2002 Trips 2–5

Trip 2  December/January 2002

BACKPACKING THE CITICO WILDERNESS

December 30-31  January 1  2002

Highlights of the Trip

  • New Year Cold Trip
  • Little Mitten’s Lowe Pack

Trails:

  • North Fork
  • Camp Seven
  • Fodderstack
  • Hemlock Grove Camp
  • Fodderstack
  • North Fork and Out

Little Mitten And Tipi Walter At Camp Seven On The North Fork Trail

DAY ONE    My girlfriend Little Mitten and I park at Warden’s Field and cross a very cold Citico creek in bare feet(this was before I learned of the upper trail in), and go up to the big campsite on the left that comes before the steep climb. We set up the tent and Mitten uses the old army feather bag.

Little Chipmunk Mitten Peers Out From Her Hat At Camp Seven

Here I Am In Camp Seven And You Can See My Muir Trail Tent And My Old North Face Pack

Little Mitten Climbs The North Fork And Gets Thirsty So She Licks Some Ice

DAY TWO    We pack it up and ascend steeply to Cherry Log Gap and turn left onto the Fodderstack trail and walk to the Hemlock Grove site. I build a small fire as we call in the New Year. We fill the tent with ice condensation and shake off our bags in the morning. It is around 10 degrees.  The above photo and several following photos show us climbing up the North Fork trail.  In the above shot, check out Little Mitten’s old Lowe backpack, a long-ago gift from my old backpacking buddy and Pisgah brother John Rupert, Johnny B.

Around Old Goat Falls We Take A Needed Break And Throw Down Our Stuff.  Check Out A Very Young Shunka Dog.

This Is Little Mitten’s First Backpacking Trip And She’s Pulling A Heavy Load Up The North Fork Trail As She Passes Thru The Blue Rocks

This is my favorite fotog of the trip and it shows a rock ledge section of the North Fork trail and how very cold it was as we made our way up to Cherry Log Gap.  Mitten is in the background along with my old 1980 North Face BackMagic pack.

The North Fork is a wild rugged place and it shows in this fotog as I stand above a frozen waterfall

We finally make it out of the North Fork valley and get to Fodderstack Ridge at Cherry Log Gap where we turn left and set up camp in a hemlock grove near Glenn Gap.  Check out the painted hiking sticks, something I used to make when I lived in my Tipi.

Here I am building a little stick fire at Hemlock Grove Camp.  Many of my early trips were stoveless because I got rid of all my old Svea 123s before leaving North Carolina and the Tipi.  Our nighttime temps got down to 10F.  Check out the down vest, it was my main winter warmth garment for 20 years.

DAY THREE    It is New Year’s Day on the Fodderstack/Benton MacKaye trail as we pack it up and head down to the Gap and the North Fork of the Citico and back to the car.

Little Mitten heads back down the North Fork trail and passes thru the Blue Rocks, a main feature before reaching Old Goat Falls

We reach my old beat-up truck which is parked on the South Fork trail #105. This short spur road has now been permanently closed to traffic. So ends a great backpacking trip.

TRIP 3  JANUARY  2002

BACKPACKING THE CITICO WILDERNESS

January 28-29-30-31  2002

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP

  • First Rocky Flats Trail
  • First Crowder Branch Trail
  • Lost On The Stiffknee
  • The Inbred Dream
  • The Long Wet Cold Roadwalk Out

TRAILS:

  • Warden’s Field
  • Rocky Flats
  • Mill Branch
  • Mill Crossing Camp
  • Fodderstack
  • Farr Gap
  • Stiffknee(lost)
  • Fodderstack Emergency Camp
  • Crowder Branch
  • Rocky Flats
  • Chimney Camp
  • Rocky Flats Out to Doublecamp Road
  • Roadwalk to Citico Creek Road
  • Warden’s Field and Out

On an earlier dayhike Little Mitten and I explore the Rocky Flats trail and wind up at this old homesite and chimney. I swing past it on my first day as I head over to Mill Branch where I camp at the crossing.

DAY ONE    I park at Warden’s Field and hike up the Rocky Flats trail to Doublecamp road and connect to the steep Mill Branch trail where I sleep in the tent before the terrible uphill section. It is a very small, little level area.  Today I discover for the first time scenes on the Rocky Flats trail including the old chimney site and a big chestnut stump Little Mitten saw on an earlier dayhike.

DAY TWO    I bust it up to the Fodderstack trail from Mill Branch(it’s a steep mofo) and continue to the grassy gap camping spot(Crowders), and then past the Crowder trail turn-off to Farr Gap and the start of the Stiffknee trail. Here I go down steeply but get lost at the right turn in a gap and continue up past a red gate and finally turn around and head all the way back up the Stiffknee to Farr Gap and the Fodderstack where as darkness approaches I find a ridgetop tentsite and sleep.  This was a long frustrating day.

DAY THREE    The weather is cold and wet and my clothing has been wet with sweat and rain and so I head down the Fodderstack to Crowders trail and go down in sleet on a very hard to follow trail. I step on a wet frozen log crossing a small creek and fall hard on the palm of my right hand thereby tearing open a large wound. I continue on down Crowders and make it to the forest service road where I plan on getting to the Rocky Flats trail and sleeping at a spot I found there by the chimney. Everything was wet and so was I. After going up steeply I descend to the old home and chimney site and put up the wet tent and spend a very miserable night shivering in my own sweat and exhaustion. Even my down bag is wet.

