Yeah for spring! GSMNP

8:16 p.m. on April 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I haven’t had time for longer trips so far this spring but here are two snippets to share.

I’ll start with a really great day hike.

This was a purely athletic endeavor; I could have run in my neighborhood or the like but opted for exercise with a view.

I fast hiked 18 miles in about four hours. The route included about 3000 feet of gain over the first 5 miles so it did get the blood flowing! I started from the Cosby Campground in the GSMNP on a Saturday morning.






Only a mile on the Snake Den Ridge trail and I’m sweating already.






Spring flowers!






A little view popped up as the elevation changed.






I do believe a varmint was in that hole so I kept moving.






Snow was still clinging to the mountain in the shady spots.






After leaving Snake Den I came to Maddron Bald (not really a bald but a heath and rhodo growth area).






This was the beautiful little waterfall at the Ottercreek campsite.






I love fern moss.






While Crossing.... 




 A look back....



The Maddron Bald trail has several crossings that require you to deboot or hike with soggy feet. I chose to deboot (er, de-trail shoe as it were).






Here was the next. Someone put a little cable across to help.






And here was another crossing where I met my first humans of the day. The pair on the right had those nifty water shoes. The other two went barefoot like me.






Here is a wonderful little cove up the mountain in Albright Grove (about 100 yards off the grove loop trail).






This tree was popping green!






This campsite is quite nostalgic. It was my first solo backcountry campsite from many years ago and its named Sugar Cove. A bear circled me for what seemed like an eternity that night and traumatized me such that I went home the next morning with my tail between my legs even though I had planned a three day trip. Ah the memories…..






This is the view from that campsite.






And I’ll end this section with an upshot of Hen Wallow falls.



The next trip was from last weekend (4-19-2013 and 4-20-2013) and I had one night to use. So I left after work on a Friday and drove the 1 hour and forty minutes from Knoxville to Newfound Gap.

I started hiking North on the Appalachian Trail about 6PM on a cloudy evening. I had reservations for the Icewater Spring Shelter but when I got there the shelter was full to capacity and there wasn’t even a tent spot to be had.

So I bailed and went on to an undisclosed location to camp for the evening. The previous days rains had caused many thru hikers to hole up in the shelters. I don’t blame them but my little short trips are usually more about getting away than socializing. I’m not going to show any revealing pictures of my private camp.






This picture doesn’t reveal anything about my location; it’s nice to be able to go back to my alcohol stove for the warmer season. Though as the night went on it did get well below freezing.






The next morning I was exploring off trail from the Dry Sluice Gap area.






I do bring my wife along you know. Her paper likeness wraps my extra camera battery. She drew this for me a long time ago as a joke but I really do carry it.






The lines of this scene caught my eye on Dry Sluice Gap Trail.






Anywhere the mountain blocked the sun was white with ice and frost. I started out only in fleece but had to put on my goretex rain jacket to stop that biting wind.

The temps stayed in the low twenties that morning which would be tolerable except for the wind.







I like the contrast of the green grass with the ice covered trees on the narrow ridge top.








Man I love these mountains.






This was looking south in to NC on my way to Bradley’s View.

I wanted to find two things on this trip: the old abandoned False Gap shelter and the upper end of the Porters manway that connects campsite 31 to the AT.






After some searching, I found the shelter! It was about a quarter mile off the main trail and a faint old path descended the mountain on eroded switchbacks.






And about 40 yards behind it was this nice spring. Yep, I drank freely.






Here is my Trailspace hat shot while perched on a high overlook above the Porters Creek drainage.






Here was a nice view as I approached the Bunion of Charles.






I’ll end with this shot taken from my vantage of the high rocks that I scrambled up above said bunion.




Happy Trails my fellow outdoor enthusiasts!

11:10 p.m. on April 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Lucky dog!

As much as you get out, you'll be running circles around me this summer.  Will I get to see the "wife"?  Is that her gentle reminder for you to behave while you are away?

6:24 a.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks, Patman you always give me ideas for our yearly trip to GSMNP. Will on the trails next Friday for 10 days.

