Friday, April 29, 2022

Hiking Gregory Bald

Smoky Mountains National Park
Saturday, April 2, 2022

I have wanted to do this hike for a few years now. I had not yet been to Gregory Bald but had heard it is quite the place to go and see. My original plan was to do this as a two-day hike but now that I am in better shape figured, I would tackle it in one day. I will eventually do this as an overnighter as I would like to spend some more time up top and the hike itself is just awesome.

I started at the Twentymile ranger station very early in the morning. I hiked quite a while in the dark on this one but one of my favorite times to be in the mountains is when you get that dark blue sky with the silhouette of the mountains when the sun first starts to rise. Below are the trials I used to make the loop and I hiked it this time clockwise.

Twenitymile 0.5
Wolf Ridge 6.3
Gregory Bald         1.2
Long Hungry Ridge 4.6
Twentymile 3.1 

The hike starts out very pleasant with several stream crossing with all having bridges to walk over. You will pass the junction with the Twentymile Loop Trail that is a nice eight-mile loop. Then once you get to backcountry #95 the trail becomes quite a bit more steep until you make it to the ridge.

Once on the ridge the trail does flattens again, and you are close to Parsen Bald. Paresen Bald is a small bald closed in with tall grass and while beautiful your view of the surrounding mountains is somewhat obstructed. Gregory Bald is less than a mile's hike from here and is a very pleasant walk. I love hiking ridgelines especially in warmer weather because you usually have a nice breeze. As you get close to Gregory Bald the grasses start to part and the world opens to an awe-inspiring 360-degree view.  

I took a good hour lunch / coffee break and just took in the views. Clouds started to move in and the sky went from a bright blue to grey overcast in what only seemed like mere minutes. After this nice break it was back on the trail and into the forest for my decent back to the Twentymile ranger station.  

From the Gregory Bald Trail you will take the Long Hungry Ridge Trail that is 4.6 miles long. It is on this trail you will transition from ridgeline back to  a downhill hike. It was here I again ran into small little white flowers that give the impression the ground is snow covered. I also saw these when I did my spring hike to Charlie Bunion when I was on grassy Branch.  

I took one last snack break when I reached backcountry campsite #92. At this point the trail again starts to follow a stream again all the way back to the start of the hike. You link back up to the Twentymile Trail and have several stream crossings mostly with the help of bridges. There are a couple you will need to rock hop. Close to the end of Twentymile there will be a side trail where you can go view the Twentymile Cascades.   

Now back to the Jeep it was time to battle the Dragon and in the Jeep it is no small feat. On my way in it was so early no one is out, but now it is busy. The Dragon is HWY 129 and at this point it has a bunch of sharp turns that draw quite the crowd of fast cars and motorcycles that absolutely fly. Jeeps just cannot turn as sharp as those high-performance cars, so it makes for a white-knuckled trip.   

While a changeling hike this one is awesome and I cannot wait to go again. Let me know what you think in the comments and if you have hiked this let me know how you liked it.  

Follow all my adventures on my website

Link to my AllTrails Recording
 - AllTrails Recording

My YouTube Channel 

Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountain Trail Map 

Youtube Video of my Hike
Hiking Gregory Bald (Part 1)

 Hiking Gregory Bald (Part 2)


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Backcountry Camping & Decompressing

With all the stress, we carry around with us in our day-to-day lives I am sure we all have different ways to decompress. My favorite way to decompress is to go camping out in the backcountry. This past weekend I was fortunate enough to get a two night stay out in the woods.   

My friend and I had Friday off so we took off to Cherokee National Forest Thursday evening where we got camp squared away, firewood processed and then relaxed by the fire enjoying the beautiful night. The next morning we got up had some breakfast and rolled a large log over to the fire pit for a make shift bench. I then headed out to meet our wives at the trailhead.   

After lunch, we were able to mess around a fallen tree over the creek, and then actually hopped in for a chilling dip. The mountain water was cold but invigorating as a filled a little water fall. We headed back to camp and everyone decided to take a nap. I poured a little bourbon and took my kindle down to the creek and read a little, drank a little and dozed a little. Down by the creek I had the warm sun and then the cool air off the water for the perfect feeling of warm and cold. I think it the longest I have just sat and relaxed for a while. 

That even we had another fire and good conversation. Over the night, we had a nice little rain shower and between the noise of the rain hitting the tent and the running water from the creek there was not anyway I was going to have a bad sleep. The rain stopped by 9:00 in the morning and we packed up and headed out. I needed those two nights out, as my body and mind were able to reset. As always, I cannot wait until the next time! 


YouTube Video
Backcountry Camping with Friends

Video Highlights of my Backcountry Camping Trip

Tell me in the comments how you decompress...

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