Some recent trips to share

6:20 p.m. on March 25, 2014 (EDT)
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I'm using this space for my backpacking blog; sometimes I add information that is only for my reference like dates and trail names so the casual reader (and really I hope you all are casual) can skip that stuff and just look at the pictures. :)

 

Three out of four weekends have provided opportunity to squeeze in a trip with at least one overnight and sometimes two. I'm on a roll!

For the sake of time I tried to limit the pictures to four or less per outing.

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The weekend of March 2nd, 2014 is first up.

This weekend was a Friday night start from Cataloochee N.C. in the south-eastern part of the Smokies. 

 

 

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Looking South into North Carolina from the Cataloochee Divide trail near a place called The Swag. Stopped long enough to chuckle about the people paying over $500 per night to stay at The Swag when I get the same view for $4 per night and some sweat.

 

 

 

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Another wonderful view from the Divide trail. The branch is pointing to Mt Sterling.

 

 

 

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The weather station near Purchase Knob. I've used that camera for years to get an idea of what the precipitation situation was before going on a trip to these mountains. I was curious how it was powered and setup. Now I know.

 

_______________________________________________________________________ And now we move to the weekend of March 8th, 2014.

This trip was convoluted but really good for my mental health.

I finagled an early exit from work and got the rare Friday morning start.

 

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This is the Newton Bald spring; I could have followed it farther down the draw to find a drop-off with better flow but I've found that using my tent pole repair sleeve works well as a make-shift pipe for bag filling.

 

 

 

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This was the gap camp on Newton. I had found some really old and dry poplar that burned long, slow, and made a nice glowing coal that I sat around until late into the evening. And yes that is full size pillow on top; I borrowed a trick from the wife and brought it along for extra comfort. However, I discovered that I really don't care about it. I seem to be one of those "stuff sack with extra clothes" kind of guys.

 

 

 

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This shot was from the road during a pavement walking section of my route.

 

_______________________________________________________________________ Next is the weekend of March 22nd.

This trip served to pick-up some new trails but also to scout out an upcoming off-trail foray. I started from the closed gate on Straight Fork Road in the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina

 

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I've seen dynamite blasted trees before and they look a lot like this.

 

 

 

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Enloe creek camp.

 

 

 

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This shows the unusual bear cable system affixed to the bridge at camp.

 

 

 

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And here is classic shot of the Enloe creek bridge camp / river gorge area. The bridge was built after a backpacker died attempting a high-water crossing some years ago.

 

 

 

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And I'll end this short blog with a shot of interesting tree fungus.

 

I hope you enjoyed the blurb and accept my encouragement to get out there and enjoy The Great Outdoors!

Happy Trails friends!

6:36 p.m. on March 25, 2014 (EDT)
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GREAT! Those pictures are really VIBRANT! What camera you using?

6:51 p.m. on March 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey thanks giftogab,

I'm still using my old beat-up Nikon Coolpix AW110.

 

I'm a true point-and-shoot practitioner and the type of user that the waterproof, shock proof genre is appealing to I guess (while I don't consider myself clumsy per se, I somehow will drop a camera at least once in a weekend trip). This is the third camera I've used since I started bring one on my trips. It's good enough for my purposes so I'll probably use it until I have to buy #4. :)

6:59 p.m. on March 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice pics Patman.  Thanks for sharing.

That Enloe creek bridge picture has a rustic look to it.  That would make a good wall hanger.  

7:38 p.m. on March 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice pictures. I have not been in that area of Cataloochie in years - but the views in your pics are enough to make me think about heading there again someday. Is that a Golite SL2?

7:42 p.m. on March 25, 2014 (EDT)
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That tent pole idea is borderline genius!

10:17 p.m. on March 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice....

I'm jealous--due to Allman brother commitments for the last weekend and this weekend, I can't get out til the beginning of April...

Enlists creek campsite--probably the smallest campsite in the park (some of the island ones are almost as tiny)...

Did ya try out the old pole and hook bear system?

It makes for some great night entertainment....

10:27 p.m. on March 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice Patman!! I do like your reports and your all over the place...hahah

6:19 a.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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The tent pole repair sleeve as water conduit is a great idea Patman, but I'm pretty sure the sleeping bag is supposed to go under the tarp, not on top 8p

Thanks for sharing again to make me feel jealous, but I have it on good authority that after this Cat 2 Nor'Easter blows by today that Spring will be hitting Maine this weekend!

7:02 a.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey thanks all,

 

@Hooty, that tent is a Bearpaw Wilderness Designs shaped tarp, I really dig the simplicity of it but without any kind of net it is less than desirable in certain places when the bugs get thick.

 

@Kevin, I eyed that pole and hook but I was making camp by headlamp that night and had spotted the bridge cable first.

