Looking for a new adventure

11:08 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Hi, my name is Sam..new to the site. My buddy and I are looking to do a week long backcountry trip. We have all the tools necessary, just looking for a location. 

We live in Illinois but are willing to travel. Looking to take the trip between April/May. 

We did a camping trip last year in So Illinois in May and it went flawless. Scenery was beautiful. 

I know it's a vague description of what we're looking for but we are not picky hikers/campers. Anywhere with a running stream and intense scenery!

Thanks for the time, 

Sam

11:18 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Welcome to Trailspace, tiredofwinter! 

To help you get the most out of what trailspace and it's member's have to offer, I have a few suggestions and questions.  

to get started, there a a bunch of great threads with similar discussions and suggestions for the same type of trip you may be looking for. Before I even became a member here, I spent weeks just pouring through old threads; they were amazingly informative and helpful!

A little more info will help us provide you with the best advice- what is you and your friend's  current level of experience with back country trekking? What time of year are you looking to make your trip? 

Right off the bat, I think an early autumn or late spring trip in the Appalachian mountains would potentially be a good option for you. I will wait for your added into to offer more advice :)

Again, welcome to Trailspace!

11:35 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Yeah I figured I was making a noob post lol. I'd say our level is intermediate. We're looking for an April/May trip. 

12:04 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Go to Wyomings Grand Tetons. Plenty of water flowing streams, wildlife,etc. NW Wyoming. Also have yellowstone nearby. can respply in Jackson Hole if going to the tetons.

12:55 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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My Dad and I are planning to go to Isle Royale either in the late spring or early fall.  I realize Isle Royale is not that close to Illinois, but my Dad is in Grand Rapids, MI and I'm in the Charlotte, NC area, so we plan to do some traveling to get there.

Let me second the Appalachians.  I've only been to Great Smoky Mountains N.P. once, but I plan to go back to do some canoeing around Lake Fontana. 

What kind of camping are you planning to do?  If you're driving and planning to camp out of your car, maybe a tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway to see more variety in your trip. 

If you want to go backpacking, any section of the Appalachian Trail is always fun.  My favorite hiking destination is probably Linville Gorge.  Maybe Mount Rogers in Virginia or Cumberland Island, GA. 

This website is a great resource.  I wish I had time to read it more frequently!

2:00 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for the response guys! Much appreciated. 

I would love to visit the Appalachians. We are driving but backpacking from wherever we park. 

I was thinking Tennessee might have some good destinations? Do I need any permits?

2:06 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Haha, I'm a total newb to lots of places and activities. I hope I didn't offend, just wanted to gauge your ability before sending you off on a nutbuster if it was your first time, or conversely, stick you on a kiddie slope if you had the chops for the former :)

The Smokies, Cherokee NF, and Nantahala NF would be my recommendation.  April-May is a really nice shoulder-season in the Appalachians. At above 3500ft in early April you can still get winter conditions, and sub freezing temps well into May. If you want to see things getting green and some wildflowers, I would go towards the middle or end of May. Even mid may, spring will only just be forcing its way onto the higher elevations.

Great Smoky Mountains NP requires permits and sees a lot more people than the backcountry of the Cherokee and Nanatahala NFs. Cherokee and Nantahala do not require permits, and camping is only restricted to being 100 ft from trails, water, and roads. Of course proper food handling, bear bagging, and reasonable Leave No Trace practices are expected.

Some of my favorite areas for backpacking are in the highland Unicoi range, which spans the Citico Wilderness of the Cherokee NF and the Slick Rock Wilderness int the Nanatahala on the North Carolina side.   

Here are some of my trips reports from that area: 

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/112175.html#112175

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/103208.html#103208

Also check out the reports from Patman and Tipi Walter. They both are prodigious backpackers in the region. Tipi is King of the Cherokee and Nantahala, and Patman does it all. He's done quite a lot of trips in the GSMNP as well as the same areas as Tipi and I. 



