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I pulled another backpacking trip in the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests and it was my longest trip without resupply, although I did have a BearVault full of dog food for my dog Shunka.
The trip dates were October 14 to November 2, 2010, and started on the Cherohala Skyway by getting dropped off at Beech Gap in the Citico Wilderness of Tennessee. Here are the highlights of the trip:
** Three BMT Thruhikers on Day 1
** Camping With Hootyhoo On Day 2
** On The Bob With Hootyhoo, Gonzan and Nashville Randy
** Six Days on Four Mile Ridge
** BMT Thruhikers Squirrel and Smack
** Bearpaw on the BMT at Slickrock Creek
** Seven Days with the BMTA Crew
** Big Windstorm at Cold Springs Gap
** Huddled in a Mud Gap Rainstorm with Sgt Rock
This trip starts out on October 14 at 4,600 feet in a cold fog. My pack has never been heavier but it's loaded with enough food and fuel for 20 days including 12 days worth of food for my dog. Oh, and several books. At my feet is the single BearVault and emergency Thermarest cache to be hidden somewhere along the trail.
On Day 2 after camping at Barrel Gap Camp I hump up a few hills to the high spine called Fodderstack Ridge and set up camp at a place called Snow Camp. The orange back-sac is my North Face down jacket stuffed. The boots are my usual winter Asolo 520s. I got some new shorts for the trip, North Face Flight, like them.
Hooty said that when he woke up in the morning he had ice in his cooking pot, a top lid of ice over the water, so thank God it was beginning to get cold again. Why backpack if it's not cold?? Hooty is using his Kelty pack and his red Marmot rain jacket.
On Day 3 a solo backpacker passes thru Snow Camp and he's a friendly sort so we invite him to join us on a round-about route up to Bob's Bald. Notice the "circle of trust" created by the dogs, including Randy's dog Zoe. On the other hand, it could be called the "Circle of Anuses" ha ha ha.
On Day 3 Hootyhoo leads us back to Cold Spring Gap and a "secret" way to the Bob by way of the Wedge, a series of old logging cuts and hidden trails. Here we are along Bob Creek as it makes it's way up the mountain.
After a round-about course, we near the top of 5,300 foot Bob Bald and run into Trailspace member Gonzan out for a couple nights. It was good to run into him and I remember him from a recent Bob trip when he was with his brothers. This was taken near the first Bob springhead.
On Day 5 I cruise over to Saddle Tree Gap and the Hangover and run into a guy who reads my trail journals, Chris Phillips. A friendly sort, he's pulling a 4 day 60 mile trip and is doing most of the trails in the Citico/Slickrock.
On Day 6 I drop of Hangover mountain and take a secret side trail down a few hundred feet and reach this special place I call Table Rock. Behind me is Fodderstack Ridge and the BMT which runs along the ridge.
I reach Slickrock Creek and set up a camp but first I have to bring down a rotted and dead birch leaning over my tentsite. It was about 25 feet high and weighed around 800 lbs, but with a little swaying it fell right where my tent is set up.
On Day 9 my camp is passed by these two BMT thruhikers, Squirrel and Smack. They are moving fast and doing 20 mile days and will be atop Whiggs Meadow for the night, a long way's off. They look like they have very little food and almost no extra clothing(and it got in the 20s up top the Whigg the next day).
Squirrel and Smack mentioned something about a "lost" backpacker and he sounded familiar, and then after Squirrel and Smack leave who passes thru camp but Bearpaw doing a slackpack after he got a bit "confused" the day before. He's a Whiteblaze and Hammock Forum member.
On Day 10 I climb the rest of the way up Nichols Cove and get on the Yellowhammer trail which passes by a little gravesite and gets to a nice little gap for camping. I gotta be at that gap to link up with a planned 12 day backpacking trip sponsored by the BMTA.
MORE TO COME