Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 43
  1. #1

    Lightbulb The Smokies in 3 days

    So, a buddy and I have got our shelter reservations to do the 72 miles of the AT through the Smokies in 3 days later this month! This is pretty exciting to us since this will be our biggest miles per day so far. At this point, I think we both have just over 20 miles in a day logged (and feel pretty good about them), so this will be a little bigger, and 3 of them, back to back! We are excited...

    So, first off, here is our shelter itinerary:

    Day 1: Fontana to Derrick Knob Shelter: 23 miles
    Day 2: DKS to Peck's Corner Shelter: 28.4 miles
    Day 3: PCS to I-40: ~23 miles

    A few things about our hike:

    We will both be going with SUL packs (which we are defining as a base pack weight of less than 5 lbs). Right now, my BPW is 4.3 lbs and with food and water, my total pack weight will come to about 11.5 - 12 lbs starting off. (And just so ya know, this includes my regular size (20x72) original NeoAir, so I will be comfy on the trail and in camp! Yeah!) His BPW is around 3.5 lbs and not sure what his final weight is looking like, but it will probably be a little under mine. We have both been in the UL range for a little while now, and actually more recently on the verge of UL/SUL. So, we know our gear and have been using this same stuff, so we are not setting out with no experience with it. Saying that, we are looking forward to hitting the trail with our first SUL pack and know that it will make carrying it over those mountains a little easier!

    Another thing that should help us is the long days. Being the end of June, we should get a pretty early sunrise and a late sunset, which allows us a lot of daylight hours in between to lay down trail! However, we are planning to be up and going before sunrise each morning...our goal is to be on the trail hiking at 5 am each morning. We are bringing along (good/bright) headlamps to assist us in the mornings (or night if it takes longer than expected). I am really looking forward to this part of the hike though, being up and about before the sunrises. Those couple hours before sunrise is nice and relaxing... Plus, it is cooler which makes a nice time to be hiking! As well, it will be nice to know that we have already put in a few miles before sunrise.

    My wife and children will be dropping us off at Fontana the first morning (and being that we will be started by 5 am, they are probably not looking forward to being up and going so early... ) As well, after they go back to the hotel and get some more sleep they will be driving into the Gatlinburg area and staying until we all leave on Sunday. As well, if we can get our times right, and some reception on top of Clingman's, then we will arrange for her to meet us at Newfound Gap with some burgers for lunch... yum. Then of course, she will pick us up on I-40 when we finish.

    So, I am asking for tips, trick's, great views, hardest sections, water sources, bugs, shelter's, temperatures, water sources (did I already mention that one?) easiest sections, and just anything else anyone can think of that they have experienced through this area. As well, if there has been anyone that has done this same itinerary, I would love to hear their experiences. We have been in this area times before, but always appreciate up to date info. As well, I have covered a bit of AT through the Smokies, but not all of it so any info on the trail is welcome too.

    Thanks!

    EDIT TO ADD:

    Why do we want to do this hike in 3 days?

    Quite honestly, we just want the challenge. We feel like we can do it and want to give it a go. It is not the only hike we will ever do again, and it is not he only hike we have done so far, but for this particular hike, this is how we want to do it. I don't know how else to say it.

    I would like to add in here though (since we are on the subject), we are planing an average speed of between 2 - 3 mph, although we expect it to slow on some parts and speed up on others. Regardless, I do not view this is as a fast speed, and based on experience, it will allow us to still be able to stop and take in views, and have breaks for a nice little lunch or whatever. We will be up and hiking early each morning, and don't mind hiking in in the dark (which we are aware may happen on day 2).

    Basically, this hike is a hike, and not a campout. This is what we want to do for this hike, and we are happy with this.

    But we also wanted to create a little bigger challenge than just hiking it. We want to do it in what we consider a quicker time than normal, although, it has been done in a much faster time than 3 days, but from what I read, many do it in 5 days, some 4 days. Then of course there are some that do it in 6 or 7 days. Personally, I see no problem with how one wants to hike this section, I understand that we all have our own reasons.

    As well, being the gear nuts that we are, we also wanted to push ourselves a little more than normal and go with a SUL pack (rather than a UL pack). Again, this is what we are doing and want to do as just a little extra challenge.

