17 Days with Trailwork on Slickrock Creek

5:06 p.m. on July 11, 2013 (EDT)
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BACKPACKING
FLATS MT
AND
CITICO/SLICKROCK
WILDERNESS

Trip 146
June 21-July 7  2013

**  17 DAYS WITH TRAILWORK ON SLICKROCK CREEK

**  BACKPACKING FOR 2 DAYS WITH RAIN MAN AND SARAH

**  SEEING BACKPACKER KEVINUMBERGER IN BEEHOUSE GAP

**  GOING UP THE SOUTH FORK TRAIL WITH RAIN MAN AND SARAH

**  RANDY CADENZA AND WALL TENT DAVE ON BOB MT

**  FOUR DAYS ON SLICKROCK CREEK

**  SLICKROCK CREEK TRAILWORK DONE FROM LOWER FALLS TO NAKED GROUND!

**  FATHER/SON MARK AND RILEY COMING DOWN THE NUTBUSTER

**  NUTBUSTER CLIMB 31ST TIME

**  TRAIL 149 TRAILWORK IN THE RAIN

**  INDEPENDANCE DAY DELUGE

**  PATMAN BACKPACKS TO THE BOB FOR A JULY STORM

**  96 HOUR RAINSTORM

TRAILS
Entrance Flats Mt
**Camp Hope**
Flats Mt
Beehouse Gap Roadwalk
South Fork Citico
**Eagle Camp**
South Fork
**Cold Gap**
54A South
Bob Mt
Four Mile Ridge
**Naked Ground Landon Camp**
Four Mile Ridge
South Lead
Big Fat Gap
Windy Gap
**Cul De Sac Camp**
Windy Gap
Nichols Cove
Slickrock Creek
**Stiffknee Camp**
Slickrock Creek
**Slisgah Camp (2)**
Slickrock Creek
Wildcat Falls
**Little West Camp**
Nutbuster Trail
**Buckeye Camp**
Nutbuster Trail 31st Time
**Naked Ground Landon Camp**
Four Mile Ridge
Bob Mt
54A North
Snow Camp
BMT Connector
**Barrel Gap**
Trail 149
North Fork
**Snake Mt Camp**
North Fork
Trail 149
**Cold Gap**
54A South
**Bob Mt Death Tree(2)**
54A South
Fodderstack to Beech Gap and OUT


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FIRST DAY DRIZZLE BEGINS THE TRIP
     Little Mitten and I drive out of Riceville, TN and head to the mountains of NC on the Cherohala Scarway but we stop short of the state line at Eagle Gap on the Flats Mt trail.  Here I unload my giant cumbersome Mystery Ranch pack from the car and the car's suspension system rises 8 inches.  I strap on the 85 lb pack as Mitten says goodbye and returns to the valley but I climb past the 2 balds of the Flats and head straight to Camp Hope in a drizzle which turns to light after getting camp completely set up and lunch served.


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Day 2 starts with hot coffee using my heavy Green Pan with the outlandish pot cozy.  I already know---I'm nuts.


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As I'm drinking coffee 2 backpackers from the Nashville Meet Up group show and they are Rain Man and Sarah.  They wait 30 minutes for me to pack and we pull 8.2 miles together off Flats Mt to the South Fork Citico.


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Rain Man takes several pics and here is one of them.  All of his pics will be marked with an **.  We stand on top of Flats Mt about ready to shove off.


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**  I show Rain Man and Sarah how a 62 year old human/bonobo lifts an 85 lb pack---in 3 detailed steps.  This would be Step Two preparing for the Massive Lift of Step Three.


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Trail friend Kevinumberger pulls into Beehouse Gap at the end of the Flats Mt trail but he's going up the mountain and retracing our steps.


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Rain Man and Sarah pulling the 1 mile roadwalk to the South Fork trail.


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**  We make it to water on the South Fork trail and it's time to filter.


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We enter the Citico wilderness on the South Fork trail by the Donner Camps.


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Rain Man, Sarah and Uncle Fungus pose on the South Fork trail by the Brush Mt trail jct.


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Rain Man and Sarah elect to pull all 3 crossings of the SF and I separate to pull the detour to avoid 2 of these.  Here is the first.


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Rain Man pulls the first SF crossing.


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This is the third crossing and Sarah pulls it and it's a crossing I have to do, too.


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**  Rain Man takes a shot of my crossing thru a deep section of the South Fork Creek.


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Right past the crossing is Eagle Camp where Sarah sets up her Coleman tent.


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Rain Man's hammock set up in Eagle Camp on South Fork Creek.


