17 Days in the April Storms

1:45 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
225 reviewer rep
1,200 forum posts

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

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS
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




TRIP-121-366.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-372.jpg
The first guy to go over is in a yellow boat.


TRIP-121-035.jpg
Now here comes a red boat.


TRIP-121-214.jpg
Here's a close up of white water in action.  I'll be sticking to land trails, thank you.


TRIP-121-056.jpg
The red boat hits deep and pops back up.


TRIP-121-375.jpg
MY TRIP BEGINS:  How to hoist a monster load?  Grunt loudly and yell out strongly.


TRIP-121-050.jpg
Voila!  Upright and ready though contemplating the futility of it all.  Uncle Motard and his Silverback Titan.


TRIP-121-369.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-377.jpg
On Day 2 I leave Bald River and enter the Upper Bald wilderness and set up at Fern Camp on the BMT and the Brookshire trail.


TRIP-121-378.jpg
DAY 3:  Here's a good view of the Brookshire climb up the valley and on the BMT.  It goes to Sled Runner Gap.


TRIP-121-076.jpg
THE HOLY MOREL:  I couldn't bear to pick it and eat it, but everyone should pay homage to these guys.


TRIP-121-385.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-382.jpg
Bama and 65 preparing to shove off north on the BMT.


TRIP-121-075.jpg
Bama and 65.


TRIP-121-384.jpg
IRON RING CAMP:  Below Sled Runner Gap there is this fine campsite with a tiny creek passing by.  It's where I spent my third day.


TRIP-121-082.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-388.jpg
Right past the crossing there is Tony Camp which is very level and next to two creeks.  Here's the Fury with the fly.


TRIP-121-390.jpg
A decent view of Upper Bald River right next to Tony Camp.


TRIP-121-392.jpg
On Day 5 I leave Tony Camp and climb over Sugar Mt.  The BMT climbs up and over and here I am by the trailpost at the new cut switchback.


TRIP-121-393.jpg
On the other side of Sugar Mt the BMT crosses the Tellico River road way upstream from Baby Falls and passes thru a picnic area called Pheasant Fields.


TRIP-121-395.jpg
I cross the Tellico River and head up the Sycamore Creek trail a ways and set up at a totally pig-rutted camp by the creek.


TRIP-121-403.jpg
THE 3,000 FOOT CLIMB TO WHIGGS MEADOW:  On Day 6 I run into these horsemen coming off the Whigg.  The last stretch of the BMT is off the Sycamore Creek trail and up a steep roadwalk.


TRIP-121-404.jpg
ATOP THE WHIGG!  Haw Mountain is behind my pack.  The big thunderstorm I got below Sled Runner Gap ended and the day was fine for a stay atop a 5,000 foot bald.


TRIP-121-408.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-407.jpg
I like this shot showing the tent and behind it Little Haw Mt, the brother to Haw Mt.


TRIP-121-157.jpg
On Day 7 I pack up and follow the BMT south and cross thru the Rock Quarry.  The big mountain in the back is Bob's Bald, my eventual destination.


TRIP-121-160.jpg
Here I am posing by the BMT trailpost in the Rock Quarry.


TRIP-121-412.jpg
Here's a neat scene on the trail between Mud Gap and Beech Gap.


TRIP-121-413.jpg
I get into the Citico wilderness and set up at Barrel Gap and prepare for another storm.


TRIP-121-416.jpg
On Day 8 I leave Barrel Gap and stay on the BMT all the way to Crowder Camp on Fodderstack Ridge, a hike of about 8 miles.


TRIP-121-417.jpg
Late on Day 8 I get walloped by another thunderstorm and it keeps me up all night in white lightning bolts and death zaps.  A portent of what's to come.


TRIP-121-418.jpg
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. 


TRIP-121-419.jpg
I reach Slickrock Creek and set up nearby on the other side so I can climb 3,000 feet to Hangover Mt in the morning after a night of rain.


