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Great Smoky Mountains

Friday, October 4, 2024 - Friday, October 11, 2024 -- $1625 ★★



Description

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular National Park in the country (by number of visitors), yet despite its seeming congestion and proximity to major population centers, our trek will provide plenty of solitude far from the crowds during Fall Foliage Season. This trip is a reprise of the 2023 trip that sold out quickly and was closed early for registration.


Much of our route traverses the Appalachian Trail -- from Tricorner Knob to Davenport Shelter. We'll also visit Pretty Hollow Gap (it is pretty) and also the fire tower on Mt. Cammerer. Our route passes through old logging rail beds and CCC camps which once housed the people who built these trails.


This trip will traverse virgin forests, clear streams teeming with wild trout (note: our permit does not let us guide commercial fishing trips), high elevation spruce-fir forests and expansive balds / meadows where elk and turkeys forage. Your guides have spent many years exploring the Smokies and will be ready to help you identify the flowers, wildlife and even some mushrooms that abounds here. They may also relate a story or two about the people who once called this remote and natural region home.


The park also features an abundance of wildlife including deer, elk, wild boar, black bears and even red wolves. This trip is a good sampling of the Smokies: wilderness, virgin forest, vistas, the Appalachian Trail, wildlife and rustic shelters.


Fall is a great time to be in the Smokies as weather is still temperate, bugs subside and a panoply of colors begin to reveal themselves in the foliage. Will this be the year join us?



Topographical Map of Proposed Route

See CalTopo map


Weather

Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s and 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures as high as th 80s and nights below 30, probably with a day (or more) of rainfall and on rare occasion, snowfall. Here is the historical weather Be prepared for cold temps at high elevation (we had snow one year) as well as warm sunny weather or rain.



Probable Trip Leaders

Collin Chambers
Any Other Guide(s) TBD

Difficulty

While all Fatpacking trips are difficult some of the time, this one might be considered slightly less strenuous than others because of solid footing and terrain and well established trails. But please be aware that hauling all your gear and food for a week is not easy no matter what the terrain is like.



Cost

$1625 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will be responsible for transportation to and from Asheville Airport (AVL), as well as personal equipment, restaurant meals and any gratuities for guides. You may also incur parking charges for leaving your car at the hotel all week (probably none, but they sometimes charge for this).


Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 5 nights in the backcountry, 1 night in a frontcountry campground, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from Asheville and the National Park, park permits, backcountry permits and awesome guides.



Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.



Notes

Due to the popularity of the Smokies, our itinerary may change since reservations can be made only 3 weeks before the trip. We have traditionally not had much problem getting the proposed sites, but you should be aware that we may not be awarded the exact itinerary shown.


Our route may cross creeks and streams at times. There is no guarantee of bridges. Be prepared to wear water shoes and use trekking poles to walk through almost knee-deep water in order to cross these waterways.


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Itinerary
Weather
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Cost
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)
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Itinerary


Friday, October 4, 2024

Drive or fly into Asheville Airport (AVL). The best time to arrive is between around 9AM-1PM, earlier is generally better. Asheville is a small airport so flights may be limited. If you have to arrive later that may be fine as long as the group can leave Asheville by around 4PM.


Call or text us and we will pick you up and take you to a local hotel where we will assemble


We will assemble at: TBD, To Be Determined


You should have already done an online shakedown pre-trip, but guides will still ask you a few questions and give you a "mini equipment shakedown"


Make your own trail mix from our selection of nuts, fruits and sweets


Go to Diamond Brand Outdoor Shop, 2623 Hendersonville Rd. • Arden, NC 28704 • 800-459-6262 • info@diamondbrand.com for last minute equipment if necessary



All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage.


At around 3PM, shuttle to campsite: Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC. Site(s): 001 & 002 Elevation: 1700'


Shuttling will take about 2 hours


Guides prepare dinner in camp. On some trips with longer shuttle times, we may opt to go out for an opening dinner at a local restaurant. (Cost of restaurant dinner not included in trip price)


Camp at Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC. Site(s): 001 & 002 Elevation: 1700'



Saturday, October 5, 2024

Begin hiking on the Big Creek Trail for 5.1 miles past Midnight Hole Falls and Mouse Creek Falls to campsite #37 (Big Creek Campsite)


Camp at the Big Creek Campsite #37, elevation 3700'


Miles today: 5.1. Total miles: 5.1


Possible bailout: Big Creek Campground


Sunday, October 6, 2024

Hike 4.2 uphill miles on the Swallow fork Trail to the junction with the Mt. Sterling Trail at Pretty Hollow Gap, elevation 5150''


This is a great place to take a break


Turn right onto the Mt. Sterling Trail and hike 4.1 enjoyable miles along a remarkably level ridge line to the junction with the Balsam Mt Trail, elevation 5500'


Hike 0.2 downhill miles to the Laurel Gap shelter


Camp at the Laurel Gap Shelter, elevation 5460’


Miles today 8.5, total 13.6


Possible bailout: Cataloochee or Balsam Mtn Road.


Monday, October 7, 2024

Hike 0.2 uphill miles on the Balsam Mt Trail back to the junction with the Mt. Sterling Trail, elevation 5500'


Keep left on the Balsam Mt Trail and hike 5.8 cumulatively uphill miles to the junction with the AT (Appalachian Trail), elevation 5950'


Turn left on the AT and hike 0.2 miles to the Tricorner Knob shelter on the AT, elevation 5920'


Camp at Tricorner Knob shelter, elevation 5920'


Miles today: 6.2, total 19.8


Possible bailout: Balsam Mtn Road or Cosby campground


Tuesday, October 8, 2024

Hike 3.0 mostly undulating miles on the AT over Mt. Guyot to the Snake Den Ridge Trail, elevation 5750'


Hike 3.0 downhill miles to the Camel Gap Trail junction, elevation 4700'

Hike 1.7 uphill miles to the Cosby Knob shelter


Camp at the Cosby Knob Shelter, elevation 5800'


Miles today: 7.7, total 27.5


Possible bailout: Cosby campground


Wednesday, October 9, 2024

Hike 0.9 downhill miles (500') on the AT to Low Gap, elevation ?'


Hike 2.1 uphill miles (800') on the AT to the junction with the Mt Cammerer Trail, elevation 4900'


Drop packs and day-hike 1.2 round trip miles to the Mt. Cammerer fire tower for sweeping views of the Eastern side of the Smokies, elevation 4928'


Retrieve packs and hike 4.2 steadily dowhill miles to the Davenport Gap shelter


Camp at Davenport Gap shelter, elevation 2600'


Miles today: 8.4. Total miles: 35.9


Possible bailout: Big Creek campground or Davenport Gap.


Thursday, October 10, 2024

Hike 1.0 miles on the AT back to the Chestnut Branch Trail, elevation 2900'


Hike 2.1 dowhill miles on the Chestnut Branch Trail to the Big Creek Trail and our vehicles, elevation 1700'


End of hiking


Possible bailout:


Miles today: 3.1. Total miles: 39.0


Shuttle back to local hotel: TBD, To Be Determined


Gather your off-trail items from storage


Dinner and awards ceremony at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)


Stay in our local hotel (included in trip cost)


This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.


Friday, October 11, 2024

Take free airport shuttle or we will pay for a shared cab/Uber


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