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I must admit that I vacillated between blogging these latest trips or not. Life circumstances had prevented me from backpacking or exercising for the four weeks prior so this first outing was a trip to start getting my hiking legs back under me.
I also found it a little hard to post a regular outing after my fantastic Sierra trip; That trip turned out to be somewhat transformative in my awareness of the possibilities! (I really, really liked hiking at higher elevation on open trails with low humidity etc...)
Of course I will always have a heart connection with the Southern Appalachians; I live here now, my more immediate family lived here before me and I have roots in these mountains.
And of course I can't fly all over the country whenever I want so I was off to one of the most convenient trailheads to drive to for me: Tremont in the GSMNP.
I wasn't even going to take pictures on this trip so all I have from my Friday night access hike is one shot of my open (no netting) tarp tent set up on Dripping Springs Mountain. I got there just before dark after parking at the Tremont Institute and trekking up the road to Middle Prong, Panther Branch, Miry Ridge etc...
The next morning brought a long narrow ridge top hike with flowers and turkeys and forest.
There were a few grassy spots with nice trees.
The spring at Derrick Knob is one of those old pipes driven into the mountain side. I've passed this one nearly a dozen times and never seen it dry.
It was hazy day (which is not unusual here) so no great views from Thunderhead mountain. I spent the evening in the tall grass of Spence Field sleeping under the stars on a good weather night.
The next day I did the long trudge down Bote Mtn. It was hot and buggy. I can't wait for the temps to drop. I decided to explore north of the West Prong campsite; there is a faint trail that follows the creek for as almost as far as I went but gets really thick with blow-downs and understory, converts to animal trails, then disappears all together. This picture is a random pool where I stopped for while.
After reaching the car I had some more time on the day so I drove out the Rich Mtn road and stopped to hike up the Indian Grave Gap trail to the boundary overlooks near Crooked Arm Ridge. I couldn't get a good picture but there was voracious young black bear making a racket eating something out of a tree.
All-in-all a good trip.....fast forward one week......
Next up is a failed meet-up with Tipi Walter. I left out on a Friday after work and drove Big Fat Gap in the Slickrock wilderness. That night I stopped at an old logging road turnaround because it offered glimpses both north and south from the ridge.
It was a beautiful night and I kept the fly peeled back on the tent until I was awakened by rain drops about 6 in the morning. I slept in and drug my feet hoping the rain would stop. By about 10AM in was still raining steady I decided to hold out hope that it would soon abate and continue on my planned loop.
It's hard to get good rainy day pictures. Here I'm at the only major ford of the day on Slickrock creek; the irony is that I was actually able to rock hop it on a day where it would not have mattered if I got my shoes wet.
From Windy Gap I went down through Nichols Cove, across Slickrock creek, north to Big Stack Gap, then South on the BMT to 149, then down 97 (Brush Mtn).
Tipi had called and told me he would be in the vicinity of 149 and 97 but I didn't see him. My problem at that point was that as the day wore on and I became drenched-through, I couldn't stop without getting chilled. (A solo backpacker needs to be closely attuned to hypothermia symptoms even in early fall, right?)
So I didn't wait around or explore very much but instead decided to go back up 149 to 54A and camp on the Bob.
It took me from 10AM to about 4PM to reach camp and it finally stopped raining (only for a couple hours as it turned out). Man does it feel good to take off those wet clothes and put on the dry sleep set.
My only company for the evening was this funky bug. I call it "scorpio-wasp".
The next morning was glorious! The sun came out; it dried out my stuff and lifted my spirits all at once.
A nice side effect of the previous rainy day: I had the Hangover all to myself.
This was a neat tree fungus on the way down H-Lead back to Big Fat.
And the final shot is friendly little garter snake sunning himself on the trail.
Hope you enjoyed the blog and Happy Trails!