Section 20 (AT in a Day)
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Davenport Gap/Tenn.32 to Winding Stair Gap / US Rt.64 in Franklin, NC - 128.3 miles
Section Chief: Lindsey Romero '13
Low Gap to Davenport Gap-7.5 miles
Hikers: Greg Waller '94, Ernie Napier, Joe Napier
Our segment covered the far eastern end of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Low Gap to Davenport Gap. The trail roughly traces the Tennessee / North Carolina border throughout the National Park. Our team consisted of Greg Waller '94, Ernie Napier, Univ. of Tennessee '82 and his son Joe Napier. The conditions were less than ideal as we hiked all but the last hour in a steady rain. Although the views were blocked by clouds, we enjoyed the fall colors all along the route.
To me, the Dartmouth Outing Club is proof that there is more to the college experience than studying and going to class everyday and more to life than reporting to the office. Congratulations to the DOC for putting together this incredible event and thank you for the opportunity to be part of an amazing team.
Pecks Corner to Newfound Gap-10.4 miles
Hikers: Robin Graham '76
Trip report by Robin Graham '76 ( the 3rd woman to join C&T) - Newfound Gap to Peck's Corner and BEYOND to Tricorner Knob -15.8 miles
I had the route Newfound Gap north to Peck's Corner in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. My piece was 10.5 miles one way with no road at the other end. This is a 30+ mile stretch of the AT from the center of the Park to the eastern end. The day was gray and drizzly but not too cold ~ 55-60 degrees and the trail socked in the clouds. The elevation at New found Gap is ~5,200 ft and you go up hill to about 6,000 feet. I stayed in the clouds all day. Since I had no hiking partner I had decided that I would hike as far as I could in 4 hours and then hike back - 8 hours all told. I had spent the night in Gatlinburg and driven up to Newfound Gap arriving about 8:30 am. If there had not been clouds the views would have been fantastic as the colors were at their peak at the higher elevations. I had figured I could safely make about 8.5 to 9 miles of the route as I had to return on the same day.. I am pretty hardy but committing to 21 miles of solo hiking in the rain on a new trail seemed not too safe.. but being enterprising ( or is it Lazy?) I had decided that if I met someone coming south I would recruit them to become part of "my trip". The first part of the day I saw no one. But around mile five I met a man and his son and I asked them if they would do me a favor.. so I explained ATINADAY and they had heard of it and said sure they would sign on. So I took their picture with the sign and got their e-mail. So contented that I had now assured myself that the 10.5 miles I had been assigned to were "covered" I proceeded north to get a few more miles in before turning back At 1 pm I was just ready to turn back when I met a group of 5 guys in their 30-40's who had been hiking from Davenport Gap ( the eastern edge of the Park to Newfound Gap). I asked them if they wanted to be part of ATINADAY and they said sure! so I took their picture. They too had heard of ATINADAY and thought it was pretty cool to be part of it. Now they had spent the previous night at Tricorner Knob - five miles north of Peck's corner.. so I will claim 15.5 miles of the ATINADAY. Dartmouth Alums are supposed to be enterprising and I did hike some 17+miles myself that day...The guys invited me to hike back with them to Icewater Spring Shelter ( about 3 miles from Newfound Gap) so I joined up with them. My picture is just me. I have a photo of the folks who volunteered and will send them under another cover. I got back to Newfound Gap and my car at 5 pm.
But the adventure was just beginning....As I became part of the Tom Kilcoyne '81 adventure.. Tom was supposed to hike from Newfound Gap south to Clingman's Dome. ( a road at each end) and with his family - Tara, his great wife and Patrick and Rose his 9 and 11 year-old kids. I'd never met Tom but we had talked on the phone and had agreed to have dinner on Sat night to swap stories. Well Tara, Patrick, and Rose did indeed hike the 8 miles from Newfound Gap to Clingman's Dome.. but Tom....well that is Tom's story to tell. As he put it "that was the longest 8 miles I have ever done". I finally met Tom at 8 pm on Sunday night in Oconoluftee, North Carolina......
So why is the Outing Club important to me? Well C&T was how I survived at Dartmouth those first 4 years of co-education. (Let's put it this way.. when the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas hearings were going on.. my freshman roommate called and said Does this bring back repressed memories?) However at C&T I was welcome as long as I worked and was game to hike or whatever. I spent a summer at Ravine Lodge while doing ecological field work on Mt Moosilauke. ( that was before the lodge was open for guests.. trail crew stayed there some time as did Jack Noon. I did spend a night or two there all by myself). My Dad was the VP of Ledyard in 1952 and I am very proud to say my daughter Ada '08 was DOC president for 2 quarters and was Lodge Manager the summer of07 & '09. The Outing Club is probably a part of why I got my doctorate in forest ecology and do research on climate change and renewable energy....And oh yes I met my husband Jack Graham '76 when I stood in front of 30 rowdy C&T guys at the Monday night meeting and asked who would be willing to go on an overnight with me ( the last requirement of being a heeler).
