TRIP 44 March 2005
** Snowdowns on the South Fork Citico
** Harvey Broome Sierra Club at Mill Gap
South Fork--+Iron Camp+--South Fork--Cold Gap--Trail 149--BMT Connector--+Snow Camp+--Fodderstack--+Crowders+--Fodderstack--Cold Spring Gap--South Fork--+Donner Camps+--South Fork and OUT.
This trip begins on the South Fork trail and gets to the one major crossing where I dump the pack and take a break.
TRAIL Warden's Field/South Fork
CAMP Iron Camp
ON THE SOUTH FORK TO IRON CAMP
To whomever is interested in a final winter season backpacking trip along an ice cold creek on a trail covered in snow, this trip is for you. I left Warden's Field and hiked up the South Fork Citico trail as it pulled away from the North Fork and slowly climbed past the Brush Mountain junction and past the detour to arrive at the first crossing, deeper than usual due to the recent snow and rains. It took me awhile to find a good ford that wasn't too deep but there was nothing I could do about the ice cold water that attacked my bare feet. The picture shows the trail right after the crossing.
After rebooting I passed a couple campsites and then started the steep climb to the high logging cut which brought snow on the ground and recent trail work. I took a picture of the usual big pine rest stop and then continued on up where every rhododendron was hanging heavily onto the trail with the weight of snow. It became a real nuisance because some of the obstacles were completely too thick to get through but on hands and knees I managed to prevail.
I finally reached the second crossing where I once again had to deboot and wade which really made my feet cold and so here I sit at the Iron Camp site with cold toes waiting for them to thaw. The snowdowns(5th category of blowdowns)past the second crossing were really awful and I flailed with hiking pole, hands, knees, feet, legs, elbows and teeth, snapping off branches and crawling in the snow to sneak past. I hope the hike up tomorrow won't be as bad but I guess it will but I'll be better prepared with my pack cover and my rain jacket on.
OVERNIGHT AT IRON CAMP: Iron Camp is a peaceful winter wonderland despite the cold temperatures, it looks clean and white with each tree limb covered in soft snow. My boots are nearly soaked and will freeze solid tonight, I'll be boiling up water tomorrow to warm them up enough to wear. I don't even want to talk about my socks. I'm mostly settled in and warm and watching a pot of veggie pasta start to boil, while it cooks I will list my full winter inventory or gear list for future reference.
THE SEVEN HOLY NYLONS
Backpack Dana Designs Terraplane LTW
Tent Mountain Hardwear Muir Trail
Sleeping Bag Marmot Couloir
Sleeping Pad Thermarest Standard
Water Jugs Nalgene lexan
Food Two full stuff sacks
Clothing Two pair Smartwool socks, mountaineer
Patagonia capilene bottoms
North Face goretex rainpants
Nylon underwear and Patagonia shorts
Two Duofold thermal tops
North Face down jacket
Two nylon poly watch style hats
Stove MSR Whisperlite w/ 2 fuel bottles
Water Filter Pur Hiker
Day 1 comes to an end as dusk hits Iron Camp and makes a lonely camp even lonelier. Today was a hard day battling the snow and now I sit in Miss Nature's deep freeze inside a dry warm tent amidst the cold wet white landscape of the upper South Fork.
It is not too cold and I look forward to laying down and stretching out, the climb today gave me a sore body and so the only treatment is rest. This will not be an overly long trip, I plan to stay out 6 days and meet up again with the Harvey Broome Knoxville chapter of the Sierra Club as they leave Farr Gap and hike the Fodderstack to Crowders and points south, all on the BMT.
They won't be arriving until Saturday which gives me enough time to climb out of this valley and get to Crowders myself. The weather is sketchy which might obviate their trek inwhich case I'll head down the Pine Ridge trail and call it quits, getting back to little darling Mitten and her world. I fear my climb tomorrow will be a war between me and the low hanging brush but I'll give it my best effort and if it gives me a reach around I'll just follow my tracks back down the way I came.
For your continuing information, it is now snowing and the stuff is lightly touching the tent and filling up the footprints of my earlier walk. The cold air keeps the mouth watering with a night white powder and I don't know whether to laugh or cry so I will laugh with the crazy beauty of it all. I don't know how long any of this will last but right now I sit safe and secure and ready to get back to sleep. See ya in the morning.
south fork citicodana terraplaneheavy packs