Forney Loop / July 4th holiday GSMNP

8:22 a.m. on July 7, 2012 (EDT)
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So like Jeff (FromSagetoSnow), I decided to wedge in a little trip on my July fourth Holiday. I headed out Tuesday July 3rd after work and arrival at the trail head found me starting in a steady rain. 

This was also my first hike since turning 40 the week before.

Maybe I’m having a mid-life crisis and instead of buying a sports car or growing a pony-tail I just decided to go backpacking? Nah…I was already doing this but I’ll put that in my bag of excuses if I need it later. :)






 So here I was starting from Clingmans Dome parking lot. Yep, stylin’ and profiln’ in my dirty stained wife-beater, 20 year old swimming trunks, 10 year old external frame backpack, and dilapidated umbrella.

 I had expected to be hot and sweaty immediately but the rain had really cooled things off. (The temps were in the high nineties leaving home)






 As I descended the Forney Creek trail there were several sections where the trail was overgrown. That wet foliage will soak a person faster than a vertical rain.







 That cascade kept going for about 100 meters and turned into a fabulous natural water slide! It was getting dark and I couldn’t get a good picture of the slide but it’s just as well since I don’t want to be spoiler. The slide went all the way down to the upper section of campsite 68 on the Smokies map. That was a really nice place to stay the night.









 Here was my muddy dirt-bag camp. My wife saw these pictures and said “That just doesn’t look like any fun to me.” while shaking her head. You can’t really capture the whole scence whit a little camera…that site was steps away fromForney Creek and the water slide and big sitting rocks.

 Notice I used the umbrella to create a wind block/ beak for my tarp. I chose a site to try and avoid the “lake effect” of pooling ground water but it never really rained hard enough to test my choice.







 The morning of July 4th: I’m packed and ready to hike by 6:20 AM. My route for the day was 17 miles with 3800 feet of gain. It was an early start but I wanted to be home by 4:00PM if I could so I could join in any celebration my wife might be up for when she got off work.







 Forney Creek Trail is known for its crossings. Here is 1 of 7. This one was easy but slick.







 A nice cascade at crossing 2.







 Big ole mushroom.







 I like that stuff.






 crossing 3 of 7







 crossing 4 of 7







 crossing 5 of 7….. getting monotonous aren’t I?







 And here is 7 of 7 (didn't snap a pic of 6) which was more of a “wade” than a “ford”.







 As I waded: here is a self pic while holding my trail guide in my teeth and using bad crossing technique: my pack straps aren’t loose, I’m barefoot, and carrying my shoes and poles in one arm while holding my camera with the other. In my defense…after getting across I stopped to swim for a few minutes so I didn’t care if I got all wet in the heat.







 Hmm, after this I should look out for Alice.







 I really like these flower pedal trails. The fallen blooms extended as far as I could see.







 Campsite 71 was HUGE. The guide book doesn’t say what kind of structure was here before the park but that was one big fire place (and uncommonly high foundation compared to others I’ve seen).







 After a tough, hot hump up the Spring House Branch trail, I finally reached the foot-traffic only Forney Ridge trail. It was nice to be off the horse trails but the big climbing also started there.







 Here I was approaching Andrews Bald.







 An Iris (I think)  close up.



 I’ll end with this hazy hot picture taken from Andrews Bald.



It was a nice overnight trip and I highly recommend the Forney Loop (but it’s a good trail-set to read-up on before you go).



Happy Trails!

8:17 a.m. on July 8, 2012 (EDT)
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A very cool trip Patman.

Happy birthday to you - and don't waste time worrying about your age, just appreciate the acquired skills & wisdom which come with age and enjoy each day - but I suppose you already know that.

Forney Loop looks like a nice hike and packing in 17 miles + 7 stream crossings is admirable, way to go!

I liked your use of the umbrella as a wind block, and I was wondering what kind of sleeping pad you had?

I understand your area had quite a heat wave last week, was the trail mostly shady?

The past couple years I have pretty much just done weekend trips with some trail miles on Saturday and spending Sunday exploring and taking photos. I miss multi-day trips but being out there is still a great experience and I always learn something. Even when I have to rush to cram in a trip I am still completely relaxed once I hit the trailhead.

Thanks for the TR and the cool photos!

Mike G.

1:12 p.m. on July 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey thanks Mike...The sleep pad is the orginal Neo-Air (my second one from warranty replacement-first one had an unexpected pregnancy).


The trail was mostly shaded but I got baked when I made it up to Andrews bald at 5800 feet. You would think the elevation alone would be enough to cool things off but it wasn't.