2:25 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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When I have visited my son who lives in Madison WI, we have backpacked a few trails near there (Wisconsin, that is, mainly in the northern part of the state). The Rockies are a fairly easy day's drive from you, and offer a huge amount of backcountry to hike in, ranging from easy to challenging. Gary mentioned the Tetons. Also in Wyoming are the Wind Rivers, Yellowstone backcountry, and other locations. Colorado offers Rocky Mountain NP plus a lot of other areas. Utah offers the Wasatch and Uintas, plus the canyon country in southern Utah. And that's just the beginning.

3:18 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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I lived out in Colorado and have done some Co/Wyo camping/hiking. 

I guess he and I are looking more towards the south. 

4:12 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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If you are planing to go south this is out of line. But I would go to the UP

4:40 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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mikemorrow said:

If you are planing to go south this is out of line. But I would go to the UP

 What's UP? I'm new to the abbreviation world!

6:54 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Upper Peninsula, Michigan

As a Michigan native who has escaped to the south, I would NOT go to the UP in April/May!

7:01 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Haha Noted!

8:23 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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K do it in the summer. :D

10:24 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for all the replies thus far. You guys are more than helpful. I've been looking at pics of UP and it looks amazing in late summer. 

Anybody have experience in Tennessee in May?

9:59 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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tiredofwinter said:

Thanks for all the replies thus far. You guys are more than helpful. I've been looking at pics of UP and it looks amazing in late summer. 

Anybody have experience in Tennessee in May?

 

Sure....

Here are two trips I took last May

this one in the Smokies:

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/90764.html

and this one in the Roan Highlands:

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/91524.html

 

Temps are variable but above 5000 feet it can get somewhat cool at night  and the rain is unpredicatable even on a seemingly clear day...

11:29 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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I have quite a bit of experience along the TN/NC border in May, as well.

The two report Patman posted are great examples of the huge shift in temperature from the beginning of May to the end. You can see that at the end of may everything is leafing out and flowering, yet just two weeks earlier, spring is only barely touching the higher els. At the beginning of the moth, you might find your self asking "Didn't they get the memo up here? It's supposed to be spring!" 

12:43 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for the replies. Those trips looked amazing. 

I'm definitely looking more toward a warmer, more green trip! So looks like late May might have to do. 

4:49 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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How about Shenandoah National park. 100 miles of the backcountry is appalachian trail. Really pretty and they have the best blueberry shack you could ever crave when hiking. :)" FWIW

11:54 a.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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I was looking at Clingman's Dome Overnight Loop!

Would that be a suitable place to hike/camp?

 

I'm just so foreign to Tennessee trails/camping.

3:54 p.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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Sam,

What is the loop? The Smokies have over 800 miles of interconnecting trails; if you know the trail names for the particluar loop I can probably give comment...

 

And yes it's a very nice place to hike. From the Clingmans parking lot you start at over 6000 ft in elevation (but of course all paths lose elevation from there and going back to your vehicle will be all uphill). The AT shelters tend to be well used so if you desire remoteness it's best to camp at one of the lower elevation sites.

I've hiked almost all of the Smokies maintained trails and they are all pretty cool. Every official backcountry site has water nearby so it's pretty easy to plan.  

patrick

 

1:35 p.m. on January 17, 2012 (EST)
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http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=HGD058-038

I guess this is what I'm looking at. 

I think finding a loop would be perfect since we'd have to make our way back eventually. 

4:54 p.m. on January 17, 2012 (EST)
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Sam,

I didn’t register to see all the details but I can tell from the basic text what the route is. That is a very nice loop. Your day one is about 12.7 miles that are mostly downhill and day 2 will be about 13 miles of quite strenuous uphill hiking (butt-kicker with a pack on). That route will require fording Goshen prong twice (depending on rains roughly knee deep) and fording the creeks at Three Forks twice (the last fording can be up to waist deep depending on rains), but in May it shouldn’t be an issue with cold (but be sure to think about water shoes or something…)

Your return route will include five miles on Sugarland Mountain trail which at some point gets you close to 441 (major route through the park) although maybe 1000 feet above the road, so hearing traffic isn’t great but the upside is I’ve never hiked that trail and not seen a bear (hiked it about five times over the years). Speaking of which, the Little River valley (where the Three Forks campsite resides) is chock full of bears and you’ll pass by campsite 24 which is reputed to be the most bear visited site in the park. (definitely use the provided to cables to hang your food)

Three Forks campsite has a nice spring that comes up out of the ground at the campsite (I didn’t even filter it last time-not recommending that I’m just sayin…).

