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  1. #1

    Default GSMNP in June/July?

    So various events sabotaged my next leg northbound last month. I should be able to try again in June or at the latest, July. I am northbound from Clingmans dome. Will it be too hot to go then? Any weather or environmental concerns then? Last thing I want is heat stroke or getting kamikazied by killer mosquitos...
    ./~Hi ho, hi ho, it's up the trail I go ./~

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    You're above 5,000' in elevation pretty much the entire time, heat stroke won't be an issue.

    (This of course assumes you are sectioning the AT. If you are generally hiking the Smokies, it will be warmer in lower elevations. But because GSMNP is nearly a rain forest, even in July and August it's still cool enough to hike. You WILL sweat and need to drink plenty of fluids, but camping all summer long is possible in GSMNP. It's just a bit nicer at bedtime if your campsites are at higher elevations.)

    Bugs can be a bit of a concern. They are somewhat site specific, with some places being worst than others. Lower elevations seem to be worst, but even at upper elevations, you might need something to help swat them away from your face. At lower ele still s during the summer, there have been times I've just had to constantly spin a bandana in front of my face to keep pesky buggers out of my face. In some cases I'll put rain pants on in camp if I'm at a shelter where you can't setup a tent to escape. And it's not just mosquitoes, there's numerous types of bigs that will bother you. Seems like mosquitoes can't keep up with you while you hiking (that was my experience on the JMT where the whole trail had either mosquitoes, biting flies, or both the entire length). But there are other bigs that just seem to want to get in your face and CAN keep up with you I hiking.
    Last edited by HooKooDooKu; 05-31-2019 at 19:55.

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    A head net will come in handy. The mosquitoes arenít so bad but other biting flies can be maddening


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  4. #4

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    Will a net be needed at night?
    ./~Hi ho, hi ho, it's up the trail I go ./~

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    I'd bring a head net for sleeping in the shelters at night. Or a mesh sleeping bag cover/bivy. The weather should be great, cool at night and not too hot during the day. But of course it's highly variable. One year we were planning a mid June hike and it was in the 40s at night right up until we left, then it got warm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryM View Post
    Will a net be needed at night?
    The bugs don't seem to be much of a problem come bed time. I don't think I've ever used a head net in shelters.

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    If you plan to hike other trails besides the AT, prepare to fight your way through some tall weeds wherever the sun breaks through the trees. Not so much in June, but July and later. Weeds can include stinging nettle and some lightly thorned briers.
    The AT won't be a problem.

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    For AT GSMNP shelters in June July prepare mentally for those large furry stealthy four legged pitter pattering meese.

  9. #9

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    Thanks everyone, looks like I will try to make it up there in the next week or two. Just a short dash up, a few days on the trail so I can finish up Great Smokies. Next I need to find out if I can park a bicycle at Clingmans dome for a few days.
    ./~Hi ho, hi ho, it's up the trail I go ./~

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    I was up there last Sunday through Tuesday. Did Clingmans Dome to Fontana, self shuttle using two cars.

    Here are some observations: Despite hot valley temps, the temp up at the dome will be great. It was 95 in Cherokee and about 65 at the dome. It got down to probably 45-50 at night at Double Spring Gap, which was nice. The trails at higher elevations are my favorite and remind me of up North. As you get lower, you have to deal with the heat and the grass is long along the trail which is a bit annoying. The bugs were not too bad, but definitely more present at lower elevations. You will need to plan your water wisely. The trail is very well maintained and well traveled.

    I would think that there would not be a problem leaving a bicycle at the dome if secured to a tree or light post. I would call the backcountry office and let them know, we did that to tell them we were leaving a car for a few days. The backcountry office is great and usually you get a helpful person right away. It is not your typical, press 1 for English then listen to a robot and try and try to finally get a person who can help.

    Expect tons and tons of people at the dome tower, but very few 50 ft into the woods. If you are heading towards Newfound gap, it is fairly easy to hitch back the dome. I did that last year and only had to wait 5 minutes.

  11. #11

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    Just got back from a long weekend trip. Lots of bugs in the face at lower elevations, usually around water (very typical here). Also, came home with a tick that I found four days later sucking on the back of my leg where my knee bends so that's always fun. ALSO, tons of chigger bites.. walked through a lot of tall grass. I didn't have any spray on because I didn't want my sleeping bag so be gross, but in hindsight definitely would've said screw the sleeping bag and sprayed something.

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    You need to call the back country office in regards to leaving a bike at Clingman's Dome for an extended period.

