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  1. #1
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    Question Is NC to hot, humid, buggy in July?

    Aloha, Traveling from Hawaii to Asheville beginning of July. Hoping to hike the whole month. I posted to an AT Facebook page and people made it sound to to hot, humid and buggy to be any fun through NC. Iím not really used to humidity? Opinions? Should I really just go somewhere with cooler temps like New England. If so, anyone know a good place to start up north that I could bus or train to? Mahalo!

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    I've been at higher elevations just outside of Asheville in the middle of the summer with daytime temps in the low 70's on days when Asheville was in the low 90's. It can be a mixed bag by any measure.

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    For sure it will be humid. No telling what the temperatures will be on a given day. Today was HOT, low 90s in May!?!

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    Yeah, it's hard to say. Most of North Carolina will be 90+ during the day, humid, afternoon thunderstorms, and buggy. But the mountains are usually much nicer than that -- there's a reason there are thousands of vacation homes in the NC mountains. But even if I think it's much nicer than being home in July (and it is!), you might think it's miserably hot and humid

    Are you hoping to go backpacking for a whole month? We did the Long Trail in Vermont in July, and the weather was one of the best parts. Cooler, less humid, just a terrific New England summer experience. The LT is 275 miles, takes 3-4 weeks, and you can take a train there and back from Washington, DC. Details in our journal, linked below.
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

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    Not intolerable at highest elevations.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  6. #6

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    I hike NC/VA mountains in July. Stay above 5,000' for comfort. Usually it's low 70s day to mid 50s night with much lower humidity than anything in town.

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    Default Is NC to hot, humid, buggy in July?

    At lower elevation, the humidity and lack of a breeze in thick forest can be stifling throughout the summer. it took me several years to get used to the summers in NC. As others have mentioned, ridgelines and anything above 5,000' are quite pleasant.
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

  8. #8

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    You're there for a month... and coming from a warm climate.
    It'll take you 3-7 days to adjust to the humidity, but not a deal killer.


    If that's the section you want to do- go for it.

    In July you'd almost have to go all the way up to New Hampshire to escape the summer heat.
    Pretty much VA to New England will hot and humid.

    Being the green tunnel... the humidity gets trapped in the forest canopy so the higher elevations around the Asheville area are some of the cooler (and prettier) sections you could do south of Vermont. Shennies would be worse humidity for example.

    Vermont... might still be dealing with blackflies and some lingering mud.
    Maine... not to easy to get in/out. And likely to have blackflies and mud.

    So all in all... being the hottest month of the year (basically) NC area sounds like a decent trip.
    Fontana to Hot springs is nice. Hot springs north is good too... so however you want to wrap around ashville you have pretty nice trail all the way up to Grayson Highlands for summer time IMO.

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    Every year I hike for week somewhere between Damascus and the Smokies in July or August. I split my day starting my walk by 7 then a long break anytime between 1 and 5 near a creek or spring so I can get cleaned up and dry off. That break includes my heavy meal of the day. I fill up with excess water then hike till about 830 or 9 and always camping high. I can keep my mileage high enough (15+) and even when it is hot I'm seldom under stress doing it like this. Above 4500 there are few bugs. The days can be brutally hot, but things cool off quite nicely at night with elevation. There is always a cooler than average week during that time of year, and there is always a warmer than average week too. Sometimes I'll get up early and start hiking around 4 or 5 AM and split the day into 3 sections. Hammock is better than tent - much cooler at night.

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    Wow many Mahalos for the advice. I’m still in decision mode but will report back with my plan.

  11. #11
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Just about anywhere in the east is too hot & humid & buggy in July, but don't let that stop you. It's always too ____ & ____ &_____ in _____ somewhere.

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    Ok time to come clean without starting a out-of-shape thread, I’m not in terrible shape but I’m weighing in a 200 pounds at 5’11 and I’m 48 with so so knees. Heat and humidity aside for now it sounds like the AT north and south of Asheville is pretty grueling. Am I being a wimp or should I head up to an easier section like around Damascus, if that is in fact actually easier. Should a kook from Hawaii be looking for easier section in July? I’ve backpacked all over Hawaii but our trails are short and somewhat challenging ie Napali Coast, Haleakala and now closed Volcanoes NP. Any advice is greatly appreciated and now you have a friend in Hawaii

  13. #13
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    Captain,
    The southern AT (from Georgia up through most of Virginia) runs up and down and along the crests of 3000-6000' mountains with dips down into valleys, and occasional stretches (like just south of Damascus) of relative ease. Because of the elevation changes, anything in this area will give your cardiovascular system and leg muscles a workout. In July, it will be hot and muggy most of the time with some relief on those higher elevations.
    The middle AT (West Virginia up through maybe Connecticut) is generally lower elevation, and therefore not as hilly/steep. Still muggy in July, but without a mountain, it can be hard to escape the heat.
    The northern AT (Massachusetts through Maine) is mountainous, but much more rugged than the southern trail. Heat and humidity are more tolerable in July, but the climbs are steep.

