Smoky Mountains: Winter Backpacking–4 Days–Hiking and Camping in the Cold


Another long backpacking trip in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — this time in the snow!

I took four days in early February, 2016, to explore the Southwestern reaches of the park: the Twentymile Trail, the Lost Cove Trail, and the Lakeshore Trail. I spent the nights at campsites 77, 81, and 93.

I camped with a tarp and got some snow on the trip. In the video I also feature the Calhoun House, Proctor Cemetery, Fontana Lake, and more . . .

Hope you like the video!

If you are looking for campsite reviews in the Smokies and want to jump straight to those points in the video, here are links:

12:08 Campsite 77 Pilkey Creek
14:48 Campsite 81 North Shore
25:26 Campsite 93 Twentymile Creek

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–follow the link and hit “subscribe”! And thanks to all my new subscribers!

****RELATED VIDEOS ON MY CHANNEL****

“Food for the Trail, Tips and Techniques,”

“Inside My Pack: Hiking and Backpacking in Cold Weather,”

“Five Set-Ups for a Square Tarp,”

“Lightweight Backpacking Tip: How to Keep Your Feet Dry Without Camp Shoes,”

“Lightweight Backpacking Tip: Lightweight Camera Tripod,”

“Hiking and Backpacking in the Smokies Part 1: Books to Plan Your Trip,”

“Hiking and Backpacking in the Smoky Mountains Part 2: Finding Solitude,”

****SHOUT-OUTS IN THE VIDEO****

Nature Calls — “Winter Backpacking Tip — Reflectix Insulation Mat,” at 33:19

Scouting Free — “Bushtalk #11: Walk the Walk vs. Talk the Talk,” at 33:57

****CAMERA EQUIPMENT AND EDITING*****

Filmed with a Canon Powershot G7X. Edited with Cyberlink PowerDirector 14.

****MUSIC****

“Snowbound” by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils

**** MY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: MY DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS (SOME FROM THE TRAIL) ****

**** SEND ME EMAIL ****

email: Evan.Schaeffer@gmail.com



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42 comments

  • Evan… That was the best 35 minute video I've seen on YT I think. Man, I know that was a lot of work crossing those creeks TWICE to get the shots. I imagine editing took hours, and a lot of video probably never made it to the final edition… Powering through, with a hurting knee, wild hogs and snow… Man, that was awesome…Thanks for sharing your adventure! Music was "spot-on", too! Great video, great job!

  • You show great wisdom no shame in getting back. You need to warm you bone marrow up real good, getting wet in Creek and sleeping in snowstorm cold goes deeper than you think. Glad you saw the wildlife, they probably have a great deal of respect seeing you out there ! As someone who also camped out in 5° weather
    "Hope the car heater works, hot cocoa and dive under 15 covers in bed .. Epic video !. thanks

  • What's attached to your back pack along with the silver insulation?

  • I even watched both ADs. I am from New England. Snow is a good insulator. Very informative. Nice job !

  • Wow, you have grit! Kudos to you

  • Hello , I’m disabled., and love your videos. Thank you kindly appreciate it

  • Home sick today…TV sucks, watching old Evan hiking videos does not suck…we did a shorter version of this last spring..skipped Lost Cove trail, didnt want to deal with the water crossings…sure miss your channel man….

  • Why don’t you have a real tent?! That looks freezing 🥶 and no fire 🔥

  • What bag do you use for winter backpacking?

  • I don't know about others,but I did enjoyed this video. Thank for the experience.

  • Don't know if you will see this because the vid is from 3 years ago but just wondering why you don't carry a small bivvy instead of that tarp. Seems like it would be worlds more comfortable to sleep in would it not? Perhaps size is a concern but they really do pack down pretty small.

  • My military cold weather training taught me to open my bag whenever I woke throughout the night. This allows some of the moisture to escape. I learned the hard way to not leave my boots outside the bag overnight. Brrr…cold feet all day

  • Evan this is the first video of yours that I didn’t wish I was with you. That looked rough. The water crossings must have been brutal. I’ve been surprised by the number of wild hogs you see on your hikes. I wasn’t aware there were so many in GSNP. Of course their plentiful here in Mississippi also and are quite a problem and can be dangerous. I think I’d be more concerned about walking up on a wild hog than even a bear. Do you know if GSNP does anything to try and control the population of the wild boars? Enjoyed the video and am thankful you made it out of this one ok.

  • What lengths of cordage or parachute line do you carry to erect your tarp setups? Are these pre-cut or just 50' coils?