And hey, if you are willing do that kind of route consider these as alternatives or backups:

  • The “Twenty Mile Loop”; start at the Twenty Mile Ranger station and hike up Twenty Mile Trail to Long Hungry Ridge, then west on Gregory Bald trail, to camp at site 13. Come back down the Wolf Ridge trail the ranger station. This hike takes you across Gregory Bald which is pretty darn cool (although the world class azaleas won’t be in bloom in May)
  • Russell and Spence Field loop: Start at the Cades Cove campground and take Anthony Creek up to the AT then I would take the time to detour East (or in “AT speak” North) over to see Rocky Top (thunderhead mountain) and then come back west (“AT speak” South) to stay at Spence Field for the night. On day 2 continue “south” on the AT and take the Russell Field trail back down to Anthony Creek.
  • The Cosby/Tri Corner loop (one of my personal favorites but super tough): Start at Cosby campground and take Snake Den Trail up to the AT, continue South on the AT to Tri-Corner Knob for the night. Day 2 gives a choice: either come back North on the AT all the way to the Low Gap trail and back down to Cosby Campground or take the Balsam Mtn Trail to Gunter Fork, to Big Creek and then back up Low Gap. Caution: either of these routes will “put the hurt on”, but man what a great trip!

Finally I would use read the .gov site carefully (look at trail and road closures right before you go as well as backcountry site closures): http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/backcountry-camping.htm

And use the Park Trail map to plan from:  

http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/upload/BC-Map-july-11.pdf

Feel free to IM me if you want more details about a particular route.

8:17 p.m. on January 17, 2012 (EST)
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Anywhere with a running stream and intense scenery!

You might look at the Roan Mountain area. This is from a trip I took in July last year.

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/103958.html

You had mentioned a week long trip. If you did the Clingman's Dome loop then do this one or start at carver's gap and finish up where the AT crosses walnut mountain road. The hike from Carver's gap to 19E has a large number of balds which provide fantastic views. From 19E to Walnut Mountain Road has the Elk River Falls


cfiles14209.jpg

The other thing about the Roan Mountain section is that it's in national forests instead of a national park and you don't have nearly as many regulations.

11:25 p.m. on January 18, 2012 (EST)
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You guys are awesome! Looks like some killer trips!

I guess to narrow it down now...National Forest location would suite our needs better. I'm still hoping on doing a loop just to have direction/plan/and not have to retrack our steps. 

8:20 a.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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I think finding a loop would be perfect since we'd have to make our way back eventually.

Use a shuttle service.  The B&B/Hostel we left our car at shuttled us to Carver's gap and they are only about 1/2 mile from the trail head on 19E.

8:21 a.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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I haven't hiked much at all in the sections of the Cherokee NF north of the GSMNP, but in the Citico, Bald River, Slick Rock, etc, there are almost endless options for doing a loop trip. One of my most frequent spots to visit is Bob's Bald, and there are many trailheads from which you could make a circuitous route. 

11:31 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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Just ran across this blog. 

http://appalachiantreks.blogspot.com/

8:11 p.m. on January 21, 2012 (EST)
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Excellent. Thanks for everything guys! I checked out that blogspot and what a website! I actually emailed the guy. 

I'm just excited and ready to hike/camp. I've outgrown my Gregory Z pack and looking to get a new pack. We have a few places local that sell packs/boots and what not but figured it be cheaper online. Where do you guys shop at online? Sorry for the thousandth question!

10:54 a.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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www.steepandcheap.com  (use www.sacalerts.com to send alerts)backcountry.com's super discount clearance website. www.departmentofgoods.com backcountry.com's regular clearance site.  www.geartrade.com (the seller backcountry is www.backcountry.com)

www.ebay.com is good for used high-end goods.

10:58 a.m. on January 25, 2012 (EST)
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I would second patman's suggestion of the russell field/spence field loop. Me and omatty are doing it this weekend, except the opposite direction. we are starting at caves cove, heading up anthony creek to russell field trail, staying at russell. heading to rockytop the next day then back down to spence, then out the next morning. if you like longer distances, you can do some side trails. I've been told this is a fairly popular loop however, but not this weekend.

