Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    05-31-2014
    Location
    Washington
    Age
    65
    Posts
    11

    Default July section hike from Erwin to Damascus...

    Life keeps throwing curves at the section hike plans I've made, and now it seems like the best time and location for me would be to hike from Erwin to Damascus starting around the 14th of July. I live on the West Coast, and don't have a good feel for local conditions in that area in mid-July, so I have some questions for those who do!

    1. How bad would the heat, and especially humidity be at that time?
    2. It appears as though there are plenty of water sources along the way, but how reliable are they in mid July?
    3. How much of a factor are could I expect the blood sucking airborne vermin to be at that time?
    4. The AT Conservancy website mentions summer lightening as a 'particular danger'... any pointers, tips, or info about how of a concern that may be?

    I'd also appreciate any general comments regarding that section and anything beyond my questions that I should be aware of, or look especially forward to!
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-22-2002
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Age
    58
    Posts
    7,906
    Images
    296

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by B'ham View Post
    1. How bad would the heat, and especially humidity be at that time?
    2. It appears as though there are plenty of water sources along the way, but how reliable are they in mid July?
    3. How much of a factor are could I expect the blood sucking airborne vermin to be at that time?
    4. The AT Conservancy website mentions summer lightening as a 'particular danger'... any pointers, tips, or info about how of a concern that may be?
    1. Pretty warm, and very humid. Figure 80s during the day, maybe high 60s at night. Could be hotter, but it's always better in the mountains than in the valleys.

    2. No problems with water as long as we're not in drought conditions (varies by year).

    3. The skeeters don't bother me. Ticks are another story. I put permethrin on my clothes and socks.

    4. Expect afternoon thunderstorms every day. Mostly they won't hit you but you'll hear them in the distance. I try to be off the ridgelines by 4pm. This is easy since I like to be on the trail as soon as it's light enough to walk, around 5:45am, to get my miles in during the cool of the morning.

    July isn't my favorite time to hike in the South, but it beats working...
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-12-2014
    Location
    San Diego
    Age
    47
    Posts
    267

    Default

    Take it easy coming out of Erwin, you will have a pack full of food and a pretty good uphill so maybe try to start early. This section always seems to attract the nora virus so make sure and wash your hands with soap and water when necessary though you may be late enough to avoid that early plague. Eat like a king when you get in to Damascus because...well you deserve it!

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-25-2012
    Location
    Lurkerville, East Tn
    Age
    61
    Posts
    3,455
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    My guess is temps will be in the 90s most every day in the surrounding valleys. Where the trail dips into the valleys, you'll get those same temps. North of Erwin you'll have a few high elevations, some balds, including Roan Mtn. After a little of that, the trail drops down at Hampton. From there to Damascus you'll be at a low elevation, with an easy smooth gentle grade. Suggest you hike early each day, take a long break during the heat, and hike into the evening.

    Water is generally not a problem in this area, but July isn't the wettest time of year. I understand the water at Vandeventer Shelter (near Watauga Dam) is down a long steep side trail. You'll want to be sure and pick up water before you get there.

    There could be lightning on the balds if you're up there that time of day (generally mid-afternoon), but they're short periods of exposure, not like high elevation areas up north or out west where you might have a few miles of exposure. Here, you're a few hundred feet from tree cover in most cases.

    Don't know what to say about the bugs. They exist. They bite. Seems like I've heard of people burning incense or something to keep them away...?

  5. #5

    Default

    B'ham, I'm a teacher and June and July are mostly what I have available for hiking here in the Southern Appalachians - its not ideal but way better than sitting at home. Here's how I do it. First, I probably dont need to mention the hydration deal - water has a very high specific heat and the more of it you have in you the more heat energy it can absorb. Not to mention replacing the lost sweat. Secondly, I start my day well before dawn - fiveish - cold breakfast in the dark then walking. One of the payoffs is you'll be up and walking with the dawn bird chorus which is a daily event most people miss out on (although it will be much more subdued in July as most birds have finished courtship/mating by then). Lastly, I stop early - typically 1:00pm at the latest. That's roughly seven hours of hiking - plenty for me. I will add that atmospheric humidity is usually very high early in the morning so that even though its the cool of the day, you'll still work up a sweat straight away.
    Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

  6. #6
    Registered User Tennessee Viking's Avatar
    Join Date
    04-10-2007
    Location
    Morganton, North Carolina
    Age
    42
    Posts
    3,524
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    242

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by B'ham View Post
    Life keeps throwing curves at the section hike plans I've made, and now it seems like the best time and location for me would be to hike from Erwin to Damascus starting around the 14th of July. I live on the West Coast, and don't have a good feel for local conditions in that area in mid-July, so I have some questions for those who do!