  • Beautifully done, Evan. Excellent explanations of circumstances. What age a lad are you to do such Smokies mileage daily? I am 61 and am impressed with your abilities!

  • Really good video Evan. I will be seeing these conditions next season on the A.T. I begin my journey on February 15th from Springer Mountain. Thanks for this video.

  • Does the reflectix insulate you from the coldness of the ground?

  • That Confederate soldier in the cemetery was apparently in Thomas' Legion of Indians and Highlanders
    , 69th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. The regiment had two companies of Cherokees.

  • Faab..as always…(even though I DON’T suck at backpacking..haha!!)

  • Don't blame you for cutting it short, that's a heck of hike to do in the snowy wet conditions. A real trooper. For now I'll stick to my Algonquin mid fall conditions. Aside from the weather, bears are my biggest concern for this time of year…
    Cheers from Ontario!

  • Great stuff sir. I just stumbled onto your channel here and im really liking all i have seen so far. Thanks for the videos.

  • I really enjoy your videos, thanks for posting them.

  • I'm a recent subscriber, Evan, and I'm enjoying your videos. I have lived in Knoxville most of my life, so the Smokies are my home park, and a place where I pursue landscape photography. I've hiked Twentymile to the AT and campsite 113 a few times, and it's definitely a tough climb. I've heard the Lost Cove side is pretty steep too, and it looks like that was your experience. I look forward to more videos from you!

  • I'm pretty sure that cemetery on top of the hill is Pilkey Cemetery. Some of the earliest members I've found in my family tree are buried there (Pilkingtons). I'd like to see that place one day.

  • A race shirt, nice!! Do you run trail or road?

  • Evan I know you have hiked in the smokies quite a bit and thoughts on which trails would be best on horseback as far as terrain that is not as rocky

  • I really appreciate how thorough you are in your descriptions and trip reports, makes it easy to follow. You also chose topics that are of interest for other hikers, I am learning from your experiences. Appreciate how you focus on knowing alternative routes, tarp pitches, plan Bs for failed riverxings, etcetc.

    I just bought a Garmin Inreach Mini, it is pretty convenient with txt abilities and always being able to locate yourself on your phones map apps, just a suggestion if wifes worried…

    I am thinking of camping in the Norwegian mountains with a tarp this winter, kinda anxious to see how that works out in strong winds and snow. With a snow shovel I hope to survive… Do you ever use a tent in winter cause you don’t fell a tarp is sufficient? By the way; Do you feel your MLD bivi breathes well? I have the same super light, only I have the cuben floor, think you said you have the sill floor, maybe I remember wrong; However, was wondering if you have problems with condensation in yours, I haven’t used mine much because I did get moisture trapped especially one hot night. Maybe I just need to test it more and it will work out great… Be interested in your experience using it. Ok, way too much txt, sry. Again, awesome video, take care bud!

  • Thanks for the great video! Great Job! Have been watching a lot of your adventures. Very nice to relax and watch these. Motivates me to get outside. Thanks!

  • Really awesome video, seeing that snowstorm roll in was cool. I'm assuming you irritated your IT band by the way you talked about? They're so painful on anything but level ground.

  • Theodore Brooks was died at the age of 4
    ☹️

  • You made this two years ago, you've been at this video thing for a while. When did you start? With the snow it looks like home, we've had the white stuff since mid December. We'll probably reach the Smoky's in April so I'm hoping snow at that time will be a fluke and not likely.

  • Really enjoyed watching. The Smokys can be difficult even without the winter weather. Nice job Evan

  • Great video you did an awesome job on this one

  • Great job! Thanks for posting your video. Very helpful. I am planning a winter hike on the AT through the Smokies in January.

  • Evan you are definitely a badass you make it look easy my friend! What an awesome vid ! Thanks for taking us !

  • fun video. i just found your video and subbed. a fun adventure you did. i live on mt hood in oregon and i do adventure videos also. most in the fall as in the winter i work a unreal amount of hours as a chef on mt hood. but feel free to sub back if you want for some of my oregon mt adventures. snowshoes. extreme sports. survival. guns. etc. tons of stuff. peace.

  • Hard core backpacking well done. Based on your trip I will not be using a tarp for ground dwelling in the winter but wouldn't hesitate using my cuben for winter hammocking.

  • Really enjoyed this video. I am so glad I found your channel. Never a waste of time to watch your videos. Thanks for sharing.

  • Great video, enjoyable to be with you. Appreciate the extra effort you take to record video, knowing it adds a lot of time and effort to your hike. Very inspiring, have a great 2017

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