5 Days in December

9:05 p.m. on December 27, 2012 (EST)
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TipiWalter asked me why I never post TRs. So here is one. New MRG6000 pack. 5 days in Cherokee NF. 40 or so miles. Water levels were high so I changed my original route. Many road walks to connect trails. Some nice kayakers shared stories and chocolate chip cookies. Lots of rain. Strong winds. Snow. Really cold wind and ice crystals in my eyes at Beech Gap. Cold rivers. Clear trails. Nobody was on the trails. Good time.
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New MR pack.


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View from Long Branch. Day one was sunny and cold. The next four days would be rain and then snow.


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A little bird nest. It may have been blown out a tree.


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I have seen several party balloons in the wilderness over the years. 


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Blow down on Long Branch.


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I did the log road option at the bottom of Long Branch. It led to my first road walk. At the end of the road walk, at Cow Camp TH, I stopped and talked to two kayakers from Cleveland, Tn. They shared chocolate chip cookies with me.


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First night on Bald River at the ledge site. I got here at 5pm. It got down to 21* this night. It was a nice night. 


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Some rocks on BAld River trail.
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A shot of Bald River.

9:27 p.m. on December 27, 2012 (EST)
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Glad to see you got back and you got to use your new pack.  How was it?  Comfy or crappy?  I like your picture of the Long Branch blowdown as below---


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This is your pic of the blowdown.


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I was on the Long Branch in September and passed the same exact blowdown which meant going down the hill and around. This is my pic of the event. Nearby there was a nasty big yellow jacket nest.  I hope you get the chance to try out the Panther Branch/Henderson Top link to Cow Camp and into Bald River wilderness.  Panther is real nice except for the final quarter mile of hell.

9:42 p.m. on December 27, 2012 (EST)
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More -- 


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Here comes my hiking buddy. No one has more fun on these trips than this little guy. He is at home out here.


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Airing out gear at lunch. This is at the end of the trail and the start of a short road walk. Dry gear is good stuff.


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Guyed out for wind. And it came this night with a vengeance. This is near where the BMT crosses the Sugar Mtn road. I got here at about 6pm. It was warm. It had been raining on and off for 4 hours. This tent does pretty well in a hard wind. It is a quiet tent and does not suffer badly from condensation.


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Little boy sleeping. Its too warm for the bag until the wee hours of the morning. See the ECWS goretex jacket under his head? I wore this for 4 hours  in the rain and temps about 40* wearing a cotton t-shirt and when I got to camp the shirt was dry - front and back. No sweat and no rain, and those were 4 tough hours of hiking. These are made from the old 3 layer goretex and they work great - the hood sucks though. I've used it since last winter and its heavy, but hard to leave at home. 


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A view from the backside of Sugar Mtn on the BMT. This section of trail is really awsome.


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BMT heading from Sugar Mtn to Tellico Fish Hatchery. It rained all day. 


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Eating lunch at Pheasant Field before starting the Sycamore Creek Trail. I carried a ridgerest and inside the pack is a prolite plus. Ridgerest - Just in case the prolite pops and to use on the ground while cooking at camp, eating lunch, or putting on boots after a creek crossing. It is versatile. The older I get the more padding I want. 


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I tottered around on the trail - its a super nice trail and time got away from me. So I camped up in the woods behind the first sign post. It was about 2pm when I stopped. There is a cool cascade and a boulder field up there. The place where I camped had a couple of really old firepits that had not seen fire in a long time. One of them had two 4" trees growing in it. There is a trail that keeps going for a long distance. I walked it, but did not get to the end. 


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Camp 3. Lots of rain this night. No wind. Guyed out anyways. I hate to get up in the middle of the night in a wind blown rain to guy out the tent so I do it when I set the tent. There was just enough room here and no rocks or roots. Very flat.


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Wind blew my tarp off in the middle of the night. No, just drying it out before packing.


