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  1. #1
    Senior Member ikemouser's Avatar
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    AT BT LOOP Nantahala, Pisgah National Forests North Carolina NC

    Hello Everybody! I had made threads in the past month or two concerning a hike in the nantahala/cherokee/pisgah national forests, but am now considering this hike.

    I am considering doing an AT BT loop in North Carolina. It will be a 50 mile loop. The trip is described in detail here:

    http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/60410

    Some questions I have:

    Can this be done in 4 days instead of 5? I am thinking the website above is considering traditional pack weights, whereas our heaviest loads will be around 25-27 LBS full to the max with food/water. I have hiked a good deal in the south and am aware of the difficulty that hiking some of the south presents with the humidity, temperature, and terrain. We are both in good shape and are young skinny guys with light packs.

    I am also concerned about the remoteness of the trip. We are both seeking a “wilderness” experience. From reading the website, a hydro dam as well as pipeline are mentioned. This brings up concerns of hearing motorcycles/cars on a regular basis as a road may likely run to the dam/pipeline. This would certainly be a negative.

    We will also be hammock camping and are concerned about the campsites. We will most likely not be staying at them, instead preferring to do as much mileage as we can and setting up camp where ever we find two trees in an off trail location.


    If anyone would like to offer advice on the following as well, that would be much appreciated:

    *Alternative routes to shorten the trip (I will be taking my brother on his first trip, 50 miles may be a bit much for him, i would like to have options along the hike to possibly shorten it in case he wants to)
    *Scenic points of interest not mentioned on the website
    *Other hikes in the Nantahala/Pisgah National Forests either LOOP or via return shuttle


    I look forward to producing a photograph/video essay for the forums and for others who may consider this trip in the future.

  2. #2
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    It's been a few years since I hiked that so I don't know the current trail conditions. The AT should be fine but I don't know how the BT is being maintained. There are a lot of big climbs in that loop. You cross the Nantahala Gorge on both trails and it is something like a 3000 foot ascend/descend each time. And there are some other big climbs in there too.

    No way to know how long it will take you as your conditioning will determine what you can handle, but 12 to 15 mile days shouldn't be too bad if you are in excellent mountain backpacking shape... but if you aren't you might not make the first 10 miles.

    As far as shortening the hike, I don't know of any trail options. US19E(?) crosses both trails; you could use that as a bailout or to shorten the loop. You could start at the NOC where US19E crosses the AT and leave another vehicle where the BT crosses the AT for a 'just in case bailout'.
    Youngblood AT2000

  3. #3
    Senior Member ikemouser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Youngblood View Post
    It's been a few years since I hiked that so I don't know the current trail conditions. The AT should be fine but I don't know how the BT is being maintained. There are a lot of big climbs in that loop. You cross the Nantahala Gorge on both trails and it is something like a 3000 foot ascend/descend each time. And there are some other big climbs in there too.

    No way to know how long it will take you as your conditioning will determine what you can handle, but 12 to 15 mile days shouldn't be too bad if you are in excellent mountain backpacking shape... but if you aren't you might not make the first 10 miles.

    As far as shortening the hike, I don't know of any trail options. US19E(?) crosses both trails; you could use that as a bailout or to shorten the loop. You could start at the NOC where US19E crosses the AT and leave another vehicle where the BT crosses the AT for a 'just in case bailout'.
    Youngblood, one of the members @ BPL who runs the site lytw8.com has commented that his gps said the hike was 66 miles instead of 50. Can you confirm or deny this??

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ikemouser View Post
    Youngblood, one of the members @ BPL who runs the site lytw8.com has commented that his gps said the hike was 66 miles instead of 50. Can you confirm or deny this??
    No, I can't. I used the AT guide books and the Bartram Trail guide books that John Ray and Malcolm Skove wrote. I don't remember off hand what the mileage would be for that loop according to those guides, but I could pull them out and check if need be. I backpacked it during the fall/early-winter with a girl friend on two and three day trips (road trips from the Atlanta area) when we backpacked the Bartram Trail starting at the GA/SC border to where it ends and then the AT back to Springer Mountain, so that loop was just the middle section of all that. I remember I had to do a lot of planning to get it done, not waste any day light, and know where water and tent sites where.

