18 Day Return to the Nutbuster Trail

9:54 a.m. on June 3, 2013 (EDT)
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18 DAYS
ON THE
NUTBUSTER
TRAIL

Trip 145
May 13-30  2013

**  18 DAY RETURN TO THE NUTBUSTER TRAIL

**  SVEA BOY AT WATAUGA CAMP

**  INDIANA FIELD TRIP

**  FOLLOWING A GIRL AND 2 GUYS DOWN THE BIG FAT TRAIL

**  7 DAYS OFTRAILWORK ON THE NUTBUSTER TRAIL

**  29TH CLIMB OF THE NUTBUSTER

**  MEETING BACKPACKERS GARRETT AND JOHN ON THE NUTBUSTER

**  THE NUT EATER EATS MY GLASSES AND RETURNS THEM THE NEXT DAY

**  PATMAN CAMPS WITH ME IN BUCKEYE CAMP

**  PATMAN AND I CLEAR LEGS 4 AND 5 ON THE NUTBUSTER TRAIL

**  COY WILLIAMS PASSES THRU BOB BALD

**  CHANTILLE AND THOMAS ON HANGOVER MT

**  30TH CLIMB OF THE NUTBUSTER WITH FINAL TRAILWORK

**  14 MILE DAY

**  GRASSY BRANCH TRAILWORK



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JOURNEY TO THE NUTBUSTER TRAIL
     The month of May brings warmer temps but you wouldn't know it standing in Beech Gap in Tennessee on a Monday afternoon with a brisk cold wind blowing into your flesh.  Little Mitten and her son Blade drive me up the Skyway to Beech Gap at 4,600 feet and we say our goodbyes as I strap on an 85 lb pack with a real book and 8 internet book rolls of 70 pages each.  While in the gap I cache an emergency Thermarest wrapped several times in 2 large garbage bags and it's my old 1980's era Thermarest Ultra Light 20x72 inch pad of ancient linage.  After the stash I move north on the BMT/Fodderstack to Cold Gap where I sit in a cold wind from the west sipping an Odwalla superfood fruit smoothie at 12 fluid ozs.


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My first night is 3.5 miles in with a gain of a thousand feet to Bob Bald.


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On Day 2 I leave the Bob and head 3 miles to Hangover Mt where I catch a sunset.


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On Day 3 I leave Hangover Mt and descend 3,000 feet to Slickrock Creek and stop in Big Fat Gap for a break when I run into these 3 backpackers from Georgia.  They head down the Big Fat trail and I follow behind.


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I cleared the whole of the South Lead/Big Fat trails with this simple tool---a Felco #10 left handed pruner.  (Didn't really clear the trail, just a light touch up).  It will come in handy on my work on the Nutbuster trail on Day 5.


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The kids getting ready to cross Slickrock Creek and I get to watch.


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The girl crossing the Slickrock.


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My camp on Slickrock Creek.


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Day 4 is a big day as I grease up the tools and start clearing the 10 legs of the Nutbuster trail, a monumental task.  There are 10 sections of the Nutbuster and I clear the first leg up to Burnthouse Camp.  Here are my trail tools.  An amazing amount of work can be done with these 2 tools.


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After I finish the first leg I set up camp on an island between 2 creeks---Slickrock and Hangover.


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These brave souls came down the Nutbuster trail and met me on Leg 3 doing trailwork away from camp.  They are John and Garrett with dog Bodhi---a father and son team.  The first day of trailwork gets me to the middle of Leg 3.


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John and Garrett crossing Hangover Creek.


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Day 5 starts out clear and sunny so I pack up the kit and enjoy the hike on newly cleared trail to Buckeye Camp which is awesome so it becomes my home for the night.  After camp is arranged I take the tools on Leg 4 which is a mess but get most of it finished before returning in a light rain.


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As I'm working Leg 4 on the Nutbuster who hikes up but backpacking buddy Patman.  He helps me on Leg 4 and then I take him to Buckeye Camp and show him this special spot where he finds a place for his tarp.


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Day 6 is spent with Patman doing trailwork on the godawful Open Cove section of Leg 5.  Here we are near the end of the leg.  This is taken with Patman's camera.


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On Day 7 Patman leaves early and on the trail by 6:45 and so I take the necessary fotogs.


