18 Days In The Snowbird Backcountry

1:30 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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BACKPACKING
THE
SNOWBIRD
AND
BRUSHY RIDGE
WILDERNESS


January 1-18  2012


HIGHLIGHTS
**  18 DAYS IN THE SNOWBIRD BACKCOUNTRY

**  CAMPING ON HUCKLEBERRY KNOB AT 5,600 FEET

**  A COLD SNAP WITH SNOW ON THE MITCHELL LICK TRAIL

**  10F CAMP ON A RIDGE FINGER BELOW LAUREL TOP MOUNTAIN

**  12 CROSSINGS ON SNOWBIRD CREEK WITH FROZEN FEET

**  THE NUTBUSTER OF KINGS MEADOW TRAIL

**  CAMPING ON FIRESCALD RIDGE

**  A NIGHT IN THE RAIN ON HOOPER BALD

**  A NIGHT IN THE RAIN ON HAW KNOB

**  A NIGHT IN THE RAIN ON WHIGGS MEADOW

**  A CLASSIC LIGHTNING STORM IN COLD SPRING GAP

**  153 HOURS IN A JANUARY RAINSTORM

**  FOUR NIGHTS IN THE RAIN AT COLD SPRING GAP

**  14F AT COLD SPRING GAP

**  BURNED OUT CAR AT BEECH GAP

**  PULLING THE FLATS MOUNTAIN-LONG BRANCH-NORTH RIVER-TELLICO RIVER-BALD RIVER ROUTE


A NEW YEAR ON THE MOUNTAIN KING
     I wish all my readers a very good New Year and hope they find---we find---some expression of the outdoor world we can include in our lives.  I hope we are able to continue our pursuit of the wild natural world and we are able to develop our relationship with Miss Nature, the woman of the green and blue and brown and white, the woman of the wind. 


ON THE NEW YEAR'S SUMMIT OF HUCKLEBERRY KNOB
     Little Mitten and I drive the Toyota up the Skyway into a world of thick fog and rain and high winds.  We have to slow to 30mph just to see what is up ahead.  The grand plan for the trip requires we go past Beech Gap and we do so passing old backpacking buddy Hootyhoo's blue van on the way.  I want to get out and start my trip there so as to see the Hoot but my pack is stuffed with maps and ribbons for a long swaray into the Snowbirds so we keep on and in eight miles pass the Hooper Bald pull off and continue a short distance to the mighty Huckleberry Knob trailhead which leads to the highest mountain in the Cheoah ranger district at 5,560 feet or basically 5,600 feet, 300 feet higher than the Bob.


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We take the necessary fotogs at the trailhead kiosk and here's Little Mitten bundled up in her North Face fleece.


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I study the kiosk map and I'm ready to start a New Year's trip!


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There are three balds in the Huckleberry chain and the first is called Oak Knob where I find this remnant of snow.  More is to come.  By the way, it's windy as heck, too windy to set up out in the open.


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The open bald of Huck is very windy so I take the Little Huckleberry trail down into the woods and find this level site for the old Hilleberg Keron tent. It's starting to turn very cold.


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On Day 2 I pack up a frosted tent and return to the bald for a final shot.  I'm standing on the highest mountain in the Unicoi Range.


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The hiker memorial and gravesite.  Yes, we have our own Art Gilkey-type memorial and it's right atop Huck Knob.  The plaque reads:

 "December 11, 1899---A bitter cold day with snow and fog.  Andy Sherman and Paul O'Neil, lumberjacks from Mill Hall, Pennsylvania, employed by Heiser Lumber company, left the mouth of Sycamore Creek on Tellico River for Robbinsville.  September 6, 1900---Forrest Denton was deer hunting with others and found their bodies three quarters of a mile from this spot near a small stream then unnamed, but now known as Dead Man's Run.  Apparently the two men missed the trail down Hooper Ridge between Huckleberry Bald and Horse Pen Gap.  Several jugs containing whiskey were found nearby."