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Wind blew my bag off me in the middle of the night. Naw. Airing it out. 

10:00 p.m. on December 27, 2012 (EST)
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More --
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The sun popped out for about an hour. My spirits were lifted. I took this picture so that I could look at it later when the rain moved back in.


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MR pack and Rhodo. I fought and screamed and hacked my way back in this thicket to get water. Then 5 minutes later I had to rock hop over water crossing the trail. Who knew?


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Little old thermometer comes in handy. Here is shows that its 48* in December. Where's winter anymore?


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Neat rock stack. Sycamore Creek Trail has a lot of really cool rocks. I like rocks.


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SOL blanket lines the tent floor. It works pretty good. Might be time for a new one.


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Airing out gear when I get to camp. This was a short hiking day from one sign post to the next. I guess 2 miles? I was tired and this spot looked good. Spent the day exploring.


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A good time to warm up, dry out, and save some fuel. The Snowpeak 1400 and 900 have been with me a long time. Light and versatile - just dont grab the handles.


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Camp 4. This is a good spot. Well used, but good. There was a strong wind this whole night. I opened the tent door and cracked the top of the vestible so I could lay and watch the rain and wind. The tree tops around me were spinning in big circles and somewhere nearby a tree a creaking. I shut the door. It was too much to think about. The site is protected from wind. The trees are not. Tons of rain.

I'll have to finish this later. See ya.

 

12:21 a.m. on December 28, 2012 (EST)
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Still more --


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Here is the footlog mentioned in the guidebook. Looks safe enough. You can go first.


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He looks comfy. These OR dry bags will hold air all night. And if you put your sleeping bag in one and knee press all the air out it will stay that size in your pack. Other bags I have used will let the sleeping bag expand (air in) and they can be a bear to pull out of the pack. I use puffed up dry bags to keep the dog off my sleeping bag, ect. Makes a great barrier. I also put one beside my legs sometimes at night to keep me from rubbing the tent walls (in case of condensation). 


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The dog loves mac and cheese. His is cooling on the ground. Mine is about to be eaten. 


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Leak. Abandon ship! Well REI missed a critical seam tape. They thought the little beak on the upper vents would divert the water to the outer fly area. Nope. (This tent has only seen about a dozen nights.) Croc to the rescue. Two upper roof vents - two crocs. Looks like the trip is salvaged. I seam sealed this area when I got home. I understand their thinking and the difficulty in taping under this portion of the fly, but a lot of folks might send the tent back for a refund/exchange. I like it enough to spend 8 dollars on silnet and take care of the problem. 


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Getting some water toward the end of Sycamore. Water was everywhere. I camped near this spot a few years ago and had to walk 3/4 mile to get water from a mud hole - and here it is after a rain with water running across the trail. Nice.


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MR Pack was born in the land of snow and this must have felt good on his back. The straps froze while coming over the mountain and were a bit hard to operate. The OR pack cover is a good one and kept most of the rain and snow off my pack these past few days. The snow and ice was so bad coming over the mountain that I did not get the camera out. It was actually a little on the brutal side with the wind coming straight into my face and little ice crystals nipping my skin and popping me in the eyes. I figured South Fork Citico was a bust due to all the rain and the mandatory crossing at the bottom so I re-routed and headed out. It was something like 10 or 12 miles the last day. I was down to power bars and coffee. Pack was light enough that I carried the empty dogs pack the rest of the way. He loved that. Good trip. I enjoyed all the trails. 


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I got to the vehicle at 5 pm. Just a light dusting down here. The good stuff was up at Beech Gap. 

5:20 a.m. on December 28, 2012 (EST)
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Great trip report.   Thanks

Hoppin John

9:26 a.m. on December 28, 2012 (EST)
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Hi Tipi. Thanks for all your help in deciding which pack to get. I had good pack testing conditions this trip and enough time in the harness to get a feel for it. I like it. 

Thanks Hoppin John.

