When: Friday, May 10 thru Sunday 12th, 2013
Details: Sam’s Gap to Spivey Gap. Backpack. Rated strenuous for elevation. Not scouted.
Ruthann and Barbara did this trip a couple of years ago. They “hiked up over Big Bald, which was incredible”, and reported fantastic vistas and beautiful views. “A great hike”.
My reference for this hike is “Exploring the AT” by Doris Gove. We will hike south to north to spread the elevation gain over a longer distance rather than the steep climb up from 19W. We have options: (1) An end-to-end hike and use a commercial shuttle so we do not have to leave a vehicle where the AT crosses 19W, the site of the only serious problem I have ever experienced with leaving a vehicle. The shuttle adds roughly an hour to the return trip on Sunday. (2) An out-and-back hike. Pack in to the first suitable base camp site at 3.8 miles; Saturday do an out-and-back hike; and return Sunday to the vehicles. Total distance, Sam’s Gap to Spivey Gap, is 13.6 miles. Elevation ranges from 3800 ft (Sam’s Gap) to 5516 ft (Big Bald) to 3200 ft (Spivey Gap).
From Sam’s Gap: The trail climbs a deep valley though oak, sassafras, hickory and cucumber magnolia. Maidenhair ferns thrive here. Pass an old talc mine with a lot of disturbed earth. At 2.0 miles Big Bald is visible. 2.6 miles reach Street Gap (4100 ft). 3.8 miles is the first possible campsite in open beech woods. 4.0 miles reach Low Gap (4300 ft). 4.5 miles is the second possible campsite, again in open beech woods. 6.1 miles is Big Bald. 6.8 miles is the top of Big Bald, the highest point (5516 ft) on the AT after passing through the Smokies. Unaka Mt is to the east; Beauty Spot Bald in front; and Mt Mitchell to the right. 9.3 miles reach Little Bald, now tree covered but with impressive rock slabs and large red oaks. Descend from this point to 11.2 miles and the camp site option for Sunday if we do an end-to-end. It is all downhill from here to Spivey Gap.
Group size is limited depending on experience of participants. More information on the Sierra Club web page http://northcarolina.sierraclub.org/
$25 (per each person in a group/family) refundable-at-the-trail head deposit required).