Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Bradley Fork - January 3, 1999 - Member Trip Report

Hike Name: Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Bradley Fork
Country: United States
State: North Carolina
Trip Rating: 4 stars
Trip Date: January 3, 1999
Duration: 3 days
Trail Conditions: Poor
Trail Traffic: Light
Trip Weather: Partly Sunny, Partly Cloudy
Trip Winds: Light
Trip Precipitation: None
Trip Temperature: High: 51-60, Low: 31-40 degrees Fahrenheit
Trip Report: 1/03/99 (Saturday) - The Ox and I left Smokemont at 2 pm today and we had nice weather for the hike out. There were only a handful of hikers on the trail, and we passed a group of 4 or 5 people that backtracked to the parking area since the snow was deeper and tougher than they expected. The Ox and I got to Campsite #48 before dark, but it was buried in snow and we walked right past it late this afternoon. After an hour of searching (and another mile of hiking), we finally unearthed some logs around a firepit and realized we were on top of Campsite #48. So we set up camp around 5:30pm and got some nice photos of the sunset through the barren hardwoods. The Ox stoked up a roaring fire tonight which made for comfortable temperatures at the campsite. The watch altimeter said we bottomed out at 33 degrees tonight and we had the area entirely to ourselves this evening.

1/04/99 (Sunday) – I cooked up a hearty omelet this morning with the new BakePacker which I bought recently and it was really easy to use. The Ox and I climbed to the ridge around noon and it was a very difficult hike. The valley had anywhere between 3-6” of snow, but the ridge had 6-12” (depending on the area). At 5000 feet, it was particularly deep and hiking was slow and difficult. There were only a few hiker tracks on the ridge, so most of the other hikers decided to stay in the valley.

Despite our doubts, we picked up the pace and made it down to Campsite #49 before dark. The lower elevations had less snow, so we moved much faster and were hiking downhill once we got off the ridge. Our pace was less than a mile an hour at 5000 feet, but it picked up to about two miles an hour as we hiked down to the ravine where Campsite #49 was located. The place has a huge flat area that can accommodate a large group. We set up camp by 4:30pm, and the Ox rolled a giant snow ball to clear the snowpack and produce some dry ground. We had another roaring fire this evening and saw about 10-15 other hikers on the loop, but none of them were camped here for the night. Both #48 and #49 were virgin sites and no one has camped or walked into them since the last snowfall.

1/05/99 (Monday) - It was down into the 30’s again last night, but warmer this morning. We had an easy hike out along a snow-covered stream, and we fueled up with some oatmeal for breakfast before we hit the trail. By noon we were back at Smokemont , and there was much less snow at the trailhead than when we started on Saturday. The Smoky’s are a great hiking experience in the winter and much more peaceful and quiet than in the summer. I highly recommend a January trip here.


The Ox

5,750 points



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