Newfound Gap to Clingman's Dome-
Hikers: Thomas Kilcoyne '81, Tara Kilcoyne, Rose Kilcoyne, Patrick Kilcoyne
Here's my crew leaving the cabin we rented in Townsend, Tennessee to head out for our section of the Trail: Newfound Gap to Clingman's Dome, billed as a nice 8 mile round trip. It's a rainy day and with only 8 miles to hike, we started out late morning, hoping the rain would abate.
Photos: DSCN1161.JPG FSCN1162.JPG DSCN1163.JPG
The rain did stop, and here's my crew, wife (Tara), 10 year old daughter (Rose), and 9th birthday boy (Patrick), at the Newfound Gap trailhead.
And here they are at Clingman's Dome. Notice, I'm not in the photos. That's the long part of our story.
When we left the Newfound Gap parking lot, the trail sign read Clingman's Dome 8 miles. After about 10 minutes, I said to Tara, this is not 8 miles roundtrip, there's no way we can do 16 miles before dark. We talked for a few minutes and decided that it was better for me to go back and move the car to Clingman's, and then hike in to meet my family and finish with them, rather than hiking all together and trying to hitch back to our car.
So I went back, drove the car to Clingman's, checked the map there, and started hiking. After two hours, no family. At three hours, still no Kilcoynes. At four hours, I'm thinking they must have had problems and turned back but I'm past half way and need to just hike on out.
At seven pm, I'm at a summit at 5500' and thinking I'm too high and it's rapidly getting dark. I lose some altitude before it gets too dark to keep going and so I bed down on the trail for a long, cold, thirsty, and uncomfortable night. I had a shell parka, sweater, and was wearing Goretex pants, so was never in danger, but it's not a night I look to repeat.
On Sunday, at 7:30 am, I can see the trail, and begin hiking again. I kept thinking, this has got to be the last hill, this is the longest 8 miles of my life. I'd always allowed 2 miles/hr in rough terrain, so I'm doubting myself and wondering if the guide book that said allow 1 hour/mile plus 1 hour/1000' of elevation change could be correct. This was a pretty rugged trail, if that was correct it could be a 12 to 14 hour hike. My family must have realized this, and turned back, I was thinking.
Until I finally saw a sign: Fontanna Dam 5 mi.
I'd hiked south, not north, from Clingman's and was at mile 25 with 5 more to go. A bonehead move, but excuses include the combination of leaving the map with my family, poor trail signage at Clingman's, and too much cloud cover to see the sun.
Needless to say, Tara had the worst of it, being worried when it gets dark on Saturday and no husband until 3:00 phone message on Sunday afternoon. The Dartmouth community showed its best in the form of Robin Graham, who was hiking a section to the north of us and who sprang to Tara's support and aid--spending the night with her and the kids and being a rock of support to someone she knew previously only by a phone call.
It all worked out. Tara, Rose, and birthday boy, Patrick, hiked our section. I hiked Clingman's to Fontanna (in 2 days)(did anyone else cover this section?). And we got home safe, a day late. Although Patrick's take on whether a lost Dad was a good way to spend a birthday is in the photo below.
Additional photos are of the Sunday wait for me to turn up and include Robin. The final photo is my family, reunited on Sunday night. The only Atinaday photo to include me!
Stecoah Gap, NC-143 south to US-19/US-74 Nantahala River- 13.6 miles
Hikers:David Dowd '79, Dod Hamre, Brian Larson, Jeff Larson, and Jeff's dog
My group of hikers consisted of three friends, Dod Hamre from Birmingham, AL, Brian Larson from Birmingham, AL, Jeff Larson from Murphy, NC (Brian's brother), and me (plus Jeff's dog). Dod, Brian and Jeff were honorary Dartmouth alums for the day.
