Feb 25, 2010 at 5:32 am #1255745
I am planning to do a four day trip, mostly on the A.T. in Great Smoky Mountain National Park this weekend. I had been able to get a little information about trail conditions. What I have heard is that snow is over 2ft. deep with drifts up to 5ft. I'm not sure if that information is still current. I live in Atlanta, as do both of my hiking partners, so none of us has snowshoes. I'm thinking much over knee deep would be pretty difficult,and wondering if anyone else has current info. on that area, and also would like to hear of others experiences in snow over 2ft. deep without snowshoes.Feb 25, 2010 at 6:21 am #1578391
Luke SchmidtBPL Member
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
It depends on how much above 2 feet it is and how often. If its consistantly above 2 feet thats going to be tough and if there are very many 5ft drift that will be hard.
Remember the trail may be gone so make sure you can navigate and don't get lost. Think about what you'll do if you get all soggy during the day, might want a synthetic bag or dry clothes.
Have fun.Feb 25, 2010 at 7:05 am #1578410
As of yesterday they had 18 inches at 5000 feet and 33 inches at 6500 feet. There are also a lot of blowdowns in the park (not just the AT) and on many other trails outside the park in the area.Feb 25, 2010 at 7:14 am #1578415
Walter CarringtonBPL Member
Deep soft snow without snowshoes is really hard going. I've done only a little at 5' to 6' in the Catskills, perhaps 1000'. I sure wouldn't want to try a couple of miles like that. We were snowed out of our house by a blizzard, and the cat and my skis were in the house.
XC skiing with that much snow was interesting. When I fell the only way to get up was to push my pole tip to the ground (hand under the snow surface) and balance up pushing on the pole. It was great fun.
Definitely bring hiking poles.Feb 25, 2010 at 7:21 am #1578424
Nice report on the hike north of Hot Springs. That was you right? How do you get that info on the snow levels in the Smokies? Is it posted by the NPS? Also I'm planning a hike on the Fires Creek rim in a couple of weeks. Do you know a site that posts on the southern Nantahala region, Tusquitee, Snowbird or Santeetlah? Generally the Andrews/Robbinsville area of NC? Thanks for any info!Feb 25, 2010 at 7:47 am #1578431
That was my trip report, we had a great trip. I guess you probably already know about our facebook group. If you don't do facebook and would still like an unofficial list of our upcoming trips I would be glad to PM one to you.
It is posted by the NWS for several locations in the park. It is for the past 24 hours so it is always yesterdays weather, but still helpful and interesting.
I don't know of anything that can give you snow levels anywhere else, but here is a site that can give you the forecast anywhere. You can click on the map and it will give you the forecast for that area, and it does adjust for elevation.
NWS Pinpoint ForecastFeb 25, 2010 at 8:28 am #1578447
Brad, ( or do you prefer Bradford?)
Thanks for the link. Here's one to a listing of individual community weather reporting stations which can sometimes fill in gaps especially regarding snow levels. The link is for the NC stations but as you can see there are lists and stations in other states as well. Often individual sites are down so it's not perfect plus these are homesite volunteers and the highest site is usually at the lowest elevations of any nearby trail system.
And I have got to take the time to get posting links figured out!
I appreciate the effort you've made to organise a Southeastern group and ( like posting links)Guess I'll have to sign up for facebook. Don't PM the list; I'll use it as motivation to get the facebook thing done.
Yes and the NWS pinpoint is useful especially for me in combination with their written forecast discussion; in getting a handle on the likely weather. They are usually extremely accurate for 72 hours out, and the discussions explain any issues that may be muddling the forecast. Interestingly the station in Morrisville, TN is very scanty on their discussion as a rule, but Greenville/Spartanburg, SC on one end and Blacksburg VA on the other seem to fill in the gaps. Takes awhile to figure out the lingo but fortunately most of the arcane terms are hot-linked to an explanation in a sort of glossary they have posted so after awhile it begins to make sense.
Again thanks for the NPS Smokies link. The hardest info to get is snow on the ground.Feb 25, 2010 at 8:29 am #1578448
There was a foot of snow at Low Gap last weekend. Probably a half foot more after the snow we got last night. Thats at 4,200 feet. I would imagine there would be twice that at 6,500. I did fine hiking in it.
