Echols Dorm: Brick Wall By Side Door
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
***Updates below ***
-new itinerary after getting the permits, bit more difficult. If we run into issues it may run onto Monday, so be considerate if you have a test or something vital that day. I still expect us to follow the schedule but here’s the disclaimer.
-0 permit fee (yay)
-Bring your own food, we’ll rent a stove to share
-Here are the maps (contour int is 50ft on the topo. I just made that a print friendly backup on the off chance we 1) miss a sign or trail 2) gps on 8 phones all fail.)
If you have any questions on what to pack, or what to expect, don’t hesitate to email me.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I’m leading a backpacking trip in the smokies,
and you should come too!
Cheesy poems aside, I’ve been wanting to do this trip for a year, but last time we couldn’t get enough people to sign on. However, this time I’ve changed the leave date to the 4 day reading weekend on October 1st, so hopefully more people are in town than during the summer.
We’ll be backpacking a ~35 mile section of trails in the heart of the Great Smoky National Park, spending 4 days, including the drive over and back. With any luck we’ll be there right when the leaves start to change, so there should be some pretty awesome views. Furthermore we’ll be spending most the time following rivers and creeks, so if you’re a fan of swimming and not having to carry 4 liters of water, this trip is for you. Heck, I might even bring a fishing pole.
I’m rewriting this section after looking through the topography based off the permits I was able to get. This trip is still open to beginners but you really need to be in shape to enjoy the trip. the third and fourth day are going to be pretty rough, and if you’re not in shape or used to backpacking you’re going to be pretty sore and bruised. The worst we’ll see is 9 mile ~5k climb on the last day. Another factor is the elevation. Most hikes around charlottesville rarely go above 3k feet. This one will be up to 6k so whatever you’re used to doing will be much harder where we’re going. If we all can’t make it to the camp site on time, its not the end of the world or anything (hence bringing an extra days worth of food, or more) but we will have to ghost camp and will potentially get back to cville on wednesday. Anyway, still open to anyone up for the challenge, and sore or not I expect it to be quite the adventure.
Permits have been dealt with. Max party size is still 8 people.
Here’s the current Itinerary:
Wake up at some obscenely early hour (6am) and drive (~8hours) to clingman’s dome from echols. Walk up from the car and take a quick look with the crowds at the 360 overlook, gasp in awe, take our selfies and return back to the cars. All geared up, we will hike about 4 miles to the first site along the AT. (~5.3mi)
Wake up easier than the previous morning, finish the AT section and head south down the hazel creek trail until our second campsite at #85.
Break camp, and continue south along the hazel creek trail. Hop onto cold spring gap, and then bear creek trail and then jump on to forney creek heading north to make camp at #71. This is a really high mileage day but I don’t expect there to be a huge amount of elevation gain.
Head north along the Forney Creek trail until we get back to clingmans dome, and then driving back to uva. Hopefully we’ll get back tuesday night. This is most likely the hardest section we’ll cover. I tried to make it easier by adding more miles to day three, but regardless we’ll have to climb from 2k feet to 6.5k feet in a day. For comparison Old Rag has a 2.5k ft climb, and humpback is 1.2k.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED (you should be able to rent anything you don’t have)
A backpack with hip support
Athletic Clothes (prepare for 30-70 degree, we’ll be changing elevation a lot). You’ll want layers and at least one change (expect to get soaked, I have no idea what water level of creeks we will be crossing)
3 liters water (we’ll be filtering, and most likely carrying less)
Rain Gear (this is important, if it rains I don’t want anyone getting hypothermia, bring at least a jacket but rain pants and a pack cover are also nice)
Whatever footwear you deem appropriate (I vote boots with 2 pairs of socks, but there are people who backpack barefoot)
Sleeping bag/pad- if its a summer bag then bring layers to sleep in
Tent/hammock- if you’re sleeping solo let me know, otherwise i’m putting you in a free tent space.
whatever bandaids/minor medical stuff you think you need. I’m bringing my medkit, but have it packed more for serious injuries.
A food bag to hold all your food when we tie everything up at camp
WHAT YOU MIGHT WANT
Bug repellent (permethrin is the best, take it from me ticks carry some of the nastiest things you don’t want in your blood)
ziplocks/drybags for clothing, food, trash, and gear
your favorite knife
a map of the trail inside a ziplock
Something to eat out of. A can of soup works remarkable well for this if you don’t own anything fancy
A SPOON! DON’T FORGET UTENSILS. Everyone forgets this :'(
So far the plan is that everyone brings their own food, and we’ll share cooking equipment. Bring 20,000 calories worth of food, more or less if you think you’ll need it.
I’m renting a stove and filter for us to share.
I’m only canceling this trip if there’s a hurricane hovering over us or some other dramatic reason to stay. Hopefully we’ll get clear skies.
Should be an epic trip! Hope to see you there!