     "The sheriff and coroner were summoned to the site and an inquest was held, the jury finding that the men froze to death while lost and intoxicated.  The jury directed that O'Neils skeleton be given to Dr Robert J. Orr as a medical exhibit and that the remains of Andrew Sherman, badly mauled by wild animals, was buried in this grave."  Placed and Maintained by Snowbird Mountain Lodge, December 11, 1999.


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I retrace my steps from Day 1 and fall to Oak Knob and look back to where I was on Huck Knob.  If you look closely you can see the hiker's cross.


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I leave the Hucks and climb to the top of Hooper Bald where I turn around and get this shot of Huckleberry Knob in the left distance.


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Ya gotta pull the Hooper Bald trail if you want to enter the Snowbird backcountry from the top and here's the Hooper trail.


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I find this collapsed tent on the trail below Hooper Bald. 


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Here's the trailhead to the Kings Meadow trail #63 and it's in sorry shape so I add my own orange ribbons every 50 feet or so---just to get back if needed.


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A nice footbridge on the Kings Meadow trail. 


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The Kings Meadow trail disappears for a while and then you run into a trailpost showing the Mitchell Lick trail #154 which cuts across the top of the Snowbirds and I find a level ridge finger midway down it and set up camp.


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It's snowing in the Snowbirds and the night temps dip to around 10F.  Ouch!


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Day 3 dawns cold and the piling up of snow around the Keron tent.  I go out to gather enough of it to melt a liter of peppermint tea with honey.  The above shows the reason I carry goose down and it's cold, boys!


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When I leave Snowy Lick Camp I am most certainly on the Mitchell Lick trail but my trek has me follow the apparent trail down to a Snowbird Creek crossing where the trail disintegrates into a snowy tread nothingness of ancient orange ribbons and that's all.  Flumoxed, I follow something, a goat path, a hunter's fantasy whatever and end up "off the trail map" on top of a level ridge finger below Laurel Top mountain at around 4,700 feet.  I can always follow my bootprints back.


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The wind below Laurel Top is bitterly face eating cold at around 10F so I cook up my dinner inside the zipped up tent vestibule.

1:39 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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Nice trip reports.

The shot of the foot bridge seems a bit more than needed, the stream looks like it could be stepped over quite easily?

2:06 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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DAY FOUR


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Since I'm not on any obvious trail, I plan Day 4 by following my bootprints in the snow back down to the big Snowbird Creek crossing and go from there.  The Holy Blue Paint---A generous god allowed me to find the Snowbird trail and here's proof---the blue blaze!  I reach the end of the Mitchell Lick trail and jct with the Snowbird Creek trail which sports this blue paint.


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Here I am on the upper part of the Snowbird trail which immediately gets you into bare feet and crocs and it's numbingly cold.  I have to pull a trick I hate doing with a trail with so many crossings---putting on the warm boots every time after each ford.  It's time consuming.  Usually I can just stay in crocs the whole time but it's too dang cold and there's snow on the ground.


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Day 4's camp is on Snowbird Creek after six crossings from the top.  The 7th is right past and will greet me in the morning.


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Uncle Fungus prepares for a day of frost bite and I'm packed and ready for a total of 13 crossings, the last one being a neat footbridge.


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I decide to take the Middle Falls trail which detours 1.1 miles around several Snowbird crossings and here's the sign to the thing.


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The Middle Falls trail is blazed with orange, a helpful touch.


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With all creek crossings finished, I can concentrate on foot comfort and the Middle Falls trail.


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The Middle Falls trail ties back into Snowbird Creek and at the 13th crossing I reach this merciful and fantastic bridge and I marvel in glee.  No more cold crossings.


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I prepare to traverse the Snowbird bridge.


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Here's the new Snowbird footbridge and it's nice.


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Past the bridge and Big Falls I pass this trail jct with the Sassafras Creek trail.  I am not interested and continue down river to a campsite next to Sassafras Creek.


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Here is Sassafras Creek Camp on the Snowbird.  In the morning I have to cross a fairly wide and cold Sassafras Creek.

