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  1. #1
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    Default Section hike Nantahala advice

    We are doing our first hike on the AT in mid October and are planning to go from Winding stair Gap north to Nantahala Outdoor Center over 3 days. We are just starting to plan. I have a few questions...
    1. Gear advice for that length of time and weather?
    2. Where do we fly in to? (we are from Tampa, Fl area and don't have enough extra time off to drive there)
    3. Where should we park?
    4. A short list of absolutely need to knows or must haves for our first hike starting with nothing?
    5. Do we need to reserve shelters or can we use tent/ what is the sleeping situation? Do we need any other type of permit or anything for this?

    Thanks for any advice,
    Bonnie

  2. #2
    illabelle's Avatar
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    Hi bonnie and will! Welcome to WhiteBlaze!!
    My husband and I did that exact section a year or two ago. I'll try to answer some of your questions.
    1. That section includes quite a bit of trail between 4000 and 5000 elevation. So, in mid-October, it could be pleasant, brisk, or downright cold. Expect at least brisk, and bring clothing and gear to keep warm.
    2. IDK, maybe Chattanooga? maybe Atlanta?
    3. Sounds like you're renting a car. Park at the NOC and get a shuttle to winding stair. There's a PDF list of shuttlers available on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website. Be advised, cell reception for us was poor in the area (we have AT&T).
    4. First hike? Starting with nothing? Go to the ATC website and read EVERYTHING. There's no such thing as a short list.
    5. You can tent where you want. No permit required. No reservations.
    Hope you enjoy your hike!

  3. #3
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    Crap shoot that time of year. Warm or cold at those high elevations. I've said this before and I'll say it again...just check the ten day forecast before you hike and be aware of cold fronts and tropical activity in October. Great section with fantastic views. Leave a car at the NOC, shuttle to WSG and hike back to the NOC. Great place to end a hike.

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    Thank you Illabelle and daddytwosticks! Very helpful. How much advance notice should I give our shuttle?

  5. #5

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    As soon as you know your dates are set for sure, give them a call. At least 2 weeks however I have always been able to find a shuttle the week of my trips because thats ussually how spontanious they are. But if you do setup a shuttle way in advance, give them a courtesy call reminder say 4-5 days in advance just to double confirm they wrote you down. I would also recommend knowing your physical ability, those are tough climbs there. I know me personally, my first AT trip, and pretty close to first hike was climbing up to the AT from cades cove and heading south...Tough trip. My second trip I went to Roan Mountain Highlands and Ive done it 4 times since then lol I go about once a year.

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    Thanks Gambit! We are both in good shape, hopefully I didn't choose too difficult a hike, guess I will find out...haha. certainly I don't want to get in over my head, but we would also be bored and I think unsatisfied with an "easy" section. Most important to me, being very accustomed to florida, is to avoid SNOW, so we got to do this before it gets any later in the year. We are to excited to wait til next year to start our AT trips.

  7. #7

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    Hookookachoo hopefully will chime in, or TN Viking. They are both knowledgable of weather during certain time sof the year. Honestly, I think october you are probably god but will need to be prepared for cold. I think it could definately get down in the 30s at night and with a variance of +/- 15 degress as I have recently learned, you need to be prepared.
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
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    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonnie and will View Post
    We are doing our first hike on the AT in mid October and are planning to go from Winding stair Gap north to Nantahala Outdoor Center over 3 days. We are just starting to plan. I have a few questions...
    1. Gear advice for that length of time and weather?
    2. Where do we fly in to? (we are from Tampa, Fl area and don't have enough extra time off to drive there)
    3. Where should we park?
    4. A short list of absolutely need to knows or must haves for our first hike starting with nothing?
    5. Do we need to reserve shelters or can we use tent/ what is the sleeping situation? Do we need any other type of permit or anything for this?

    Thanks for any advice,
    Bonnie
    The weather that time of year is a mixed bag one day you might have mild temps mid sixtys to mid seventys, then the very next day you could have temps in the mid fortys with mixed sleet/rain so go preparred for cooler temps and wet weather.
    you will diffentantly need atleast 20-25 degree sleeping bags Synthetic or Down whichever you personnaly prefer I prefer Synthetic, Warm clothes, rain gear, remember to dress in layers.
    You can fly into a few places but chatanooga TN or Atlanta GA is your best bet.
    Park at the N.O.C then get shuttle to winding stair Gap it's best to give your shuttler 2-3 days of notice, if you can't figure out an shuttle driver give the N.O.C a call they have a list and can hook you up with a good shuttler.
    their is NO need to reserve space in shelters No permit system all the shelters south of the GSMNP and north is first come first serve, but it might be best to use your tent cause their is a bunch of AWESOME campsites in this section, Camping on Siler Bald is a ABSOLUTE must but you have to water up before you get their cause their is no water source on siler bald. The sleeping situation in a shelter is ROUGH unless you luck out and get one to yourselfs.
    Your first day or two will be the hardest but once you get to the top of Wayah Bald it's Fairly easy from their to the N.O.C.
    Take plenty of Pictures cause this section that time of year is absolutly unforgettable you will see AWESOME fall color and maybe some wildlife too.
    Go have fun and enjoy but remember to go preparred for cold and wet conditions.