    Our goal is of course to have fun, and enjoy our time outdoors. With this in mind, we do not feel like our plans are taking away from us being able to do just this!
    Last edited by STICK; 06-03-2012 at 12:01.
    ...take nothing but memories and pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and kill only time... (Bette Filley in Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail)

  2. #2

    Default

    What is the big rush?

  3. #3
    Registered User Loneoak's Avatar
    Join Date
    03-01-2010
    Location
    TN
    Age
    65
    Posts
    307
    Images
    4

    Default

    3 days......dang. I'm in the planning stage for a fall hike through the smokies in Sept, but no way I could do it in 3 days..... LOL Ya'll going to have some good times with those low pack weights

  4. #4

    Default

    Whew! That looks to be a tough one. I don't know if you figured it into your mileage or not, but remember that Peck's Corner is .5 mi off the AT. Personally, I'd try to do it in four days. Three is doable, but seems a bit ambitious. Starting at 5am, walking late into the day, and well placed breaks and meals and you'll probably be fine. As you very well know, it WILL NOT be easy!

    BTW, don't put too much faith in the profile maps. The AT through the Smokies loves to sawtooth, and that doesn't always show up on those maps. Just my $.02
    Jake "Humbuck" Langston

  5. #5

    Default

    dlittle,

    I knew I should have said something in my first post as to why we are doing it in 3 days just simply to avoid any issues of why. For my response, please see my revised first post.

    But I would like to highlight:

    The whole reason for the post is so that maybe someone can give us some info that we can use on the hike. Particularly, water, temp and bugs (with more emphasis on the first and less on the last two.) I have been in these parts a number of times (just got back about 3 weekends ago from LeConte) so I feel like I have a good idea of what to expect, but being that I don't live around the area, I welcome any up-to-date info, as well as any other general info. I have also done portions of the AT around Fontana, Newfound Gap and up around TriCorner and Cosby Knob, but the rest of the AT though the Smokies is unexplored for me (although, I have done a few other sections in different areas of the Smokies too). So, I also welcome info on particular sections of trail that could be useful, such as what other people felt were the hardest, the easiest, and must stop places for the views. I enjoy trying to collect info before a hike, even if it is in an area I have been before. I feel like too much planning and prep can't hurt.

    And yes, I do expect it to be tough (moreso than I can imagine at the moment).

    Humbuck,

    I totally agree with you on the profile maps being off (another reason I am asking for advice).

    And yea, I saw that Peck's was a little off the trail. I actually debated going to Tricorner because of this, but figured at the end of this 28 mile day, the 0.5 miles to peck's would look better than an extra 5 miles down the trail.

    As far as mileages in our itinerary, I just listed the AT miles.

    Thanks everyone!
    Last edited by STICK; 06-03-2012 at 12:06.
    ...take nothing but memories and pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and kill only time... (Bette Filley in Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail)

  6. #6

    Default

    Hi Stick,

    I hiked last year it in 2.5 days, in April. I had cold wet rain, some snow on the ground, freezing nights, and I accidentally went the wrong way when I approached Ice Water Springs Shelter. I was with another hiker and he was headed to the shelter (we stopped at the sign for it) and I forgot that the AT went right BY the shelter so Isaid my goodbyes to him and merrily went along my way...3 miles downhill, fast....until I ran into 3 hikers headed up who asked me "Hey, do you know much farther up until we cross the AT?" I sort of wondered as I walked why I was going downhill when it was supposed to be a ridge walk...

    DOH! I virtually ran back up the 3 miles incline and had to end my day at Icewater instead of the next shelter.

    So my days were, :

    Fontana Lodge to I think either Silers or Double Springs--which ever is around 31 miles from the lodge. I had to walk from the lodge down the road because it was before sunrise and there were no shuttles or traffic.
    Siler/Double to Icewater Springs (thanks to my extra 6 miles mistake)
    Icewater Springs to Standing Bear Hostel (outside the park)

    It wasn't hard, like you I use UL equipment. About 15 lb pack w/sandals and socks (wore my neoprene socks much of that stretch due to cold rain, some snow--just patches though--and water on trail) I mention the footweear because I find minimalist footwear, after some getting used to, actually decreases my foot fatigue which used to be my mileage limiter.