JospehFeb 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm #1578538
How'd you go up to Low Gap; from Cosby?Feb 25, 2010 at 2:48 pm #1578600
Thanks for the link to you too, I will definitely have to check that out. Hope to see you on the trail!Feb 25, 2010 at 6:46 pm #1578721
Thanks for the insights and information. Brad, you always have the info. Joseph thank you for that. Very helpful to hear your experience there.
It's pretty cool to look at that NWS page with current conditions as well. I will definitely hold onto that link. I think we will stay a little lower and go do Gregory bald and head over to Spence Field. Keep out of the highest areas. I don't know why I couldn't find anyone in Atlanta to rent us snowshoes…Feb 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm #1578731
If we have many more winters like this one, I am going to have to buy some snowshoes!
BTW: The winter caretaker at the LeConte Lodge is now reporting 46 inches of snow!Feb 25, 2010 at 7:56 pm #1578762
@halpottsLocale: Middle Tennessee
I was over there in the Smokies a few weeks ago and we went up to the top of Mt. Leconte and met Dog McFalls the winter caretaker. Nice guy. We had maybe 8 inches of snow but lots of ice on the trails especially Alum Cave Bluffs and similar trails where you walk along a ledge where water seeps out of the rock and across the trail and freezes. Fortunately it was not a problem because we had brought along our Kathoola Microspikes but if we had not had them we could not have possibly continued on. It was a great trip.Feb 26, 2010 at 6:47 am #1578875
Brad is the data from the current conditions NWS page reported by the caretaker or is that 46 inches info. part of your massive information network reporting back to you?
46 inches. I would love to have the right equipment to go check that out. I did 5 trips in the park last winter and didn't get any snow. Amazing! On the NWS website I found some report that stated the high country in the park averages 254cm of snow per year.
Hal, what are you doing with microspikes? Don't you realize you live in the south? Have you had many opportunities to use them? Since I live in Atlanta, GSMNP is about as far North as I usually venture for my trips. The winter weather has been hit or miss the last few years.Feb 26, 2010 at 7:13 am #1578883
It is reported by the caretaker. The unofficial numbers get posted on his blog (lifeonleconte.com) often before the official numbers show up on the NWS site.Feb 26, 2010 at 7:36 am #1578887
George MatthewsBPL Member
good shared info – thanks
Smoky Mountain Hiking Club
check their forums
This is several weeks old, but gives perspective…
Storm damage affects trails in the Smokies
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NP – Wind gusts of up to 100 mph accompanied by almost three inches of rain swept through the park on the night of December 24th. Very little assessment of trail conditions has been made at this point, but damage is expected to be extensive. Those planning hikes should contact the park (865-436-1297) and/or the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club to learn about current trail conditions. (Posted 12/31/09)
Conditions can change rapidly. A few weeks ago during one of the snow storms in VA, I was prepared including snow shoes; however, found upon arrival at my destination found that the trailheads were inaccessible due to the deep snow. Fortunately for me but not for two other poor souls, I saw a jeep that was stuck badly where I had planned to park.
An hour earlier and that could have been me. A couple of other vehicles did what I did – turned around and headed back home. Ended up snowshoeing close to my home where I started my "adventure". Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. Still was fun snowshoeing off into the woods. Following power lines and then animal tracks. Seemed like an entirely different place in all the snow.
Will try again later next week. I'm going to have my gear ready and then choose my destination based on the weather on the morning I depart.Feb 27, 2010 at 5:37 pm #1579486
@halpottsLocale: Middle Tennessee
John, Like you I mostly hike GSMNP, and also Savage Gulf and have no need for spikes. But, I decided I wanted to try winter hiking since I had never done it before plus it gave me a legitimate excuse to do extensive research and buy more gear. (Can anybody relate?) As the Mt. Leconte trip got closer I kept checking the weather and realized that a winter storm and snow and ice was very likely, and I was thrilled. I called REI and had the spikes overnighted just in time for the trip. We got into the Park and parked our car on Newfound Gap Road and started walking and later heard that the Rangers had closed Newfound Gap Road right after we started walking. The weather was cold and snowy the whole time. Three days later when we came out there were no people and no cars anywhere in the Park except for ours. We made it down the mountain and to the gate and called a Ranger to let us out. It was like having all of GSMNP to yourself. It was a great winter trip.
I told my wife that my worst fear was that the weather would turn nice and all my winter gear acquisition would be for naught. I can hear her now "Hey Honey, how was your trip?" – "It sucked. The weather was beautiful."
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