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Sarah's Coleman Exponent tent.


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Day 3 dawns cool and clear as Sarah packs her tent and Rain Man eats breakfast.


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We leave the low SF camp and pull 2 nutbuster climbs.  Here is the first as the trail leaves the creek.


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**  Here I come following behind.


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At the top of the climb we rest as the trail enters the level logging cut detour which is choked with grapevines and briars.  Sarah calls it The Thicket.


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**  I lead the way with my hand pruners but they don't much good.  It's a hateful part of the South Fork trail.


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**  What the heck?  Who wants to come out and help me clear this trail?  No one.


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Beyond the Hell detour we reach the second main SF crossing and it's easy enough with boots.


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**  Now it's my turn across the shallow South Fork.


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**  The second SF Nutbuster climb is away from the second crossing and up a nasty series of pitches.  Here is Sarah in the middle.


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**  Somewhere on the SF climb.


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The last nasty pitch with Cold Spring Gap in the top distance.  It's tough even without an 80 lb pack.


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A fitting collapse as we reach Cold Gap where a big thunderstorm hits and I decide to stay but Rain Man and Sarah still have 7 miles out, 5 of which are hitched.

MORE TO COME ON DAY 4

7:55 a.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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In order to hook up with a couple backpackers I know on the Bob I leave Cold Gap by 7 in the morning and climb a thousand feet to find Wall Tent Dave and Randy Cadenza in the South Col Camps.  They will be spending a full week backpacking the area.


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I leave the Bob and pull a 3 mile day to Naked Ground Gap where I set up in a cold rain.  On Day 5 I leave NG and get to Saddle Tree Gap and go down the Hangover Lead South trail and in 4.5 miles I'm in Big Fat Gap where I find this owl feather on the ground.


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The trail from Hangover Mt is right behind me as I stand in Big Fat Gap.


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I spend one night on the Windy Gap trail and on Day 6 I stay on the Windy Gap trail to arrive in Windy Gap for a reststop.


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Turning right in Windy Gap I descend Nichols Cove trail and get stuck in another summer downpour so I throw off the pack and wait it out.  Soon I'm by the Dotson graves and descend the Nichols Cove trail with its 8 crossings all the way to Slickrock Creek where I cross and go downstream to Stiffknee Jct Camp as above.


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On Day 7 I'm ready to leave Stiffknee Camp and spend an hour completely clearing the BMT/Slickrock trail between Stiffknee jct and Ike Branch jct.  Here is the BMT creek crossing.


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The day's site is Slisgah Camp on the BMT aka Sgt Rock Camp, named for the guy who maintains this section of trail.


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Upstream from the crossing is my favorite beach swimhole where I take a quick pic---I'm keeping my hands above water so I can operate the camera.


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I pull a zero day in Slisgah Camp for the purpose of doing thorough trailwork to Lower Falls and back so I need to take my Mystery Ranch top lid pocket which doubles as a daypack.


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A better view of the daypack.


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I make it to Lower Falls on Slickrock Creek and it's probably the best swimhole in the Southeast cuz the water's so clean.


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Behind the pool of water gets 15 feet deep.


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Here is the top of Lower Falls.


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Day 9 is a big day of trailwork along the 10 crossings of Slickrock Creek.  Eight crossings from camp I reach Wildcat Falls which I have all for myself.


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Day 10 begins with a sunny day as I cross Slickrock Creek one final time and stand ready to climb the Nutbuster trail for the 31st time.


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Behold!  Last month I came out with 2 simple trail tools and cleared the whole of the Nutbuster trail but I could not touch the big stuff.  Well, a crew came out afterwards and yeehaw cut the big stuff.  Here's one on Leg 3.


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I set up at the end of Leg 3 in Buckeye Camp.


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I hear voices coming down the Nutbuster trail and they are Mark and his son Riley.

MORE TO COME

8:29 a.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Riley playing on Hangover Creek, my tent at Buckeye Camp to the left.


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I pull all of the Nutbuster trail and it is cleared the whole way now and open.  I reach Naked Ground Gap for a night and then on Day 12 pass over the Bob on my way to Snow Camp.


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Trail 54A North is hellish but I make it to Snow Camp for a break.  My nice new North Face yellow t-shirt doesn't look so nice after 12 days.


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The holy Felco hand pruner.


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What's for breakfast?  Cinnamon raisin bread toast.


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Day 13 turns out to be a soaked dog day but I pack a dry camp and stand by the Trail 149 post and prepare for a long day of trailwork on 149 all the way to the North Fork trail.


