22 Days in the Pisgah Holyland

1:07 p.m. on July 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Okay boys, I finally get to return to the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah NF and pull a decent trip in the land of big creeks and big waterfalls.

To see all the pics go here---


To see a duplicate report on another website see---



My old backpacking buddy Amy Willow Allen (AT Thruhike '06) lets me leave my car at her house near Asheville for 3 weeks and on the way out to Piz she drops by the backpacking store she works at, a place called Take A Hike in Black Mt NC.


After several days on Upper Creek, Raider Camp Creek, Harper and North Harper, I make it to the trailhead to Huntfish Falls on Lost Cove Creek.


While ascending Gragg Prong I run into Heather Housekeeper who is pulling the whole of the Mountains to Sea trail and started on the Outer Banks of NC.


Patman shows up after a few cell phone calls and camps with me on the Timber Ridge trail at False Bee Mt Camp.


The next morning we are ready to finish Timber Ridge and explore Lost Cove Creek.


The first of 5 Lost Cove Creek crossings.


We descend Lost Cove Creek and take a side trail up to Little Lost Cove Creek Falls, another jewel in the Pisgah crown.


Another crossing of Lost Cove Creek.


Yet another Lost Cove Creek crossing.


We make it to Huntfish Falls on Lost Cove Creek and Patman attempts to enter the Flume.


While camping near Huntfish Falls, Patman strikes up a conversation with Dallas and Vanessa from Asheville.


We make it on various trails to North Harper Creek Falls and set up camp next to the falls.  In the morning Patman shows off his camp and his coffee filter.


We camp near the base of pretty North Harper Falls.


It's time for me and Patman to split up so he changes out of crocs back to boots to tackle Trail 239, the North Falls access trail.


After several days I return to my favorite Upper Creek camp and spend alot of time in the camp swimhole on Upper Creek.


On a zero day at Upper Creek I dayhike down to the Upper Creek canyon gorge and stop at the very top of the canyon to take a pic which reminds me of a pic I took 8 years ago with my old backpacking buddy Johnny B.  See below.


Me and Johnny B at the same spot in 2004.


I spend several days in Pisgah Camp on Upper Creek and build daily fires to dispel the hateful biting noseeums.  No, my crotch is NOT on fire. 


I leave Upper Creek and tool up the MST to highway 181 and down to Steels Creek where I run into these Venture group kids from UNC-Charlotte.


Amy makes a surprise dayhike visit to Pisgah and finds me camping in Pisgah Camp on Upper Creek again and so she sports in the big swimhole.


On a long intricate trail loop past FS road 198 I enter the Pine Ridge/Raider Camp loops and on the way back on the Greentown/MST trail I run into these girls from Appalachian State pulling an outdoor program event.


On my last Day 22 Amy comes out to pick me up and spends the night in the rain in Pisgah Camp on Upper Creek.  This is her BA tent.


Our departure day is drenched in an all-day rain and so I invite Amy to cook breakfast in my tunnel tent.


Nobody likes to pack in the rain or hike in the rain but it has to be done so I watch Amy pack before we pull a tough 3 mile trek out on rugged tread.  So ends another trip.

3:08 p.m. on July 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Great report, Tipi. Beautiful falls and ideal-looking swim spots. Nothing better in the summer. 

Two quick questions: 

1) I see you and Patman are both wearing Crocs in various photos and it looks like Patman is using them to creek cross. Is that true? Do you do the same? I understand them for a camp shoe, but do they work well for creek crossing too? Do they dry quickly? I've never owned a pair myself but see how they would be nice in this type of situation. 

2) How'd you get the great shot of you swimming in the swim spot on Upper Creek? Is that a timer photo or did someone else take it? If that a timer photo, I'd have to say that's pretty fantastic! 

Thanks for sharing. 

3:56 p.m. on July 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Tipi,  thanks for sharing your pictures. I went to your smugmug link to check out all 200+ photos. 

Are you and Amy related?

