For Snowshoe skiers, the combination of the new 14 mile stretch of Corridor H and the new Snowshoe access road (scheduled to open by ski season) should shorten your drive considerably as well.
For more on Corridor H:
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 09-03-2002).]
Even more interesting to me is the new access road you mentioned for Snowshoe. Do you have any details on this new road? Especially where this road will run?
Winter backpacking in an area like this is fun, challenging, but requires many skills and equipment never even thought about in summer backpacking, let alone summer car camping. If someone wants to give this a try, I strongly suggest that they read up extensively and first do several shakedown trips. These should progress from simple winter car camping to very short backpacks where one can ski/walk back to the car in 15 minutes if something goes wrong.
Car access to the interesting (ie, treeless, alpine) parts of the Sods is essentially non-existent in the winter. From the east, they gate the road up to Bear Rocks just a short distance up from Jorden Run Rd, so you you are faced with a long uphill walk/ski/snowshoe carrying full winter equipment in your pack. The closest car put-in point is probably from the west. Assuming you can get access to the gated Timberline community, drive as far up the hill as they have plowed, and park near the water tower. Its then only a short uphill walk to the top of the Sods. You also can access the Sods from points further south, but (a) these aren't drive-in (eg, the top of the Timberline and Canaan V downhill areas, XC in from Whitegrass), and (b) these put-in points leave you some distance from the really unique, treeless parts of the sods.
In years past, I've done winter backpacks in -25 F temps where I have been much more comfortable than on the treeless parts of the Sods at temps in the 0 to +15 F range. The lack of shelter from the wind, dampness, rocky terrain that never seems to get fully covered by snow, and changeable weather can make it a real bear of an experience (but equally rewarding).
Before anyone commits to doing a full winter BP on the sods, take the lift up to the top of Timberline in miserable weather, bring a bit of equipment, walk east a bit to the FS road, poke around for a couple of hours, and then cook lunch for yourself. If you are still interested in winter backpacking after this, you've got the right personality - grin.
Tom / PM
PhysicsMan-Ive been out in that -20F weather you speak of... imagine just having to unzip the tent flap, piss, and it froze within the hour, the snow there just turned to yellow colored ice.
Appearntly some Boy Scouts tried to go up there and camp 2 weekends ago, they couldn't get it because the Sods just had its first major ice-storm of the year. Nasty.
You're right about that lift. Usually around Christmas its about -5 at the top. Not nice. People with broken down cars, just trouble everywhere.
If I were to camp anywhere around Snowshoe I'd try to find a place down around Slatyfork or Cass, but if you're quasi-hardcore just head out somewhere on 6000 Steps (great bike trail) and pitch your tent. Then you just ski a singletrack trail and your at the bottom.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-01-2002).]