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It’s been a while since I posted a trip. I’ve been far busier (mostly with a new job) than I intended to be this autumn, so I decided to post a condensed report covering three trips.
First up is a dash to Jakes Creek area in the Smokies in the wake of hurricane Sandy. The trip starts on a sunny but cold Friday. It was my typical after- work- scramble with gear pre-loaded in the car. I only had one night to use and desired to romp in the snow that was reported at higher elevations.
This was a nice little fall before climbing up the trail.
I pitched my tent at campsite 27 (Lower Jakes Gap) elevation 3520 feet. It was pretty cold even before the sun went down.
I had one neighbor at the far end of the area: Brian from Nashville was hammock hanging in the snow with his book.
We shared a rock for our dinner table. My alcohol stove (under the foil in the picture) didn’t do very well of course with temps in the low thirties. It took way too much fuel to get even a slow boil. Brian was better prepared with his white gas stove.
The next morning I started up Miry Ridge after an icy climb up to Jakes Gap.
I stopped for a view from a heath bald along the way.
The higher I went, the deeper the snow. I was quickly reminded how tough it is slog through several feet of snow. As Peter1955 says “half as far, half as fast”. Indeed.
Here was a snow covered spot and one my favorite camps sites in the Park: Dripping Springs Mountain. No big views but just a very peaceful, comfortable place with a good spring just down the hill.
Well, at some point the peace was interrupted by a lightening strike up there. These finds are always sobering.
Things were getting pretty deep up there (up to my knees anyway).
I went about as far this before turning around (out of time for the trip).
No problem to track a bear in this stuff:
Well the next weekend I was off to Slick rock Wilderness in the Unicoi Mountains for a two night loop. It’s a two hour drive to the trail head so I had to night hike in after work. I was exhausted before even starting that night so I stopped at Cold Springs Gap to camp after a two mile hike in.
The next morning, I again encountered a nice snow pack after gaining some elevation.
More bear tracks!
I passed over Stratton Bald:
And I stopped at the Hangover:
I descended to Big Fat Gap and then Slick Rock Creek:
I climbed back up to the Benton MacKaye trail and stopped at Crowders Campsite (the lower one with the water source) and took a mountain cat-bath (you know, one part at a time with a frigid water rinse). Burrrr that’s cold.
I camped at Cherry Log Gap; the junction trail 95/2 and 54A for those that want to know. I enjoyed a cold windy night from that ridge top. The day’s tough hiking guaranteed solid sleep.
The next morning I followed the BMT back to my car at Beech Gap. I didn’t take any pictures for some reason.
My third outing was back to the Smokies for a favorite loop: park at Treemont gravel road, go up Middle Prong to Lynn Camp, to Miry Ridge, south on the AT and back via Greenbrier Ridge Trail. This trip started as a night hike after work. I was able to hike by moonlight for the first four miles; very nice when that can happen.
The next morning I used my recently acquired Windpro II stove for breakfast. I’m going to used inverted canisters for the remainder of the winter I think.
Continuing up Lynn Camp would have been a mucky affair if the ground hadn’t been frozen. The frozen mud was much nicer to tread on than wet mucky mud.
There was one small crossing on the way up.
After reaching the top of Miry ridge, things got really cold really fast.
The previous days rain had delivered a beautiful ice casing to all trees over 5000 feet. It was wonderful to look at but when the wind blew those little ice shards stung any exposed flesh.
My digital thermometer only goes down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and it stayed pegged at 14 for the entire time I was on the ridge top (so I wonder how cold it really was). Here are a few nice ice pictures:
After coming back down I hit another small crossing but it wasn’t a de-booter:
I took an unmarked side trail to see Indian Flats Falls:
I’ll end with a nice shot of Lynn Camp Prong:
Happy Trails, Trailspacers!