8:07 p.m. on July 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Amy was part of a small core of people who went out to Pisgah from the beginning in '85---along with Johnny B and Bob and Big Don and a few others.  She got married and started a family and stayed in touch with the crew and then thruhiked the AT back in 2006, and even wrote a book about it, here---


So, we're old backpacking friends.

11:19 p.m. on July 24, 2014 (EDT)
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very cool that you all have remained friends over the yrs. That is the way it should be. Thanks for the link to her book

11:47 p.m. on July 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice trip tipi....

Hope you don't mind me hopping in on the croc question from kiwi.....

I met patman on the BMT while changing into my crocs to cross a just above boot level but not very wide brookshire creek in the bald river wilderness...

I use them for creek crossings and camp shoes...

They do drive kinda quickly, just depending upon heat of the day...

What I do is have them hanging from the pack, then put them on for a crossing....

Depending upon distance of next crossing----I'll either switch back to boots or keep crocs on for a bit......

One thing that I have a trouble with, is that after a crossing, and it's still a little wet, it will run just below my ankle.......and typically it rubs it pretty raw......I need to find a better way as it can scab up and whatnot....

I've had them for about 4 years and besides a little wear and tear--no real damage....

I also use them in camp after I get settled in and boots off.....

Oh, and these aren't the "basic" crocs but a different model....forget what model but its geared towards the outdoors or something like that....

I got them directly from crocs website with a 20 percent discount so I think with shipping, they were around 20 bucks.....

Not sure their weight but they are lighter than Keens or Chacos....chacos were like having bricks strapped to my pack...

10:05 a.m. on July 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Regarding crocs---


They are mostly beneficial in the winter when the boots must stay dry at all costs.  In the summer you can just use your boots to cross IF you don't mind carrying the extra wet-boot water weight.  It can get heavy.  So, I usually use the crocs for all crossings, unless my boots are already soaked from rain etc.


One time a couple winters ago I was hiking Snowbird Creek in the snow with it's many crossings and Little Mitten bought me a pair of new crocs for Christmas but dangit they were a size too small and the creek trail was killing the tips of my toes so I had to cut out the toe box for relief.  I at first thought the butt cold creek water was giving me frost bite and eventual gangrene.  Nope, the crocs were too small.


Here is Little Mitten in her crocs crossing Upper Bald River in a light snow.  Sure, it's cold.


Here is Chattanooga backpacker Kurt Emmanuele in his crocs at the Brookshire Creek crossing on the BMT.


Crocs usually have good purchase in creeks and I rarely slip.  This is Slickrock Creek in NC.


The neat thing with crocs is not only do they make great camp shoes and creek shoes, but you can hike long distances in them with an 80 lb pack, when the need arises.  Like if you have to hike a long creek trail with a dozen or more crossings, like Patman did on Lost Creek.  Jacks River trail, Conasauga Creek trail, Slickrock Creek, North Fork Citico, Gragg Prong---some examples of long trails where you stay in your crocs while backpacking.


The secret to backpacking with crocs is to not hand carry your boots and keep them stowed in the pack.  Also, when pulling alot of crossings it's helpful to have two hiking poles instead of just one or none.  I whittle a sapling to augment my single pole on trails with alot of crossings.


Here is the Brookshire crossing Kevin is talking about and while it doesn't look spectacular, it's very slick and deep enough to prevent rock hopping.  It has to be crossed to stay on the BMT to Sugar Mt, etc.  Plus, this was taken during the January polar vortex when ambients were 0F and this crossing in crocs froze my toes off.  Hiking long creek trails in the snow at 0F is a real test of the Croc system---neoprene socks are mentioned as a solution but you sure don't want to go barefoot w/o crocs or use your boots, which will get rock solid in 10 minutes.

11:53 p.m. on July 27, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks for the tips on the Crocs.

I've only hiked during the mild three seasons, so I've always simply carried the extra water weight in my boots without any issues. I may try the Crocs sometime though and see how I like them. 

As for hiking during the polar vortex at 0F, I'll leave that to you.

11:00 a.m. on July 28, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing this trip, Tipi! Your pictures are beautiful. I want to check out part of that area sometime soon!

October 6, 2015
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