TRIP-121-202.jpg
On Day 10 I leave the Slickrock watershed and climb up the Big Fat Gap trail and rest before the long hot slog to Hangover Mt on the stepped trail behind me, called the Hangover Lead South trail.


TRIP-121-207.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-423.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-428.jpg
Slade and Cole make it to the top of the Hangover.  The distant ridge is the Appalachian Trail between Fontana (left) and Cheoah (right).


TRIP-121-425.jpg
While Slade and Cole stay on Four Mile Ridge to the Bob, I pull into Airjet Camp which is right next to the Hangover overlook.  It's a good camp with water.


TRIP-121-430.jpg
On the morning of Day 11 I survey a wet rainy camp on the Hangover.  My plan is to slowly pack up and head over to the high gap at Naked Ground.


TRIP-121-432.jpg
NAKED GROUND CAMP:  I set up all alone at Naked Ground but it soon fills up with friendly fellow backpackers and one who I know.


TRIP-121-476.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-440.jpg
Another great backpacker comes into camp at sets up his tarp and he is Bryan DeLay, friend to Will Skelton and Johnny Molloy, both famous backpackers in their own right. 


TRIP-121-435.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-436.jpg
Here are some of the campers posing for a night shot at Naked Ground.  Randy is on the left and Eleanor and Miss Scarlett on the two women on the right.


TRIP-121-437.jpg
Bryan DeLay preparing a late evening meal at Naked Ground.


TRIP-121-269.jpg
On Day 12 I get up and start saying goodbye to all my fellow campers.  Here are Eleanor and Miss Scarlett preparing to head out.


TRIP-121-262.jpg
Bryan and Randy greet a new day and a good day for some backpacking.


TRIP-121-448.jpg
Here's a fotog of Bryan's MSR water filter in gravity mode.


TRIP-121-449.jpg
Me and Bryan and Randy leave Naked Ground and climb up to Bob's Wall and take a break and talk to some other backpackers.  This may be my favorite shot of the whole trip.


TRIP-121-445.jpg
Bryan and Randy hiking the Wall.


TRIP-121-446.jpg
Randy and I decide to stay on top of Gorak Hill at 5,300 feet while Bryan bails off towards Cherry Log Gap to stay at Snow Camp.


TRIP-121-454.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-455.jpg
I leave Randy at a high North Fork campsite where he will stay and then bail out on Trail 149 back to his car at Beech Gap.  We say our goodbyes and I continue down the NF all the way to the bottom.


TRIP-121-159.jpg
As I fall down the North Fork trail, I stumble onto this friendly black snake on the trail.  We hang out together for a long while and I make a brand new friend.


TRIP-121-290.jpg
Saying goodbye is never easy but I've got to keep to my schedule and pull many more creek crossings.


TRIP-121-456.jpg
I get to the bottom of the North Fork and dump my load and go swimming in this pool called Johnny's Hole.  It's cold but after 13 days, who cares?


TRIP-121-457.jpg
I set up the tent at Camp Two at the second crossing of the North Fork trail.


TRIP-121-465.jpg
On Day 14 I head down the North Fork trail and pass over a high footbridge on a long day of climbing.


TRIP-121-461.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-302.jpg
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!


TRIP-121-464.jpg
After the three pitches you descend slightly and reach a series of hollows and I set up camp in one of them that has water.  I call it Flathead Camp.


TRIP-121-474.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-468.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-469.jpg
This shows the Hemlock Creek trail after some trailwork by the Crosscut Mountain Boys.  Thanks.


TRIP-121-470.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-471.jpg
AN OLD INDIAN TRICK:  Put mullein leaves in your boots! It helps.


TRIP-121-472.jpg
The morning of Day 16 finds me packing up the gear at the Black Cave Camps and moving upstream on Bald River to a more protected spot to prepare for the terrible storms about to arrive.


TRIP-121-350.jpg
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM:  Here I am on Wednesday, the day of the TN storms and tornadoes.  I am heading upstream on my way to Rock Ledge Camp.


TRIP-121-479.jpg
ROCK LEDGE CAMP:  It's a good place to hole up and hunker during a storm as it's high above the river and next to a rock face.


