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January 2-19 2013
** 18 WINTER DAYS IN THE BIG FROG
** MEETING CHRISTINE THUERMER THE GERMAN TOURIST
** 6 NIGHTS ON BIG FROG MOUNTAIN
** WOLF RIDGE AND YELLOW STAND LEAD AND GRASSY GAP TRAILS
** WHERE IS RANDY?
** 180 HOUR RAINSTORM IN THE FROG
** NAUGHTY HORSEMEN ON THE LICKLOG AND BIG FROG TRAILS
** CAMPING IN THE RAIN AT THE ROUGH CREEK POND
** WINTER STORM HITS THE FROG
** 15 DAYS WITHOUT SEEING A BACKPACKER
** BMT THRUHIKERS REGINA REITER AND JONATHAN PASS THRU
WELCOME TO THE NEW YEAR 2013
The odometer reads 44 miles for our home to the Big Frog trailhead at Thunder Rock campground and the start of Trail 305 which becomes Trail 330 which becomes Trail 303 which all are the BMT going south into the Big Frog/Cohutta wilderness.
My winter trip begins with a heavy pack in the Thunder Rock campground next to the Ocoee River. Here I am loaded up for an 18 day trip and carrying the items needed for such a long cold haul in the woods.
The tough climb out of the campground is over and 4.4 miles later I'm set up on the west fork of Rough Creek.
Day 2 begins by debooting and wearing my crocs for 3 Rough Creek crossings. Day 2's pack is about as heavy as Day 1's pack---around 75 lbs.
On Fork Ridge I clear a tentsite and set up 50 yards away from the spring headwaters of Rough Creek which makes this camp fantastic. I even do a late night headlamp water run to the spring and back just to use the convenience of it.
19F Morning---I'm up and ready to leave my Fork Ridge spring camp and climb to the next spring which Sgt Rock mentions in his BMT trail guide. I get to the gap and go for water and when I come back I meet legendary backpacker Christine Thuermer---the German Tourist.
I got an email before the trip from Bert Wildcat Emmerson who told me she is backpacking the AT and the BMT and wanted to get in touch with me and so I planned my trip to be on the BMT in Big Frog about the same time she was to hike thru and as luck would have it she passed by on the Fork Ridge trail.
She's done the triple crown, kayaked the Mississippi, paddled the Everglades and the Yukon River, backpacked the Bibbulmun Track and Florida Trail and Arizona Trail, cycled thru Australia and New Zealand and Japan, etc.
Uncle Fungus with Christine in the Big Frog. She's veering off the BMT at Watson Gap and taking the Pinhoti trail south thru Georgia and Alabama.
Christine is loaded up and ready to hit the trail.
Day 4 unfolds to be an outstanding day of gaining the top of Big Frog Mt and it starts with a pot of hot nettle, peppermint and ginseng tea. The Fork Ridge trail ends here when it jcts with the Big Frog trail.
I reach the top of Big Frog and set up camp a quarter mile north of the peak and swing over to the spring where I find the pool of water the highest I've ever seen it so I grab about 145 ozs and book it back to camp.
My camp on Big Frog North and it's a flat ridge which I call the Frog's Tongue. Here I am in my down pants and Icebreaker tops as a cold wind hits from the west and I'm close to 4,200 feet.