    I also remember being glad that I had purchased a Stephenson 2R tent during that hike as I had to spend one night exposed to high winds at elevation during the winter because a whole bunch of scouts from South Carolina had over whelmed the camping site I had planned on. (I started out that trip tarping on the ground.) I didn't have the day light to spend looking for a better site because of the schedule we were on to get the mileage in during the short daylight of winter days. That was bummer, must of be 30 of them in a site that held maybe a dozen tents comfortably with another 20 scouts on the way... this was 45 minutes before sundown. We finished up at Springer on New Year's Eve and is where I meet Sue (alias Hammock Hanger) who was camping out at Springer for NYE... during that meeting she told me about backpacking with hammocks and how much she enjoyed that in warmer weather.

    The only thing I used my GPS for was to locate trail heads. Some of them where on dirt roads and I typically had to find them before day break. Fortunately I had been to most of, if not all of, those trail heads on day hikes or weekend backpacking trips before.
    Last edited by Youngblood; 05-28-2010 at 09:08.
    Youngblood AT2000

  5. #5
    Senior Member ikemouser's Avatar
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    Youngblood:

    Do you in would need to buy these books?

    How many miles a day did you do? Do you think your pace was slowed your pack weight, do you remember how much your weight was?

    How was your gps reception?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ikemouser View Post
    Youngblood:

    Do you in would need to buy these books?

    How many miles a day did you do? Do you think your pace was slowed your pack weight, do you remember how much your weight was?

    How was your gps reception?
    I got the BT books from REI in Atlanta. I don't go to REI too often these days so I don't know if they still carry them, but a Google search of "Bartram Trail Guide" should turn up something. We were packing very light and made good miles, 12 to 15 per day. In that situation our daily mileage was set by the distance between trailheads. I looked for trailheads about 25 to 30 trail miles apart and covered those on 2 day trips within a couple of hour drive from Atlanta and looked for trailheads about 35 to 45 miles apart for those with a longer commute and would stay at a motel closer to the trailheads on the night before the 3 day trip. Like I said before, there was an unusual amount of planning for all that.

    Our pack weights for those trips wasn't much different than it would be for solo backpackers on warmer weather trips. I took advantage of hiking as a couple to minimize pack weight. We were in excellent backpacking shape and we didn't have any real nasty winter weather-- no snow storms. Being out 2 or 3 days at a time you get a pretty reliable weather forecast.

    We didn't stay up in the evenings in the cold weather and didn't have the clothing to. We had light insulation to hike with and depended on tarp/tent and sleeping bags to stay warm when the sun went down. When we selected a campsite in cold weather we kept moving, got dinner cooked and ate, and got into our sleeping bags before we got cold. Mornings were the same way, we cooked and ate a hot breakfast and was on the trail within an hour of sun up.
    Youngblood AT2000

  7. #7
    Old Gorge Rat Hawk-eye's Avatar
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    I guess anything is possible ... but why? You're going to be blowing through some beautiful country covering a lot of mountain miles per day. Sure going to miss a lot.
    The other unknown would be the trail conditions ... we've been hit in western NC with a lot of ice this year and that can be a little gnarly.

    Good luck with that.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member ikemouser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk-eye View Post
    I guess anything is possible ... but why? You're going to be blowing through some beautiful country covering a lot of mountain miles per day. Sure going to miss a lot.
    The other unknown would be the trail conditions ... we've been hit in western NC with a lot of ice this year and that can be a little gnarly.

    Good luck with that.
    I would shorten it because it is my brothers first hike and I don't want him to have a bad experience. I"ve been through just about everything so I"ve been toughened, he has yet to be really tested on a hike, like I said, above all it's about his enjoyment.

  9. #9
    all secure in sector 7 Shug's Avatar
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    Go to Linville Gorge instead and do some mountain hopping .... your Bro will thank you.......
    You can hang for sure and the Gorge ain't about miles......
    Shug
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  10. #10
    Senior Member ikemouser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shug View Post
    Go to Linville Gorge instead and do some mountain hopping .... your Bro will thank you.......
    You can hang for sure and the Gorge ain't about miles......
    Shug
    that's a possibility Shug.

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