TRIP-121-481.jpg
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.


TRIP-121-491.jpg
Even though I was a day early on my evac, I decided I could hitchhike out and just use my thumb and my feet to get closer to home after the storm.  Gotta check in with the home crew.


TRIP-121-485.jpg
I leave the wilderness and pass by the mighty Bald River Falls.


TRIP-121-358.jpg
I hitch the Tellico River road and get dropped off by the Ranger Station and get a call out to Mitten who picks me up by the river.


TRIP-121-487.jpg
Day 17 ends the trip as I wait here by the Tellico River for Little Mitten to pick me up.  When I get back I find all hell has broken lose.

4:56 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

Great trip report as always, a lil odd to see ya with the Fury and not a Hille. I bet those storms were pretty nasty. The mullein leaves is a new one to me. What do they do. Might be a dumb question but never the less I am the curious type. Thanks for posting.

5:00 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,556 forum posts

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip report Tipi!

Did you have storm damage at your home? Is everyone okay?

6:33 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
247 forum posts

I am aways impressed Tipi with the quality of the pictures you present. Really top! Another thing that impresses me is the length of the hikes you take and also the size of the backpack you start out with. Like trout I hope you did not get any storm damage at home. Those twisters are even in the news here in Norway, nasty things.

8:53 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
225 reviewer rep
1,200 forum posts

As everyone knows by now, the storms kicked butt all thru the Southeast but skirted an eastern edge in my range of mountains.  I had wind and rain and lightning bolts, but nothing serious.  I put up the ladder and was on the roof putting on replacement shingles the day I got back.  Many others were terribly walloped.

4:58 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Tipi:

What are the mullein leaves supposed to do?

Ed

8:03 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
225 reviewer rep
1,200 forum posts

Cushioning.

11:00 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,238 forum posts

Curious  (?) as to your selection of boots and of the backpack.  Also, why the iPod?

Yogi Robt

11:49 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Glad you and Little Mitten are ok, and that the house wasn't damaged badly. After a big storm hits the mountains my wife always asks if you've posted on here aand are ok. She's never met you, but hears me tell of your trips, and she's just a sweetie like that.

Many, many people were horribly impacted by the storm, so far the death count is over 340.

How's Randy doing? I haven't run into him since last October on the Bob.

1:28 p.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
225 reviewer rep
1,200 forum posts

Robert Rowe:  It's not an iPod but a little Sangean am/fm radio.  As for boots, I use Asolos now and go from the FSN 95's to Fugitives and 520's in the winter.  Great all-around boots.  I used the lighter FSN's for this trip.  Of course, the backpack is a Mystery Ranch G6000---a good winter pack, with the G5000 being excellent for extended summer trips.

Gonzan:  Randy had a great trip on his own and we shared a couple days together hiking thru the area. 

5:52 p.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,238 forum posts

The weather.

Were you using the Sangean to monitor weather conditions?  Or, in-touch with someone via cell-phone?

While on the AT in Maine, cell-phone transmission was spotty, as best, and usually non-existent.

I packed-along a printed copy of the "extended 10-day forecast" from The Weather Channnel, but it was waaaay off.

Yogi Robt

9:26 p.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
225 reviewer rep
1,200 forum posts

The radio is helpful for getting impending east-bound storms, especially the big ones, but the weather reports, as you say, are sketchy at best for general rainy vs dry days.  Plus, what the "wee-tards" (weathermen) report at night is drastically different than what they report the following day, as the last tornado storm shows.  While they may have fantastic radar systems going at night, they know very little if anything about a storm's impact until the full light of the next day.

Like most people, I carry a cellphone for the rare times when I'm at a spot high enough to get a call out, or if I hitchhike out and call from a town for evac, being that I usually get dropped off and don't have a car sitting around for 17 days.

December 19, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: First fishing, backpacking trip in Oregon Newer: Lalashan, Taiwan
All forums: Older: Tough Mudder/Warrior Dash shoes Newer: Review on the Fivefingers TrekSport