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I begin the New Year of 2011 by bringing out the Keron 3, a Hilleberg tunnel tent which I first set up in the yard for a week of bag nights during a Christmas snowstorm. Luckily we had a white Christmas and so my tent was fully tested for a January trip.
I chose the Keron because of its ample space and vertical head and footwalls as my usual Staika dome I found to be too small with slanting end walls wetting the sleeping bag. They both weigh nearly the same, with the Keron about 6oz heavier.
I didn't know it at the time but as soon as I stepped out of the car on Jan 5th for the trip I'd be camping and hiking in an endless snow. So here we go boys, into the Citico Wilderness of TN at the Beech Gap entrance on Fodderstack Ridge. Jan 5-22, 2011.
Dan 1 begins harmless enough by having Little Mitten drop me off at 4,500 feet at the high entrance to the Citico Creek wilderness at Beech Gap where the Fodderstack trail is shared with the BMT. So far, so good.
Four hours later after I set up at Cold Gap the first snowstorm hits and covers the tent. I'm spending my first night out in a new snow and I'm decked out in my all important down parka and down pants and down booties, vital components to a successful winter trip.
The trail up to the Bob is called 54A and it can sometimes be a living hell of snow loaded brush, briars and rhododendron. This time though the snow is not deep enough to elicit wailing and belly crawls. I take a break midway up the sometimes steep path.
Check out the new Icebreaker tops! Yup, my old Icebreakers wore out and so right before this trip I got a new set in brown. My layering system is thus: Zipneck large 260 weight top under an extra large 320 zipneck top. It's a great system and highly recommended for winter backpacking.
On Day 4 I wake up to 5F and survey a cold camp. Since it's a Saturday I'm supposed to meet up with a fellow backpacker named Wisenber coming in on Four Mile Ridge so I decide to pull a two mile dayhike in deep snow and leave him a note. How deep is the snow? About two feet along the Wall, the high ridge between the Bob and Horse Cove Ridge.
Day 5 arrives finally in a bright sun but I hear two more snowstorms are headed my way so I decide to pack camp and lose some elevation and fall back to Cold Gap where I spent my first night. Wisenber never shows. Check out the Puma bag.
After 10 days alone, three backpackers from Knoxville pop in and try to get up to the Bob and the Hangover but the snow is too deep so they decide to camp with me. Here is Jay and Mick setting up camp.
MORE PHOTOS TO COME