11:45 a.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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I'm getting bear spray/cannister to avoid any issues. 

How many of you carry a gun when hiking?

If I have a FOID card here in Illinois, what's the limitations of me bringing a hand gun to Tennessee?

I'm new to bear country and just want to be prepared as possible. 

12:32 p.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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Sam,

I enjoy recreational shooting and have owned firearms most of my life but I've never found a need for a gun when hiking in my home state of TN.  I think TN honors permits from some states but I'm not sure which ones. If you wind up in the Smokies, Federal law applies (which I think changed to allow guns). But anyway, I wouldn't bother with the extra weight.

I go solo all over East TN (almost all bear reserves) and I've had dozens of black bear encounters and never had any issues. They will usually run from you.

Of course it's a personal choice issue.

 

12:35 p.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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Hey Tireofwinter, 

I have a TN Carry Permit, and have brought a firearm along with me in the past for different reasons. However, I haven't while backpacking in a long time. For me it boils down to this: in most places, I really just don't need it and don't want the weight. Anything less than a large round, and the hunk of metal to back it up, will be useless against a large animal, especially a bear. 

Also, though it is legal to possess a firearm in a National Forest, it is still illegal to discharge it, which of course complicates matters.

In order to carry in TN you would have to have a valid permit in your state, and your state would have to have some form of reciprocity or honoring agreement with TN. You will have to research that to find out, by contacting both states and possibly other resources. 

Ultimately, as long as all laws are being obeyed, it is entirely a personal choice.  

(the opinions and statements above are made entirely on a personal level, not as a moderator of TS,  and are not intended to represent any official TS position)

12:41 p.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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Hey Gonzan get out of my head! lol...

1:33 p.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for the quick responses guys! More than helpful. 

Yeah I just wasn't sure what the protocol was hardly hiking/camping in bear country myself. How often are encounters in Cherokee?

I'm still trying to plan a route that loops us back to where we started. I've been to countless websites/maps. It's definitely a different world with all the trail options. 

1:49 p.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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Patman said:

Hey Gonzan get out of my head! lol...

 LOL!

1:58 p.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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tiredofwinter said:

Yeah I just wasn't sure what the protocol was hardly hiking/camping in bear country myself. How often are encounters in Cherokee?

 We're glad you asked, and don't mind sharing what we know :)
I have seen bears on a number of occasions, most of the time while I am driving to or from a trailhead, not when actually out there. I have, however, come across many prints, scat, ripped apart dead trees, gnawed up trailposts, etc. A few times I knew they were just there, and probably saw or hear me before I had a clue. Like Patman said, they usually run for it, often before you've even seen them. I had a yearling black get all curious in Wyoming, and a mature black raid a group campground in the Slickrock wilderness. Even the one that raided camp was only interested in snatching and running off with coolers and food bags. (I was with a huge group, virtually none of whom properly stored their food) 

11:06 p.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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For the most part East coast bears are afraid of humans. I wouldn't recommend getting between mom and her cubs but they pretty much run from humans. 

Here's an example.  Fast forward to about the middle of the video.

My theory on that is this: East coast black bears were almost hunted to extinction.  Those that were left had a healthy dose of stay-away-from-humans in their genes and this has been passed on to the current population.

4:15 p.m. on February 28, 2012 (EST)
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Why would you want to carry a gun in case of bears? They're far less likely to cause you a problem than a person.

And besides, a can of bear spray works way better, with a 90-90% success rate on bears.

4:20 p.m. on February 28, 2012 (EST)
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I work toward ensuring the 10% is covered as well. Justsayin.

9:22 a.m. on February 29, 2012 (EST)
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Absolutely. And the way to do that is to never meet a bear, which is pretty easy, I've found.

1:22 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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peter1955 said:

Why would you want to carry a gun in case of bears? They're far less likely to cause you a problem than a person.

And besides, a can of bear spray works way better, with a 90-90% success rate on bears.

I have bear spray and I've seen studies where it is far more effective than a firearm. Just asking a question jethro ;)

9:40 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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I've seen a lot of people who think that guns work better. Just trying to correct any who might make that assumption, 'Jake'.

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