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Great Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, October 11, 2023 - Wednesday, October 18, 2023 -- $1550 ★★, ONLY 3 SPOTS LEFT



Description

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in the country, yet despite its popularity and proximity to major population centers, our trek will provide plenty of solitude from the crowds during Fall Foliage Season. Even if you have been on one of our Fitpacking trips through the Smokies before, you will want to join us again for a somewhat different route that promises to be awe inspiring (as well as all perspiring).


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 housed the people who built these trails.


This trip will take you through 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 provide 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 ofthe 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. Isn't this a great time to join us?



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

Bruce Cannon
Any Other Guide(s) TBD

Difficulty

While all Fitpacking 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

$1550 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 30 days 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
Guides for this trip
Cost
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)

Itinerary


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

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 -- hotel TBD


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


"Before" body composition measurements taken


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


Shuttle to Big Creek frontcountry campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park stopping for dinner at a local restaurant along the way (Dinner cost not included in trip price)


Front Country camp at Big Creek Campground, site(s) TBD, elevation 1700’


Thursday, October 12, 2023

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


Friday, October 13, 2023

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.


Saturday, October 14, 2023

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


Sunday, October 15, 2023

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


Monday, October 16, 2023

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.


Tuesday, October 17, 2023

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 our local hotel TBD


Your off-trail items will be retrieved from storage


After body composition measurements taken


Dinner and awards Ceremony (Dinner cost not included in trip price)


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.


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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


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