I'm on the same plan as you I think regarding the weekend trips; my job has been crushing me lately (I'm salaried so it's not as if I even get any reward for long hours and extra days...). I'm working right now in fact and playing on the internet between "project moments".


2:28 p.m. on July 8, 2012 (EDT)
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I like to see other poor souls out in this heat and I like to see a Mystery Ranch get traded for a Kelty . . . . . Trekker??

I'll be out soon enough in my own little portion of Hell so we'll compare notes and critique swimholes.  I'll be face down in the Slickrock with any luck.

1:12 a.m. on July 9, 2012 (EDT)
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The camp is great!

 But i hava some question:

1.dont you worry about mosquito or snake?

2.dont you feel cold while you are sleeping

7:44 a.m. on July 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Nice tr Patman. I see you are friends w/Mr. Snail as well. :p

Btw, nice external man. 

8:00 a.m. on July 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey Tipi,

Yeah I’m still going but this is my least favorite time for sure. Funny thing about that Kelty Trekker….it’s not near as comfortable as I remember it being. I also forgot how the center of balance is too high for me and if I lean too far to the left or right I want to topple.

If all goes to plan I should be up Grandfather way next weekend for the Highland Games and hopefully one night on the mountain in a quiet spot. After that I have no set plans..shoot me a line if you are so inclined when/if you make a Slickrock plan…..



Thanks very much!

The mountains I was in are well known to me and I’ve never had trouble with mosquitoes at those elevations. But I did bring a head-net and bug spray just in case as I do for all my summer or hot weather trips. The only dangerous snakes that I’m aware of in that area (copperhead and timber-rattlesnake) don’t like people very much and will usually stay away from them if given a choice. So I’ve never worried about one trying to sleep with me.

I had a synthetic blanket with me that wasn’t in the picture and it works down to about 50 degrees; I don’t know for sure but I don’t think it got any colder than 60 that night so I was fine.

8:05 a.m. on July 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey Thanks Rick,


yeah me and Mr Snail go way back. I was just asking him....'how long we been partyin together?. But he was feeling a little melancholy from the shrooms and became withdrawn so I went on and left him in peace. I get it...we all need our alone time.

9:40 a.m. on July 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Real men hike in their wife-beaters!  I have heard of people hiking with umbrellas and I always wondered how well they worked.  Its a tad windy for an umbrella here though.

I bet the history of that chimney is interesting though it is probably lost to history.  Where you are you have WAY more old stuff, something old here in WA is something from the 1910's

9:26 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Patman said:

Hey Thanks Rick,


yeah me and Mr Snail go way back. I was just asking him....'how long we been partyin together?. But he was feeling a little melancholy from the shrooms and became withdrawn so I went on and left him in peace. I get it...we all need our alone time.

 Thats got me rollin on the floor! too funny!

Nice TR Patman, THANX

10:30 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Well, Happy belated Birthday! I still don't really believe your 40 :)

Great photos, I will have to read the whole thing in a bit, but I better got try to finish up my Roan report! 

12:37 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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A belated Happy Birthday!

Great pics, although I must say the first one with you in camp is only missing a few beer cans to be a perfect "redneck" shot :).

The flower is an American Tiger lily.  Lilium Superbum (I used google to translate from Latin, it means Lily of the Proud, not super bum)

1:33 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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 Thanks guys!



I can't believe I'm 40 either! Statistically speaking I'm slightly more than halfway done. :)



Thanks for the correction on the flower (my wife also corrected me but after the edit window expired of course).

Although both sides of my family are from East TN and I've lived the majority of my life here, I was born in Pensacola so should (appropriately) have some of that North Florida redneck in me. :)

And as I’m sure you know, they don’t grow rednecks anywhere else like they grow them in North Florida!


4:32 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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looks like an excellent, but difficult trail. where would you rank it in your favorite loops in the GSMNP. 

3:28 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Sure enough, that is a difficult loop and I would not recommend doing it in very wet or cold weather with all those crossings.

Wow it's hard to rank such things....


I would put in just outside of top four (maybe five or six). Most of the hike is at lower elevations as you descend or ascend out of those big valleys and I tend to prefer keeping my high ground for longer stretches if possible. Besides the one 4.2 mile section of Spring House Branch trail, most of the trails you use on the loop are in really good condition and a pleasure to tread on. If you decide to try it with a stop overnight I would try to hit campsite 69: if I had known how cool it was I would have tried to stop there.

April 26, 2018
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