Ascent of Big Bald on 2016-09-05

Climber: Bradley Reese

Date:Monday, September 5, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Big Bald
    Location:USA-North Carolina/Tennessee
    Elevation:5516 ft / 1681 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this hike: Big Bald is on many lists. It was supposed to be beautiful weather and Big Bald has good views. Since Little Bald and West Street Gap were close by I planned to hike them as well.

Parking: The shortest trip to cover the three peaks starts at Street Gap. Place "Street Gap" or Street Gap Rd" into your GPS and it should take you close to where the AT crosses. The road to Street Gap from either the TN or NC side was very rough requiring a vehicle with good clearance. 4X4 probably isn't necessary, but I put it to use anyway. Initially I planned to enter from the NC side but got to a point where I felt I was entering someone's driveway and could not see another way through (it was still dark at this time). I doubled back and entered from the TN side. After I finished the hike I came out on the NC side and found that I had been at the correct place earlier, but thought the gravel road was just a place to turn around.

Alternate Parking:
Sams Gap: You could hike to the same peaks via Sams gap, but the hiking distance would increase. Any vehicle should be able to get here.
Spivey Gap: Without adding significant distance you could hike Little and Big Bald from here. You would be able to replace West Street Gap with High Rocks.

The Hike: I started driving just before 4:30 AM and reached Street Gap at 7:10 AM, it would of been earlier if not for the troubles described in parking above.

The hike is pretty straightforward. I started North on the AT toward Big and Little Bald. I reached Big Bald after just over 4 miles, passing only one other person. The views were great clouds were sitting in the valleys below and clear skies surrounded me. I passed another group leaving the bald area as well as a bird collection group. They had nets up to catch and tag birds.

After roughly 2.6 more miles (6.6 total) I reached Little Bald, just a few steps off of the trail. Just below the peak there is a nice view worth seeing. Little Bald is not a true bald. Just before turning around I met a man nearing retirement age. After I turned around I quickly caught up to him.

I returned to Street Gap via the same route I came in on for 13.2 miles. Along the way I stayed with the guy I met at my turn-around. He was headed to shelter to drop off an article from the Hampton Magazine describing a situation his 3XGreat Grandfather had been in where he had helped men save their horses after they'd become lost in the near by mountains. In our discussions I learned he was section hiking the AT and had completed through Pennsylvania. He had plans to finish the AT sometime in 2017.

When I returned to Big Bald I took in the views one more time and continued back to my truck. The first time I had been by Big Bald I had it to myself, this time I shared it with several groups of people, mostly from the development just below. After I dropped back into the woods I was making good time, then turned my ankle. Luckily it wasn't too bad and I was back up to speed after about 1/4 mile of hobbling.

Upon returning to my truck I had made much better time than expected so I made the decision to continue south on the AT to West Street Gap Peak. I reached the peak at 0.5 miles from Street Gap then returned to my truck for a final time finishing up with 14.2 miles of hiking in just under 6 hours.

Would I redo: YES, this is pretty high up on my redo list. Probably will do from Spivey Gap next time.

Wildlife: - Saw 3 groups of deer, 8 deer total
- Saw one small snake

-This is the 6th consecutive hike in the US, 5th overall, I've done that included a county high point.
-This is the 3rd hike I've done in the last year that included a peak named "Big Bald", all in NC.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6183 ft / 1884 m
    Total Elevation Loss:6183 ft / 1884 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.2 mi / 22.9 km
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Pretty Perfect
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3790 ft / 1155 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1397 ft / 426 m; Extra: 2393 ft / 729m
    Loss on way in:2393 ft / 729 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Route:AT North
    Start Trailhead:Street Gap  4119 ft / 1255 m
    Time:1 Hours 44 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3790 ft / 1155 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1397 ft / 426 m; Extra: 2393 ft / 729m
    Gain on way out:2393 ft / 729 m
    Distance:10.1 mi / 16.3 km
    Route:AT South
    End Trailhead:Street Gap  4119 ft / 1255 m
    Time:4 Hours 12 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Big Bald

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Big Bald2016-09-05 ac6183 ft / 1885 m
 Little Bald2016-09-05 b 
 West Street Gap Peak2016-09-05 d 
Total Trip Gain: 6183 ft / 1885 m    Total Trip Loss: 6183 ft / 1885 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley Reese
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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