Agenda Discovery Week Month

Curated for Me

Winter Backpacking Trip to Laurel Gap Shelter - *** Backup Date ***

Great Smokies Hiking & Adventure Group
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Endorsed by Curators:
Feb 10 9:00AM - 2:00PM

*** IN CASE WE GET BLOWN OUT ON FEB 3RD BY BAD WEATHER ***

PLEASE READ THE WHOLE EVENT POSTING BEFORE SIGNING UP

This will be an overnight for backpackers, with preference given to those who have completed the Backpacking 301 Winter Backpacking clinic with me, followed by anyone with previous winter camping experience. This is a DIFFICULT hike with a winter pack, given the 19 mile round trip, 3000 of elevation change and[masked] fpm slope. Please be realistic about your current abilities before signing up.

There is NO tenting allowed at the shelter sites in the park.
Capacity is limited to 8 people from our group. First come-first served.

I will be making reservations for the entire group at $4 per person, to be reimbursed at the trailhead.

This trip will start at 9:00 to allow folks from the TN side to make the trip over at a reasonable hour. Some may also decide to come over on Friday night and stay at backcountry CS 39, not far from the Cataloochee campground near the Palmer Creek Bridge on Cataloochee Rd. We will meet at the Palmer Creek Bridge parking area for the Pretty Hollow Gap trailhead, do a quick gear check and get on the trail as quickly as possible. We should be in camp by 3:00-4:00 pm, well before dark. Well break camp about 7:00 on Sunday and hope to be off trail by 2:00-4:00 on Sunday afternoon. Travel times will be heavily dependent on weather and trail conditions. Well get a trails update a couple of days before the trip.

This is a 19 mile loop hike, with an overnight at the Laurel Gap Shelter, which has a fireplace, and a winter tarp across the front (no privy/no tent camping). We will start at the Pretty Hollow Gap TH and hike about 9.5 miles to the shelter on Saturday afternoon. The shelter is NOT on the AT. With about 3,000' of total elevation gain (see profile link below), the pace will likely average about[masked] mph. You should be comfortable keeping this pace with a full winter pack for 10 miles.

The trail starts at about 2750 and climbs steadily for about 2800' to around 5500' over 6.5 miles, and then plateaus for about 3 miles into camp. We'll hike out Sunday morning around 7:00, for 9+ miles, which is all downhill to the parking area. For those who have attended the BP clinics (including the Winter Backpacking clinic), it will be a good opportunity to practice your cold weather, light-weight packing, navigation, route finding and fire building skills. (Yes, well have a fire in the fireplace at the shelter.)

There is no limit on who can attend this hike, but be advised that it is intended for beginning backpackers that have completed any of my clinics, so the pace may be slower than you may be used to. They will be given first preference, and any other open slots will be allocated on a first come-first served basis, subject to reasonable winter camping skills and prior experience.

Location Information:

Pretty Hollow Gap-Mt. Sterling Ridge-Balsam Mt. Trail-Palmer Creek Trail Loop Map
www.dropbox.com/s/nvmospl2oyo21r1/Pretty%20Hollow%20Gap-Porters%20Creek%20Loop.pdf?dl=0

Pretty Hollow Gap-Mt. Sterling Ridge-Balsam Mt. Trail-Palmer Creek Trail Loop Profile
www.dropbox.com/s/pe75j85gcc3weku/Pretty%20Hollow%20Gap%20-Porters%20Creek%20Loop%20Profile.pdf?dl=0

Pretty Hollow Gap-Mt. Sterling Ridge-Balsam Mt. Trail-Palmer Creek Trail .gpx file www.dropbox.com/s/swnzjwtkjh4p4mi/Pretty_Hollow_Gap_Loop.gpx?dl=0 (download only)

Pretty Hollow Gap Horse CS 39 https://goo.gl/maps/ZoEuARmoZuJ2

Laurel Gap Shelter (https://goo.gl/maps/EQx6kkkyy3U2)

Trail Slope key (https://db.tt/Z9fgt6Ghbx)

Directions to Trailhead from I-40 NC Exit 20:

How to find us:White Honda Pilot in the parking area

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