    Park regulations do not permit personal property to be left unattended for longer than 24 hours with the exception of motor vehicles left at trail heads while the owner is on overnight hikes in the back country. Strictly speaking, a bicycle isn't a motor vehicle. But I could see the rangers allowing a bike left at a trail head if placed somewhere appropriately.

    Additionally, when you apply for a permit, you leave your license plate number on the application. That way, vehicles that are left for extended periods can quickly be cross checked with permits. With a bicycle, you don't have a license plate, so you'd want to let them know about it so it isn't confiscated as abandoned while you're in the back country.

    On the plus side, using street view, I can see a small set of loops that look like bicycle "parking" on the sidewalk at the trail head for Clingman's dome. There's your "appropriate" place to "park" a bicycle, so I would be surprised if rangers didn't allow you to leave it parked there for an extended period (but again, let them know so they won't think it's abandoned).

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    Quote Originally Posted by centerfieldr162 View Post
    Just got back from a long weekend trip. Lots of bugs in the face at lower elevations, usually around water (very typical here). Also, came home with a tick that I found four days later sucking on the back of my leg where my knee bends so that's always fun. ALSO, tons of chigger bites.. walked through a lot of tall grass. I didn't have any spray on because I didn't want my sleeping bag so be gross, but in hindsight definitely would've said screw the sleeping bag and sprayed something.
    Sponge bath when you get to camp.

    I always keep a small vile (~1/2oz) of camp suds in my toiletry bag that I can wash off things like bug replant and sun screen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by centerfieldr162 View Post
    Just got back from a long weekend trip. Lots of bugs in the face at lower elevations, usually around water (very typical here). Also, came home with a tick that I found four days later sucking on the back of my leg where my knee bends so that's always fun. ALSO, tons of chigger bites.. walked through a lot of tall grass. I didn't have any spray on because I didn't want my sleeping bag so be gross, but in hindsight definitely would've said screw the sleeping bag and sprayed something.
    have you tried permethrin, yet? it works wonders for ticks and chiggers. I don't even bother with bug spray any more so long as have I permethrin treated clothes and a headnet for the no-see-ums.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashepabst View Post
    have you tried permethrin, yet? it works wonders for ticks and chiggers. I don't even bother with bug spray any more so long as have I permethrin treated clothes and a headnet for the no-see-ums.
    I have not, but would it work hiking in shorts? I cannot hike in pants in the summer. Too dang hot

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    it's not a fool-proof method, for sure, but it still goes a long way. I've read that it probably has a deterrent effect on other pests as well. they usually attach by crawling up your shoes, the socks. treated socks makes for a pretty effective barrier from that ingress point. treated shorts and shirt will help for when you're sitting on the ground. I hadn't pulled a tick in several seasons until my last trip. but it had been since last fall that I treated my hiking clothes, so they likely just need to be re-sprayed.

  17. #17
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    I was in the GSMNP during Memorial Day weekend when the southeast was in a record hot heat wave. The temperature when I left Atlanta was 93. When I got to Bryson City, it was 85. But when I got into the park under the trees, it felt like it was near 75. Very nice.

    I drank an amazing amount of water but could not stay hydrated. That is normal for summer. Get ready for that. The bugs were also really bad but tended to die down around 6 pm.

    The best part is that night time temperatures were in the lower-60s. I don't know what it is about the GSMNP but it is truly magical.

  18. #18

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    Ok, called the back country office and they said no problem leaving the bicycle at Clingmans dome. He suggested I locked it up. There is a bike rack right before the ramp.
    Looking forward to this. BTW, Clingmans to Gatlinburg is 24 miles all downhill, drops about 5k feet. From Gatlinburg to Waterville area is another 25 miles or so, mild climbs and drops. If you are curious you can put a route in on Google maps and then click the bicycle icon. It will give you a elevation profile at the bottom of the route directions.
    Thank everyone for your help, see y'all on the trail soon.
    ./~Hi ho, hi ho, it's up the trail I go ./~

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryM View Post
    ...BTW, Clingmans to Gatlinburg is 24 miles all downhill...
    It's not ALL downhill.

    I've bicycled from Gatlinburg to Clingman's Dome parking lot and back...
    1. There is a 'saddle' in the road between the tail heads for Noland Divide and Fork Ridge. My Google Earth Data indicates about a 200' climb on the far side of that saddle.
    2. Soon after you pass Campbell Overlook, the road grade is significantly reduced... it's still down hill, but you'll likely be pedaling and no longer able to keep up with traffic.
    3. Once you pass the Visitor's Center, the road seems essentially flat. There's still about a 75' drop per mile, but that's less than a 1.5% grade (we're talking "Rails-to-Trails" type of incline).

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