Citico Creek Wilderness 3/19 - 3/23

1:17 p.m. on March 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Hello all,

My wife and I just returned from a 5-day backpack in the Citico Wilderness, Monday through Friday, where the weather was perfect and the crowds were somewhere else (probably Dollywood).

I'll begin with a list of firsts:

1st backpacking trip for my wife since she was a kid.

1st backpacking trip for my two dogs.

1st time on the Southfork, Mill Branch, and Rocky Flats trails.

And finally, 1st time posting a report to Trailspace (I found the site yesterday while home-googling away the rain).

We started at the Southfork/Northfork Citico trailhead.

Trailhead-SFC.jpg

And ten minutes up-trail we encountered the most dangerous of wilderness creatures - a large group of teenagers ... Uh-oh, we thought, Spring Break.

Undeterred, we carried on, and the SF was cold and white, making for some fun crossings.

3rd-crossing.jpg

My little pup, Baby Beans, needed some help.

Crossing-w-Beans.jpg

We spent the first night about 5.5 miles up the SF, just below the trail's ascent to Cold Springs Gap.


1st-night.jpg


The next day we climbed up to the gap, and since a thunder cloud was rolling over Bob, we called it a short mileage day and camped there.


Cold-Springs.jpg

Around supper time, a herd of teenagers plodded through on their way out of the wilderness (see Tipi's latest thread for an explanation of the Cranbrooks).

And then, a constant wind plowed through the gap and nearly blew us away; our tent threatened to turn into a hang-glider, so we moved camp out of the jetsream (and yes, into the middle of the trail, but hey, it was late and we were out of the way by sunrise).


Cold-Springs-Relocate.jpg

From there we took the Bob connector - which our outdated map and guidebook listed still as the Fodderstack - to a sunshine bald. 


Bob-and-Dogs.jpg

And then the western slopes of the Fodderstack, where the sun baked us all like it was summertime and my wife's western shoulder turned cherry red.

We spent the third night just below the gap where the Mill Branch Trail starts.


mill-site.jpg

Then to the Rocky Flats trail where we set up on our own Island with an easy 2.5 out to the car for the last day.


our-island.jpg

Highlights: My wife loved the hike (she's spent the last two days since inspired and planning the details of our summer trip on the Robert Louis Stevenson trail in France).  The dogs were wonderful, though a two man tent with a 90 lb lab can get crowded.  Other than the two large groups of teenagers, we only saw 6 other people the entire time.  The high-water Citico crossings were a blast. We jumped one bear at a distance and another close enough to scratch behind the ears.  Ciphering the trail junction at the Bob connector with our old map and guidebook.  Our own island.  Thai noodles in spicy peanut sauce.  Four cheese instant taters. Laughing our way through the Sacketts - it's not meant as a comedy, but ...


Cozy-Tent.jpg


Doob-2-Chimbly.jpg


Packin-Po.jpg


Taken-er-Easy.jpg

Bummer: One of my trusty poles broke a leg ... Turns out they aren't meant for machete-hacking the briars and overgrowth.

Happy trails.  

1:36 p.m. on March 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Interesting trip report.  We just missed each other by inches.  I like your route---

**  Up South Fork 105 to "Iron Camp" or close to it---the big campsite with a giant blowdown thru it and an old iron ring.  From this camp up to Cold Gap is about a thousand foot climb. Now after looking at your pics I see your South Fork camp was closer to the Jeffrey Hell trailpost at an old favorite campsite.

**  Cold Gap is always windy and a special place during a blizzard.  Thing is, there is an old logging trail down the opposite side from the South Fork which has an excellent out-of-the-wind campsite with a creek.  I call it the Wedge and Little Cove Camp.  You moved a little south of the gap and close to a place I go to use my cellphone to call Little Mitten---a nokia sweet spot.

**  You made a side trip to the Bob and I guess backtracked to the Bob "Tee" and headed down 54A to Cherry Log Gap and Mill Branch/Big Stack Gap.  There's a big oak blowdown in the gap and about a hundred feet down the Mill Branch side there's a great campsite with another fallen oak.  From the pic I can see you went down Mill a bit and stayed by that giant newly fallen oak.

**  Did you go down Mill Branch and connect to Rocky Flats?  I just did almost the same---Rocky Flats and a roadwalk on Doublecamp to Crowders and up to Fodderstack Ridge.

**  I wonder if your Rocky Flats "island" was near the Laurel Creek trail crossing?  It's got a decent level place on an island, etc.

Anyway, great trip.

2:11 p.m. on March 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter said:

** Thing is, there is an old logging trail down the opposite side from the South Fork which has an excellent out-of-the-wind campsite with a creek.  I call it the Wedge and Little Cove Camp.  You moved a little south of the gap and close to a place I go to use my cellphone to call Little Mitten---a nokia sweet spot.

**  Did you go down Mill Branch and connect to Rocky Flats?  I just did almost the same---Rocky Flats and a roadwalk on Doublecamp to Crowders and up to Fodderstack Ridge.

**  I wonder if your Rocky Flats "island" was near the Laurel Creek trail crossing?  It's got a decent level place on an island, etc.

That old logging trail is where the Cranbrook group came from.

Yes, we connected Mill and Rocky via Doublecamp.  And you're also right about the island spot at Laurel Creek.   

3:07 p.m. on March 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Welcome, Whib & crew.  Nice pics and positive vibs about your trip.  Everybody looks like they had a good time.  Wonderful how happy and healthy your dogs look, too.  I go up to that area about once a year, so I really appreciate the particulars about the individual trails I'm not so familiar with.  Say, what brand are those water shoes you have on there in your last pic, and how do they serve you?  Have fun in France, and, please, bring us back a report!

12:44 a.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanx for the TR Whib.

I really like the 5th pic. Camp set, packs empty, goodies scatterd everywhere, dogs are down for the count.......let the relaxing begin!

Looks like a good time was had by all.

10:45 a.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Cool report.  The pic of you carrying the pup across was priceless.

11:34 a.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Great Trip Report, Whib. Welcome to Trailspace! 

I haven't been through Roccky Flats yet, I will have to do that this year sometime. 

1:10 p.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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excellent pics, would love to get out to that area.

9:23 p.m. on March 31, 2012 (EDT)
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Bunion said:

  Say, what brand are those water shoes you have on there in your last pic, and how do they serve you?  

 

Hey Bunion.  Those are my Crocs.  Perfect campsite shoes, but that's about it.  I carry a light pair of Speedo water shoes if I'm on a trail that requires lots of crossings.  I was doing a leg of the AT once, and I ran across a kid who was hiking in Crocs ... That is, until he twisted his ankle coming down a steep drop. His foot blew up like a pumpkin, and he was done hiking for a long time.

October 23, 2014
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