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  1. #1
    Senior Member TheBrewGuy's Avatar
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    Questions about the Smokies...

    Ok so a couple questions. These are questions for those of you who are Great Smoky Mountains veterans. I'm planning on hiking the entire length of the AT through the Smokies Mar 27-Apr 3, and just wanted to pick your brains on some things. I understand the whole new fee & permit subject so I don't want to get into that.

    1) Insulation. I want to use my 40F Pheonix (1oz overstuffed) & 40F Burrow combo for insulation, along with a 16x24" piece of reflectix for CB problems. Is this unreasonable for this time of year in the Smokies? I know the weather can be highly variable, so I won't mind if I get a little cold 1 night when the temp dips, but I don't want to be cold EVERY night. I also have a 20F Incubator, but I'm trying to go as light as possible.

    2) Shelters. I know you're supposed to stay in the shelters, and I've seen that some people have even hung inside some of them, but I should be fine if I just hang right next to them right? This is more regarding rangers than bears. I'll be carrying bear mace, and hanging it from my ridgeline while I sleep.

    3) Crowds. I'm worried that there will be a big wave of thru-hikers going through while I'm there. I'm sure there will some, but I'm wondering if its going to be overwhelming.

    Thanks guys for any input you have on these.

  2. #2
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    There should be a lot of thru hikers in that time period, so you shouldn't have a problem hanging outside the shelter if you wait till almost dark.
    As for the temps, that is anyones guess, but I think I would go with your 20 degree and not worry about it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Les Rust's Avatar
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    Good luck on your hike. It's hard to say, but the Smokies in March can still get really cold. The 40 degree quilts will probably suffice, I say probably. You might want to have an extra layer or two, and I would definitely check the long range forecast before packing or heading out. If it might affect your logistics, remember that the road from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC is closed due to a landslide--you can still get to Newfound Gap from the TN side.
    Les Rust
    "My goal is to live long enough to become a character."

  4. #4
    Senior Member Roche's Avatar
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    Easter falls between Mar 27 - Apr 3; expect it to be busy with Easter break. More insulation, ditch the mace.

    An alternative route is the Benton MacKaye Trail section of the GSMNP, a bit longer at 95-ish miles. Sgt Rock has an excellent guidebook of the BMT http://hikinghq.net/bmt/bmta_guide.html

  5. #5
    Senior Member TheBrewGuy's Avatar
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    Questions about the Smokies...

    Awesome thanks for the quick replies. Good to know about the road closure. I normally don't bring mace, but I'll be alone for the first few days (other than all the thru hikers), and it'll give me & the girlfriend some piece of mind.

  6. #6
    Senior Member TheBrewGuy's Avatar
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    Questions about the Smokies...

    Although I have dreams of the BMT, I'm fixed on the AT and I'm working on doing sections to complete it.

  7. #7
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    With two people, I wouldn't worry about about bears. Ditch the mace, my friend. I had this conversation with the park ranger, if the shelter is full you are allow to hang around it. However, if it isn't you are suppose to sleep on the bunk unless you're alone.. The Smokies temperature will vary at high elevation during that time period, I would plan for at least 20 degrees at 6,000 feet and above in late March and April. I might see you somewhere along the way!!!

    Edit: I stayed at Tri-Corner Knob shelter in late July and it was in the 50s or slight lower. So, I can imagine it be colder in late March and early April..

  8. #8
    Doctari's Avatar
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    Don't like the weather while in the smokies, just wait a minute, it'l change.
    Last time I was there in March, I think the low was around 38 or so ONE night. The rest of the time it didn't get below 45(ish). The wind can be fierce along those ridges so the wind chill while walking may be a consideration. I have seen snow on the ground in June, even though the average temps stayed 50 or higher, that was NEAT! Walking in snow (small patches, 50' was largest) in a kilt & tee was fun. I even made a snowball & threw it at a tree.
    Wouldn't worry too much about bears that time of year at that altitude* & would check with the rangers about bear spray, it MAY be illegal in the national park. I have been hiking there for 50 years, never had an issue with backcountry bears, just the ones the tourons feed. So I got to add a "Plus 3" to the leave the bear spray at home.





    *Minimal natural food up high in March.
    When you have a backpack on, no matter where you are, you’re home.
    PAIN is INEVITABLE. MISERY is OPTIONAL.

  9. #9
    Senior Member TheBrewGuy's Avatar
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    Questions about the Smokies...

    Quote Originally Posted by kwchannell89 View Post
    With two people, I wouldn't worry about about bears. Ditch the mace, my friend. I had this conversation with the park ranger, if the shelter is full you are allow to hang around it. ....I might see you somewhere along the way!!!
    Thanks Kw, to clarify I will alone for the first few days, I meant for the girlfriends peace of mind while she is at home. But I will take everyone's advice and skip the mace. I'm not afraid of bears, especially black bears, and I've had a close encounter with a giant male up in Canada before. I've just heard of smokies bears being persistent and stealing people's packs from right next to them. I don't want to get jacked by some theiving thug bear lol.
    I shudder at the idea if sleeping on a shelter bunk lol. I'll just hang close and politely deal with any ranger if I see one.
    Cool I hope to see you out there!

  10. #10
    Senior Member TheBrewGuy's Avatar
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    Questions about the Smokies...

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctari View Post
    Don't like the weather while in the smokies, just wait a minute, it'l change.
    Last time I was there in March, I think the low was around 38 or so ONE night. The rest of the time it didn't get below 45(ish). The wind can be fierce along those ridges so the wind chill while walking may be a consideration. I have seen snow on the ground in June, even though the average temps stayed 50 or higher, that was NEAT! Walking in snow (small patches, 50' was largest) in a kilt & tee was fun. I even made a snowball & threw it at a tree.
    Wouldn't worry too much about bears that time of year at that altitude* & would check with the rangers about bear spray, it MAY be illegal in the national park. I have been hiking there for 50 years, never had an issue with backcountry bears, just the ones the tourons feed. So I got to add a "Plus 3" to the leave the bear spray at home.
    Funny, there is saying just like that about the weather up here in Cleveland.
    Thanks for the temp advice. I think I'll do some test hangs in the backyard and see how far I can push my 40F quilts. I'll already be bringing light base layers and some clothing options for changing weather while hiking in the day. So I can always put on some extra layers at night. I'll also be bringing my Cuben tarp with doors so wind chill at night shouldn't be too bad. Yeah I'm skipping the mace. Thanks Doctari.

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