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Stowing the umbrella.


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Cinched up and ready to descend the Nutbuster and climb up the Big Fat trail.


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Patman leaves Buckeye Camp by crossing Hangover Creek.


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A DAY OF THUNDER---On Day 7 I pack up under a bright but cloudy sky and backpack up Leg 4 and do a little trim work along the way and reach the beginning of Leg 5 in the Open Cove leg of the Nutbuster and set up in the temperate rain forest of the dark north facing cove in the Slickrock wilderness.  Just after camp is set the sky turns mean with booming thunder and so there will be little trailwork done on Leg 5 today.  I end up pulling 3 good hours on Leg 5 after the storm.

MORE TO COME ON DAY 8

6:57 p.m. on June 3, 2013 (EDT)
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A warm and sunny day convinces me to pack and do Leg 6 as I move on the Nutbuster trail.  Here is the most rugged section I call Lonesome Ridge.


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After a 10 hour day of rigorous trailwork I reach Naked Ground and zero out Day 9 for recovery.  I see 3 backpackers pass thru from the Bob and going out to Maple Springs on the Haoe Lead trail.


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On Day 10 I leave NG and pass over the Bob in a fog and of course do trailwork the whole way to Snow Camp near Cherry Log Gap where I lay out the gear and prepare to set up the tent.


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On Day 11 I return to trail 54A North to finish my trailwork and reach Bob Mt but stop at the Tee for a break.  The headnet is needed.


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I reach the Bob and set up in the fir trees and find a small tent in the meadow and occupied by a backpacker named Mike from NC.


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Bob Mt gets some neato colors as a cold front hits a summer wind.


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Day 12 begins in rain and a temperature drop to 40F as Bob Mt gets socked in a windy storm so I stay put and then hear someone shout outside my tent and it's my backpacking buddy Coy Williams out for a night on Wolf Laurel and a hike to the Bob.


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After a 90 minute Coy has to shove off and we say our goodbyes.  He knows I like to read so he leaves me a book---and says, "Go ahead and burn it, Walt.  I expect it." 


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It's a cinch.  And he's off.


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The trail to Wolf Laurel is behind him so Coy says a final goodbye and he's off.


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Night comes over the fir trees and brings light.


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It's hard to believe but on the morning of May 25 and on my Day 13 I have frost in the open meadow of Bob's Bald so it must've got below 32F in the night.  I pass over Hangover Mt and see Thomas and Chantel camped out on top and we talk for a couple hours before I fall off the mountain on the South Lead trail.  I set up camp in Elysium Fields.


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Day 14 begins in rain (it always rains on Sundays) but I head down the South Lead trail in good spirits and what better harbinger of good medicine than seeing a toad and I ask him, "Why so glum?"


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I leave the South Lead trail and fall to Slickrock Creek and decide to pull the Nutbuster trail one final time and clear up Legs 7 and 8 which I left unworked.  Here I am in Burnthouse Camp on Leg 1.


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On Day 15 I decide to pull one more hump of the Nutbuster (my 30th attempt) and finish trailwork on Legs 7 and 8 to call the whole project finished.  Here's a big rock on Leg 5.


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Leg 9 gets me to the Heath Overlook where I look towards Hangover Mt and Haoe Peak.


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The Nutbuster trail as it goes thru the Heath Tunnel.


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Day 16 is a big day of 14 miles but it starts at Watauga Camp by the high gap of Naked Ground when 3 backpackers leave Hangover Mt on their way out.  They are Chris, Ben and Joey.  We end up playing frisbee together on the Bob.


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I leave my camp near Naked Ground and pass over the Bob and take 54A South to Cold Gap in a headnet.  I end up taking Trail 149 4+ miles all the way to the North Fork and old 149 is in terrible shape.  The North Fork isn't all that great either as it still has some old blowdowns.


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I finish the North Fork and swing up the South Fork trail to cross the big creek and camp where the Brush Mt trail jcts with the South Fork.  I went swimming in the North Fork and it was cold but worth it.


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Day 17 is a big trailworking day as I stand by the South Fork Creek after pulling the crossing and heading upstream.