2:37 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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DAY SIX


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Early in the morning of Day 6 my toes are killing me so I think I have frost bite and gangrene but no, I have Croc toe jam.  Little Mitten got me a new pair of size 9 crocs for Christmas and here they are with me on the trip and they're just too short and so all my toes are sore.  But I fix them with my pocket knife.


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Day 6 begins with an ambitious plan to finish the last three miles of the Snowbird Creek trail and then explore the trailhead area for the bottom portion of the Kings Meadow trail, a long 7.5 mile hump thru the heart of the Snowbirds and a gain of almost 3,000 feet.  My day begins by crossing Sassafras Creek in crocs and then POW!  I reach the old rusted jalopy which is a landmark on this trail.


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Here's a neat view of Snowbird Creek.  It's not all that small either.


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I find this trailpost at the end of the Snowbird trail and it really encourages me.


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And then I find this new footbridge across Snowbird Creek and it solves the dilemma of accessing the Kings Meadow trail.


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Here's a tricky footbridge across Owlcamp Creek on the Kings Meadow trail.  I didn't use it obviously.


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The Kings Meadow trail is a hell ride of dead ends and nutbuster climbs, but if you can keep seeing these faint yellow blazes, well, you just might make it.  I barely did.  And there's one section which is truly steep.


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Firescald Ridge Camp---I pull just 1,600 feet in elevation from Snowbird Creek but the early part is a killer so be warned.  And campsites are very hard to find but with a little work I get set up on a ridge at around 4,000 feet.


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Day 7 begins early so I can finish the King trail and so I will be traveling slow to watch for the trail, the yellow blazes and any turns or meanders.  I gotta start early and avoid a cold January rain.  Half of Kings Meadow is private land and the other half is Snowbird backcountry so the backpacker is greeted with the accoutrements of ATV-propelled redneck garbage camps and human waste.


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Here's the trail as it climbs towards Queen Ridge.


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North of Queen Ridge in a little gap you get another wonderful eyefull of what the human bonobos like to do most---spew filth.


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The Kings Meadow trail junctions with a private road below Hooper Bald and here's someone's vacation home on the national forest boundary.  Bummer.


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The Kings Meadow trail ends up back on Hooper Bald and I set up on top in a butt cold rain, a rain that keeps hitting me for the next 153 hours, a record.

2:54 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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Nice!  Too bad some folks are pigs!

3:27 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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DAY EIGHT


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On Day 8 I leave Hooper Bald find a way to connect Hooper to Haw Mt and it's best done on a Skyway roadwalk to Big Junction pulloff where the trailhead to Haw begins.  Here's the tent on top of Haw Knob at 5,470 feet.  The rain keeps coming.


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There's a way to connect Haw Mt to Whiggs Meadow but it's a hellish ride.  From my trail journal:

"STRAP ON YOUR PROTECTIVE CUPS---Okay boys, the "trail" off the west side of Haw Knob starts out easy enough---for 50 feet---and then you enter a true heath hell which will rip off anything not strapped down including manitalia and any flopping extensions, etc.  Eventually you come to an open "road" and the worst is over.  Of course, on my trip today all the brush was soaked and so I ended up at the bottom in a drenched state."

The above shows the Whiggs Meadow Camp.


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The trip has devolved down to rain cold and fog but I'm set up again.


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A perpetual fog greets me on Day 10 atop Whiggs Meadow but the plan is to get on the BMT to Mud Gap and go north into the Citico/Slickrock.  I leave the Whigg and stop in the Rock Quarry for a fotog.


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On my 6-7 mile hike I stop by this edible rock tripe and think about lunch.


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I finally pull into Cold Gap in the Citico and set up camp just as the sky opens up again and puts me in my 83rd hour of rain.  It started at 3am on Day 7 in camp on Firescald Ridge. 


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Day 11 dawns wet and windy so I sit tight in a guyed out tent listening to the pelting downpour.  I find a drop by drop leak in my Hilleberg and know I'll have to seam seal it when I get back (it's the middle hoop seam on top).  Tremendous gusts attack the tent and so I go out in the morning and find two pegs pulled out so I hammer all 14 down with a rock and tighten the guylines.  Who wants to move a bomb shelter in the middle of a bombing run?


