My wife’s second overnight backpacking trip. O Happy Day Part 2!

7:06 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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All of my trips are special but the ones with Susan are indeed rare and precious to me.

As I wrote last year, I find it deeply satisfying to simultaneously enjoy my favorite person and passion.

Once again it happened and we got our adventure on over Memorial Day Weekend! This time we chose the GSMNP.

We dropped the car at the end of the hike and paid a shuttle to take us to the start.





179786_284828724987775_251485707_n.jpgThe weather was outstanding!






Here was Susan at the first overlook along the trail.






Red Trillium (for Rick)






We think this is a wild hydrangea, (Gonzan)?






This tree on the edge of the trail had limbs that framed a view.






Susan was climbing up to a favorite off trail overlook here.










The sand myrtle was already blooming and will be brighter by summer.










Views from the days lunch spot which was almost precarious but completely fun.






Our lily white skin was starting to burn so we sought some shade for a while and sat on a mossy rock face under trees.






Susan was peering over the ledge in a pretty strong wind here. It was a long way down.






Lily family we think?






Bluets in weeds.






This was a bird egg in a surprisingly low nest.






Susan thought this tree was Entish (from Tolkien).






This was day 1 camp.














What a great day.






The next morning brought a few hours of rain which we dodged in and out of while breaking camp and making breakfast, etc... But when the hiking started we had none at all; how cool is that?






There was some wind in spots but the hiking was outstanding.






We eventually went down in elevation to check out a river valley.






I caught Susan admiring some trailside flora.






The weather fell in line with our plans to show us some sunshine.






This was a big blister beetle.






Streams got bigger as we descended.






Thumbs-up is good! The cool water was nice to clean off the trail dirt with.






And here was day 2 camp








Much of the afternoon was devoted to lazing ‘bout the creek.






And here is dinner time with enthusiasm!






And the rest of the story……


After dinner (about 8:30 PM near dusk) we were visited by a big black bear that somehow got within 20 feet of us before we noticed it.

We tried to scare it away by yelling and clacking our poles but it was less than impressed. It slowly circled behind some brush but didn’t leave. So after hanging our food (luckily I had strung a bear line much earlier) we slowly circled away.

We hiked up the trail to an area where we knew some other backpackers were and recruited them to help us try to scare the bear away. Well that didn’t work either. The bear just backed off a little and waited.

We were only a few miles away from our car at that point having planned a short day 3 exit hike, so we made the decision to bail out of the spot. There was no way Susan was going to relax after our visit.






We hiked by headlamp back to our car.


I was a little frustrated in that Susan’s first multi-night trip in the Smokies was cut short and slightly afraid it would scare her off of future trips. I mean, I’ve pulled dozens upon dozens of trips in the park and these kinds of bear experiences are really rare, so what is the chance that the first long trip she makes has one? Arrgghh

But in hindsight there was much adventure in the experience and it’s also somewhat fitting.

Early bail out notwithstanding it was a fabulous trip and will go down as another all time favorite for me because I shared it with my wife.



Happy Trails!

7:31 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Great pics from what sounds like a (mostly) great trip.  My family trip planned for last week got rained out so I'm getting by on trip reports until the TX boys come up on the 9th.  Thanks for posting!!

8:39 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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If the bear becomes a issue to further future invites, remind Susan her's was the typical encounter, meaning nothing happened.  Glad you got to camp with your love, it doesn't get much better.


8:55 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Glad to hear the bear encounter went off without incident, they can sneak up. Had one sneak up on us at crater lake before got within 15 feet before we realized. While me and my dad moved to scare it off my brother was closest and he just curled into a ball, the bear sniffed him a bit and walked straight through our camp and kept going. We didn't see him again, but my mom and sister got scared enough to sleep in the car.


Is that the MSR hoop? How do you like it. I like mine a lot fits me and my dogs perfect.

9:30 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice report, Patrick! I am glad you and Susan had such a nice time! I hate that bear spoiled it, but at least nothing bad happened. I think y'all made the right decision.

Where were y'all? Some of those pictures with the cliffs look similar to LeConte.

I was planning to go to GSMNP this weekend, but I called an audible and decided we will be going to Roan instead. We were planning to go to GSMNP this weekend, Roan next and Yosemite the next, but Jay has to work next weekend, so we opted for Roan in case the Rhodos are out. If they aren't, I will be sad, but Roan is still beautiful, so I think we will be fine. 

10:23 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice report and pics. It is always nice when the better half gets to join you on a trip. Bummer about the bear not wanting to leave and I understand why you two decided to pack it in.

We were up in the Smokies this weekend also. It was a great weekend even if it rained some Sunday morning

11:07 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Great Pictures and trip report. Sorry the bear didn't back off.Sounds like you had a great time anyway..

11:58 a.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Fun trip, notwithstanding the obstinate bear.  It sounds like that bear was completely used to people, which happens in areas with a lot of traffic.

