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  1. #1
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    Default Winter AT Smokies section hike input….

    It’s been way too long!!! After doing CT in September I haven’t been back out! Thinking I’ll hit the Smokies AT section with my service pup….bear deterrent…next month. Planning on 4-5 days obviously weather depending. Are spikes typically needed? Few times I’ve carried them on AT never used…only time I’ve been glad to have them was on WRHR…. Any shuttle recs? Assume go south bound as no good parking at Davenport gap that I recall.


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  2. #2

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    You can easily get into areas in GSMNP where microspikes are, if not absolutely essential, certainly extremely helpful. I'd carry mine there in the winter - no question at all.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    It’s been way too long!!! After doing CT in September I haven’t been back out! Thinking I’ll hit the Smokies AT section with my service pup….bear deterrent…next month. Planning on 4-5 days obviously weather depending. Are spikes typically needed? Few times I’ve carried them on AT never used…only time I’ve been glad to have them was on WRHR…. Any shuttle recs? Assume go south bound as no good parking at Davenport gap that I recall.


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    I've used Mark at AAA Hiker Shuttle around the Smokies a couple times and would recommend. 423-487-3112. Very knowledgable about the area, interesting conversation.

  4. #4
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    I've used Mark at AAA Hiker Shuttle around the Smokies a couple times and would recommend. 423-487-3112. Very knowledgable about the area, interesting conversation.
    Ditto on Mark... used him myself several times. Always a joy to talk to during the shuttle.
    But I've not been able to raise him on either telephone number I've got for him since COVID hit.
    The other shuttle service company on the TN side of the park licensed to do shuttles inside the park is AAA Hiker Service. I've used them as well. While their shuttle service did close down for a while because of COVID, they've been running shuttles since about April of last year.

  5. #5

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    Check with standing bear farm. They used to do shuttles. Not sure if they do shuttles now or not. Like everyone else says take spikes.

  6. #6

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    Service pup? Do you mean your dog? They are not allowed in the backcountry in the park. They are not allowed in most, if not all, national parks. May want to call about that before making those types of plans. Pets - Great Smoky Mountains National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

  7. #7
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Here’s a data point on weather at 3,000 feet in North Carolina near the Virginia border:
    Thursday through next Sunday:
    Light rain begins tonight. 40 degrees this afternoon. Rain changing to snow through the weekend.
    Temperature varies between 20s and 12 DEGREES this weekend.
    I’m pretty sure that the AT through the Smokies is higher and therefore colder. Freezing rain and ice accumulation brings down limbs and whole trees.
    A shuttle either before or after may not be possible due to road conditions.
    Remember I-95 earlier in the week?
    Good luck!
    Wayne

  8. #8

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    Saltysack is your dog a service dog under ADA rules? That is, is it a service animal required because of a disability? (Again, disability as defined under ADA.)
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swerve View Post
    Service pup? Do you mean your dog? They are not allowed in the backcountry in the park. They are not allowed in most, if not all, national parks. May want to call about that before making those types of plans. Pets - Great Smoky Mountains National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
    He’s a service dog. Legit…like it or not


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    Saltysack is your dog a service dog under ADA rules? That is, is it a service animal required because of a disability? (Again, disability as defined under ADA.)
    Yes…performs a task and has been trained extensively.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Ditto on Mark... used him myself several times. Always a joy to talk to during the shuttle.
    But I've not been able to raise him on either telephone number I've got for him since COVID hit.
    The other shuttle service company on the TN side of the park licensed to do shuttles inside the park is AAA Hiker Service. I've used them as well. While their shuttle service did close down for a while because of COVID, they've been running shuttles since about April of last year.
    Strange, the only two times I’ve used Mark have been since COVID..Now I’m confused, maybe I’ve got the names mixed up. On the AAA Hiker SERVICE website, I see Mark’s number, the one I posted above, listed at the bottom of the website..I don’t see a AAA Hiker SHUTTLE website exists. Maybe they are one in the same now.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    Yes…performs a task and has been trained extensively.


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    Good enough for me. I don't have any need to ask about the task.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  13. #13

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    You may want to call them to confirm. There is no indication that there are any exceptions, including service animals. Contact info: 865 436-1200



  14. #14

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    Found the backcountry specific number as well, here's that one: Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297. When you apply for and pay for your backcountry permit, you will have to agree to all the rules and regulations before your permit will be accepted.

  15. #15

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    Service animals are allowed anywhere a person is allowed.

    https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/service-animals.htm

    Where are service dogs allowed to go?


    Service dogs are legally permitted anywhere that visitors can go. They must be allowed wherever visitors are allowed.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  16. #16

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    Hey Salty, I haven't talked to him in quite a while but I've used AAA Hiker service (Mark) many times over the years and also recommend him. He's a great guy.

  17. #17
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    Strange, the only two times I’ve used Mark have been since COVID..Now I’m confused, maybe I’ve got the names mixed up. On the AAA Hiker SERVICE website, I see Mark’s number, the one I posted above, listed at the bottom of the website..I don’t see a AAA Hiker SHUTTLE website exists. Maybe they are one in the same now.
    Yeah, Mark == AAA Hiker Service
    I needed a shuttle back in June. One of the last hikes my son had to do to get into the 900 Miler Club was to hike Old Settlers Trail/Grapeyard Ridge/Baxter Creek
    I tried getting in contact with Mark/AAA Hker Service by phone, text, and left voice mails, and even tried the email shown on his SHUTTLE webpage.

  18. #18
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Half View Post
    Service animals are allowed anywhere a person is allowed.

    https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/service-animals.htm

    Where are service dogs allowed to go?


    Service dogs are legally permitted anywhere that visitors can go. They must be allowed wherever visitors are allowed.
    National Parks used to not allow Service Animals in the back country.
    But that changes... perhaps about 5 years ago or so when "the powers that be" directed National Park Superintendents to make efforts to follow the ADA guidelines.
    I believe a park Superintendent still has the authority to close all or parts of a National Park to service animals if there some overwhelming justification.

  19. #19
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Default

    Winter time is fickle in GSMNP
    I've looked over the daily history of some of the GSMNP web cams and noticed that during the winter, for any given day, the odds are there isn't any snow on the ground.
    Seems like about once every three or four weeks, a snow hits GSMNP. At higher elevations, the snow stays around for about 5 days and is then pretty much gone (except for spots that stay shady most of the day).
    The AT itself is pretty dry through much of GSMNP (excluding "muddy" spots where the trail, despite being on the ridge, forms a depression from which water has no were to flow out of).
    So if you're not trying to target a specific date and have the flexibility of waiting for a good weather window, it seems possible to hike the AT thru GSMNP in winter with no micro-spikes and safely take a service dog along.

    Now I'll admit I have almost no direct experience hiking the AT in GSMNP during the winter... but the one issue I have encountered was a hike I did to Derrick Knob during a warm spell after a snow.
    You could still see snow in the shadow areas along the mountain top, but otherwise, most of the snow was melted. What little bit of the AT I hiked on that trip, I didn't encounter any ice, so micro-spikes were not necessary. But the melting snow had left much of the section of AT I was hiking very muddy. You had to take your steps gingerly to avoid slipping in the mud.

  20. #20
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    We were supposed to get more snow overnight and this morning.
    The snow didn’t happen. Clear skies.
    But it was 16-18-20 degrees this morning up until about 1pm.
    There’s more to winter than just snow.
    If the National Park is a problem for your pup, Mt Rogers National Recreation Area might be a viable alternative.
    Be warm. Be safe.
    Wayne

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