TRIP 11 OCTOBER 2002
BACKPACKING IN THE SMOKIES TO MT LECONTE
October 3-4-5 2002
LITTLE MITTEN’S DAD AND ME
DAY ONE Mitten’s Dad and I drove to Gatlinburg in preparation for our next day’s hike to Mt. LeConte.
DAY TWO A taxi let us out at Newfound Gap and we walked the AT up to the Boulevard trail junction in the cool and foggy weather. There was also a mist coming down from the sky and it felt really good to be on the AT. At the Boulevard trail we hike along some beautiful sections with a narrow ridge and a rock face. We passed the LeConte Shelter on the left and made it to the lodge and “camped” with 30-35 people, a bed and breakfast kind of thing.
DAY THREE We walked out on Rainbow Falls trail, a six mile downhill along more beautiful creeks and rocks. The log footbridges were exxpecially nice and we met several people coming up and many people down at the falls. A cab was waiting for us at the loop.
TRIP 12 OCTOBER 14-18 2002
BACKPACKING THE CITICO/SLICKROCK
THE HELL OF HANGOVER LEAD NORTH AND THE BOB TOOTHACE
DAY ONE I parked at Warden’s Field and walked up the Pine Ridge trail to the Fodderstack/B Mac trail and turned left and went down and up to the grassy camp at Crowders Gap and continued on down steeply on Big Stack trail to the Slickrock creek trail and crossed it twice to camp my first night by Wildcat Falls where I saw 3 backpackers along the creek.
DAY TWO I awoke and followed Slickrock creek out to the lake. It was a long, boot changing and sometimes dangerous hike but a beautiful one with big pools and emerald waters and Lower Falls was perfect. I walked around to the Ike Branch trail turnoff and rested and then went up steeply to Yellowhammer Gap and at the gap made a big mistake: I decided to go up Hangover Lead North and aim for Big Fat Gap. This trail is pure hell, period. The rain got me and dusk hit but mercifully I found an open level tent spot midway up the mountain and camped along with 3 dogs, 2 or which were stray hunting dogs.
DAY THREE I thought I was near the top but no way, I still had a long hump up and over and down 500 feet to Big Fat Gap in the rain and the mist. I rested among the hunters and cars and orange hats and then up the rugged Hangover Lead South trail I went. I was in the rain so the trail in parts was a creek and very, very steep in sections. I found a small cave to hide in a shiver. This trip kicked my butt and near the top of the Hangover I was stuck in thick fog and found two trails and so I became instantly “lost” but for the good fortune of seeing two backpackers coming down with a big dog in a dog pack. They told me which trail to take and the info led me up and onto Saddle Tree Gap.
Here I turned right and walked up to the Haoe Peak and down eventually to Naked Ground camp to set up the tent. Many people walked through and all seemed good with water available at 4,840 feet. A father/son under a tarp camped nearby and I also talked to a hunter from Tapoco, NC as we discussed hunting in general and beaars in particular. It was not my favorite subject and I think he knew it.
DAY FOUR I left Naked Ground and went up to the Bob and camped. A sinus infection hit me hard and it hurt so I stayed put and waited till the morning to leave. As I waited I saw three hunters arrive with four people leading several llamas. They camped below me a ways. We talked and another couple came up to camp from Naked Ground. They were young and I showed them a good camp in the trees close to the Bald.
DAY FIVE In much pain and with very little sleep I left the Bob after sharing breakfast with the llamas and went down the Fodderstack toward Cherry Log Gap and the long haul toward Pine Ridge trail and out to the truck.
TRIP 13 NOVEMBER 2002
BACKPACKING THE CITICO WILDERNESS
THE DEAD HORSE ON THE NORTH FORK
DAY ONE I parked at Warden’s Field and walked up the North Fork of Citico and camped at the middle point on the left.
DAY TWO I woke and packed and headed up in rain and along a very wet trail where I walked mostly barefoot up the North Fork and upon the high reaches saw a half eaten dead horse laying in the middle of the creek. It shocked me to see the white ribcage and its head ten feet behind its body but I recovered quickly. I continued on and up out of the rhodo and into the cleared bowl. I was happy to see it all and it felt really good to see the tiny level tent site midway up. I continued steeply to Cherry Log Gap and the Fodderstack/B Mac. I took a break and walked up to the Bob tee and onto the Bob where I camped.
DAY THREE I spent all day camping on the Bob.
DAY FOUR I walked down from the Bob and down the Fodderstack past Cherry Log and down and up to Pine Ridge junction and down sharply to Big Stack Gap and up to the grassy gap campsite where I camped and where I got water.
DAY FIVE I turned around and went down to Big Stack Gap and up steeply to Pine Ridge trail and turned right onto the trail and went the 3.6 miles out to the truck. Sorry, no pictures on this one.
TRIP 14 NOVEMBER 2002
BACKPACKING THE BALD RIVER WILDERNESS
BASIN LEAD DEAD END
DAY ONE I parked at Baby Falls and walked into Bald River gorge and camped at the big pine midway spot.
DAY TWO I walked out of Bald River onto the road and turned right and walked up steeply to Basin Gap and the start of Basin Lead trail to the right. I walked many miles down and up on this mostly unmaintained trail and found a level camping spot on the very unused trail.
DAY THREE I walked back out to Basin Gap and up Waucheesi mountain road to where the Warrior’s Passage trail comes out and it’s a long steep road. Here I turned around and walked back down, all the way down into the Bald River area and camped at the stone site on Bald River.
DAY FOUR I hiked out and home.