Thursday, August 24, 2023

In Search of Gregory's Bald


Great Smoky Mountain National Park
June 22 - 25, 2023

The past two years went by fast, faster than I would like to admit, but it was time again for the bi-annual trip with my buddy Greg. We decided to return once again to the Great Smoky Mountains and make Smokemont our basecamp for a second time. Our adventure this year was a hike up to Gregory’s Bald with an overnight at backcountry site #13 Sheep Pen Gap at 4,640 ft.  

Greg and I before I hike up to Gregory Bald

Day 1 – The first day of our trip of course is always travel. Greg drove down from Indy to my house and then we took my Jeep and trailer into the park. We were able to get everything set up and squared away before our traditional rain shower. For those of you who do not know, on about every one of our trips we always get a fair amount of rain and by fair amount it is usually a torrential downpour.  We were able to get a fire going and cook a good dinner before calling it a night. 

Day 2 – Can not start an adventure off without some coffee and a hearty breakfast. We then packed our bags and headed out on the road to the Twentymile Ranger Station where the trailhead started. Below I listed the route we took for this loop hike.  

Our Route: 

  1. Twenitymile ...................... 3.1 Miles
  2. Long Hungry Ridge ............ 4.6 Miles 
  3. Gregory Bald .................... 1.2 Miles 
  4. Wolf Ridge ....................... 6.3 Miles 
  5. Twentymile ...................... 0.5 Miles 

Area Trail Map GSMNP

I hiked this same route going the opposite direction back in April of 2022 and I will list all the information from that hike in the link section at the end of this blog. The reason for hiking it starting with Long Hungry Ridge is while a longer hike up it is not as steep this direction. In hindsight I might take the greater elevation gain with the shorter distance after slugging all that way up with an overnight pack on.  

The morning was rainy and gave way to the sun around 11:00 but by the time we started to reach the top of the mountain a thick fog / haze moved in. By the time we reached Gregory Bald the view was totally obscured in a thick fog however the Flame Azaleas were in full bloom and popped against the grey sky. It really did feel as if we were on a different planet.  

After taking it all in for a few minutes we stumbled on into camp and started setting up. We tried to start a fire but I was pretty sure it was not going to take off. Between all the rain, humidity, and mist all the wood was just saturated. We could at least get it started but could not get it to catch so we settled in for a couple of adult beverages and dinner before calling it a night.  

My sleep setup for this outing

Day 3 – I was planning to get up with a couple of other guys who camped with us that night and go and try and get a view back a Gregory Bald. When my alarm went off, I stuck my head out from underneath the tarp and saw the mist had turned into a deep fog and some light rain. There was not any sense of getting up for another fogged in view, so I curled up back in my sleeping bag and got some more shuteye. 

Story Links: 

Finally got up a couple of hours later and got my coffee going. Greg got up around 9:00 am or so and we had breakfast, broke camp, and started back down the mountain. The weather could not make up its mind and fluctuated from mist to rain then sun and back again. The downhill was more pleasant than the uphill and we made pretty good time. Parson’s Bald was really grown over from the last time I was there. We missed the rattlesnake who had made the Parson’s Bald sign his home according to a few other hikers coming up the trail. As we moved lower streams started to reappear and the sounds of running water stayed with us until we got back to the Jeep. 

Got back to Smokemont and took a quick dip in the stream and almost went swimming with a couple of snakes. We then had a celebratory steak with a few more adult beverages.  Another great trip and Smoky Mountain adventure in the books the next day we packed up and headed home. The mountains never disappoint.  

YouTube Video:

Past Blogs and Videos on Gregory Bald:

Hiking Gregory Bald
April 22, 2023

My blog post on my very first hike up to Gregory Bald. This was the same way Greg and I went but hiked the loop in reverse. 

- Click Here For Blog Page - 

Hiking Gregory Bald
April 22, 2023

AllTrails recording of my first hike. See my time elevation gain and all that happy stuff.

- Click Here For Recording - 

April 22, 2023

I have wanted to do this hike for a few years now. I have not yet been to Gregory Bald and I had heard it is a sight... - Video -

April 22, 2023

This video will take you to Gregory Bald then down Long Hungry Ridge and Twentymile and we will stop at the Twentymile Cascade... - Video -

- -

No comments:

Abrams Falls & Rabbit Creek Loop

Trip Journal: Great Smoky Mountain National Park March 28 – 30, 2024  - Day One: Thursday March 28, 2024 -   I got off work at 16:00 and wen...