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Trail 149 ends on the North Fork trail and so I hike it up to the open bowl below Cherry Log Gap and get soaked in a heavy rainstorm but set up at Snake Mt Camp.


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On Day 14 I'm determined to move in the rain and so I take the NF down to 149 and follow it several miles to its end in Cold Gap.


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Thru the night I get walloped by a wild summer storm of high winds and nonstop wind whipped rain---and it's cold enough to not be dumb enough to go out in it.  So, like an idiot I decide to go higher and get more exposed.  Here I am on my way up to Bob Mt.


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In a 14 peg windstorm on Bob Mt.


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Surprise!  Patman shows up in the rain and sets up on the Bob near my camp and comes down to eat dinner in my tent.  He also gives me some good food to eat.


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Patman shows off his new waterproof camera.


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Patman's new MSR tent called the Hoop set up in Raven Camp on the very top of Bob Mt.  He wants to test it in the wind.


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The MSR Hoop tent on the Bob.


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Patman in his tent with his NeoAir.


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Patman is packed and goes on his Saturday hike.  I stay on the Bob in the rain and pull a zero.


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On Day 17 Patman is up and ready to pack and so we make a plan to hike out together.


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The last day of my trip finds me hiking out with Patman.


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We make it to Beech Gap and Patman offers to take me 25 miles to Tellico where I call Little Mitten for pickup.


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And so my trip ends at Beech Gap in the rain.

11:05 a.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Hey Tipi,

Welcome back...

I must agree that the new yellow shirt looks much different in those early photos than 17 days later. :)

 

Wow, having never done the South Fork, I'm impressed by the depth of that crossing (Rainman's picture of you). Appearently it was a good call to change up to the high ground for me/us last weekend. With all the flood warnings I bet that same crossing would have been pretty risky.

11:58 a.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi, thanks again for another great trip report and pics.

I know rain man and some others are doing the entire Slickrock creek this weekend to Naked Ground and out via the NGT. 

12:00 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Patman said:

Wow, having never done the South Fork, I'm impressed by the depth of that crossing (Rainman's picture of you). Appearently it was a good call to change up to the high ground for me/us last weekend. With all the flood warnings I bet that same crossing would have been pretty risky.

 

I had thought about going up the South Fork over July 4th weekend. sure glad I didn't

2:00 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Ewker said:

Tipi, thanks again for another great trip report and pics.

I know rain man and some others are doing the entire Slickrock creek this weekend to Naked Ground and out via the NGT. 

 Yeah, Rain Man and I have emailed each other about his route and his plan to pull the entire 12 mile hike from Calderwood Lake to Naked Ground in one shot.  Good luck, boys.  It's a haul and something I've done repeatedly but not in one day.  I could turn this hike into a 4 day trip(smile).  He should be doing the deed tomorrow, July 13.  Ominous.

But hey, after Bill Hodge or SAWS or whoever else came out to finish the Nutbuster section of Upper Slickrock, well, it's a breeze to hike and all Rain Man will have to deal with is the Slope Itself.  The only Slope you have to Fear is the Slope Itself.

On this trip I started clearing the Brush Mt trail (the Nutbuster of the Citico side) and only got a quarter mile down before the July 4th rainstorms hit.  Like I said, 96 hours of rain.  Ho hum, old news.

Anyway, my next trip plan is to start on the South Fork and camp on the other side by the Brush Mt trail jct and do trailwork up until I reach Trail 149 at the top.  I hope to spend several days clearing and getting this most favored of Citico trails opened.

2:48 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi,

I won't be available until August, but I would be willing to help clear the Brush Mtn trail with you (or as much as I could help with in a weekend anyway). Keep me posted...

3:31 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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your a stud, tipi! you too, Patman!

3:38 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Patman said:

Tipi,

I won't be available until August, but I would be willing to help clear the Brush Mtn trail with you (or as much as I could help with in a weekend anyway). Keep me posted...

 You can concentrate on your upcoming Sierra trip and keep us all informed and then when you come back I'll send you a message.

4:12 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter said:

Ewker said:

Tipi, thanks again for another great trip report and pics.

I know rain man and some others are doing the entire Slickrock creek this weekend to Naked Ground and out via the NGT. 

 Yeah, Rain Man and I have emailed each other about his route and his plan to pull the entire 12 mile hike from Calderwood Lake to Naked Ground in one shot.  Good luck, boys.  It's a haul and something I've done repeatedly but not in one day.  I could turn this hike into a 4 day trip(smile).  He should be doing the deed tomorrow, July 13.  Ominous.

