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Highest Solitude in the Smokies/Blue Ridge

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Highest Solitude in the Smokies/Blue Ridge

Postby PIGtooth » Sun May 02, 2010 2:09 am

Dissapointment is the feeling to say the least upon summiting clingmans dome or mt mitchell and running into an out of breath over weight harley davidson apparel wearing tourist waddling up the tower at the dome or the parking lot vista of mitchell. I've been up laconte as well and while i hold it near and dear to my heart, there is a neighborhood of summer cabins near the summit. Does anyone have any recommendations for solitude or atleast a non-settled summit that compares with the elevation and views of the aforementioned peaks? Also, its a stretch for this area but are there any "mountaineering routes" in this area as well. Just something to keep the skills sharp and the adventure going.
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Re: Highest Solitude in the Smokies/Blue Ridge

Postby drjohnso1182 » Sun May 02, 2010 3:03 am

PIGtooth wrote:Dissapointment is the feeling to say the least upon summiting clingmans dome or mt mitchell and running into an out of breath over weight harley davidson apparel wearing tourist waddling up the tower at the dome or the parking lot vista of mitchell. I've been up laconte as well and while i hold it near and dear to my heart, there is a neighborhood of summer cabins near the summit. Does anyone have any recommendations for solitude or atleast a non-settled summit that compares with the elevation and views of the aforementioned peaks? Also, its a stretch for this area but are there any "mountaineering routes" in this area as well. Just something to keep the skills sharp and the adventure going.

Any of those summits in winter will give you a lot of solitude, at least compared to what you describe.

What's an example of what you consider a "mountaineering route"?
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Sun May 02, 2010 3:30 am

There are a bunch of peaks in the Smokies without trails to the summits. You can bushwhack up one of those and I'd be surprised if you see anyone, waddling or not.

I can't guarantee great views, though, because of the vegetation.
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Postby MarkDidier » Sun May 02, 2010 6:20 pm

I love the Smokies but I don't go there for solitude...cause it just isn't going to happen. If you want a summit all to yourself then either

1) do like Art said and bushwhack or

2) start very early or very late in the day. I have had the Chimney Tops and Charlie's Bunion all to myself on a number of occassions - by starting predawn. This of course won't work for LeConte due to the lodge, as there are always people at the summit.

If you won't get up early, head to Clingman's Dome and hike to Andrew's Bald instead or out towards Silers Bald. You'll get a lot of the same great views as you do from the tower, without all the people. The views on the first two miles towards Silers Bald are stellar.

There are probably places in the Blue Ridge that see a lot less traffic, but from my experience, if its a weekend, then anywhere in the Blue Ridge you are going to see people.
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Postby PIGtooth » Sun May 02, 2010 8:38 pm

A mountaineering route would include a class 3 or 4 scramble, something requiring rope work and trad possibly. obviously in the smokies youre not going to find long stretches of scrambles. Im looking for a good peak with cliffs or balds leading to it. I think i'll just use google earth and try to string some challenging routes with peaks. Has anyone climbed straight up and over charlies bunyon? Might prove to be a challenge if the park will allow it and Ice Water Springs is an enjoyable campsite.
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Postby MarkDidier » Sun May 02, 2010 9:26 pm

PIGtooth wrote:Has anyone climbed straight up and over charlies bunyon? Might prove to be a challenge if the park will allow it and Ice Water Springs is an enjoyable campsite.


I asked a similar question last year regarding the climb/bushwhack up from Porters Creek to Dry Sluice Gap.

http://www.summitpost.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=46645

The route they describe brings you right up by Charlie's Bunion.

http://griztrax.net/hiking/PortersCreek/PortersCreekClimb.html

May be what you're looking for.
Last edited by MarkDidier on Sun May 02, 2010 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Sun May 02, 2010 9:32 pm

There was an experienced Smokies hiker & bushwhacker who got lost for a few days doing a route up there - possibly that one - a few years ago. All ended well. But I'd prepare knowing that even an experienced person had trouble navigating through a bushwhack in that general area.
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Postby desainme » Sun May 02, 2010 10:17 pm

Mt. Guyot has little views and little traffic.
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Postby johnmnichols » Mon May 03, 2010 1:57 pm

Crowds in the Smokies are much more prevalent on the Tennessee side of the park. That is not the case for much of the North Carolina side. You can put together some long backpacking loops and see very few to no people at all. The Deep Creek trailhead can get "crowded", but 99% of them don't venture more than a mile from the TH, so solitude can be had fairly quickly.

What you can gain in solitude, you'll lack in Class 3 or 4 scrambling. While I'm sure there are opportunities, it would likely require a lot of exploration and rhododendron bushwacking.
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Postby mlandau3 » Mon May 03, 2010 8:48 pm

You might enjoy this page and/or hike: http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock ... -knob.html
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Postby e-doc » Mon May 10, 2010 4:48 am

Various off trail peaks in the eastern Smokies have solitude, no views. Various peaks in the northern Blacks (Winter Star, Celo), Calloway Peak at Grandfather, Hump Mt in the Roans have views and fewer people than the Smokies. Try Hightower Bald in the SNW, Beartown Mt and BM Maiden (Garden/Clinch Mts) in Virginia and the Peak near West Jefferson for solitude and views. There may be others but their names escape me currently. 8)
As far as mountaineering ( a la Mt Washington NH) Grandfather crest trail in winter can have lots ice, wind, cold. Also the Black Mt Crest trail
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Re: Highest Solitude in the Smokies/Blue Ridge

Postby RamblinWreck » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:43 pm

drjohnso1182 wrote:Any of those summits in winter will give you a lot of solitude, at least compared to what you describe.


I agree, I go to the smokies every winter and will not go much earlier/later in the year than that. You will still encounter others, but they are all hikers. Newfound Gap RD closes a lot in the winter due to conditions and the road to Clingmans Dome is always closed in the winter, no bikers there. I'd assume the road to Mitchell is relatively the same way. Believe it or not, I've found the section south of Newfound Gap Rd to be much less crowded than the northern section. I've done a stretch up to and below Clingmans without seeing a single person the whole time.

As for mountaineering approaches...not much on the beaten path in the SE, the most I've seen in the Smokies consist of snow (from a dusting to above 4 feet) or ice that has frozen across or down the trail.
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