7:06 a.m. on April 24, 2013 (EDT)
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No way I'm going fast when you and I get out there in a couple months. I'm going to savor it! lol, you'll get to see the paper wife no doubt.

I might be wheezing and puny from the altitude where we're going. :)



you are quite welcome, thanks for the comments

10 days? wow! Weather is looking good for you at the's to a great trip!

12:31 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Well, blimey. I've not been able to get out, and you're KILLING ME! 

Great trip Patrick. I'll have to find that old shelter when I get through there sometime. Very cool. 

Love some of your photos: Ice and moss, moss, razor edge ridges, etc. 

2:26 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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LOL sorry Caleb,

Thanks for the kind words...

Yeah it was neat to finally find that old shelter that I had read about. The trail was very faint and I lost it a time or two before getting the feel of the switchbacks. (I think it was abandoned over fifty years ago)

I never did find the upper end of the Porters Man-way (and I don't know for sure that it exists, I see some indication of it on a park map from the 70ies and I've read allusions to it existence).

I know you are busy but I need a partner for an off-trail attempt: I want to start in the Greenbrier area and hike past Porters Creek (where the trail officially ends on the map) and slug up to the AT, on to the Boulevard, over LeConte, back down Brushy Mountain).

Examining the topo it looks like Porters Gap would have a much better grade than Dry Sluice but the most direct line is Dry Sluice.

My wife isn't keen on me trying this solo. It will be tough to traverse but should not be hard to navigate and orient. Although, a man tried this very thing in 2009, was lost for 8 days and had to be rescued (link to story).

But we can do it!



7:17 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Great trip Patman .. Makes me think to do a last minute trip instead of planning a long week long trip. Love to do a two to three day just to get away from all the tech we have..

9:49 a.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Great report, Patrick!

I love the frosty pictures! They are beautiful. I can imagine you were definitely sweating on the Snake Den Trail. I took it downhill one time and reminded myself that I did not want to take that one uphill because it is so steep and sharp! I am planning to go to the Bunion myself here soon. I was actually planning to go this weekend (had a permit to stay at Kephart), but the forecast that I read made me decide that I didn't want to drive 4 hours to hike in 35 mph winds and rain @40 degrees. I am going to try to re-schedule for either the 25-26 or Memorial Day weekend.

10:08 a.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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OOOhhhh, I think I must simply make the time for that trip! :)

Lets chat about it over PM. 

11:42 a.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Ashleigh, I am with you on not wanting to hike up Snake Den Ridge. Going down it was bad enough.

The storms on the weekends are getting old. Two weeks in a row that I haven't gone out due to the bad weather coming in...guess I need to take off during the week :)

1:27 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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I’ll send you a private message. We can work that trip in various ways to fit our schedules; I was hoping to catch your interest! I found out last night that John Quillan and the Southern Highlanders traced the route a year ago and either found or set cairns that should help our effort.

Hey Denis, good to hear from you!

Ashleigh and Ewker,

Yeah I echo your weather sentiments except that I’m going regardless of the rain this weekend. Heck with it, I’ll just be wet.  

My job will keep me tied up for the next several weekends and I’ll go bonkers if I don’t get a little alone time in the wilderness.

I’m headed out in a couple hours from work (hopefully) to Bald River / Upper Bald Wilderness. I’m going to camp somewhere on Bald River tonight then finish the gorge trail and go up the Brookshire to camp somewhere in “the heart of darkness” on the Benton MacKaye trail Saturday night, then loop back via Kirkland Creek / Bald River Trail on Sunday. I’m geared up to hike in the rain; less than ideal but it’s only a 80 minute drive for me. The loop I think is only 25 miles or so; I could bail out if needed.

And by the way, regarding Snake Den: as my knees get older (turned 40 this year), I would rather go up than down if I had to pick an extreme. : )

4:00 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Be careful! That does sound fun though! Please post a TR! :)

I definitely understand about the knees. Luckily (knock on wood), my knees are still in pretty good shape, therefore going downhill is a breeze for me. 

4:48 p.m. on May 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Patman, looks like 90-100% chance of rain, 12-15 mph winds, 56°H, 47° low for the weekend.

enjoy your trip and stay warm and dry

April 20, 2018
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