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First trips of the new year

The blog continues with two trips....

Up first was a cold but nice shuttled day hike with Susan.

We left the car at Sugarland's Visitor Center and took a cab to Cherokee Orchard road. Note: Do not ever use Paradise Taxi in Gatlinburg, TN as they overcharge to the point of criminality.





Our only wet crossing of the trip was one of the Twin Creeks on the Twin Creeks trail.





That trail popped us out behind the preserved Bud Ogle place in Cherokee Orchard.





This was my "You shall not pass" reenactment. Being that Susan was not a Bal-rog (ancient demon from the underworld), I let her pass.





mmm, smells like lilac (not really)





This smiling rock is the twin of another such smiling rock on the Naked Ground trail in Joyce Kilmer Forest. Separated as youths, they felt an attraction from miles apart but were not reunited until I posted this picture on a social media site.





We scampered off an old unmarked trail in the area marked on my Ewker map as "Sugarland's Maintenance area", to find a private little "beach".





Checking out the relics.







Funky old tree...





I went in stalker mode to try and get a shot of the deer and this was as close as I got.





But I do have a zoom button. _________________________________________________________________



Next up is a two night, two day trip from last weekend.





I started from Little River Road in Elkmont on a dark snowy night after work.





This was my hastily pitched tarp camp (site 21). That was a really cold night. I normally consider my winter bag to be overkill for my area (Western Mountaineering Lynx-rated to -10F/-23C) but it was sure needed that evening.





This picture is from the next morning. Anytime I woke up during the evening I would tap the tarp to knock the snow off and that contributed to the side drifts. Those drifts actually sealed both sides pretty well.









And these things make a butt-cold morning much more enjoyable.





Two thumbs-up on a brisk and fun morning. Hard to beat a weekend of backpacking where yours are the only footprints in the snow.













Nice views popped up every now and then.





The section of my route that lost1500 feet brought me out of the snow briefly. (this is Metcalf bottoms)





The seconds nights camp was back up in the white stuff. (site 19)





For you Smokies aficionados out there, can you guess where these artifacts were? (hint: the trail is not on current park maps but is on my Ewker map from 1973)





And I'll end the report with a final footbridge shot.


Happy Trails Friends and hike-on!

Nice pics Patman.  I really like the snow pics.  Cool how the snow sealed up your shelter.  


I was all packed up and ready to go last weekend but pussed out....

I'm itching to get out... of the more crappier sites in the park......

Thanks Jason, yeah I was pleased with how that worked out with the tarp



truly site 19 is not so good, though there are sites with less level spots. When I got there I was too tired to move sites. There was an old cemetery about .25 miles east of there that was on a finger ridge and it got a full hour and a half more sunlight than site 19. If it wouldn't be so taboo I would have rather slept there.

Ahh, hot coffee on a snowy morning! Great to see some snow pics from the Smokies. I was on the other side of the state at Goose Creek SP doing a loop hike around the same time--a different world climate-wise!


Not a lot of snow but that definitely counts as a Winter trip.  Looks like a great time!


glad that map has opened up some new areas for you to visit.

Ewker map..I like

Thanks Patman for the update.  We've had some serious winter weather here in the Southeast for January.  November wasn't all that easy, either.  I actually used my microspikes for the first time a couple weeks ago coming off a snowy mountain.  Great little things.

Cold creek crossings during the Polar Vortex on the other hand were very difficult but there doesn't seem to be a good solution.

NICE! I like how much fun you are having!

Looks like a great time!  With the tarp in snow, do you get snow blowing in from the sides?


Hey that’s neat. Are you back from the island long term?


I’m getting a great deal of enjoyment out of that map…and more to come!


As I mentioned in my last voicemail to you, I thought about you more than once during that frigid snap. I know you carry a lot of feathers but I bet it was -10F (or much worse with wind-chill) in some of the places you were backpacking over the last month. It was hard to endure for many people in their homes, let alone a tent! I had pipes freeze at my house in the valley where it only got to 0F.

Thanks Karen and LS!


No, luckily the snow was such that it drifted and sealed rather than blowing in on me…..

Nice trip report Pat, I enjoyed your story about the rock, it made me laugh. 

Looks like fun! Thanks for sharing.

Another great trip-report that a Golite tarp?


That is a Bearpaw Wilderness Designs tarp. This model they call a Tarp-Tent. They make net tent inserts and all kinds of variations. I bought a bathtub floor to go with it but no net. I don't know for sure but I think the company is in the owners garage. The guy that runs it is very nice and does custom stuff too.

I learned of them through Trailspace when someone posted a link.



Patman Question---Why did you bring the tarp (and not your tent) if you knew it might get butt cold or snow or even windy enough to get spindrift?


Good question .....for that weekend the forecast was actually only 20% chance of precip so I played the odds and lost.

But I chose that shelter for simplicity; the thing I like best about the tarp is that there are no buckles, no clips, no pole sleeves, no inner, no fuss. I planned really long hiking days ( I don't always mention it in the report but that weekend I actually hiked 45 miles in two nights and two days) and I knew I would only be sleeping in it, having a couple meals, and figured I could get by for such brief stints.

