Tremont and Slickrock, TN and NC USA (My blog)

7:26 p.m. on September 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I must admit that I vacillated between blogging these latest trips or not. Life circumstances had prevented me from backpacking or exercising for the four weeks prior so this first outing was a trip to start getting my hiking legs back under me.


I also found it a little hard to post a regular outing after my fantastic Sierra trip; That trip turned out to be somewhat transformative in my awareness of the possibilities! (I really, really liked hiking at higher elevation on open trails with low humidity etc...)

Of course I will always have a heart connection with the Southern Appalachians; I live here now, my more immediate family lived here before me and I have roots in these mountains.

And of course I can't fly all over the country whenever I want so I was off to one of the most convenient trailheads to drive to for me: Tremont in the GSMNP.






I wasn't even going to take pictures on this trip so all I have from my Friday night access hike is one shot of my open (no netting) tarp tent set up on Dripping Springs Mountain. I got there just before dark after parking at the Tremont Institute and trekking up the road to Middle Prong, Panther Branch, Miry Ridge etc...








The next morning brought a long narrow ridge top hike with flowers and turkeys and forest.






There were a few grassy spots with nice trees.






The spring at Derrick Knob is one of those old pipes driven into the mountain side. I've passed this one nearly a dozen times and never seen it dry.







It was hazy day (which is not unusual here) so no great views from Thunderhead mountain. I spent the evening in the tall grass of Spence Field sleeping under the stars on a good weather night.






The next day I did the long trudge down Bote Mtn. It was hot and buggy. I can't wait for the temps to drop. I decided to explore north of the West Prong campsite; there is a faint trail that follows the creek for as almost as far as I went but gets really thick with blow-downs and understory, converts to animal trails, then disappears all together. This picture is a random pool where I stopped for while.

After reaching the car I had some more time on the day so I drove out the Rich Mtn road and stopped to hike up the Indian Grave Gap trail to the boundary overlooks near Crooked Arm Ridge. I couldn't get a good picture but there was voracious young black bear making a racket eating something out of a tree.

All-in-all a good forward one week......



Next up is a failed meet-up with Tipi Walter. I left out on a Friday after work and drove Big Fat Gap in the Slickrock wilderness. That night I stopped at an old logging road turnaround because it offered glimpses both north and south from the ridge.






It was a beautiful night and I kept the fly peeled back on the tent until I was awakened by rain drops about 6 in the morning. I slept in and drug my feet hoping the rain would stop. By about 10AM in was still raining steady I decided to hold out hope that it would soon abate and continue on my planned loop.






It's hard to get good rainy day pictures. Here I'm at the only major ford of the day on Slickrock creek; the irony is that I was actually able to rock hop it on a day where it would not have mattered if I got my shoes wet.

From Windy Gap I went down through Nichols Cove, across Slickrock creek, north to Big Stack Gap, then South on the BMT to 149, then down 97 (Brush Mtn).

Tipi had called and told me he would be in the vicinity of 149 and 97 but I didn't see him. My problem at that point was that as the day wore on and I became drenched-through, I couldn't stop without getting chilled. (A solo backpacker needs to be closely attuned to hypothermia symptoms even in early fall, right?)

So I didn't wait around or explore very much but instead decided to go back up 149 to 54A and camp on the Bob.








It took me from 10AM to about 4PM to reach camp and it finally stopped raining (only for a couple hours as it turned out). Man does it feel good to take off those wet clothes and put on the dry sleep set.






My only company for the evening was this funky bug. I call it "scorpio-wasp".






The next morning was glorious! The sun came out; it dried out my stuff and lifted my spirits all at once.







A nice side effect of the previous rainy day: I had the Hangover all to myself.












This was a neat tree fungus on the way down H-Lead back to Big Fat.






And the final shot is friendly little garter snake sunning himself on the trail.


Hope you enjoyed the blog and Happy Trails!

10:08 p.m. on September 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I so wish I lived near mountains. Great pics!

10:58 p.m. on September 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Great photos Patrick..

12:23 a.m. on September 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Good to see you back out on the trail!

I especially like the pool on the West Prong.