    A month-long hike will cover 300-500 miles of the trail (give or take). Springer to Damascus is 500 miles. Katahdin to middle of Vermont is 500 miles. If you've "backpacked all over Hawaii" then you just need to choose between challenging big muggy climbs or more challenging big rocky climbs.

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    Registered User The Cleaner's Avatar
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    Watch out for the stinging nettles too.
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

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    I did a late July hike in central VA. When planning I too was worried the heat would be unbearable. However a few days in I found it was not really an issue. NC is further south, but the mountains are higher so I would expect similar results. After the hike I checked the weather and found temps had been normal for the week I was there, which meant hot and humid in the cities but pleasantly warm up in the mountains. However, if you happen to be there during a heat wave, things could be different. But as others have pointed ou, if you plan hikes around bad weather that may happen, you will never hike.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Not intolerable at highest elevations.
    Exactly. It can be quite nice at the higher elevations. Miserable out on Jockeyís Ridge.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Zero View Post
    Ok time to come clean without starting a out-of-shape thread, I’m not in terrible shape but I’m weighing in a 200 pounds at 5’11 and I’m 48 with so so knees. Heat and humidity aside for now it sounds like the AT north and south of Asheville is pretty grueling. Am I being a wimp or should I head up to an easier section like around Damascus, if that is in fact actually easier. Should a kook from Hawaii be looking for easier section in July? I’ve backpacked all over Hawaii but our trails are short and somewhat challenging ie Napali Coast, Haleakala and now closed Volcanoes NP. Any advice is greatly appreciated and now you have a friend in Hawaii
    Mt Rodgers/Grayson Highlands will be quite pleasant, for July. There will be more people though, if it matters.

  18. #18
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    The thing about any long term planning is the weather does not care what your plans are...so you just have to deal with it. I did my first AT week in October last year when its normally low 80s at most but of course I got to start with highs on the trail of 95+...4 days of 95-100 and low 90s for 2 more days. My point is IF you get caught with high temps on the trail you can cope, you just have to slow your pace and expectations and carry more water. Everything I read says sweating is part of the deal, more or less should NOT stop you, merely moderate your pace. Who knows, you might get lucky and have below normal temps and humidity.

  19. #19

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    I just got back from a 20 day backpacking trip on the state line of NC and TN---and while some people advise seeking out the high ground above 5,000 feet, it's difficult to spend 30 days backpacking at or above 5,000 feet. If you're set on North Carolina, my advice is to plan your trip from creek valley to creek valley and only use the separating ridges to connect these valleys. The Snowbird backcountry is a good place to start as Snowbird Creek stays at around 3,500 for many of its crossings.

    Why stay on creeks? Simple. You can submerge and stay submerged until your core temps get low enough whereby in-camp squatting is tolerable. Bugs can be dealt with but only if you carry a headnet and some Deet.

    Trip 190 (440).JPG
    Here I am near the end of my trip on May 15 2018 in Wildcat Creek on the Warrior's Passage trail. Get submerged, boys.

    Trip 165 323-XL.jpg
    The biggest consideration when backpacking in NC in July are these guys---and the hotter it gets the more they come out. Many trails in the Southeast are in shade or deep shade, but when I hit a big patch of direct sunlight I often see one of these pit vipers enjoying the heat. This guy was on the Nutbuster trail of Upper Slickrock Creek.

    TRIP 185 (442)-XL.jpg
    Saw this guy on my last trip to Big Frog wilderness on the Grassy Gap trail. 10 minutes earlier I stopped for a rattlesnake on the same trail.

    Trip 190 (199).JPG
    It also helps to have a tent that can become a tarp for full ventilation on occasion but also becomes a sealed up room with a floor when the carpenter ants and noseeums attack.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    Just about anywhere in the east is too hot & humid & buggy in July, but don't let that stop you. It's always too ____ & ____ &_____ in _____ somewhere.
    Best advice ever. Reminds me of Warren Miiler when he said if you donít this year youíll just be one year older when you do. So since money is my limiting factor it looks like the Whites are out and Iíll be rolling into Asheville around the 4th via bus then figure some shuttle hustle to Hot Springs or other random access and head north till I drop and hustle a ride back to Asheville. Sounds simple enough. Time to pull the trigger on the ticket the rest will work itís self out one way or another.

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