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By 8am on Day 12 I'm into my 126th hour of rain and it becomes the longest rain period in my personal backpacking history.  I decide to stay put.


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Day 13 dawns cold at 15F and so I go out to take the necessary fotogs dressed out in the down of geese.  I get snow flurries thru the night and into the morning and by 11am I'm into my 153rd hour of rain or sleet or snow.  I survey camp and notice the tent is set in concrete so I decide to sit put yet another day.


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On the night of Day 13 the sky opens up with a good flurry and it's nice.


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Day 14 dawns very cold and I wanna move in the worst way and break a tent stake hammering it out of the frozen ground.


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I see one backpacker in 18 days and it's a fellow from Knoxville who came in at Beech Gap and went to the Bob for the night and endured a very cold night in a mesh Eureka tent which he called "breezy" so he packed and passed thru Cold Gap on his way to his car.


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Here I am on the Fodderstack trail out to Beech Gap.  It takes every bit of energy and patience to get the tent down and the stakes pulled and the poles pushed out of the sleeves but it's finally done in a butt cold wind and the frozen boots laced and the ice encrusted tent rolled and stuffed.


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Beech Gap Tragedy---As I get close to the Gap I run into two dayhikers from Blount county who tell me a burned out car sits on rims in the pull off and then I remember a very strange siren the night before around 11pm and it squawked like a fire truck.  I get to the gap and find a totally burned out hulk of a car melted beyond hope.  I think of my fellow backpacker who came out a couple hours earlier and wonder if it's his car?  Was it an accident or vandalism?


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Another shot.


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Day 14 gets me into a two mile Skyway roadwalk whereby I tie into the Jeffrey Hell trail and set up camp next to Falls Branch Creek.  It's a good place to prepare for a long roadwalk to Flats Mt in the morning.

MORE TO COME

5:35 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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Nice tr Tipi. At least someone got hit with some snow on a recent trip.

The crap that people leave on trail gets me steamed. 

On my recent trip(a week ago) I got to experience someones artwork on the trail:

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Then I decided to go off trail and check out a few areas that sparked my curiosity on previous trips only to find that people were using the hillside for a dumpsite:

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Things like this really get me "unhinged." 

Anywho, as always very nice report. Thanks for sharing. 

That toasted Chevy Baretta could be pulled back from the dead no problem. A lil JB Weld, some duct tape, a can of Rustoleum, and some fix a flat and it will be as good as new. ;)
 


8:35 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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Six plus days of percipitation while camping?  That'd drive me to drink.

Ed

8:59 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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DAY FIFTEEN


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On Day 15 I leave camp in the Citico and take this trail out to the Skyway for a road walk.  It's the Jeffrey Hell trail.


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After a couple or three miles I reach the first bald on Flats Mt and set up camp in some warm sunlight for a change.


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Day 16 begins on Flats Mt as an oh-dark-thirty wind picks up and so I guyline the tent out at 4am.  A big rainstorm is coming so I get an early start and stop for this pic at the Flats Mt trailhead.  The hill behind me is where I camped.


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In three miles I reach a high camp on the Long Branch trail called Turkey Feather Camp.  I stopped early due to the sky turning nasty and dark blue black.  Time to set up before the rain.


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On Day 17 I grow bored with the rainy sky and decide to pack and haul butt to finish the Long Branch trail and here is the upper portion.


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The Long Branch connects to the North River and it connects to Tellico River which ties into the Bald River wilderness.  Here's the mighty Tellico.


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The hike along Tellico River passes by this great view called Baby Falls.


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Gotta check out the Falls.


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I connect to the Bald River trailhead and set up a final night's camp near the Black Cave.


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Nearby camp is the white water of Bald River.


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On Day 18 I leave Bald River and the Falls and hike several miles to the Ranger Station and catch my ride out to end the trip. 