I like the shot of Susan leaning over the precipice with the wind blowing her hair back. 

12:15 p.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Great TR and photos Pacman. It's great you were able to spend the time with Susan. You definately made the right call to hike out so there wasn't any additional worry for your wife. I agree with some of the others by reinforcing that this isn't a common occurance.


2:44 p.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks all….


That is astute. Thank you , I will do just that.


That is the MSR Hoop. I can’t say much about it yet as we actually only have the one night of use with it. It is roomy enough for two which can’t be said for most two person tents. The only criticism I have so far is that in the heavy rain that we experienced that morning, the double cross pole peak design caused water to pool a bit on top and when the sil-nylon sagged (as does all sil-nylon when wet) it touched the inner tent. My concern is that in a long saturating rain event (like we have often here), it would eventually soak though the inner and start a drip. Have you noticed pooling in rain? I will most likely only use this tent with Susan and she won’t be going in heavy rains so it may never be an issue. Campsaver had a coupon and we got this tent on sale for about $170.


I intentionally left out exact locations; I’ll tell you why in PM.


Oh cool, that’s neat…yeah the sun came out by noon.


Indeed, I suspect that bear has been fed or stolen food successfully in the past.


Yeah, I’ve been at this for a while, and this was the third occurrence out of maybe 100 camps in the GSMNP where a bear would not leave my camp area. But luckily none resulted in anything really bad happening.

3:15 p.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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bummer about the bear. oh well, at least nothing bad happened. grest trip report!

5:02 a.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Always good to get out with the #1 partner. My wife and I have a pretty good record, but my need for higher angles and speeds has resulted in us having fewer adventures together of late. Have to do something about that...

Love the flower pics -- we don't have that kind of diversity here in Norway, but we had many of the same species back in VT. The shrub with the wrinkled, roundish leaves and white flower clusters is hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides). In autun and winter it has big terminal flower buds that look like praying hands or maybe a stretched out scallop shell. The yellow lily is sometimes called bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis) although I usually just call it clintonia. Look for the shiny, dark blue berries later in the summer -- not edible as far as I know.

Too bad about the bear!

8:18 a.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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I thought of you guys around May 24 cuz I was on the Bob and actually had frost on the ground so the temps dipped a little below freezing.  I said to myself, "I hope old Patman brought his winter gear."

And thanks for coming out earlier to do trailwork with me on the Nutbuster trail.  A full report is forthcoming.

10:32 a.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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She looks like she enjoyed it so your trip must have been a success :).

6:19 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Long time reader first time poster. I spend the majority of time backpacking the smokies and enjoy reading your TR's Patman! Sounds overall like it was a good trip. Nice pics!

8:30 a.m. on June 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi, yeah our evenings got a little chilly for sure.


Bill, it was a success: I focused on keeping her dry, warm, rested, well fed and my chances were improved!



Welcome to Trailspace.....thanks for the kindness, who knows we may cross paths on the trail, there are only 900 miles of trail in the GSMNP right? :) 

12:15 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Fantastic, Patrick! 

My wife would like to work up to doing some easy trips sometime in the future, though that will likely take a while.  Sorry to hear the bear spoiled the end of your trip, and I hope it doesn't have any long term quelling of enthusiasm to venture out with you. 

You got some really great photos, too! Of course the one of Susan looking over the edge of the chasm is great, and the one of her gazing at the flowers is a keeper, too.  But that shot of the Red Trillium! That one is truly excellent.  

Tell Susan that I definitely think that tree is quite Entish :) 

I am glad Red answered you about the Hobblebush, as I've been really wanting to look up the ID on that shrub as well. For some reason I always forget to actually look it up once I get back home, Ha! I had never seen it in bloom, and would likely have thought it related to Hydrangea had I done, as the bloom is remarkably similar! It's leaf colours in the autumn are amazing, too. 

The Bluebead Lilies were everywhere on our hike last weekend as well, and must give Red another shout out for the ID. 

How large was that nest and its egg? do you think it was from a Grouse? I saw three males on out trip, and they were drumming almost every evening. 

3:06 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Hey thanks Gonz!

the pic may be misleading; that egg was very small and in a hole on a rock face. I think it was a type of wren.

6:45 p.m. on June 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Great trip report!  I'm still trying to convince my significant other of going backpacking with me.  I'm having little to no luck.  I guess its either solo trips or trips with my guy friends for me =(

1:27 p.m. on July 11, 2013 (EDT)
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really glad you had a second trip with your wife !!



hHave you tried have her read other woman trip report, such as:

Maybe it could help. Since that we bought a backpack tent, went for a second and are planning another one the two of us for this summer.

Good luck!

1:55 p.m. on July 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Backpacking with my wife has been the most rewarding, fun hobby we ever get to do together. We have been out 5 weeks in a row and another to come this week. I going to check out what Tipi calls "Crowder Camp" and for the first time ever I'm bringing my yellow lab!! Should be fun.

April 24, 2018
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