. You can, however, get some great deals on gear during the festival, though. If you have already made a reservation for the following Tuesday, I don't see why this would be a problem. Even during the busy summer, week days are a lot more laid back.

Weather - It's generally mild (maybe mid 40's - upper 50's) at night, but if rain passes through you can get chilled and temps drop really fast at those elevations. Bring wind/rain gear, a midweight fleece jacket, and long sleeve wicking top & bottom, and you should be fine.

Aquonehostel
09-03-2012, 13:30
If you guys get caught out, over the Nantahala area, just give us a call and we'll try and get you off the mountain Aquone Hostel, Nantahala, NC 828 321 2340

Buffalo Skipper
09-03-2012, 20:05
This is a popular area. We've hiked this area the same time of year as you, and it was not crowded, but not isolated, either. You will run into other hikers, but there will probably be room at the shelters, unless you encounter a Boy Scout group or something over the weekend. Water sources are good throughout the area, so if you carry a data book or something, you can plan your camping spots accordingly. Expect day hikers and tourists around Wayah Bald, Wesser firetower, and NOC for sure.

We are going onto the trail on a Sunday morning and coming off at Fontana midday Friday. That makes it less likely to run into scouts (two of our group are scout leaders), but sometimes that is ok. Probably fewer day hikers as well. We are not against running into anyone, just curious as for what to expect.


There's always some event going on at the NOC. The GAF is going to be a total zoo during the weekend of the festival, especially if you're trying to drive through the area or find a parking spot. It will take you forever to get a meal at the restaurant if you show up during the GAF. You can, however, get some great deals on gear during the festival, though. If you have already made a reservation for the following Tuesday, I don't see why this would be a problem. Even during the busy summer, week days are a lot more laid back.

It is acutally during the preceeding Tuesday evening. When we drive up from Florida, one of the gang has a cabin in the Alarka area outside of Bryon City. After we come out, we are going to hang out Saturday before driving home. May have to take a few of the guys over back to NOC to check out the festival and deals.



Weather - It's generally mild (maybe mid 40's - upper 50's) at night, but if rain passes through you can get chilled and temps drop really fast at those elevations. Bring wind/rain gear, a midweight fleece jacket, and long sleeve wicking top & bottom, and you should be fine.

Sure would be nice to have gone up 2 weeks later when the temps are more likely to drop a little, but that was just not in anyone's schedule. All of us are going to be set up for our winter (Florida) gear, as our 3-season gear (for Florida) won't take us much below 50. None of us like to be cold. Hoping for cooler temps at the higher elevations or for a front. All of us are set up well. Pack weights are to be 18-30 lbs, and we only be doing 11 miles or less each day. That may be much for a tribe of flatlanders, but we have ventured to more rugged terrain lately for prep and gear shakedowns. We lucked into one night at Cheaha in Alabama last month with a low of 55, which took all of us by surprise.

Thanks for the tips. Looking at weather.com for Cheoah Ranger District, (1800') averages for that week should be 50 for lows and 77 for highs. Hoping at elevation we will get a 5-10 break.

Train Wreck
09-03-2012, 21:26
Sure would be nice to have gone up 2 weeks later when the temps are more likely to drop a little, but that was just not in anyone's schedule. All of us are going to be set up for our winter (Florida) gear, as our 3-season gear (for Florida) won't take us much below 50. None of us like to be cold. Hoping for cooler temps at the higher elevations or for a front. All of us are set up well. Pack weights are to be 18-30 lbs, and we only be doing 11 miles or less each day. That may be much for a tribe of flatlanders, but we have ventured to more rugged terrain lately for prep and gear shakedowns. We lucked into one night at Cheaha in Alabama last month with a low of 55, which took all of us by surprise.

Thanks for the tips. Looking at weather.com for Cheoah Ranger District, (1800') averages for that week should be 50 for lows and 77 for highs. Hoping at elevation we will get a 5-10 break.

I would be very surprised if you don't get nice cool (upper 40's) temps at night, with those elevations. Also, that time of the year the daily highs only stay "high" for a couple hours so it makes for very pleasant hiking. Also, the bugs are pretty much gone by then. It's very common for fronts to come through that time of year, so be prepared for a little rain too. You've picked a great section and an ideal time of year - you guys are going to have a great time!

Buffalo Skipper
09-03-2012, 23:00
I sure hope so. I know it is still 3 weeks away, but how is the water situation in the area?

Train Wreck
09-04-2012, 02:40
I sure hope so. I know it is still 3 weeks away, but how is the water situation in the area?

I haven't hiked much in the area this year, but they've been getting rain on a pretty regular basis all summer long, so I'm guessing that water at the shelters shouldn't be a problem. Just to be sure, you can always check with someone in the Nantahala Hiking Club on trail conditions from your start point up to th NOC. Their web site lists this contact info for trail maintenance: Don O’Neal (828)586-5723 rainwalker91@hotmail.com. The trail north of the NOC is maintained by the Smoky Mt. Hiking Club. You can shoot the president, Andy Zimmerman, an email inquiry about the water situation from NOC to Fontana, at andyzim@gmail.com. You could also post an inquiry on this board asking hikers for water reports on this area for the next few weeks.

I do know at Winding Stairs Gap, which is 4 miles north of Rock Gap, there is absolutely no problem with water! There is a wonderful piped spring, coming out about shoulder height, that you'll see right off the trail, just as you come out of the woods. It never runs dry.

Let me know if you have any other questions. Have a great hike!