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Strap on your mouse cuz here we go again, boys, into the TN and NC mountain forests. Citico/Slickrock Wilderness, Sept 7-23 2010.
Ya can't leave a car sitting somewhere for 17 days, so I get Little Mitten to drop me off and she says goodbye to Shunka dog as we prepare to shove off. Of course, on such a long trip you need to leave a hidden emergency cache and I did: extra Thermarest, extra stove and stove pump, BearVault full of dog food(cuz I can't carry all my food and his too). Shunka is carrying a nearly empty dog pack since his illness several months ago. He used to go in with at least 15 days worth himself but now I carry around 8 days of his food and pick up the next 8 days later from the cache.
My first night is spent along the BMT at a place called Barrel Gap, and I got two liters of water further back even though there's a spring seep right below the tent--drought conditions though require earlier water collection.
The next day I leave Barrel Gap and head up the BMT connector to Fodderstack Ridge and decide that even with 85 lbs I can FLY!! I get off the ground and hover for several minutes and then return back to the trail. Who says ya need to go ultralight?
When you leave the high bald, you go along a high narrow "wall" and reach a jct with two trails, one running down to Naked Ground and another heading down a long 9 mile ridge known as Horse Cove. This was taken as the trail descends several hundred feet and reaches another trail jct called Wolf Laurel. I'm checking out all the new trailwork put in by the SCA boys.
3/4's down the Horse Cove trail you reach this little spur ridge and a place I call Jebediah Camp. It's a first time camp for me and very nice, although I went around in the bushes and found some litter. See next pic.
When Shunka saw all the trash he got angry and I asked him how he felt and if would go out looking for the fools who trashed the campsite. He looked at me and I took this pic. What will you do when you catch them?, I asked. He said, "Hav U seene Sparticus Sande an Blud??" Uh oh.
On Day 5 I get caught in an all day rainstorm and after getting and staying soaked for several hours and chilling I decide to depack and layer up with the rain jacket. Warmth! I'm on my way down into the Kilmer memorial loops.
A primeval rainforest, the Kilmer valley is 4,000 acres of never-logged southern appalachian land, a rarity for backpackers as the trail is an honest-to-god trail and not some blown out bulldozed logging cut-turned-to-trail. Here I am set up at the Low Dog Camps.
ENOUGH FOR NOW
MORE TO COME