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GOODBYE TO SHUNKA---On November 12th I lost my best backpacking buddy and faithful friend, so on November 16th I left on my next outing into the Citico Wilderness without him. Here is the trip report.
TRIP 116 Nov 16-Dec 1 2010
A TRIP OF TEARS
FIVE HORSEBACK RIDERS AT COLD GAP
CHRIS PHILLIPS ON THE BOB
WIND AND RAINSTORM AT NAKED GROUND WITH JOHN PAUL AND STEVEN
SEAN AND JOHN ON THE BOB
BRUSH MOUNTAIN 6TH TIME
DISCOVERED RHODO LEAN-TO ON THE SOUTH FORK
ICE AND SNOW AT THE END
As you can see I'm in my full winter kit and testing out the parka and the down pants. I entered the Citico wilderness at Grassy Gap and got caught in a mean wind and rainstorm so I set up camp after the first crossing.
On Day 3 I leave a couple camps along the South Fork Citico and begin the 5 mile, thousand foot climb up the SF valley to a higher camp. Crossing the creek behind me with a loaded pack was a bit of a challenge but I made it.
Around 3pm several horseback riders pull thru Cold Gap and I jump out of the tent and mention something stupid about Tom Berenger and Barbara Hershey. Mullet-headed idiot motard, but it was all I could think of saying. The leader thought they could pull a 6 or 7 mile ride down to Warden's Field but at around 6:30 they swung back in the dark and bailed. The horses and the people were spooked. They should of just camped somewhere and finished their ride at first light. Day Use Only types, I guess.
On this trip I brought out the Exped Downmat 9 and it was a vicious impediment to a healthy backpacking trip as all I wanted to do was sleep on the thing. Very comfy but around 4 inches high so it pushed me up too high in the tent whereby my head and feet were easily touching the angled sides of the tent.
On the morning of Day 5 I run into a couple hunting dogs and they remind me of my old friend so I feed them some bread and we talk. Later their hunter-owner came up and told me this particular dog did not like people and would not tolerate petting. Uh, I spent about 20 minutes petting this guy.
On Day 5 I leave Cold Gap and pull another thousand foot climb to the top of Bob's Bald where I set up the old Hilleberg. Check out my Icebreaker merino tops. (But don't look at the Kleen Kanteen---trying them out and they are TOO HEAVY!)
Little Mitten likes this shot of a sunset on the Bob at Raven Camp. While peaceful, this exposed spot can kick your butt. I've had my buttocks kicked many times here with high winds and blizzards. Best Tent-Testing Facility in East TN.
On Day 6 I go over and say goodbye to Chris and Rich. They came up the North Fork and I convinced them to head back out on the Brush Mt trail---oops! It's the wildest and most rugged trail in the Citico.
Here's the Little Santeetlah Creek and it's in a never, ever logged valley of the Joyce Kilmer forest. You hardly ever see this creek when you humping the trail up the valley, the Naked Ground trail, but there are some nice campsites along the way.