My buddy Coop and I have backpacked during the winter months for a few years now. Shining Rock in Western North Carolina, Roan Mountain along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, and most recently Dolly Sods in West Virginia.
We hadn’t traveled north for a winter hike and it’d be a test for us as Dolly Sods is notorious for year-long crazy weather with an average annual snowfall of 55″. As he always does, Coop researched potential routes and in doing so came across White Grass Cross Country Ski Area, a cross country skiing and snowshoeing business in Davis, WV. He emailed Chip, the dude in charge, who kept Coop in the loop about weather and gear (including $15/day snowshoe rental).
Our intent was to park at White Grass and take the Timberline trail to Forest Road 80 where we’d huff it up to 524 Rocky Ridge. From there we’d hang a right at 511 Blackbird Knob camp at the intersection of Blackbird and Upper Red Creek, and then head up to Dobbin where we’d join up with Rocky Ridge and take it back to the car. A fairly straightforward 3 day, 15.5 mile trip. However, thanks to the wintry weather, the actual route we hiked was a wee different.
I was planning a backpacking trip to Roanoke with a buddy of mine when are plans were altered by unforeseen circumstances. Not wanting to completely forgo my outdoor plans I opted to hit up a local campground near the base of Pilot Mountain.
Day 1: I walked the campground and nearby trails with my dogs followed by fishing with a little luck catching sunfish.
I love a good hike. I love the peacefulness it brings. The camaraderie it provides when traveling with friends. And, I enjoy a good challenge. This past weekend I got my wish.
Three buddies and I hiked the Great Smoky Mountains via Fontana Dam. As an added bonus the lot of us hit up Tsali Campground for a couple nights where we swam a bit, fished, got poured on, and hit up the Nantahala River for a ride.
We arrived at Fontana Dam on Saturday around noon, grabbed a permit from the dam welcome center, and began unloading our packs from the car. Within minutes it was evident that the 100° F (37.7° C) temperatures were going to be a factor in our planned 12-mile hike. Every one of us were sweating buckets. Thank God for water bladders and bottles.