My September 2012 backpacking trip is in these areas---
- Citico Creek/Joyce Kilmer Slickrock wilderness
- Brushy Ridge backcountry
- North River/Tellico River
- Bald and Upper Bald River wilderness
All located in the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests in TN and NC. Dates August 31 to September 20.
Grassy Gap/Grassy Branch Citico Wilderness
South Fork Citico
Bob Bald and Four Mile Ridge
Big Stack Gap
South Fork Citico
North River Roadwalk/Tellico River Roadwalk
Holly Flats Roadwalk
BMT/State Line Ridge
Holly Flats Roadwalk
Bald River and OUT.
Little Mitten hikes the Flats Mt trail with little Zoe Dog and accompanies me to a Thermarest cache for pickup before returning to the car and driving a couple miles further on the Skyway to Grassy Gap where my trip begins.
The 2 Year Blowdown---This nasty blowdown blocks the Grassy Branch trail and hasn't been touched in 2 years. In 2 more years it will be the 4 Year Blowdown.
There are 9 creek crossings on Grassy Branch and here is the last one across the South Fork Citico. The water is very low so it's no problem. On the other side is my camp for the night.
Eagle Camp on the South Fork trail.
First order of business is a SF swim.
Dehydrated spaghetti cooked at home using a box of noodles and 2 jars of sauce and 2 jars of mushrooms and then dried and it's delicious and becomes my supper. The bag lasts me the whole trip.
I leave Eagle Camp on the South Fork trail in earnest anticipation of finding the trail ahead cleared by a recent SAWS crew but the first signs don't look so good. Here are 2 blowdowns on the high SF logging cut "detour" and it's always the worst part of the trail.
After an hour on the logging cut I realise the SAW boys didn't clear the worst of the trail and then I hit this ribbon blocking the trail as it emerges from a wall of brush behind the tape. Why they took the time to string this ribbon instead of actually clearing the trail I'll never understand. It must be said that the SAW boys did come out and clear a half mile of the South Fork trail on the end portion of the logging cut to the Jeffrey Hell trail.
I reach the Jeffrey Hell trailpost where I stop for this shot.
About a mile and a half past the trailpost I reach old reliable Iron Camp and call it a day. It's September but it's still hot.
On Day 3 I pack and pull the last nutbuster section of the South Fork which I divide into 7 legs and here's the start of leg 5 to the top.
The end of the SF trail comes here at Cold Gap which is a mandatory reststop.
A 1,000 feet later I throw off the pack on the rock at the Bob Tee. The total 2 day climb from Eagle Camp to the Bob is around 3,500 feet, a nut-eater with 80 lbs.
On Bob Bald I find the water spring low but not drastically low and so get my 52 ozs of the stuff.
It's risky but I set up camp in the middle of the open meadow at 5,300 feet. It looks calm enough but later in the day a monster wind and rainstorm with lightning blasts come and tests every one of the 16 pegs I used for the tent. I called it "When Lawrence Welk Became Black Sabbath".
But before the storm and while sitting in camp I hear an engine noise on the old gated tractor road and then suddenly 3 ATV's appear on the bald and of course it's my God-given duty to curse them but they are not rednecks who broke thru a gate on a joy ride but actual Graham County rescue squad members called in by a couple at Naked Ground Gap who were coming up the Nutbuster trail when the woman got stung my hornets and had difficulty breathing. The rescue boys therefore drove up the gated Bob road and hiked 1.5 miles to Naked Ground for assistance.
A Polaris rescue ATV.
Graham County NC emblem.
The woman is safely seated and driven off the mountain.
The husband backpacker arrives a little later on foot and takes an ATV off the mountain behind his wife.
Meanwhile back in the trees in the South Col Camps there are 4 from Kentucky who I visit.
MORE TO COME ON DAY 4