Lollilop Loop in the Smokies – Camel Gap Trail – Trip Day 2

Camel Gap Trail
Camel Gap Trail

Camel Gap Trail, Appalachian Trail, Low Gap 1 Trail, Big Creek Trail

Date Hiked: May 4,2013
Miles Hiked:15ish

Day 2: I wake up to a very cold, damp and windy day. Luckily it didn’t rain much in the middle of the night so I didn’t have to the dreaded task of packing up everything wet. While packing I decided to go ahead and fix me some breakfast. I don’t generally cook breakfast but decided on grits with some Velveeta added and some precooked bacon strips. It was the first time I tried the precooked bacon and will definitely bring it on the trail again. I managed to get everything packed up and hit the the trail.

Pretty little flowers
Pretty little flowers

The first trail of the day was the Camel Gap Trail up to the Appalachian Trail. I loved this trail. It is a nice well graded trail that runs along the side of a creek for most of the way. The Camel Gap Trail is 4.7 miles long and only gains about 1600 feet in elevation. The sun never managed to come out and the wind started blowing like crazy. Even though I wasn’t hiking that steep I was hiking against the wind sometimes and that is hard. And then it started raining. Not very hard but just enough of a rain to make one miserable. I actually got cold while hiking and had to put my long johns on and my jacket. I tried to find my hat but couldn’t find it anywhere. This got me started worrying. I knew that tomorrows hike was going to be about 10 miles of ridge walking and the forecast was 70% chance rain. I knew I had a decision to make.

Trail Along the Creek
Trail Along the Creek

I had to decide if I was going to continue my hike as planned or was I going to abort and head back home. I would decide when I got up to the Appalachian Trail. The decision was quickly made when I made it to the AT. It was even colder and more windy there. I didn’t even take a break to have a snack. I made my decision rather quickly and instead of turning left on the AT to go to Tri Corner Knob Shelter I turned right and headed north.

After a few miles I made it to the Cosby Knob Shelter and ended up taking a break there. I knew I had a long way to my car and wanted to make sure that I fueled up. One of the backcountry rangers showed up at the shelter and checked everyone’s permits. Another hiker asked him if he knew the weather forecast for the next couple of days. Tomorrow had been bumped up to 100% chance of rain AND they were expecting 2- 4 inches in the next 24-36 hours. I realized then that I made the right decision.

Dark Skies Looming
Dark Skies Looming

I headed on my way continuing north on the AT until I got to Low Gap I trail (there are 2 Low Gap Trails) where I would downhill for 2.5 miles. Low Gap 1 is just about as miserable as Low Gap 2. Steep downhill with lots of rocks and roots. I didn’t think I was ever going to make it to the bottom but finally made it to the Big Creek Trail intersection where I would hike 5 miles back to my car.

Trail Lessons:
Double check to make sure you have all your gear. (I don’t know if having my hat would have made a difference but it might have)

Full Gallery of Pictures

 

 

Lower Mt. Cammerer/Appalachian Trail/Low Gap Trail Loop 15ish miles

Foot-log Bridge
Foot-log Bridge

I got a later start than planned. I had worked a double on Saturday so was kind of tired. But I drug myself out of bed and got going around 9:30 in the morning. This put me starting my hike at around 11:00.  I was planning a pretty high mileage day so was kind of worried about starting this late but figured I could change my plans if need be. I could have opted for an in and out instead of a loop. After the previous high mileage day that I hadn’t planned on doing I was a little more prepared for this one. I ended up carrying about 25 pounds. I carried my sleeping bag and tent along with some other essentials.

Waterfall
Waterfall

So I made my way to Cosby Campground and hit the trail. You really have to watch where you going at first because there are a bunch of nature trails and side trails to the creek. I had to go .4 miles on Low Gap Trail before I would get to Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail. This trail is 7.5 miles long before it reaches the Appalachian Trail. I have to say that this is a really awesome trail. It was beautiful with plenty of water along the entire trail and the grade wasn’t too steep. And there was a really pretty waterfall. It wasn’t in the guidebook so it was a nice surprise.

Getting to the top of something
Getting to the top of something

At just over 3 miles there is a designated campsite (#35). It looked like an OK place to camp with plenty of trees for hammocking.  I took a short break there and had a snack and then I looked up the hill and saw a dog. It took me a minute to realize that there shouldn’t be any dogs. They are not allowed in the park. It looked like one those sled pulling dogs. I saw a collar on it. Then I briefly saw a small little white dog but it turned and went away. I don’t know where they came from or where they went but I never saw any other human on this trail. They didn’t look hungry and I didn’t feel threatened. But I was ready with my poles just in case.

Surprisingly, before I knew it I had reached the trail junction at the Appalachian Trail. It had only taken me just under 3 hours to hike 7.9 miles. Of course this was the easier part of the trip. Just a nice gradual uphill with some nice flat walking.

Log Stairs
Log Stairs

Now was the hard part part. Climbing for the next 2.3 miles with an elevation gain of around 1500 feet. Not terribly strenuous but hard enough especially after already hiking for almost 8 miles. I would be headed south on the AT until I reached Low Gap. The next couple of miles of trail aren’t like normal trail. There are a lot of log steps to climb. For some people this is good and some bad. I like the stairs. This part of the AT I did a couple of weeks prior so it was kind of boring. I really tried to push myself to see how fast I could get to the top. It took me 1 hour and 25 minutes to get to the top.

It was about 6:00 when I finally made it to the trail intersection of Low Gap which would take me back to the car. I still had 2.9 miles to go. At least I wouldn’t be walking in the dark. But the trail was a steep downhill. Downhills are sometimes so really hard. I don’t have to stop and catch my breath like on the uphills but they can be quite jarring to the body. It was a beautiful trail even if it was rocky. I was just glad to finally make it to my car.

~~~~~~~~~Click here to see all the pictures of this trip~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Route and Elevation Profile
Route and Elevation Profile
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