    In general I think the terrain is harder for the first southern half of the Smokies--up until Icewater. From Icewater you have a very nice ridge walk ahead that is flat but can be nasty if weather turns foul.

    Then from Tri-Corner Knob it's pretty much downhill, which, be careful, is where you;ll incur your highest chance for injury (knees and blister related).

    The most difficulty tread for me was just after Clingman's dome, plan to hit that section at your peak level during the day. Lot's of roots, rocks, obstacles, usually very wet.

    Tips:

    • Rise before dawn or right with it. Hike all day and end just before evening. The early rise is your most important--but no need to fly down the trail in bad lighting, just amble on down the path.
    • Eat all day, don't plan on large meals. Have good quality food handy, not just candy bars. You will want sustained energy.
    • Drink LOT'S of water. Don't do that and your entire body will get in a funk if you're trying to get in long miles like that


    Have a good hike, and it's very easy to smell the roses when doing what you're doing.

  7. #7

    Default

    Stick, I just did the Fontana to Clingman's section last week. As far as views, one little side trail is practically mandatory in my opinion. When you get to the top of Shuckstack, you'll see a trail that continues forward, and the AT will veer to the left, going downhill. This trail leads to an old abandoned fire tower. WELL worth the side trip. The trail up to the tower is a steep .1 to .2 stretch up to the tower. The 360 deg views from the tower are truly spectacular. Don't miss that one. The only other view to speak of on the way to Clingman's is at Rocky Top. It's directly on the trail just before Thunderhead Mountain. Beautiful!

    Water at Mollies Ridge Shelter, Russel Field and Spence, were all flowing well. The water at Mollies Ridge and Spence are about .1 down hill, but not that bad of a climb back up, especially without packs. The there's a spring that's 3 or 4 miles up from the Dam, but it was slow and kind of hard to get water from.

    We stayed at Spence Field (4921 ft) and I hardly needed my sleeping bag. It was 63* in Gatlinburg that night, but I can't imagine it being that much cooler at Spence Field, at least in the shelter anyway. It must have been, though... I kept my bag beside me the whole night and only used it to warm the lower half of my body from 4am till 6am, when I got up. I was surprised by that. As always, YMMV.
    Jake "Humbuck" Langston

  8. #8
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-22-2007
    Location
    Springfield, Illinois, United States
    Age
    62
    Posts
    6,384

    Default

    Day 1 is gonna be a bitch
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  9. #9

    Default

    Very awesome guys! Thanks so much...

    Montana,

    Wow, that is exactly what I am looking for! We are actually hoping that the last day will be done before say 5... thanks for the inspiration!

    That is a bummer to hear about getting turned around! And that is the Boulevard trail...I have been up and down it a few times, so I know what you are saying! I can only imagine the thoughts after realizing this... but it makes for great stories afterwards...

    As far as footwear, you speak the truth! Last year I went to trail runners and never want to go back! I will be sporting my sweet Inov-8 RocLite 315's again on this trip. I love these shoes, and it does indeed make a difference.

    As far as downhill's I have to tell myself to watch myself as I am hiking down them. I tend to want to get in a hurry and take big steps and land hard on my heels, which is what makes it hard on my knees. I am planning on taking smaller steps when going down hill and to shift some of the weight off my knees when going downhill. I will do this with both my trekking poles and by this:

    Also, thanks for the tip at Clingman's. We are "planning" on having a nice little lunch/snack at Clingmans and then heading to meet my wife at Newfound for a burger, so this should give us some motivation for sure...

    I am actually looking forward to being up and hiking before the sun comes up. TBH, I feel like this will be one of my favorite parts of the hike. There is something nice about being on the trail just before sun rise...

    As far as my meals, I am planning about a 800 calorie breakfast, and then eating bars/snacks every 2 hours throughout the day and then a high calorie dinner (about 1500 calories). Here is my spreadsheets on my gear I will be using, as well as a food planner, although some of the food may still change some. (The link defaults to my top page, which is my gear list, click on the Food Planner tab at the bottom left corner to open the food page.)