1:45 p.m. on December 28, 2012 (EST)
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Hey Hootyhoo---Where are you parked at the end of your trip?  It looks like Flats Mt at the top. 

I'm glad you got to use one of my favorite camping spots behind the second trailsign on Sycamore Creek next to the loud creek coming down the mountain.  I call it Hobo Camp and it's a great place to divide the climb to the Whigg.

5:09 p.m. on December 28, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi - I'm parked at the alternate start to Long Branch. Water levels were up so I bailed on the McNabb trail and did LB. I love that trail. 

 I like Hobo camp. Its well protected. The creek features there are amazing. 

10:03 a.m. on December 29, 2012 (EST)
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And Hoot---If you want to join me in the Big Frog/Cohuttas for January check out this Whiteblaze link---

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?90769-Cold-Weather-Camping-in-TN-NC-1st-week-of-January

3:23 p.m. on December 29, 2012 (EST)
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Yea, I love these trip reports. Im from nc and grew up roamin those hills and paddlin those rivers. Im in nh now and love it here, but these tug on my heart. Thanks for postin this. I solved my prob with my mr pack. The plastic piece you use to adjust the yolk had too much bend for me. It was killin my neck, I used a heat gun and flattened it a little and it carries great now.

5:52 p.m. on December 29, 2012 (EST)
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I know what you mean, sometimes the angle can pinch up the neck area.  I have found that loosening the load lifter straps every time before putting on and tightening after the hipbelt and the shoulder straps are snug helps to get the pack to ride higher and fit better.

12:18 a.m. on December 30, 2012 (EST)
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Mr. Hooty,

That picture of your campfire--9th from last, I think--was really nice; the "licking flames" came out really well.  Good photography!  Thanks for sharing your trip.

7:54 p.m. on December 30, 2012 (EST)
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Ill try that with the straps, but its a lot better since I altered that plastic piece. I only flattened/straightened it about ten degrees but it made a huge diff for me.

8:01 p.m. on December 30, 2012 (EST)
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Pardon my ignorance, but what tent is that? It has almost the same design as my sierra designs tent. I think its an omega cd that I have. I love the one I have like it, its my go to for a four season two man.

1:50 p.m. on December 31, 2012 (EST)
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Hey Hooty-Hoo welcome to Trailspace! It’s weird that we haven’t bumped into each other yet….but there are a lot of trails out there….nice report!

10:52 p.m. on January 4, 2013 (EST)
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hotdog -- thats the REI ASL2. Not too bad for sale price. 6 lbs. 

Thanks Patman. I spent the last year or so in the off trail area, but I'll be doing more on-trail stuff this coming year, so maybe I'll see you. 

Tipi - I have not been to B Frog in a long time. Fond memories. Its the Cherokee problem bear relocation area and the only place I've ever been where a bear walked up and tried to take my dinner away. Rub your bottom with tuna oil before you go to sleep and you'll be just fine. Not sure I'll make it out there due to the travel distance, though. 

11:38 a.m. on January 7, 2013 (EST)
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Hootyhoo, it's great to see some trailreports from you. It may have been to long ago and brief to remember, but I really enjoyed hiking and chatting with  you when we both met up with Tipi at the Bob a couple years back. 

3:01 p.m. on January 7, 2013 (EST)
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gonzan said:

Hootyhoo, it's great to see some trailreports from you. It may have been to long ago and brief to remember, but I really enjoyed hiking and chatting with  you when we both met up with Tipi at the Bob a couple years back. 

 Of course I remember that trip, and you. The little dog dressed up like a grasshopper in that leather jacket was so funny. That was a good time sitting around the fire talking. 

I'm guilty of reading everyone elses TR's and not posting one of my own. But my trips are typically bland and don't add much spice to the board. Tipi asked me on several occasions why I don't post a TR, so I finally did. 

Thanks for remembering me. 

November 28, 2014
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