We began our hike at Stecoah Gap, NC in the Nantahala National Forest. As indicated in attached photo #1, the altitude at Stecoah Gap was 3,165 feet and the sky was quite overcast. We began our hike shortly before 8 am and headed south towards our destination of US Highway 19 and the Nantahala River near Wesser, NC, some 13.5 miles away. For the first two hours, we had light rain and temperatures in the mid-50s to low 60s. The first five miles was mostly uphill as we hiked to Cheoah Bald at 5,080 feet. The attached photo #2 includes all four of us at Cheoah Bald along with a strange chair we found at the summit. The rest of the hike was mostly downhill without rain. Attached photo #3 was taken towards the end of the hike. The clouds were with us all the way, so we had almost no views despite hiking along the ridgeline much of the way. We did have some views during the last two hours looking south and down into the Nantahala River Gorge. We finally saw the sun during the last mile of the hike as we appoached US 19 and the Nantahala River. We completed the hike at 3 pm, a little more than 7 hours after we started. Although some of us slipped or fell once or twice, we made the hike without mishap and had a great time. The weather and the views could have been better, but enjoyed the beautiful forest and the beginnings of the fall colors.
The AT crosses US 19 and the Nantahala River near the Nantahala Outdoor Center (a river outfitter) and several restaurants. Shortly after we arrived at the River, I found Erik Jacobson '04, who had hiked 17 miles northbound from Wayah Bald to US 19. Erik, who had hiked alone, joined our group at one of the restaurants for a beer and lunch. Erik and I had talked several days prior to October 10 and I had committed to shuttling him to his car after his hike. Attached photo #4 is a photo of Erik and me with the Nantahala River in the background. All of us enjoyed visiting with Erik and learning about his background and family, as well as his pursuit of a Phd in Education at the University of Georgia. After we finished lunch and gave our legs plenty of time to stiffen, all five us headed to Stecoah Gap in Jeff's truck to retrieve my vehicle. Dod, Brian and Jeff then drove to Jeff's home in Murphy, and Erik and I headed to Eriks' car at Wayah Bald in my car. The drive to Wayah Bald was very windy as we followed the Nantahala River for many miles upriver as it dropped several hundred feet through several waterfalls and continuous rapids. As Erik and I visited during the drive, I was reminded once again of the power of the Dartmouth experience. I attended by 25th Reunion a few days after Erik graduated from Dartmouth. The Dartmouths we attended were different in many ways, but we had many common experiences and we both have a deep love for Dartmouth.
Although I have not hiked significant miles on the AT, I have hiked portions of the AT in four states - North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and New Hampshire. There is no trail I would rather hike than the AT. It has a magical quality for me, perhaps because of its length and its long history, perhaps because I have come to accept that I probably will never have the opportunity to attempt or complete an AT thru-hike. So when the DOC announced the AT in a Day event, I was hooked. What a combination, Dartmouth and the AT! I had goose bumps as we started the hike that Saturday at Stecoah Gap, as I thought of hundreds of alums and students doing what I was doing up and down the entire length of the AT. And it was so appropriate to tackle this project in celebration of the DOC. Although I was not an active member of the DOC while a student, I have very fond memories of my DOC trip (then called Freshmen Trips) in the White Mountains, my visits to the Ravine Lodge, and two trips to the College Grant during my senior year (1979), one on cross country skis in April and the other during senior week in June. The DOC was, and continues to be, part of my Dartmouth experience.
October 10, 2009 was a special day for me. Thank you Lindsey for your part in making AT in a Day a success. Please pass along to my deepest appreciation to the DOC leadership for their efforts in organizing and implementing this wonderful event - Matt Dahlhausen '11 & Athena Aicher '11 ATinaday Directors, Alice Bradley '11 & Max Friedman '10 DOC Centennial Directors, and Tom Flynn '11 DOC president.
Wayah Bald to US-19/US-74-17.2 miles
Hikers: Erik Jacobson
I hiked from Wayah Bald 17.2 miles to the US-19 where the AT meets the Nantahala River. Â I started hiking at 6:00am. Â It was dark and foggy, but by 7 the sky had cleared a little and moonlight came through the thin canopy along the ridge line; I could see well enough to switch off my headlamp. Â I passed another hiker camping by the trail and several miles later saw another at a shelter. These were the only other hikers I saw all day. Â There was a little drizzle on and off again and low clouds that broke twice during the hike, affording short views of the autumn foliage in valleys below. Â I finished around 2:45 and was joined shortly by David Dowd '79 and his friends. Â A wonderful thing to be part of!
Wayah Bald south to Winding Stair Gap- 10.1 miles
Hikers: Gordon Cook
I met up with Eric Jacobsen, who spent night at my cabin before we awoke at 3:35 am to go and shuttle vehicles. He hiked North from Wayah Bald, me South. I made it to Winding Stair gap a few hours later. There are a few pics attached, including Siler Bald [a short side-trip off the AT] and Winding Stair trailhead.