But hey, after Bill Hodge or SAWS or whoever else came out to finish the Nutbuster section of Upper Slickrock, well, it's a breeze to hike and all Rain Man will have to deal with is the Slope Itself.  The only Slope you have to Fear is the Slope Itself.

On this trip I started clearing the Brush Mt trail (the Nutbuster of the Citico side) and only got a quarter mile down before the July 4th rainstorms hit.  Like I said, 96 hours of rain.  Ho hum, old news.

Anyway, my next trip plan is to start on the South Fork and camp on the other side by the Brush Mt trail jct and do trailwork up until I reach Trail 149 at the top.  I hope to spend several days clearing and getting this most favored of Citico trails opened.

 

he posted  "After consulting two of my trail gurus"     I knew one of them had to be you. 

6:00 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm a big blubbering fish in a very tiny pond---and with all this rain I'm starting to need gills.  But hey, he should be fine as his trailname is , uh, Rain Man.

7:31 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Well, I didn't take enough pictures to post a report from my weekend so I'll tack a couple on to Tipi's effort:

 


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"The inner sanctum at dinner time"

 


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"Beautiful camp on Jenkins Ridge-in the fog and rain"

 

 


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"Bridge of Death on lower Naked Ground Trail"

I slipped across this slick wet wood like a stooge on skates. Below was slick rock, it could have been bad news.

 


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"The only non-tented dry spot in the forest."

 

 

 

 

 

 

10:12 p.m. on July 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for shareing your adventures tipi.Is that Rainman from WB? I met him once..On a hiker weekend on the AT..Patman way to go always going on the Weekends to remind us anytime is better then none..

10:08 a.m. on July 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Another nice report. An 85 pound pack is very impressive. I'm not sure i could walk a half a mile with that much weight.

10:11 a.m. on July 13, 2013 (EDT)
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denis daly said:

Thanks for shareing your adventures tipi.Is that Rainman from WB? I met him once..On a hiker weekend on the AT..Patman way to go always going on the Weekends to remind us anytime is better then none..

 Yes Rain man is the one from WB

6:09 p.m. on July 14, 2013 (EDT)
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85lbs! Tipi, you stud!

8:27 p.m. on July 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Patman---thanks for including a few of your pics.

The 85 lbs comes mostly from the food I carry (around 40 lbs) and the extra fuel.  And also the many books I think I need in order to have an enjoyable trip---all burned of course.  Fuel load is 44oz of white gas.

By the end the pack comes in at around 40 lbs which is superfine and is so much easier to handle.  I could go much lighter if I deep-sixed my tent and pack, both together come to around 16 lbs 8 oz.

10:30 p.m. on July 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter said:

I could go much lighter if I deep-sixed my tent and pack, both together come to around 16 lbs 8 oz.

 I personally think you need a bigger pack and tent. ;)

11:31 a.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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hey tipi........

thought it was you that had cleared slickrock....

 

i did the chunk of slickrock from stiffknee to big stack branch the week after i saw you at beehouse and figured you had done the clipping....

 

myself---i found that the lower pool of wildcat falls made a nice swimming hole.....

 

also, up on flats mountain, i had started to camp where you had camped (i could tell by the burn marks) but instead just set up tent there, took nap to wait out the drizzle, then went up to the first clearing to tent....

 

i couldnt resist the full super moon of that weekend....

 

11:53 a.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Those marks on Flats were probably near the trailhead where Rain Man and Sarah camped??  Or up by the first bald (the lower one)??  My usual and fave camp on Flats is past the second bald in the woods about 200 yards on the right (when coming up from the Skyway)---near the high point of Flats Mt.


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Does this thing look familiar?  It's K's pack!

Yeah, I had fun clearing part of the Slickrock trail and it needed it.

11:56 a.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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that's my pack alright....

 

the camp just after the 2nd clearing and on the right...

 

i could see a small burn mark where i'm guessing you burnt yer "books"...

 

i really enjoyed that section of slickrock...

 

swimming in wildcat falls was great after sweating all day...

 

it was cold and made my tinker bells shrink...

 

 

2:27 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Anyway, my next trip plan is to start on the South Fork and camp on the other side by the Brush Mt trail jct and do trailwork up until I reach Trail 149 at the top.  I hope to spend several days clearing and getting this

most favored of Citico trails opened

ahhhhh.......brush mountain......

it's gonna be a beast to clear that one out....

not really that many blowdowns and what not to worry about, but rather the exact route itself....

i did it going up on the saturday of memorial day weekend and it was quite a chore to find the route....

3:24 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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I already cleared the first quarter mile from the top and yes it's a holy mess and even a little hard to find as I know the trail scoots left up to Brush Mt Ridge and follows it for awhile before swinging down right from the top and getting on a little logging cut for a brief while.  This explanation is from the top down.

I think I've backpacked this trail 7 times?  And it was last cleared in 2009 by the Crosscut Mountain Boys. 

And yes, you found Camp Hope, a fave camp on top of the Flats.  What's neat about it is I can dayhike a couple switchbacks down the hill for water.  (From switchback 13 to switchback 10---for those crazy enough to count them all).

3:48 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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it surely didnt seem like they cleared much of it...............yeah....the big stuff is gone but still a ton of briars bushes....

this past weekend, i met some of the Forest Stewards (paid for by wildness society and work for forest service) who gave up on trying to hike that trail...

they dont necessarily clear trails but rather clear trash out.....

 

for water for flats mountain----i just drew outta that little spring that crossed the trail and had some logs in the middle of it.........found a puddle about 6 inches across right above the logs that i could draw from.....

4:04 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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That's a pretty good source and usually has water, esp if you go down the hill a ways.  There's another water source on Flats and it's basically in the middle part of the trail and about 100 yards away in a little "gap"---I think I may have mentioned this before, and even showed this pic??


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4:31 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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yeah.....i figured if i went downhill on the one that crossed the trail, the water would be flowing more.....however, within sight and only maybe 30 feet down, looks like a hog had laid in the water and created a big ole hole.....i didnt wanna draw from there...

 

and yeah....i think that photo was part of the one were you showed the tent as well.....maybe next to yer hidden campsite in that area...

4:49 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Heck, alot of my water comes from Pig Seeps.  Have you seen this one (below)?  It's a pig seep water source on the upper Haoe Lead trail right below the Hangover where Haoe Lead gets real level and becomes "Jenkins Meadow".  This water source is right below the ridge close to a campsite in the meadow.


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5:05 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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i saw the campsite along Haoe lead but i dont remember a water source....

 

but then again, i really wasnt looking as i had enough water to make it to hangover, and knew i could find the spring up there.....which is really easy to find now....

 

and speaking of water sources---i did stratton bald trail from rattler ford up to wolf laurel this past weekend...

 

about maybe 2 miles before wolf laurel area (and the turnoff to the clearing which leads to the road), theres a couple of small campsites along that ridge...

 

one which would have been ideal to stay at, but i'm guessing getting water meant going down hill a while.....

 

you know anything about water in that area?

5:20 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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I call Stratton trail the Horse Cove trail and it's pretty nice.


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This is one nice spot on the trail which completely opens up with an awesome view.


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This is probably that campsite you mentioned and it's not far down from Obidiah Gap.  I call it Horse Cove Camp.  There's a little spring source way down to the left.


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Here's a shot looking the other direction towards the trail going away from Rattler Ford and towards Wolf Laurel.

5:29 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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that's the campsite i was referring to.......nice little spot....

 

and by way down to the left----do you mean along the main trail, or the kinda trail that leads out of the backside of that campsite?

 

i really didnt search much in that area as it was getting late and i really wanted to get up to wolf laurel to take a nap...

5:34 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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and yeah.....the views along that trail, for about a half mile stretch, are nice.....could see the skyway and hear the roar of the engines from there.....

 

and on the way to trailhead, passed an accident on skyway....

 

when i got there, the victims just had the bike lifted off of them, and were getting onto stretcher...

 

so after the ambulance leaves, i right behind it going to the NC side, and doing speed limit when a bunch of motocycles came up on my ass...

 

then proceeded to pass me and the ambulance (lights no sirens on)....

 

all i could think "didnt you learn anything from that accident back there?"

7:48 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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I called it the Cherohala Scarway as to me it's just a totally unneeded "Nature motor loop" thru the Unicoi Mts.  And I've written long tiresome screeds against the dang racing motorcyclists who can't seem to find mufflers.  So, the Horse Cove trail isn't much good to hike until winter.

Roaring Harleys pretty much ruin the wilderness experience in much of the Citico/Slickrock.  And if you go too far north towards Calderwood Lake you hear the racket from the Tail of the Dragon's Anus, another motorcycle racetrack.

WATER SOURCE---In my second pic you would go 90 degrees left and straight down the side of the hill and away from the trail.

10:52 p.m. on July 15, 2013 (EDT)
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WATER SOURCE---In my second pic you would go 90 degrees left and straight down the side of the hill and away from the trail.

yeah.....i figured it would be down the hill a bit...

i just didnt want to find out how far that "bit" was going to be....

3:08 p.m. on July 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Another great trip report Tipi...lot's of excellent photos as well!

July 23, 2014
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