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Stalking Tortoise & Smoking Sox Section Hike #37 - Winding Stair Gap to Clingmans Dome

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    • Stalking Tortoise & Smoking Sox Section Hike #37 - Winding Stair Gap to Clingmans Dome

      Figured that I'd make good use of some free time to get the thread started.

      Smoking Sox will be flying into Cincinnati on Friday 9/30 then we'll be driving down to the Hike Inn near Fontana Dam. We were initially going to get a shuttle to Winding Stair Gap to start the hike but that would have required us to either get picked up at Clingmans Dome on Saturday 10/8 or do a mid-hike shuttle to move my vehicle to the Clingmans Dome parking area. Nancy Hoch from the Hike Inn was very direct: she wouldn't pick us up at Clingmans Dome on Saturday due to traffic delays. And I didn't want to get stuck in a slow crawl from Newfound Gap to Gatlinburg after the hike. Been there. Done that. Don't want to do it again.

      We came up with an alternate plan - drive to the Fontana Dam Visitors Center on Saturday 10/1, hike to Clingmans Dome over 3.25 days, then get shuttled Tuesday morning down to Winding Stair Gap to hike back to Fontana Dam. There are pros & cons to the plan:

      Pros
      • Easier drive over towards Knoxville after the hike
      • Safe parking at the Dam Visitors Center (surveillance cameras and patrols)
      • Climbing from the Nantahala to Cheoah Bald late in the hike with lighter pack weight
      • Short drive to the trailhead on 10/1 (more sleep)
      • Mid-hike resupply during the shuttle down to Winding Stair Gap (driver will bring our resupply boxes)
      • Vehicle is waiting for us at the end of the hike - no need to call for a shuttle


      Cons
      • Starting the hike with the climb up Shuckstack and onto Mollies Ridge
      • One extra night in the GSMNP to accommodate a Tuesday morning shuttle pickup
      • Potential to leave an orphan section if we don't hike back to Fontana Dam
      We're giving ourselves eight full days to complete the ~90 miles. Meal shopping is done, gear lists have been created. All I need to do over the next 1.5 weeks is continue my stair climbing and bicycle workouts to get the legs ready for some serious exertion.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch NC to Gorham NH

      "The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations...those are pretty good days." Ray Wylie Hubbard
    • Just received a bear activity warning for Double Spring Gap shelter. Already had one for Mollies Ridge shelter. Should make for some interesting nights.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch NC to Gorham NH

      "The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations...those are pretty good days." Ray Wylie Hubbard
    • New

      Anyone see this tropical storm path? The bears may get drowned. But the springs should be flowing well. :rolleyes:



      It it's too wet to hike, we can always head to the NOC and learn how to paddle whitewater. Lots of whitewater.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch NC to Gorham NH

      "The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations...those are pretty good days." Ray Wylie Hubbard
    • New

      WanderingStovie wrote:

      Bad time to be in Cancun.
      In September 1988, I was preparing for my upcoming wedding and honeymoon in Cancun. Gilbert had other plans.

      Hurricane Gilbert destroyed Cancun and left us scrambling to find another destination. Maybe that's why the Tortoise marriage has lasted this long - we learned to improvise, adapt and overcome. Perhaps we should plan a trip to Cancun for our 35th anniversary next year.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch NC to Gorham NH

      "The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations...those are pretty good days." Ray Wylie Hubbard
    • New

      This hike is bringing back memories from our second section hike in 2004. Hurricane Ivan was working its way up the Atlantic as we prepared for the hike from High Point State Park in NJ to the NJ/NY State Line Trail above Greenwood Lake NY. We knew rain was coming but too much effort had already been expended on arranging the time off. So off we strode into the remnants of Ivan.

      Guidebook landmarks such as "Cross intermittent brook" were actually "Cross knee-deep torrent". At one footbridge, only half of the handrails were above the water. We had to feel around in the approach to find the stepping stones that led up to the footbridge. Unfortunately, a misstep plunged me thigh-deep into the water and my disposable Kodak camera got soaked. Good times...

      We've gained a bit of experience since then and are confident that we can keep our gear dry as we hike through the remnants of Ian. The key will be to change into dry and warm clothing as soon as we reach the shelter on Saturday evening.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch NC to Gorham NH

      "The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations...those are pretty good days." Ray Wylie Hubbard