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Ok boys, here's another trip report with ample fotogs to describe my last backpacking trip in the mountains of TN and NC. I promise my next trip will be somewhere different, like the Cohuttas.
Bald River/Upper Bald River/BMT/Citico/Slickrock Wilderness Areas
April 12--28 2011
17 DAYS WITH A NEW TENT: THE MSR FURY
MEETING BMT THRUHIKERS BAMA AND 65
MULESKINNERS ARLEN PHILLIPS AND JIM CLIMBING SUGAR MOUNTAIN
REVENGE OF THE RAMP EATERS
8 DAYS ON THE BMT
HIKING WITH SLADE AND COLE
AT NAKED GROUND WITH RANDY AND BRIAN DE LAY
ON THE BOB WITH RANDY
BACKPACKING DOWN THE NORTH FORK WITH RANDY
THE HOT CLIMB UP FLATS MOUNTAIN
GOING DOWN THE HEMLOCK CREEK TRAIL
HITCHING TELLICO RIVER ROAD
BIG STORMS ALL AROUND ME
DAY 17 HITCH TO THE RANGER STATION AND OUT
BABY FALLS: Little Mitten and I drive past Baby Falls on the Tellico River and see the high water and notice several kayakers preparing to shoot the rapids. My trip thusly begins by watching some water sports.
AND NOW THE NEW TENT: On this trip I decide to move away from the Hilleberg tents and go back to the old style of tent I am more familiar with: a two piece tent with a rigid inner not supported with elastic---the MSR Fury. There are some obvious differences, namely, the Fury's floor is "substandard" when compared to Hilleberg, and the blasted thing stinks of flame retardant---there's no smell with the Hillebergs.
BAMA AND 65: Near Sled Runner Gap I run into an old acquaintance Bama and her backpacking companion 65. They are thruhiking the BMT north. I first ran into Bama when she was thruhiking the AT in 2006 and I was pulling a section hike from Fontana to Cheoah Bald and back.
UNCLE FUNGUS AT THE BROOKSHIRE CROSSING: On Day 4 I planned to go south on the BMT and follow State Line Ridge but then I heard about a big storm coming and I didn't want to be at 4,000 feet so I bailed back down the Brookshire and decided to stay low for the night at the jcts of Brookshire Creek and Upper Bald River. Here I am at the Brookshire Creek crossing.
This fotog shows all the many peg out points on the Fury tent. It takes around 21 stakes for full protection. I brought 20 and only used them all once during a mean blow atop a different 5,000 foot bald.
On Day 9 I was gonna pull a zero day at Crowders in the rain but then the sky stopped raining and I bailed late in the day down the Big Stack Gap trail to Slickrock Creek where I pulled this ford and camped on the other side.
COLE AND SLADE: As I hump up the Hangover trail, I run into a father/son team also pulling the long trek so we band together and hike to the top. Along the way I show them some nice little pull off spots and overlooks.
Below the Hangover there is this "secret" little pull off area with a big rock I call Table Rock and it give a good view of the Slickrock wilderness with the Big Fodderstack Mt in the background. The whole ridge to the left is the BMT.
THAMSON AND JOEL: I hope I have their names spelled right. These two experienced backpackers pull in and set up camp with me and several others. Isn't April backpacking great!? Except when there are tornadoes.
SURPRISE VISIT: Old backpacking buddy Nashville Randy shows up to Naked Ground after humping the Nutbuster trail from Slickrock Creek. We end up spending a couple days hiking together. He's out pulling a ten day trip.
Then again, this may be my favorite shot. Here is Randy on the upper part of the North Fork Citico trail where the creek is the trail. This is the part I recently cleared in three days of work and it was fun to finally walk it again.
FLATS MOUNTAIN SWITCHBACKS: I leave the Citico and climb to Beehouse Gap and the start of the Flats Mt trail. The first part of the trail is a steady climb on three switchbacks. Here is the first becoming the second.
INDIAN LAKE: After the three hot switchbacks, you reach Lakeview Ridge and down below to the right is Indian Boundary Lake. It's a good place to take a break after a very hot and sweaty climb. But the worse is yet to come! The Three Terrible Pitches!
Day 15 becomes a very long day of backpacking to get off the high ground in preparation for some terrible storms heading thru the Southeast. Here I am on top of the highest Flats Mt bald and getting ready to bail off the mountain and connect to the Hemlock Creek trail. This picture was taken in very high winds and on a Tuesday before the bad Wednesday storms and tornadoes.
This is a very rare sight as no one will every backpack this trail, and it's of the Hemlock Creek trail near the top. Recently cleared, it's much better than the last time I hiked it, and I'm going down it this time and not up.
My route took me from the middle of the Flats Mt trail and up and over it to the Hemlock Creek trail and then a two mile North River roadwalk and then a 2.5 mile Tellico River hitchhike and finally a campsite where I spent my first night of the trip, at the Black Cave Camps.
Here's the rock ledge of Rock Ledge Camp. It's nice to have when the big trees start falling and the face will block their complete falling. I spend the day and night of the storm here listening to the tumult and decide to cut my trip short by one day to get back to Little Mitten and the doublewide.