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I get to White Rock Camp on the South Fork and find 6 piles of Memorial weekend human turds in camp and get steamed in my trip journal---

"IDIOTS.  I cross the South Fork and pull the detour which I clear with my loppers and then reach White Rock Camp which unbelievably is strewn with 6 piles of human turds and 12 pieces of stained toilet paper atop and around the defecations."

"Here's what happened---urine drinking non-rated no-rank pieces of s*** themselves came out for Memorial weekend and camped by the firepit in camp.  They walked 30 feet behind camp next to the creek and shatted right on the ground without digging and left their tp alongside.  They continued to do this as long as they stayed in camp---3 days in other words."

"So you have many turd piles from weekend colons strewn about with no thought to dig and bury.  These are American patriots at their best---no count non-serving non-military non-hackers who would  . . . . . . "(the rest is best left unsaid).


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My evac point is at Grassy Gap so I take the tools and do thorough trailwork on the Grassy Branch trail and stop to enjoy the creek.


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I spend my last night on Grassy Branch trail and on Day 18 pull the climb out to Grassy Gap and find, fittingly, full trailwork done by the SAWS boys as evidenced by this nice treadwork.


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The trip ends in Grassy Gap by the Cherohala Scarway where I sit and wait for Little Mitten to pick me up.

10:06 p.m. on June 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Really enjoyed your report.  I would also like to say Thank You for your super human efforts in maintaining that huge amount of trail!  so,

 

"Thank You!!"

6:23 a.m. on June 4, 2013 (EDT)
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Great report Tipi. Thanks for showing me Buckeye camp and for the company for a couple days. You got some really great photos on this one too.

 

So now you need a vacation after all that trail work, maybe you could go backpacking?

7:29 a.m. on June 4, 2013 (EDT)
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Soleful2001---Thanks for the encouragement.  I'm almost of the opinion now that every backpacker in the Southeast should as a rule carry a hand pruner in one hand and have it ready at all times for trailwork.  It's so easy to clip troublesome brush out of your face as you hike---especially large briars and low rhodo branches.

Patman---I'm taking a several week break in June to spend time with Little Mitten and will not even look at my dehydrator for a while.

10:09 a.m. on June 4, 2013 (EDT)
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another good trip report Tipi. You always have me wanting to get up there and explore the area.

4:08 p.m. on June 4, 2013 (EDT)
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Ewker---Yeah, come on out and spend some time on Slickrock Creek where it's cool during the summer months.  I went swimming in the North Fork during a hot May day and nearly froze to death.

9:56 a.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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`Tipi, 

Thank you for another great report, and for doing all that work clearing trail. Especially when I hike with a staff I am constantly using it on branches and "grabbers." One swift twitch of the staff and they are severed and cleared.  

I also shared in boiled blood last weekend over turd piles. Thankfully non of the ones I found were next to water, but they dotted the whole area around the Laurel Gap Shelter like a host of foul plants. 

I wish we'd been able to make our trip over Memorial Day instead of last weekend, I would have enjoyed the cold temps far more than the hellatious day and a half of rain we had.  More to come on that in a report. I've come to expect at least one cold snap up high in May. 

I love those sunset pics on the Bob. Very nice. 

12:09 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks Gonzan for the post.  Patman and I talked about you when we were out and made an extensive review of all your siblings and whether any of them would be out backpacking in May.  We figured you would be.

Let's hope this summer won't be like last summer when Knoxville got hit with 106F to 108F temps.

1:47 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Yep, all seven brothers and one nephew got together for trek this year, overall it was good, but there were two major bumps in the road, but it all worked out, ha! 

2:17 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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great trip report tipi. thank you so much for your work on the trails. we need more people like you.

3:10 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Trailjester said:

great trip report tipi. thank you so much for your work on the trails. we need more people like you.

 Anyone who backpacks an area enough times will develop a certain affection for a particular trail or trails.  The Upper Slickrock Nutbuster trail has been my favorite since first stepping on it with a pack in 2002-2003.

After the sad hemlock dieoff of a couple years ago the Nutbuster has turned to crap even though it's on a north-facing mountain side.  Sadly the once verdant and shady and moist mountain coves on the Nutbuster have become hell slogs thru dead hemlocks and ample briar fields.

So, I get fed up with forest service inaction and decide to pull out the tools.  I have a couple more trails in the Most Favored category---the South Fork and the North Fork of the Citico---and they are next on the list.

October 1, 2014
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