10:30 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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Now that is what I call a pack.... WOW !!!

7:42 a.m. on January 20, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi,

Really enjoyed the report, thanks for posting!

I had been eying Snowbird for a while….I’m sure I’ll appreciate your ribbons whenever I get over there. Lol

I don’t mind some rain but that much would kill my morale.

9:23 a.m. on January 20, 2012 (EST)
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That burned out car kinda worries me, as I've parked at that exact spot many times, and will need to in the future. I really hope it wasn't arson. 

I love how the guy described his snowy night on the Bob his 3 season as "breezy." Just a hair of an understatement, but I guess you gotta put a bold face on, no? :) 

So, from the top of Haw mountain, if you can head straight south on that narrow spur of the mountain to the skyway? Is it a marked trail, or just the abandoned remnants of an old logging road? I followed that lead for a couple hundred yards when I was there, and wanted to explore more, but I had to head back. It was really beautiful. 

When I was there, I found the main "trail" up from Whigg to be much overgrown, and even impassable in places. However, just down from the crest on the southwest side of the ridge, it is quite open underneath the beech trees. It was much faster and easier doing that, with a small amount of weaving through the trees.

9:25 a.m. on January 20, 2012 (EST)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

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Now that is what I call a pack.... WOW !!!

 especially when you condsider Tipi is probably 6 1/2 feet tall! 

11:19 a.m. on January 20, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi, Sorry but your CRAZY!!  153 hours of perspiration!  I got to agree with ED on this one, I think I would have bugged out!  Well right after I ran out of the booze!  :D 

Your one hell of a guy, keep up the great trips!  18 days!!  You the MAN!!  :)  Almost sound like you were out here in the PNW!  But we just got several feet of snow, I think the weather is all mixed up.

Hero worshiping, Wolfman

11:58 a.m. on January 20, 2012 (EST)
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Wolfman said:

Your one hell of a guy, keep up the great trips!  18 days!!  You the MAN!!  :)  Almost sound like you were out here in the PNW!  But we just got several feet of snow, I think the weather is all mixed up.

Hero worshiping, Wolfman

 Wolf,

 

Yeah, I agree with you...Tipi may not be comfortable with anyhting resembling adoration, but it's pretty darn cool to go on no-resupply trips like that. I've warned my wife: if I ever get to retire, I'm gonna take over for Tipi...

6:28 p.m. on January 20, 2012 (EST)
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Patman I think you would be carrying a 80 pound pack for extended trips if you were retired. Tipi great trail report as always. love the picture of the Snowbird bridge. The coupe DE Gra for me  was the falls at the end. Awesome....

7:26 p.m. on January 20, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

So, from the top of Haw mountain, if you can head straight south on that narrow spur of the mountain to the skyway? Is it a marked trail, or just the abandoned remnants of an old logging road? I followed that lead for a couple hundred yards when I was there, and wanted to explore more, but I had to head back. It was really beautiful. 

When I was there, I found the main "trail" up from Whigg to be much overgrown, and even impassable in places. However, just down from the crest on the southwest side of the ridge, it is quite open underneath the beech trees. It was much faster and easier doing that, with a small amount of weaving through the trees.

 The easiest way to get to the top of Haw is to take the Skyway to Big Junction pulloff and go up the ridge there to the top.  It is a cleared trail and much quicker than the Whigg side.  On the Whigg side the main thing is to stay on or near the old jeep/logging cut---and of course your idea of skirting around the worst of the brush near the top is wise.

9:19 p.m. on January 20, 2012 (EST)
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Once again thanx for a excellent TR Tipi.

That looked like one heck of a trip! That much rain would sure test my morale. I would probably have spent more time held up in the tent, but then again, that much down time would be tuff too. Do you carry very much reading material with ya for those tent bound times?

12:18 a.m. on January 21, 2012 (EST)
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azrhino said:

Once again thanx for a excellent TR Tipi.

That looked like one heck of a trip! That much rain would sure test my morale. I would probably have spent more time held up in the tent, but then again, that much down time would be tuff too. Do you carry very much reading material with ya for those tent bound times?