DAY FOUR    Horrified by a twisted night of no sleep and terrible dreams(three inbred brothers), I panic and walk quickly out the way I came, back to the road and out the 6 miles in the cold fog to the truck and out. Glad to be out!

The loggers took the best away and here’s proof of it as Little Mitten stands by a behemoth stump on the Rocky Flats trail. This baby is right before you reach the chimney site.

TRIP 4  March  2002

BACKPACKING THE CITICO WILDERNESS

March 11-12-13-14  2002

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP

  • The First Bob Bald Visit
  • The First Michigan Cranbrook School Meeting

TRAILS:

  • Warden’s Field
  • Pine Ridge
  • Fodderstack
  • Glenn Gap(Hemlock Grove Camp)
  • Fodderstack(south)
  • Bob Bald(Raven Camp)
  • Bob To Cherry Log Gap
  • North Fork(Camp Seven)
  • North Fork and Out

This is Warden’s Field and the place I left my old 1984 Nissan truck for many backpacking trips(note the duct tape).  The low water bridge is right beyond the truck in the mid-center of the fotog, and the start of the Pine Ridge trail is behind where I am standing to take this picture.

DAY ONE    I park at Warden’s Field and strap on my heavy pack and head up the Pine Ridge trail to the Fodderstack trail where I walk over to the Hemlock Grove tent site.  The pack I was using on these early trips was my old faithful North Face BackMagic external frame, first purchased around 1980 from Footsloggers, a backpacking store in Boone, NC.  To see photos of the pack, check out the Pack Menu.

DAY TWO    The next day I continue my hike up the Fodderstack/Benton MacKaye and go up to the Bob Stratton Bald tee and turn left off the Fodderstack and onto the Bob trail and to the beautiful grassy green tent site at 5,260 feet of the Bob Bald.

At 5,260 feet Bob’s Bald is a key feature in the Citico/Slickrock wilderness, and it becomes one of my favorite trip destinations. I end up spending many nights atop the Bob in all sorts of weather, from thunderstorms and lightning blasts to wind gales and 5 day blizzards.  The actual top of the bald is to the left of this picture about 100 yards.

DAY THREE    I leave the Bob and go down to Cherry Log Gap and down the North Fork where I camp at my usual place, Camp Seven.

DAY FOUR    I continue on down the North Fork(though I might have camped at a spot closer to the truck), and head out and go home. Coming out I meet the Michigan crew, a group of backpacking high school students out for 10 days from the Cranbrook school, and we talked for awhile. I first saw 10 or 12 of them up on the Fodderstack. They’ve been coming to the Citico/Slickrock for over 30 years and spend their spring break hiking and backpacking the area in several groups of 10 or 12 each.

I pack it in and leave the Citico after another good trip.  Check out the North Face BackMagic pack, the Mountain Hardwear Muir Trail tent sack and the top Marmot sleeping bag, all ready to go. (This photo comes from an earlier trip but you get the idea).

TRIP 5  APRIL  2002

BACKPACKING THE BALD RIVER WILDERNESS

April 6-7  2002

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP

  • Mitten’s Bald River Trip With The Yellow Tent
  • My First Time With A New Pack: Kelty Ultra Tioga
  • Mitten’s New Sleeping Bag: North Face Blue Igloo

TRAIL

  • Tellico River roadwalk
  • Cow Camp
  • Bald River(Rock Ledge Camp)
  • Bald River and Out

Here is Little Mitten and myself showing off our packs, her a Kelty 3900 Tioga and me a new Kelty Ultra Tioga.

DAY ONE    Little Mitten and I head up the Tellico River road and park at Baby Falls and gear up and walk to the Bald River Gorge by way of the upper trail called the Cow Camp trail and we enjoy hiking along the top ridge above the gorge. We head down and intersect with the Bald River trail and camp nearby on the river by the small rock cliffs. Here we set up the big yellow Iron Mountain tent and compare our new backpacks. Mitten uses her new North Face down bag for the first time and it just doesn’t work as she sleeps cold so we send it back to Campmor.

DAY TWO    We pack it up and head out to the truck on the regular Bald River trail after a good trip by the water.  The rest of the photos show us in camp and by the tent.

Here is the mandatory pack shot and shows my new Ultra Tioga in full view. I used this pack for several more trips but found it to be ultimately uncomfortable on the hips when loaded down with some big weight. I eventually gifted it to my backpacking buddy Johnny B.  What did I finally replace it with?  A Dana Designs Terraplane LTW!  Hey!  Check out the Limmer boots!

Here is Little Mitten at Rock Ledge Camp with the mighty Bald River about 25 feet to the right. In this foto you can see my MSR Whisperlite stove, our two Nalgene lexan water bottles, and my fairly new Marmot Couloir sleeping bag.  Oh, and don’t forget the 9×7 yellow tent made by an obscure company called Iron Mountain.

Here I am posing for a shot in the yellow tent.  You can see my painted homemade hiking stick which I brought from the Tipi.  I made many of them over the years when I lived up on the North Carolina ridge in my lodge.

Mitten is standing by her North Face down bag, called the Blue Igloo. She found it to be inadequate in temperatures around 30F and so returned it to Campmor when she got back. Behind her is the mighty Bald River.

And finally, a parting shot.

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