Ascent of Clingmans Dome on 2015-01-17

Climber: Bradley R

Others in Party:Frank Esposito
Date:Saturday, January 17, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Clingmans Dome
    Location:USA-North Carolina/Tennessee
    Elevation:6643 ft / 2024 m

Ascent Trip Report

Frank and I completed this hike together. This hike included 2.9 miles on Lakeshore Trail (plus 1.5 miles on a wrong turn that lead to Lake Fontana, the lake was low and we actually ended up walking in the lake bed),11 miles on Forney Creek Trail,1.1 miles on forney Ridge Trail, 0.5 miles on Clingman's peak trail, 6 miles on the Appalachian Trail, and finally 1.8 miles on the Clingman's Dome Access Road. Plus about two miles of wondering for a total of 26 miles.

Our Hike began at the end of "The Road to Nowhere", Lakeview Drive and finished at Newfound Gap on Highway 441 where Frank's girlfriend picked us up.

Our trip began on Friday night just after dark. The trail begins by going through an abandoned tunnel, with plenty of graffiti, which was a cool start. We got to a certain point and decided to take the way that may lead to the lake, soon after this we missed a turn to stay on the lakeshore trail and actually ended up walking into the lake bed. For some reason the lake was 20-30' below its potential level. From here we headed back ond got back on the Lakeshore trail and met the Forney creek trail. From here we hiked until we reached campsite 69 just off of Forney Creek. To get here we had to make several creek crossings. For the first we tried to rock hop across, after I slipped and almost went into the water I suggested wading. Frank wasn't ready to give in and tried one more time, but ended up slipping into the water, after this he agreed to wade. We waded across pantless, shoeless and sockless. The water had to be near freezing, my toes immediately started stinging. At the next crossing our only non-wading option was a tree fallen across the creek. We had to straddle and scoot across this tree as it was too narrow to walk across. This wasn't too bad with exception to a huge knot that was difficult to get your manhood over. The final creek crossing we made over dry. We made it to camp at 2 AM, at camp 69, after just over 10 miles of hiking. I didn't sleep great as I got a little cold.

The next day we woke up around 8 AM and started packing up camp and we were back on the trail around 8:30 AM. Several more creek crossings on this day, we were able to make it across all of them dry, only the 1st crossing provided any real difficulty. Today the uphill started, I somehow misread the map and thought we were closer to the junction of Forney Creek and Forney Ridge than we were. Eventually we came up on camp 68, which unlike other sites, was well marked. (*Note: There were actually two camp 68s, both marked, I would guess 0.5 miles apart, this added to our confusion on exactly where were). Finally we reached the junction of Forney Creek and Ridge. Here we stopped for a decent size meal.

After a short discussion about going to Andrew's Bald we decided to skip it and continue to Clingmans. By this time we were both slowing down, Frank a bit more than I. We made it to the parking lot (empty since the access road was closed), the final 0.5 miles up a paved path was torturous, but we made it. The lookout tower is certainly unique and the views were beautiful. While at the top we saw the only other people over the two days.

From here we contacted Frank's girlfriend to pick us up, we asked her to meet us at 6:10 PM. We started back on the AT and crossed Mount Love and Mount Collins. Frank was slowing down considerably and it appeared we would end up making his girlfriend wait. Luckily we came out next to the Clingman's Dome Access Road, here we took the road and were able to pick up our pace. We actually reached Newfound Gap before Frank's girlfriend made it by about 1 minute. It was actually amazing timing. As I was being taken back to my truck I got to see my first wild boar, I would estimate the boar weighed at least 200 lbs.

Overall the hike was too much for one night and one day. It may be reasonable for two full days, but would probably be best for a three day trip. I enjoyed it just wished I had slept better at camp.

We had beautiful weather.

The drive home: I had a 2+ hour drive home from where my truck was parked. On the drive home I got to the point where I was so tired I couldn't concentrate on the road and had to pull over. I pulled into a gas station and set my alarm for 30 minutes. I awoke about 2 hours later to a gas attendant pecking at my window. At first he was kind of hateful, probably assuming I was drunk, but he calmed down when I told him I had been hiking and was just trying to get some sleep. He asked me to move to the other side of the gas station as he was getting a gas delivery, I went ahead and drove home. My alarm had been going off, but was in a setting that it didn't wake me up.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4989 ft / 1520 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1575 ft / 480 m
    Round-Trip Distance:26.5 mi / 42.6 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Headlamp, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4989 ft / 1520 m
    Distance:18.5 mi / 29.8 km
    Route:Lakeshore/Forney Creek/Forney Ridge/Clingmans Peak
    Start Trailhead:1654 ft / 504 m
    Time:11 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1575 ft / 480 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Appalachian trail/Clingman's Dome Access Road
    End Trailhead:5068 ft / 1544 m
    Time:3 Hours 50 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Clingmans Dome (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Clingmans Dome2015-01-17 a4989 ft / 1521 m
 Mount Love2015-01-17 b 
 Mount Collins2015-01-17 c 
 Newfound Gap2015-01-17 d 
Total Trip Gain: 4989 ft / 1521 m    Total Trip Loss: 1575 ft / 480 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley R
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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