    1. How bad would the heat, and especially humidity be at that time?
    2. It appears as though there are plenty of water sources along the way, but how reliable are they in mid July?
    3. How much of a factor are could I expect the blood sucking airborne vermin to be at that time?
    4. The AT Conservancy website mentions summer lightening as a 'particular danger'... any pointers, tips, or info about how of a concern that may be?

    I'd also appreciate any general comments regarding that section and anything beyond my questions that I should be aware of, or look especially forward to!
    Thanks!
    1. Humid, hot, expect severe thunderstorms. Expect to get zapped by the heat. Stay hydrated. Its predicted to be a hot dry summer. Keep an eye on Watauga Lake and area river water tables.
    2. You probably will not have a problem with water until after leaving Watauga Lake. The Iron/Holston ridgelines follow ridgetops with small sources.
    3. Mosquito. Bring spray. Shelter vermin will be out as well.
    4. Keep updated on the weather. You will only have to worry about lightning from Beauty Spot to Cherry Gap, then the Roan Balds. Once you get passed Doll Flats you should be fine. Try to stay away from open areas or rocky areas. Also be careful of bad trees. Camp away from awkward trees or any windowmaker limbs.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
    Mountains to Sea Trail Maintainer
    Former TEHCC (AT) Maintainer
    Falls Lake Trail: 2011

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    05-31-2014
    Location
    Washington
    Age
    65
    Posts
    11

    Default

    Thanks for all the replies, they really help. Sounds like mid-July is far from ideal, but doable. If I could manage to move the date up to around a June 18th or 19th start date, would it make a significant difference, or just minor?
    I'm in the northwest, and am used to cool hiking weather so the thought of that heat and humidity really scares me!

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-25-2012
    Location
    Lurkerville, East Tn
    Age
    61
    Posts
    3,455
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Mid-June will still be hot, but not so bad as July.

  9. #9
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-22-2002
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Age
    58
    Posts
    7,906
    Images
    296

    Default

    Mid June will make a difference, yes.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-23-2014
    Location
    Fayetteville, NC
    Posts
    599
    Journal Entries
    4
    Images
    7

    Default

    I hiked around Roan Mtn and Damascus in Jun & Jul but don't recall it being overly hot & humid, just warm & a little muggy sometimes.

    HOWEVER- I'm coming from Eastern NC where it's blazing hot & disgustingly humid from May-SEP. Walking for hours in the mountains in July was far better than mowing the lawn for 30 minutes in May.

    Just remember to stay hydrated- when you get to a good water source, tank up and drink up before you move on. I used permethrin on my clothes and DEET on my skin (3M Ultrathon) and only time I got bitten was by a bee that seemed hellbent on my demise. The other thing is your face WILL be assaulted by spiderwebs, especially in the morning.
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep."

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-23-2014
    Location
    Fayetteville, NC
    Posts
    599
    Journal Entries
    4
    Images
    7

    Default

    Also, if you go around mid June, you'll be in peak rhododendron bloom season. I'm making a return trip to that area for that very reason.
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep."

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JumpMaster Blaster View Post
    ...HOWEVER- I'm coming from Eastern NC where it's blazing hot & disgustingly humid from May-SEP. Walking for hours in the mountains in July was far better than mowing the lawn for 30 minutes in May...
    Great quote!

  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    05-31-2014
    Location
    Washington
    Age
    65
    Posts
    11

    Default

    Sounds like it's worth trying to move things up to mid June... and the rhododendron's blooming will be a great bonus! Thanks for all the advice, I appreciate it.

++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •