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My wife and I decided that this weekend we were going to head down to NC and make our way up the Slickrock Creek. We were planning to leave around 5:30 Friday afternoon, get there by 7pm and make it a two night, 17 mile round trip. From Ike Branch to Slickrock Creek, then to Big Stack Gap, to Fodderstick. Then down Stiffknee to the BMT, back to Ike Branch and out. Friday did not exactly go to plan.....we did not get to the trail head till almost 11pm. We were so tired on Saturday that we changed our plans to not include hiking up to crowder place that night, and instead to just go to Wildcat Falls and back. So we took off in the dark, on a trail we had never been on, to find a campsite we have never seen. In hindsight this might have been a little foolish but......it was fun. =)
We walked the old road down a wide trail. It was pretty dark although we did have a waxing moon. We found the trail head for Ike Branch and climbed up a considerable amount and parked at the first piece of flat ground we found. It did take us about an hour up the trail before I found that flat piece of ground. I am not sure where this was specifically but it was about 3/4 of a mile north of the first actual campsite before the trail drops down toward Slickrock Creek. We got completely set up and ready for bed around 1:30 am. It had been a long week, and a long humid, muggy walk up the Ike Branch trail.
While it was still dark outside, I was awakened by two hikers walking down the trail toward Calderwood Lake. We wanted to get a good start on the day and got up and moving. We made our way up the Ike Branch Trail toward Slickrock Creek, passing the trail heads for the Hangover lead and the Yellowhammer trail.
Below is a nature shot going down the Ike Branch Trail:
This is the junction to Slickrock Creek and the Ike Branch Trails. This is our first view of Slickrock Creek and we decided to just take it in for a bit.
Right about this point, it starts raining......we quickly put on our ponchos and and pack covers just in time for our first crossing. We will cross the creek 8 times before making camp. Here's a crossing shot:
This one was up to my knees! It was awesome though, and by far my favorite parts of the trip. I really enjoy creek crossings and these were beautiful. The Slickrock Creek Trail was one of the most wonderful trails I have ever walked. Every time I looked around a bend in the river I was blown away by the beauty.
After this, I didn't take a lot of pictures. I got tired of pulling my camera in and out of the plastic bag I kept in during all the crossings. We Made our way down the Slickrock Creek until, in the distance, we saw and soon heard Wildcat Falls!! We dropped our bags and jumped right in the the pool below the falls. It was cold water but perfect after a long hike. After our swim, we hiked up the top of the falls, where we met a nice young man and his dog who says a half mile up the trail there is a rattlesnake right in the middle of the trail. He was a bit freaked out, he even said it tried to bite his dog. We chatted for a bit, then he and his dog went down toward the bottom of the falls. There is a crossing right after the top of the falls, so we decided to camp just to the left, after crossing. At this campsite from the fire pit we can see the first dip in the falls and have access to some sun bathing rocks. I call this camp Sunrock Camp. I am kicking myself for not taking any pictures......after the swim we sun bathe on those awesome rocks enjoying our selves quite nicely, surrounded by all types on butterflies dancing in the sunlight. We take in the sun and the view until dinner time. After dinner I look toward the Sunrocks and there is a man climbing up the falls! I was very impressed but not ready or willing to copy his performance. There will be no fire tonight, there has been too much rain. We are really feeling fatigue from a long work week and late night the previous night, and hit the hay.
On the way back we book it down the trail and make it back to the Slickrock/Ike Branch trail junction in a little over an hour and a half.
Above is a BMT sign shot.
We go back out on the Ike Branch Trail. Here is a shot of the trail going north from Slickrock creek:
Parts of the trail going north are a bit steep. There is also some blown down trees to deal with, one that is particularly awful.
This is the campsite we probably should have stayed at friday night....lol. It is almost at the high point, and going north its all down hill from here!
This is the sign we passed in the dark on Friday night, its looks nicer in the sunlight. This is the Slickrock/Ike Branch Junction close to the Choeah dam. We take a right here and follow the lake toward the car.
Gotta have a pack and trailhead photo (above).
Shot of the Cheoah Dam means its time to head back. This place will always be special to us from now on. It was a place where my grandfather and his brothers who were raised in Robbinsville played in as kids. My wife and I had a great time and I encourage you to go play in the Slickrock Creek sometime. Hope you enjoyed the photos.