GSMNP: AT Fontana Dam to Tricorners Knob.

8:02 p.m. on June 7, 2010 (EDT)
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15 forum posts

I am an avid backpacker and seldom miss an opportunity to "get lost" so to speak. This is my first trip report, well this is one of my first posts on this website since I joined a few months ago. I love this site! In fact, I'm not ashamed to say, it's my home page. Enough cake talk, time to get to business.

The end of Spring semester falls within a truly beautiful time to get out and experience the mountains of Western North Carolina. I took this opportunity to go on my second solo hike of which I spent 12 days in the wilderness. Though I was hiking alone there was never a shortage of backpackers wherever I called home for the night. Through this experience I have realized that when I'm out in the world there are more people than just me, for there is a community.

I parted with my companion who was generous enough to drive me to Fontana and began my hike on a strenuous portion of the AT, which people of the area are sure to be familiar with. Sleeping at Mollies Ridge I was accompanied by 2 teams of father and daughter backpackers. They were really nice people and we enjoyed each others' company very much. I then made my way to my next way-point 15 miles off the ridge into the valley that harbors Hazel Creek. Hazel Creek's lore comes from a combination of lush history, remote location, roaring creek, and artifact scouting; not to mention superb fishing! I had a "light weight" ugly stick rod outfitted to fit my pack with a cork handle, 9" cut off the total length, and a Shakespear Cirrus reel. Single hook, silver spoon, yellow rooster tails and orange lures landed more strikes on the first two days than any other lure in my box; I stuck with them for the remainder of the next 4 days as I fished up and down the stream.

Dawn on day 7 was the first of many overcast and rainy days. The climb to the ridge was more wading than hiking as the stream stage was high and the trail crossed the stream 9 times before the ridge. Once on the ridge, still remarkably dry, I began my hike to Mt. Collins Shelter. I have hiked this section in all seasons and have been blessed with great vistas, however on this trip all I saw for days was the bleak gray clouds that engulfed the ridge. Day 8 was spent crossing New Found Gap, hiking to Le Conte via the Boulevard and sleeping at Icewater Spring shelter. Le Conte, or as some of the Michigan folks at the shelter said "Le Conte' " has some serious weather related issues; howling winds and steep drop offs made each step feel like walking on the razor's edge. I LOVED IT! One of my favorite hikes ever. When the weather is bad elsewhere, weather buffs, like myself, should flock to Le Conte.

From Icewater I made my way to Tricorners, bagging the 6000 footers along the way and hiking with a very interesting person, Bob, the majority of the way. We found similar opinions on many issues so conversation flowed effortlessly all day. I parted ways with the friends I made and began to bag the 6000' summits which give Tricorners its name, I suppose. It was noon on this day that the clouds parted and sunlight blessed the ground at my feet. It was truly amazing to take pictures of vistas rather than yet another shot of Rosy twisted stalk, Mountain Bellwort, Sweet white trillium, yellow trout lillys, flaming azalea, or anyother flower that had taken up 80% of my camera's memory at that point.

The morning of the 11th day I began my hike to Laurel Gap, bagged 2 peaks and spent the remainder of the time looking forward to spending my last night alone in the woods. That's to say before a group of backpackers sprang up at about 10 P.M. They were some characters and we spent the majority of the night talking about everything from baseball to politics. They were convinced that people should have to pay to enter National Parks, as to keep the majority of the foot traffic down, while I was considering how royally screwed college students, like me, would be if we had to pay to hike. Not saying a fee would stop me but I stand behind the constitutional right North Carolina's government has upheld to wave park entrance fees.

One thing I've learned from Trailspace is that whether you're out in the wilderness or responding to someone who needs help lighting a stove you're part of a community. A community that harbors people who share the same passion for being outdoors. I have been a part of this community for many years, but am just now recognizing how awesome being in this community really is.

Thanks for reading.

10:51 p.m. on June 7, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,485 forum posts

Great trip report!

I used to backpack through that area, I'm glad to hear Hazel Creek seems to be doing well.

Maybe those who feel you should have to pay before entering NC State Parks should do so. I'm glad you got to enjoy GSMNP!

October 2, 2014
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