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A couple weeks ago I had the chance to make an overnighter up Bob Bald off the BMT right near the TN/NC border. I parked at Beech Gap around 12:30 and was on the trail after eating a quick bite. It is only about 3 1/2 miles to the top, so it will be a fairly quick haul.
I snapped a quick photo a short way up the BMT on my way towards for Cold Spring Gap.
These are the well-armed fruit of the once mighty American Chestnut. I discovered the American Chestnut tree these came off of back in July. It is growing off the Benton McKay Trail near Beech Gap at just under 5,000ft elevation on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Before 1904 the Ame rican Chestnut was "king" of the eastern forests- making up 25-30% of all trees in the east. The chestnut was the primary food of most mast-forage wildlife in the eastern forests. Around 1904 the Asian Chestnut Blight showed up in NY City, and in a matter of years killed almost all 3 billion amercian chestnut trees.A handful of mature specimens survive to this day, and there are multiple organizations undertaking long term recoverey projects. http://www.acf.org/ It is truly a rare and exciting thing to find a fruiting specimen like this.
A little Autumn colour along the way.
These little deadly beauties were plentiful around the trail as I neared the gap: White Bane Berry, a deadly poisonous plant, also called Doll's Eyes for the obvious reasons.
I quickly arrived at Cold Spring Gap, and began my ascent up the steep FS 54A trail towards Bob Bald several hundred feet above. Near the top I began to hear others up ahead. I caught up with them quickly, and only their dogs were aware I had "joined" the group for several hundred feet. I was delighted to find that it was none other that Trailspace meber Tipi Walter, his friend Hootyhoo, and new acquaintance, Randy. It was my first time meeting HootyHoo, though I have been familiar with him for some time, as he haunts the Cherokee and Nantahala NFs almost as much a Tipi.
After greetings were exchanged all around, and a short stop for water at a spring was made along the way, we continued on to the fair meadows of the Bob.
Though much less green and verdant than in July, it is no less beautiful and peaceful.
We all set up camp on the south slope where both sunrise and sunset are spectacular. Here the waxing moon rises in the brilliant cobalt sky.
This is Randy's tent, a surprisingly well made off-brand sold at Academy Sports. It is SilPoly, has a vented fly, full tub floor, aluminium poles, etc. And retailed for $60, but is being cleared out for $40 right now. I picked one up last week to give my younger brothers for Christmas.
We were all quite hungry, so after a quick set up we fixed our individual meals and shared some conversation, good food, and clean mountain air. In the Video there's HootyHoo on the Left, with his lovely retriever, Rudy (the dead dog;) In the middle in yellow is Tipi with Shunka, and on the right is Randy.
Here is Randy with his Jack Russel, Zoe. How great is her little bomber jacket!
After dinner I wonder up the Bob with Tipi and we say hello to some other folks who arrived on the Balds a little later that we did.
'There was a very nice couple from Maryville who set up camp near the firs at the top of the meadow.
Tipi's Hilleberg Stiaka like a jewel, glistening in its natural habitat.
When we wander back, we are welcomed by a wonderful fire that Randy and Hootyhoo built, and which we all enjoy late into the cool night.
The next morning is pale and beautiful.
Tipi grabs a quick portrait of Shunka and the Staika.
Shunka is such a big sweetie.
My sleep setup this trip: Lodge 0 deg. Featherlite, Big Agnes primaloft Inflatable, Mil-surplus GTX Bivy.
We enjoy a gorgeous morning while packing up, and each fix hot breakfasts in the cool air.
A short while later it is time to hit the trail. HootyHoo, Randy, and myself are all heading back to Beech Gap, while Tipi continues his twenty day excursion.
Randy, HootyHoo, and I drop off the south side of the mountain and pick our way through unmarked trails, abandoned logging roads, and active bear trails. We make our way back to near Beech Gap, where we re-join the BMT for a short way, and are all sad to leave the trail for home.