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  1. #1
    Registered User Alan's Avatar
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    Default Smokies vs. Mt. Rogers Area

    Although 59 years old, I am a relative newcomer to hiking, and am seeking some advise/suggestions/wisdom from more experienced and knowledgeable hikers. With limited vacation time available, I am planning a trip via the AT from Troutdale, Va. (Dickey Gap) to Damascus (or vice versa - about 49 miles). How does the terrain/difficulty of this section compare to the Smokies? I did the Smokies 2 years ago, albeit probably slower than most reading this (5 days, 4 nights). I am in pretty good shape for my age, running,working out, standing/walking job, but this is sort of an unknown for me, and I don't want to overextend. Thanks for any and all advice and tips!
    Alan
    "...lead me to the Rock that is higher than I."
    Ps. 61:2

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    10-22-2002
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    There are several decent climbs on that section. However, if you have hiked the Smokies, I don't think there is anything to worry about.

    We're almost your age, and did the section from Atkins to Damascus last year (around 75 miles) in six days. Well, one of them was really a half day, so five and a half. How long it takes you depends of course on how late you get started on day 1 due to driving times.

    That's our favorite section, and we are the volunteer section editors for the Thru Hiker's Companion for that stretch of Trail.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  3. #3
    Registered User The Cleaner's Avatar
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    I did that section last year and going from Dickey Gap heading south is better than starting in Damascus and going north.Hike the Creeper Trail for the last bit.Stop at the Creeper Cafe in Taylor's Valley for a great meal too.
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

  4. #4
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    +1 on the Creeper Trail Cafe, and finishing on the VCT. When you come down off Straight Mountain southbound, just past Saunders Shelter, you'll see the Virginia Creeper Trail as you get to the bottom of the steep descent -- it's an old railroad bed, so it's obvious. There is a side trail from the AT to the VCT -- take it, and turn left on the VCT. The very small settlement of Taylor's Valley is less than half a mile away. The Creeper Trail Cafe is open from 11-5 in season. Burgers, ice cream, yum. Then I would get back on the Creeper the way I came and walk it all the way into Damascus.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  5. #5
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    Conversely, you could just STAY on the Creeper Trail a little further north when it joins the AT (heading SOBO) right after Lost Mountain Shelter. No need to backtrack, plenty of benches to stop and take a break, a few nice streamside campsites as well.

    When I did an out-and-back from Damascus to near Buzzard Rock, I took the AT NOBO, then peeled off to the Creeper Trail on the way back for a change of scenery/pace.

    And +1 for the Creeper Trail Cafe!
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep."

  6. #6

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    If you did the Smokies section of AT in 5 days and 4 nights, you should be fine. That is not slow, especially for a non thru-hiker.
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