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Re: [AT-L] Fall Hike In The GSMNP

>1)	I'm a big guy who hikes at between 1.5 and 2 miles per hour.  I know
> 	we will make our first night spot (Icewater) with no problems.  But, 
>	if we could go a few extra miles up the Boulevard Trail prior to
>	pitching our tent, it would make day two easier.  What are the rules
>	about back-country camping in the GSMNP?  I've read on this list that
>	shelters are mandatory.  Is this true?

Icewater is a closed shelter, except for thru-hikers, so don't plan on 
staying there. In GSMNP, you must stay in shelters or a designated 
backcountry campsite. There are no backcountry campsites on that stretch, so 
you will have to hike another 5.3 miles to the Mt. LeConte Shelter to stay 
overnight. The days will be getting shorter, so unless you can really fly, 
I'd start no later than 11:00. You have to reserve campsites to get a spot, 
especially on this very popular site. You can do it 30 days in advance of 
your visit (I highly recommend you call them as soon as they open) by 
calling: 423-436-1231. LeConte is a rationed site, so you must make 

>2)	My son and I are both Florida boys.  Temps are still in the 90f - 95f
>	range in the day and 65f - 70f at night, in mid-October.  What temps
>	should we expect at that time in the GSMNP?  Will we need any special
>	cold weather gear?

At Clingman's Dome, which is not far from where you will be hiking, the 
average high is 53, low is 38 for Oct. Average percip. is 5.4". Don't bring 
any cotton. Do the layer thing, with an insulating layer, and something that 
will break the wind. I have a goretex parka, MTS long johns, and polar 
fleece. I would bring them in Oct. The weather up there is so changeable. 
I've been there in Oct. when it was 80 degrees one day, and in the 40's the 
next, with cold, driving rain. Excellent conditions for a nice case of 

>3)	Does anyone on this list have experence with these trails?  What can 
>	we expect (should we look out for) on this hike?

>Boulevard Trail was shut down after the hurricane, but I think it's open 
now. The AT to the Blvd. trail gains a little over 1,000 feet in 2.7 miles. 
THe Blvd. trail is a series of ups and downs, but not hard at all. You gain 
about 5 to 600 feet to the top of LeConte overall, but you will climb over 
1,000 as the trail drops to 5500 feet in the 1st mile. Bullhead is all 
downhill, and I haven't done Twomile Branch trail.

>4)	Any other tips or hints will be well received.
>Before you hike, purchase "Hiking Trails of the Smokies" by the Great Smoky 
Mountains Natural History Assoc. Best trail book for the Smokies, bar none. 
If you can't find it locally, call them at 423-436-7318 and you can order 
it. Also, get yourself a Trails Illustrated Topo Map #229 for GSMNP. Get the 
100% plastic one. 

The area you are hiking in is one of the most popular in the park, so you 
wil probably not find solitude. It's a great hike, though. I would suggest 
you get the guidebook above and the map and plan some alternative hikes as a 
backup. Hope this helps. The Smokies are one of my favorite places to hike.

Peter H. Fornof