 It's rare in the southern Apps to get much more than 12-24 hours of rain at a time, but for some reason a front stalled out over the region and lasted for a week.

As far as reading material goes, I always take out several books and interweb "rolls" with me---maybe around 5 or 6 lbs---and burn them as the trip progresses.  At home I keep a long list of interesting bookmarked subjects on the computer and copy what suits me for a trip.  Copy both sides of paper in rolls of 50 sheets and held tight with a rubber band---because I do most of my reading when out.  I also have a nice little Sangean radio which keeps me occupied.

7:07 p.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi,

Sorry to hear you had so much rain on such a great trip.

On the bright side I guess we have to roll with what nature gives us and grow through the experience.

I don't know that area well like you do, but your photos and good descriptions make it easy to 'follow along' as it were.

I guess you have been doing this long enough that you have favorite camps / water spots already in mind when you plan a route?

I like your idea of printing out reading material and burning it as you go. I have turned into quite the reader myself and have found that reading materials make for a good  companion on cold quiet nights beside my candle.

I think I will try your read it & burn it method next time.

I really enjoyed your report and maybe I can come up and meet you some time this year.

Thanks for a good read!

Mike G.

7:45 p.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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trouthunter said:

Tipi,

Sorry to hear you had so much rain on such a great trip.

On the bright side I guess we have to roll with what nature gives us and grow through the experience.

I don't know that area well like you do, but your photos and good descriptions make it easy to 'follow along' as it were.

I guess you have been doing this long enough that you have favorite camps / water spots already in mind when you plan a route?

I like your idea of printing out reading material and burning it as you go. I have turned into quite the reader myself and have found that reading materials make for a good  companion on cold quiet nights beside my candle.

I think I will try your read it & burn it method next time.

I really enjoyed your report and maybe I can come up and meet you some time this year.

Thanks for a good read!

Mike G.

 It's also nice to return to old favorite haunts and favorite campsites with known water sources and all the rest.  And it's also nice to explore a new place, like I did in the Snowbirds.  The "Unicoi" area I backpack runs from the Cohuttas all the way up to the Smokies, a vast area in three different national forests.  The Snowbird backcountry is a small part of it as are portions of the Appalachian Trail.

I've got about a hundred bookmarked items ready for printing, rolling and eventual comfortable reading in the tent on the Exped with the headlamp---and then burning.  I get lightest weight copy paper at Walmart and of course print on both sides.  I just cannot read at home---too many distractions---and so a trip is anticipated in part for the fun of reading (and eating).

A first trip into an area---especially a solo trip---is always more stressful than a return or repeated trips, and so I got a few challenges out of the way when it comes to the 'Birds. In fact, I want to return into the Snowbird area and repeat the Mitchell Lick trail but this time keep going all the way to the camping area known as Mitchell Lick.  And there are several other trails I need to explore before I'll be satisfied.

8:04 p.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi Walter said:

As far as reading material goes... Copy both sides of paper...

A fair portion of reading for my MBA was done in the wilderness.  I resized the font or otherwise reduce the page image size to lighten my load.  Reformatting for minimal margins also affords weight savings.  You can double the text volume or reduce the weight in half with these tricks.

Ed

11:14 p.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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Whomeworry---Some websites and forums allow for an easy printing option, some don't, like here on Trailspace.  When I hit Print Review on my File options and try to copy a Trailspace thread, I lose lines of text for some unknown reason.  So, I have to Select All and paste into a word document and print out that.  Trailspace definitely needs a Print button for these threads.

5:29 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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We saw the burned car on Saturday morning, 1/14, was planning on going up to the Bob until we saw this.  We changed plans and headed down to the Whig.  Not sure if you noticed the Bible that was placed on the hood as well as the license plate and burned too.  Also a Red rose was placed near the drivers side tire after the car had burnt.  I guess I just missed you. 