@Lonestranger, this year has been crazy on the eastern US, huh? I drove home from work last night in a sideways blizzard! Too warm to accumulate but dang it's almost April, enough already!

 

7:36 a.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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@Kevin,

 

Also meant to tell you that I scouted out the top of the route down to Three Forks. My old maps show a trail just west of the McGee Branch spring that follows Breakneck Ridge down to Raven Fork but I found no trace of it after more than hour of searching the area. I think that route will have to be traversed by wading both the spring and the right fork of Raven Fork to get to the Three Forks camps. My plan is to do just that and bring some flagging tape to mark the McGee tributary at Raven Fork to help find the way back as I'm sure all those tributaries look the same once you get down there.

 

I also scouted the area from Hyatt Ridge looking for the old trail that connects up to Balsam Mtn and again found nothing. If you remember I found the top of the trail last year. I intend on connecting them eventually but man will that be  serious bush whack. It's not even spring yet really but the briars are already a problem. That will be a heck of trip....I would rather do that with a partner so let me know if you have interest in such a potentially hellish endeavor!

9:14 a.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Enjoyed the pics Patman, thanks for sharing. Love the tent pole idea too. Looks like you had some great weather.  Reminds me of my time at Western Carolina University!  

11:08 a.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice trip report. Whats up with the dynamited tree? 

12:36 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks Daniel

 

 

@Gary, Well I don't know that it was dynamited that's what’s so weird. I could not figure out any other explanation. I've never seen lightning do damage quite like that but i suppose it could have.

2:57 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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The tree is either lightning or wind blown...

I'll reply on three forks when I'm near a real keyboard and not this danged phone...

3:42 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Patrick, I hate you...lol

glad to see someone is getting out. Thanks for letting us follow along with you

4:19 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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three forks---

its been on my list for a few years but still havent gotten down there yet.....

however, (and i still havent contact him) know a few people that have been down there and have picked their brains to a certain degree about routes....

 

one guy that i know (and the one i need to contact) went down there a few times about 4 years ago.......

the route that he took, and he implied that he had flagged it and cut some brush, was shortly before CS 44 where the trail makes a bend---to take off down that ridge and follow it down.......he said it was tough but doable and he flagged it....

he has also stated that at one point, starting down at three forks, he was working on cutting and flagging a path up to the balsam mountain area (which at one point was an old trail).......not sure how far he got...

and i'll try to get ahold of him in the next week or so---right now im swamped...

a guy at my work went down last year and the route he took was to start near the right of the spring at CS 44 and head down.......he mentioned that he had seen some flagging but not a whole lot.......and some cut brush......

the thing that would worry me about putting new flagging (that is, if the old is still around), is to have multiple flaggings even more confusing the route...

im game for it---but not sure when.....and it may take more than a simple overnighter to do.........

i also have an older map (from the sierra club blue book) that i think shows the route....i'll have to look for it.....

 

4:34 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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kevinumberger said:

 

the route that he took, and he implied that he had flagged it and cut some brush, was shortly before CS 44 where the trail makes a bend---to take off down that ridge and follow it down.......he said it was tough but doable and he flagged it....

 

 I saw a single peice of tape exactly where you describe but it did not seem to be marking anything that I could tell.

 

I intend to take my flags out with me when I leave.

5:45 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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yeah....he flagged it years ago so the others may have been lost/torn down...

i know of other groups (such as a meetup group) that have been down in that area and i get conflicting reports from them about route....

at one point years ago, a group of kayakers would go down there quite frequently and kayak that stretch (maybe out to the reservation, not sure)...

they would also leave dollar bills hangin in the trees there........

i'll have to see if i can find those pictures....

5:46 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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here's some more reading in addition to the pm i sent ya...

 

http://hikethesmokies.blogspot.com/2009/05/raven-fork-three-forks-and-big-pool.html

 

 

5:48 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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10:59 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Looks like you had good weather.

Interesting to see the camera at Purchase Knob.  I have looked at the view from that camera many times, good to see the set up.  I walk by the Mineral King cameras all the time, but they are set up different.

10:24 a.m. on March 27, 2014 (EDT)
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I am sure you guys already know this but Kenneth Wise writes about the Breakneck Ridge Trail/Manway in his book

2:00 p.m. on March 28, 2014 (EDT)
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Kevinumberger,

The picture at the top of that link reminds me of the bridge over the north and south fork on Cascade Creek in upper Cascade Canyon here in the Tetons of Jackson Hole WY. It looks exactly like that railing, log bridge and all.

10:35 a.m. on March 31, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice report, again, Pat. Jonesin to get back up to the mountains. I've had enough flatland camping. 

September 20, 2014
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