  9. #9
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Great section in good weather. My newbie 21-yo daughter and I covered that section in 3 days a few years ago in May. There are a few decent climbs, but frankly we thought it was pretty easy all-in-all.

    October should be ideal to hike, but as mentioned you will likely want a 20-degree bag and be prepared for cool, wet conditions.

    If you don't choose to camp atop Siler Bald itself, there are several good tentsites on the other side (Trail East) of the AT at Siler Gap. Regardless, the only water is back at the shelter itself, but it is an easy early morning backtrack.

    We flew into Asheville and got a shuttle from Jeff or Nancy at The Hike Inn in Fontana Dam. Very experienced and very reliable. I think Jeff was trying to scare my daughter a bit about this section, but she handled it like a champ.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

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    I'm an old fart in average shape. Pretty gentle section. However, the constant downhill into the NOC can mess up your knees. Some pretty rocky sections going into the NOC also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daddytwosticks View Post
    I'm an old fart in average shape. Pretty gentle section. However, the constant downhill into the NOC can mess up your knees. Some pretty rocky sections going into the NOC also.
    U think a active 8 yr old boy could do in 3 days?? W lots of sugar


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    There are non stops from Tampa to Asheville, yes it has a nice airport. You rent a car and can be at the NOC in less than 90 minutes. Good section to experiment with hiking poles and the weather can be as described above.

    It will be just past peak leave viewing season and the ground will be nice and crunchy with fall leaves.

    It will also be second half of deer archery season, even if it is AT and GSMNP I would still wear bright colors and make lots of sound.
    IF your "number of posts" exceed your "days as a member" your knowledge is suspect.

    Yerby Ray
    Newton, NC

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    That's all excellent advice and tips, everything I needed to know, really appreciate all of your input. If you all think of anything else please keep it coming. The more info the better. I will hope and pray for it not to get too cold at night…is there a website I could find weather actually up in that part of the mountains? Everything I find is just the surrounding cities which i imagine are much lower elevation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonnie and will View Post
    That's all excellent advice and tips, everything I needed to know, really appreciate all of your input. If you all think of anything else please keep it coming. The more info the better. I will hope and pray for it not to get too cold at night…is there a website I could find weather actually up in that part of the mountains? Everything I find is just the surrounding cities which i imagine are much lower elevation.
    This will get you close http://www.raysweather.com/ and I am sure the folks at the NOC can give you the best info as the time draws near.
    IF your "number of posts" exceed your "days as a member" your knowledge is suspect.

    Yerby Ray
    Newton, NC

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    Here's the mountain forecast website I use.
    http://www.sophiaknows.com/atdb/waypoints.php

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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    U think a active 8 yr old boy could do in 3 days?? W lots of sugar


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    Honestly don't know. In past years, I've taken my young ones that age on day hikes, but nothing so rigorous. There are some bail-out spots along this section, but not as easily reachable like down in Georgia, IMHO. Good luck.

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    Hi there, we must be living fairly close together here in Seminole. I have been section hiking the AT and did this section in 2012, Winding Stair gap to Newfound gap.. I'd be happy to share my thoughts and answer questions over a cup of whatever. Send me a PM. I live out near Seminole HS.

    Jim
    Seminole, Fl
    Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other.
    óM. C. Richards

  18. #18

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    when you get to Winding Stair Gap if you look just to the right of the parking area their is an awesome water source which is a piped spring you should see the pipe sticking out.
    on top of Wayah bald their is an observation tower with awesome 360 degree views.
    but pass on cold spring shelter you want like it their.
    when you get to the N.O.C you need to eat at the Rivers Edge Resturant in my oppion it's one of the better places to eat on the entire trail.
    and when you get to the N.O.C and if you have a little bite of extra time Hike on up to the top of Cheoha bald you will never forget it, it offers some of the best views on the southern AT.

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