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  1. #1
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Default Standing Indian Loop over Memorial Day

    My hiking partner, Dragonfly and I did the Standing indian loop over the weekend. Back in 2000 we did this loop with our 9-year old daughter over the Easter weekend, and while we've done a lot of hiking in the Southern Appalachians since then, this is the first time we went back for this loop.

    Friday: got to leave Winston-Salem at 3:30 and headed out I-40 toward Asheville. Decided early on that we'd need to stop for dinner on the way, rather than driving all the way there, and ended up in Sylva at the Guadalupe Cafe. I was expecting a small, family owned Central American restaurant, but it turned out to be local farm-to-table semi-hipster fusion place. The food was terrific, though. Hadn't ever been to Sylva, but we'll head back for a weekend this summer.

    Got to Franklin and checked into our hotel room, then headed to the Lazy Hiker brewery for some beer. Overall very decent, but the Wesser Evil Porter was outstanding (and a great name for a beer).

    Saturday: Hit Stamy's for breakfast at 0730, and enjoyed eggs, hash browns, and biscuits - great, friendly service and good food. Drove out to the Backcountry Information Center at Standing Indian Campground and snagged the last parking space. Loaded up, walked into the campground for one last pit stop at the bath house, then hit the trail at 0915.

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    Headed up the Kimsey Creek Trail to Deep Gap and the AT. The KCT is a lovely, well graded climb following its namesake creek up into the mountains. Saw a handful of other hikers until we got to Deep Gap. The parking area was packed, and there were a lot of hikers around. (Disclaimer: I am not complaining about crowds, seeing as we were adding to them. Just pointing out the details.) Started north on the AT climb of Standing Indian Mountain, and got to the SI Shelter for lunch around noon. There were already some scouts there planning to spend the night, trying to add a day to the loop. Water in the creek across the trail was excellent and easy to reach, and lunch was tasty :).

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    After lunch we hiked up to the top of Standing Indian for a nice view. The climb is well graded and pretty easy. Take the blue blazed side trail to the top for a great view to the south.

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    We hiked on to Beech Gap, arriving at 4pm. There were several tents and a couple of hammocks already pitched, but we found an excellent, private, grassy campsite on the west side of the trail at the junction with the blue-blazed trail to the water source. Dragonfly set up camp while I went for water. We had a nice meal of backcountry carbonara (Knorr broccoli alfredo and a bag of real bacon pieces), then hung out in camp until it got dark. By 8pm there were at least a dozen tents and four or five hammocks, but there seemed to be space for all. The only negative was the hiker who insisted on playing his radio (iPhone?) on powered speakers loudly and well after hiker midnight.

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    Sunday: Up early, as usual, and on the trail by 0745. Breakfast was Draginfly's homemade granola and Starbucks Via coffee. Stopped at Carter Gap Shelter for second breakfast and a privy break. The few hikers remaining told us the gap had been packed the night before. Had a nice hike all morning -- the trail from Beech Gap all the way past Mooney Gap is really very nice -- well graded, clear, easy walking. Stopped to fill up water at a stream before Mooney Gap and again at the culvert just north, and carried 4 liters up Albert Mountain, arriving around 1:30 for lunch with a view.

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    Took a nice hour long break, then headed north. The Forest Service has closed several popular areas to camping on this loop: the camp area at Standing Indian, Betty Creek Gap, and Big Spring Gap are all prohibited for camping. This concentrates the use in a few places, notably the Standing Indian Shelter, Beech Gap, Carter Gap, and the new Long Branch Shelter.

    So we arrived at Long Branch Shelter and it's full. There are four tent pads, all full. Plan A is no more. It's 3:30 in the afternoon, so we load up with a few more liters of water and keep heading north, with Plan B being to find a campsite along the way, Plan C to head back to the car and Franklin for the night, and Plan D to just head home. There is one very small campsite at Glassmine Gap, with some lovely used toilet paper right in the middle of it. (Nice job, Anonymous Hiker.) We headed down the Long Branch Trail and took a hard look at the nice campsite in the old orchard, under an apple tree, but decided to implement Plan D instead, arriving back in Winston-Salem by 10pm after a longish 16 mile day.

    Overall this was a very nice hike. At 25 miles it makes a great overnight or 2-night hike depending on how far you have to drive to get there. The trail is great and well maintained. The only downside to keep in mind is the small number of places to camp, which is only an issue when it's crowded on holiday weekends.

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    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Default

    Nice write up! Absolutely love that loop. Living so close, I do it quite often. Glad you both had a good time.

    I did Wayah Gap to the NOC this Friday and Saturday. I was surprised since it was not too crowded. Weather was very nice. :)

  3. #3
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    Image 5 from Albert is really cool, I kept going back to it and gawking. (all the pics are good of course) -thanks for the write-up! I was on my up to do the loop Fri after work but just didn't feel like the drive (tired) and at the last minuted diverted to Woody Gap.
    hikers gonna hike

  4. #4
    Registered User -Rush-'s Avatar
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    One of my favorite hikes. Stamy's is a good spot for breakfast. I'd have thrown something at the guy with the radio.

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