23 Jul Smoky Mountains – Deep Creek to Newton Bald Loop Hike
July 15th 2011 – Friday
In order to get an early start on Saturday morning, I drove to the Fontana Hilton trail shelter late Friday evening. It was just after midnight when I arrived. I parked, grabbed my sleeping pad and bag, and walked down the path to this double-wide shelter. A lady told me that a Boy Scout troop and others were there. Some had dragged their sleeping bags out into the gravel area around the shelter and were sleeping under the clouds. It looked like a good chance of rain so I took up the one remaining spot in the jam packed shelter. Just as I climbed to my spot on the top level, my neighbor let loose the first of his rafter shaking farts. I wondered that everyone in the shelter didn’t wake up. This was not as I had imagined it. I had guessed that there might be one or two others or perhaps nobody else in this shelter. Instead there were about 28 people here. The bathroom was disgusting. I walked right back out, nearly gagging. Some kid had a problem and after a loud argument that the leader ended by saying, “You will sleep here or else!”, he settled down outside the shelter and began making upchuck sounds. The kid must have been sick. Lot’s of noise for after midnight. I eventually slept some and was gone the next morning before daylight.
My route is shown traced in orange on map, below.
July 16th 2011 – 9.6 Miles, Deep Creek to camp at Newton Bald.
After a long breakfast at the Subway in Bryson City, I began hiking Deep Creek Trail to Indian Creek Trail to Stone Pile Gap Trail which led to Thomas Divide Trail. There had been rain and cooler temperatures so the forest was dripping wet. I climbed around 3300 vertical feet to just over 5000 feet at campsite 52, Newton Bald. I was a little wet and chilled from the moisture I picked up from undergrowth. Traveling light, I had no extra dry clothing, only some rain gear and a sleeping bag. I was at camp by noon, having covered, 9.6 miles. I filled water bottles at the spring, ate lunch, and set up my tarp. After very little sleep the night before and a lot of climbing I rolled out my sleeping bag and took a nap. A Ridge Runner came by while I was asleep and collected the lunch trash I had left out. I had no idea that he came into camp and only figured this out when other campers later told me about the Ridge Runner. Five young guys from the University of Tennessee arrived shortly after I woke up and they set up camp nearby. Late in the evening I explored behind my campsite with the hope of discovering an opening large enough to view the sunset. Instead I spied a bear quietly making his way up the hill about 100 yards from my tent.
July 17th 2011 – 10.9 miles
Returned to car via Sunkota Ridge Trail. Good mushroom bloom both days. Saw no other hikers until I reached the Loop Trail. Nice morning. Hungry. Back to Subway for footlong sandwich and cookies.We cannot display this gallery