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...FWWdMVVE#gid=3

    And water, I feel like water is the single most changing thing in a pack! I will be carrying two 20 oz Gatorade bottles (one on each shoulder strap). For this trip I am leaving behind my beloved tablets and using a Sawyer Squeeze filter (which I admit, I am pretty happy with so far, and yes, I have not only a full size, thick, plush air pad in my SUL pack weight, but also a water filter!). I will also have a 2L Sawyer soft bottle too, so I will have about a 3.5L water carrying capacity. However, at the moment, I plan to start with both the Gatorade bottle filled, and then to top them off at each water supply, or as needed. This will obviously be decided on the trail though...once I see how water conditions are.

    And thanks for your last comment:

    Have a good hike, and it's very easy to smell the roses when doing what you're doing.
    I do not expect it to be a cake walk, but at the same time, I feel like with the amount of daylight time we have, our early starts and our pack weights it will not be an impossible feat either! Regardless, we can't wait and are very excited.

    Humbuck,

    I agree, Shuckstack is a very nice stop. I was there just last March and it was beautiful. I agree too, that little climb will wake you up! As well, I have heard alot of great things about Rocky Top and am looking forward to this stop!

    Thanks for the info on the water. I do wonder though, are there many small streams that you come across between the shelters. It seems like some areas of the trails in the parks cross over multiple small streams/springs but are not listed on some maps (of course I understand that they are not reliable though due to their size, I guess). When we were in that area though, it was in March, and had lots of snow, so it was hard to tell some of the springs.

    Good to know on the temps too! I will be using a quilt rated at about 50 F but am planning on taking my Black Rock Gear down boggin just in case. (It only weighs 0.9 oz, but if need be, it would be a very welcome piece...)

    Thanks again!
    ...take nothing but memories and pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and kill only time... (Bette Filley in Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail)

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ChinMusic View Post
    Day 1 is gonna be a bitch
    To put it lightly
    ...take nothing but memories and pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and kill only time... (Bette Filley in Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail)

  11. #11
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-22-2007
    Location
    Springfield, Illinois, United States
    Age
    62
    Posts
    6,384

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by STICK View Post
    To put it lightly
    If you can do day 1 the other 2 will fall into place. The climb outta Fontana is not the hard part. You will be fresh then. It is the area around Thunderhead, late in the day, that will be the hard part.
    Last edited by ChinMusic; 06-03-2012 at 13:33.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  12. #12

    Default

    The first day will be your big up and the third day will be your big down. I think you can do what you are planning if you stick to your idea of getting out of camp early and hiking steady to your destination. Have a great hike.
    Find the LIGHT STUFF at QiWiz.net

    The lightest cathole trowels, wood burning stoves, windscreens, spatulas,
    cooking options, titanium and aluminum pots, and buck saws on the planet



  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-29-2006
    Location
    Bloomington, IN
    Age
    57
    Posts
    2,018

    Default

    Last year I had some friends hiking SOBO so I parked at Newfound Gap and did the 40+ miles to Fontana, hopped in their car and drove it to Standing Bear where I slept in the car, and knocked out the 33+ miles back to my car at Newfound Gap and leaving their car waiting for them. Once somebody got the thought of not staying in a shelter in my head I had to try it.

    The trail is not that hard.
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    02-19-2012
    Location
    Charlotte NC
    Age
    58
    Posts
    330

    Default

    I was just south of NOC last weekend, and the little black flies were pretty bad. I didn't realize how bad till I got home and had welps all over my legs and feet. I never felt the bites, they didn't hurt, but I've about scratched holes in my feet this last week as the itching is so bad. So, even though you are going super light, don't forget a small bottle of something for the bugs!

  15. #15
    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-30-2003
    Location
    Appalachian Ohio
    Posts
    4,382

    Default

    Ive done it in 4 days....and 5 days....and 6 days....and 7 days. probably could do it in 3, but wouldnt want to.

    but have fun!
    The only thing better than mountains, is mountains where you haven't been.

    amongnature.blogspot.com

  16. #16
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
    Join Date
    01-02-2005
    Location
    Concord, NH
    Age
    57
    Posts
    2,050

    Default

    Gee.. the Smokies are the absolute nicest part of the southern Appalachians and here you want to zip through them quick as possible.. in three days. Should it end up being wet and miserable, you won't do the Smokies in three days. And if it ends up being beautiful.. you won't have time to rest anywhere. It's a death march!