It's a weekend, short-trip mindset thing I suppose....

That's alot of mile....

What was the route?

Hey Kevin,


Yeah it was a butt kicker for not really gaining any major was sort of a low-land loop with three out and backs added in; it was pretty convoluted so here goes:


Starting from Elkmont on Friday night I went as far as 21 on Husky Gap, then Saturday continued HG trail to the Gap, turned south (and up) on Sugarland Mountain trail for about three miles (not all the way to Rough Creek), then turned around and went back down all the way to the road at Fighting Creek gap, then across to Laurel Falls trail, then Little Greenbrier Trail to Little Brier Gap trail, a detour to the Walker sisters place ( I like to get water from that spring for some reason), then the Metcalf Bottoms trail, then a short road walk east, then Curry mountain to Meigs Mountain trail west to camp 19 where I was pooped out.


Sunday I continued west on Meigs, transitioned to Lumber Ridge almost all the way to Treemont, then back out Meigs Mountain to Meigs Creek junction, then went down an unmarked but distinct trail from that intersection (which is where my artifact photo was taken), then back up to junction and down Meigs creek until the first crossing (which I bailed on and turned around), then back across Meigs Mountain to Jakes Creek and out!


Quite a bit of that was knocking out little sections on my map of never before seen trail. What I have left is spread out over the park and will probably take several more trips. I think I'm going to save the upper section of Deep Creek as my last one. When you did all the trails, how did you determine what to do last (which I think you said was Cold Springs Gap)? or did it just work out....

Nice route....

I'm guessing you passed the old 21 site---is the bear cables still there?

That man way you went down off of lumber ridge will take you down to spruce flat falls and tremont's pretty easy to follow all the way down to the falls...

Also, on sugarland mountain trail---there's a really nice manway starting at mids gap that will take you west and down to elkmont nature trail...

Passes a chimney if remember correctly.... for my completion---I didn't really have a set plan....looking back on it, I could have done it easier and less miles to complete but alot of it came down to logistics...

My last few trips to complete had to book both land shuttles and boat shuttles so it took a bit of time and money to do...

And yeah, cold spring gap going from hazel up to high rocks was last route....

Needless to say, at high rocks, I celebrated in my fashion and by using one word of the final location......

I didn't plan on having cold spring as my last, til right near the end when the puzzle of logistics started to piece together...

Also, people had warned me about how bad a trail cold spring was and I'd be better to pick a final route---but that made me wanna do it even more as the last..

Plus ending everything at high rocks just made more sense to me....

The only real downside to that trip was that it rained really hard the night before and I had watched hazel creek rise about a foot which made the crossing a bit harder.....and i was chasing a storm down when I was at high rocks and knew i needed to get down before the creek got worse...

In all honestly, I shouldn't have done the crossing but I had put alot of money and time into it so I was stubborn to finish...

It was a rare 2 night trip for me and the weekend started out nice...

Took the boat over to hazel creek and walked about a mile up before a park atv passed me and I stuck out my thumb and a ride up to CS 83 (bone valley) I believe...

The atv was going up to help out people (who we passed that were on the parks barge coming across and who used the suburbarn that is parked at hazel creek) clear the cemetery for decoration day...

Since it was early in the day, and I got to campsite before noon thanks to the ride, I had all day to hang out in the campsite....

It was a beautiful day and I decided after setting camp up, I would help them clear the cemetery...

But, I went up there and they were done so I hung out in camp all day...

I shoulda went up cold spring that day but did it the next day as a day hike...

And it rained like a mutha that night and the creek rose a bunch which made the crossing very swift....

Did the hike up to high rocks, came down in a mild storm, then just as I crossed hazel again, it really opened up and water on trail ended being up to my ankles...

So that night after eating, I just crashed in tent...

Walked out next day to catch boat shuttle to get back home...

I've been back over using the boat shuttle in order to complete all the campsites since then but never back up cold spring gap...

I also bought a canoe two summers ago so that I could stay at the campsites that are on islands in the lake....

And to see some of the cemeteries that are only accessible by boat and not by trail..

Oh, and to check out the eagle creek copper mine which IMO, is one of the best relic and artifact areas of the park.....that was cool..

Staying on the lake was interesting and I could tell ya more stories (such as how i lost my canoe while on an island) if you want...

Plus the forest side of the lake has many places to camp, which made the hot summer of 2012 nice as I was out on the lake most weekends canoeing and then camping....

So Kevin---why not post some of your trip reports and include pics here on Trailspace?

Two reasons---

Primarily because I don't have Internet access at the house....and it's hard to use a phone...

And secondly, I get too busy and too lazy to do em sometimes....

Been meaning to as I have a bunch of photos but without Internet it makes it kinda tougher to do (I'm using phone right now).....

One of these days I hope to post but it all comes down to time....I do have a bunch of photos up on photobucket that I should get around to posting.....

Bummed that I haven't been out for the last two months although I'm saving gas money that I'll need in March to see the Allman brothers in NYC.....

September 27, 2020
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