1:07 p.m. on September 24, 2013 (EDT)
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For some reason I can't get the pictures to show, but loved hearing about your trip.

1:44 p.m. on September 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Great trip...and excellent photos!

3:43 p.m. on September 24, 2013 (EDT)
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I like your Windy Gap campsite as I call it Cul De Sac Camp as it's as you say in a old logging turn around.


From this campsite you can see the top peak of Hangover Mt which is unusual and cool.

Yes, you missed me on the Brush Mt trail as I was in the middle of it camping about 1.5-2 miles down from the top trailhead on 149.  It took me hours to clear the terrible trail down to a low gap I call Bug Hollow and I went further to the Ike Peak dogleg to do more trail work and the sawbriar is bad.  I pulled a zero on Saturday in the rain on the Brush Mt trail. 

The first mile of this trail is bad and I doubt if you would've found me even if you tried to follow it.  Trip report link forthcoming.  Next time I'm bringing plenty of surveyor ribbon and alot of time to finish the mighty Brush Mt all the way down to the South Fork.

4:53 p.m. on September 24, 2013 (EDT)
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I suppose it’s a matter of perspective; you wish you lived near any mountains, I wish I lived near big mountains, so what do people wish for who already live near big mountains? The beach?

Thank Denis, good to see you posting….


Yes it is indeed good to get back to my normal weekend trips….I wound up not getting the IT job I really wanted, but did get the one at my existing company and things are finally getting leveled out …have you been back out yet?


Strange… I posted my pics on a facebook account I use only for that purpose and linked to them in the report. I guess we’re even since I couldn’t see your pictures on the hammock site. Lol

Thanks Joseph!


If I had any sense I would have zeroed out Saturday also.

I guessed you were deep in the bowels of Brush Mountain. I already had too many miles on the day to go that far down. Honestly I was getting cold from the hours of hiking in the rain and didn’t have time to get lost on Brush Mtn. That is actually why I wanted to help you clear some of it; so I could become familiar.

On a side note: I saw from one of your last trips where you went on a water run from snow camp. Where do you go when camping there? It’s a fair ways down the BMT to any streams and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t go all the way up to Crowder Camp from there.

11:43 p.m. on September 24, 2013 (EDT)
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If you camp at Snow Camp and head south on the BMT for about 300 yards you reach this year-round spring which the trail crosses.  There are other seeps but they are muddy and will foul up a water filter.

9:11 p.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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great trip report! That rain on Saturday was brutal. 

10:47 p.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice TR! Patman we hiked from 71 back to the dome on Saturday. Rained the whole time and crossing where getting a little tricky.

2:32 a.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Good stuff, Patman. Having been out west twice now, i completely understand your drive to go back. But ya' know, there is a quality to the eastern mountains, a deep and powerfully hypnotizing richness that isn't present out there, where the air is thin and the mountain's countenance austere. 

8:40 a.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Shyne, sounds like you were out in it also....


Frank, Yeah I bet they were! Those Forney crossings can be tricky at low water levels. Saturday was one of the more complete soakings I've had since a couple moths ago in Joyce Kilmer. Days like that are when I get envious of those folks that can stay out for days and days. When you only have a weekend to use, it's not such a great option to pull a zero.


Gonzan, Ah to be sure the eastern mountains are special and ancient and I agree with your assessment. But I truly now have an itch that wasn't there before.

10:54 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Patman said:


Yes it is indeed good to get back to my normal weekend trips….I wound up not getting the IT job I really wanted, but did get the one at my existing company and things are finally getting leveled out …have you been back out yet?

Good to hear that the work situation is settling down.

I have only been able to manage a few dayhikes lately.  I took a few friends (one of them brought his nine and six year old sons) on a trip to Mitchell Peak.  Those boys just loved climbing on the rocks on the summit.  And I took another friend with whom I have done some backpacking with his family (two daughters and one son, ages 16 to 7) as well as some of our local missionaries on a six mile loop in Giant Forest.

8:58 a.m. on September 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice photos! That's some clear air after the rain...

1:40 p.m. on September 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice photos!  Esp enjoyed the pic of the tree fungus formations.  

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