7:49 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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Frogman said:

We saw the burned car on Saturday morning, 1/14, was planning on going up to the Bob until we saw this.  We changed plans and headed down to the Whig.  Not sure if you noticed the Bible that was placed on the hood as well as the license plate and burned too.  Also a Red rose was placed near the drivers side tire after the car had burnt.  I guess I just missed you. 

 I did a walk around of the car too and noticed the plate and the rose and the book.  I'm still not sure if it was an accident or not.  There's another place to park further east on the Skyway at the Unicoi Crest parking lot which may be a better option.  Sorry I missed you as I left Cold Spring Gap on the 14th and walked out to Beech and west on the Skyway to Jeffrey Hell, Flats Mt and the Long Branch trail.

7:54 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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I think I am going to call the Tellico Ranger's station to try to find out about it. The memorial items being left is concerning, I hope no one was injured or died, and whatever the case that it was an accident. 

11:03 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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Appears to be arson.  I arrived at Beech gap 1/14 around 10:30am and the owner had just came down from the Bob on an overnight. He was taking pics of the car and a hunter pulled up right before me and give him a ride back to town.  Looks like the guy in your pic from Knoxville?

1:13 p.m. on January 24, 2012 (EST)
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Looks like the guy in your pic from Knoxville?

It that turns out to be true, that would really suck!  One of my biggest worries is when I leave my vehicle at trail heads for a extended period of time.  More so if I am the only vehicle there.  Here in the PNW, a lot of the trail roads are way out in the middle of nowhere.  Others seem to be closer to the main roads.  I am not sure which is safer.  I can see reasons to worry about both.

Close to the road, the punks don't have far to travel and it easy to get their.

Way back, their no other traffic and it's easy to bust into a car or destroy it. 

Luckily nothing has ever happened to me or any of my family or friends.  I am worried about my up coming trip to the coast for a week or so, and am still trying to find a safe place to park my vehicle for that time. 

Wolfman

1:04 p.m. on January 25, 2012 (EST)
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Ok, I am quite annoyed at this point.  In trying to find out about the burned car, it seems I am being given the run-around. I have no clue why.  All of the departments and offices that I have talked to have told me to call someone else; that they didn't know about it or were not the correct persons to talk to. 

I called, in approximate order, the following

  • Tellico Ranger's Station, TN   (said to call Tellico Sheriff and Cheoah RS)
  • Cheoah Rangers Station, NC (Said to Call Graham Co. Sheriff)
  • Tellico Police Dept (Said to call Graham Co. Sheriff)
  • Graham Co., NC Sheriff's Office (Said hadn't heard about it, would call back)
  • Tellico, TN Police Dept (said to call Monroe Co. Sheriff's Office)
  • Monroe Co., TN Sheriff's Office (Said to Call Monroe Dispatch or Detective)
  • Monroe Co. Detective's Office (said they didn't know anything)
  • Monroe Co. Dispatch (was obstinate and contrary,  but said an officer and fire dept responded, who found it to be in NC, who was notified)
  • Rafter (Tellico) Fire Dept. Ph#1 (did not answer)
  • Rafter (Tellico) Fire Dept. Ph#2 (pickup and hang up)
  • Graham Co., NC Sheriff's Office (said I would have to call Graham Co. Dispatch)
  • Graham Co. Dispatch

The Graham Co Dispatch person was helpful, and said it appeared I was being given run-around. She stated she could only tell me what was public record and available on her screen. She said Graham Co Sherrif's Officer and Graham Co Fire Dept. were both dispatched. The Fire Chief reported to the scene and completed a report. She said I would have to request a call from the Fire Chief, which I did. She said he would call me back. I asked how to request a copy of the associated official reports, to which she said I would have to request from the Fire Chief, and he would be calling me. I am now awaiting his call 

Soooo....does anyone else find this strange at all??

PS, It really frosts my oats that I have now spent nearly two hours and my entire lunch break the past two days trying to obtain a simple freaking answer to information that is public record.  



1:14 p.m. on January 25, 2012 (EST)
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Caleb,

 

Wow.