    Don't underestimate the difficulty of climbing up from Fontana Dam to near the top of Shukstack Mountain.

    Couldn't you just enjoy this wonderful park and do your speed hiking in Pennsylvania or something? I mean Geeze.

    My unsolicited opinion? I think you are totally nuts.

    DavidNH

  17. #17

    Default

    ChinMusic, I agree!

    Thanks QiWiz! We plan to do just that...

    Fredmugs, now that is interesting! Wow! Just curious, what kind of pack weight did you carry for this adventure? I assume that it wasn't much being you were only out for a day hike! Any advice for doing such big miles in this area? And thanks for the encouragement...

    Whack-A-Mole, thanks for the info on the bugs. I have treated all of my clothing with Permethrin, and will give it another spray before leaving out to liven it up. I know that Permethrin is for ticks, but it seems that it does a pretty good job on the other bugs too... I will probably not pack any bug spray, but I will think about it before I head out...

    The SoleMates, wow...sounds like you have got this part of the trail down... Any tips or advice for any certain areas? Thanks.

    David, I am going to take you unsolicited opinion as a compliment, so thanks! However, to answer your comment, I will copy/cut/paste from my first post:

    Why do we want to do this hike in 3 days?

    Quite honestly, we just want the challenge. We feel like we can do it and want to give it a go. It is not the only hike we will ever do again, and it is not he only hike we have done so far, but for this particular hike, this is how we want to do it. I don't know how else to say it.

    I would like to add in here though (since we are on the subject), we are planing an average speed of between 2 - 3 mph, although we expect it to slow on some parts and speed up on others. Regardless, I do not view this is as a fast speed, and based on experience, it will allow us to still be able to stop and take in views, and have breaks for a nice little lunch or whatever. We will be up and hiking early each morning, and don't mind hiking in in the dark (which we are aware may happen on day 2).

    Basically, this hike is a hike, and not a campout. This is what we want to do for this hike, and we are happy with this.

    But we also wanted to create a little bigger challenge than just hiking it. We want to do it in what we consider a quicker time than normal, although, it has been done in a much faster time than 3 days, but from what I read, many do it in 5 days, some 4 days. Then of course there are some that do it in 6 or 7 days. Personally, I see no problem with how one wants to hike this section, I understand that we all have our own reasons.

    As well, being the gear nuts that we are, we also wanted to push ourselves a little more than normal and go with a SUL pack (rather than a UL pack). Again, this is what we are doing and want to do as just a little extra challenge.

    Our goal is of course to have fun, and enjoy our time outdoors. With this in mind, we do not feel like our plans are taking away from us being able to do just this!
    Anyway, thanks everyone for the comments! We appreciate the help...
    ...take nothing but memories and pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and kill only time... (Bette Filley in Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail)

  18. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-04-2009
    Location
    Panama City Beach, FL
    Age
    66
    Posts
    1,818

    Default

    hey go for it. Back in early September 2009, I ran into 2 guys who did the exact same itinerary as you plan. I was staying at Derrick's Knob shelter when they arrived in the dark from the hike up from Fontana. They were pretty tired and dehydrated but overall in good spirits.

    be prepared to do some night hiking to do it in 3 days, take a good headlamp. On the other hand, if you do this hike in mid summer, you'll have more daylight than in early September, but daytime temps will be hotter.

    that hike up from Fontana will be the toughest day with the elevation gain. The last day will be a piece of cake, a lot of downhill.

  19. #19
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-30-2007
    Location
    Erwin, TN
    Age
    59
    Posts
    8,436

    Default

    I hiked it in 4 days in March with sleet 2 of the days and a few inches of snow on the ground. I say I hiked it.. there was a lot of skating and falling on my butt.

    Definitely you can do it in 3 days with June daylight hours.

  20. #20

    Default

    seems to me the last day would be the easiest day to go big miles! goodluck :-)

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
++ 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
  •