Well whatever you find, I ain't parking at Beech Gap again. When we went in Dec. I left my car at almost the exact same spot as the one that got torched (and as I recall you were right behind me)

Altough now that I think about, it's about time for a new car and I do carry full coverage. :0

 

And I suspect the culprit was that mayhem guy from Allstate.

1:55 p.m. on January 25, 2012 (EST)
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Yeah, It does give me pause about parking there as well. But then I thought, well, would it really make any difference if I parked at the pull off further down, or at any of the other trailheads? I am going to still keep going up there, and I have to park somewhere. I don't know, but I certainly won't be driving a nice car, at least not without full coverage on my insurance. 

11:12 a.m. on January 26, 2012 (EST)
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I finally heard back from the Fire Chief, and had a reasonably helpful conversation. He said that a report was completed, but no investigation or formal determination. He said that the owner would have had to request an investigation, and he declined asking for it. 

Though no official determination was made, The Chief stated that the details and circumstances were "suspicious." The gas cover was open, the cap removed, and the fire appears to have originated there. 

The ranger's station officer and the Fire Chief both state that this is the only car fire they can remember, and that there are very few auto break-ins. If this becomes a repeat thing, I will get worried, but if it remains isolated, I will have to reevaluate how and where I park.

It truly sad and infuriating that there are degenerate morons who do these things.  

1:42 p.m. on January 26, 2012 (EST)
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I put a locking gas cap on my car long ago but this would not deter the bonobo retards from doing whatever it is they want to do to a vehicle.  SOOO---get a clunker car fit only for traveling to trailheads and leave it---something with duct tape holding on fenders and rust everywhere else.  No problemo.  OOORRRR---get someone to drop you off.  Shuttle.

In the past I would leave my old Nissan pickup for 15 days at Warden's Field in the Citico and had a slight breakin to the camper shell.  A couple years ago I was parked in my Corolla by Beech Gap in a winter snowstorm and came out 15 days later and found the car pushed sideways in the parking lot.  Weird.

To get a real rundown of the story you may need to find that Knoxville backpacker I saw at Cold Gap.  The open gas cap looks like arson to me.

If you're really worried, you could park, pack up the gear, and place a small motion detector camera on a tree nearby---like they use for wildlife.  Retrieve when leaving, etc.  At least have a record of the miscreants.

Or you could just quit worrying about it and hit the trail. 

1:47 p.m. on January 26, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi Walter said:

Or you could just quit worrying about it and hit the trail. 

touché 

:)

9:46 a.m. on March 1, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

Rick-Pittsburgh said:

TRIP-129-349.jpg

Now that is what I call a pack.... WOW !!!

 especially when you condsider Tipi is probably 6 1/2 feet tall! 

 I swear Tipi photoshops the back onto his back.

10:37 a.m. on March 1, 2012 (EST)
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Great TR! Tipi you're the man. I can't carry those kinds of loads any more. Had to go the minimalist way. Just wasn't blessed with your backbone;)

8:59 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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The following quote comes from the WATE website:

"Two Tellico Plains men are charged in connection with the burning of more than 1,400 bales of switchgrass earlier this week.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Crime Unit arrested Damon O'Neil Shaw, 18, and Brian McJunkin, 27, and charged them with three felony counts each of setting fire to personal property or land.

The men were taken into custody on Thursday night.

The suspects told investigators they started the fires, which caused nearly $50,000 in loss, because they were bored and looking for some excitement.

The switchgrass was destined for the Biomass Innovation Park in Vonore.  The amount burned could have produced more than 56,000 gallons of ethanol."

Think there's a connection to the car?

1:53 p.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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I hope the boys were at least asked about the burnt car by investigators.  I've seen the switchgrass burn piles---two of them---as they are right outside town at a place the locals call Stokley Bottoms as one time it was farmland for Stokley vegetable canning.

Before that the bottom land (plains) was the location of a Cherokee Indian village and had burial mounds and villages.  In fact, the Cherokee word "tellico" means plains.  So Tellico Plains means double plains I guess.

December 22, 2014
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