Bright snow pictures are the best, especially when showing off a new green Hilleberg tent. It's the Staika at 8.3 lbs and just perfect for the solo backpacker.
JOURNAL TRIP 55
MORNING ON THE SOUTH FORK TRAIL: The dogs are curled up around and about the Kerlon green tipi and the weather? It's a cold wet miserable dark night with dripping trees and a thick mist covering everything including the tent. Daylight might provide relief or it just might spell disaster in the form of cold, wet, miserable conditions for packing up and moving out. It isn't raining per se and if yesterday is any indication there will be patches of blue and sunlight for awhile before the rains of late Tuesday come calling. My goal is to wait it out and move forth when I'm good and ready as my next hike will be only 5 miles up to Iron Camp and a gain of some thousand feet to the snows of 3,500 feet. Beyond that will come a mean hump to some true high ground and aptly named Snow Camp.
It is day and time to get water for tea so let me get up and stretch. Ok, breakfast is over and consisted of hot nettle tea with manna bread. Now I am quietly considering packing up and climbing to the Iron Camp site, it'll be slow going with a full pack.
ON THE SOUTH FORK TRAIL: Ok, I left Eagle Camp in the cold fog and pulled the first section and stopped to remove my balaclava and hood to begin the short but steep next section up to the cut and past it to the ditch and the start of section 6 of a 14 section trail. My trail food of choice today? Purple cabbage while I'm moving and a sandwich while I'm resting. Landon the stray dog is still with us and has a lot of energy as he runs up and down the trail. He looks abandoned though there is a tag with his name and phone number on it. He is starving but we have no food to spare this early in the trip. When I got to the Fields there was a truck parked nearby with Blount county tags and if old Landon is with the truck . . . I'm not walking back with him, I think he's just a lost stray as his coat is filthy and all clumped up, poor little thing.
OVERNIGHT AT IRON CAMP: The 3 of us are squared away at camp though the stray will be yelled at if it continues to beg and squirm. I thought I'd have lost it by now. The sun is out in a blue sky and there are 3 inches of snow on the ground but it is melting. Tomorrow if it doesn't rain I'll climb to Snow Camp but until then I must make this camp safe from the hungry shivering pesky dog that is Landon. This means keeping the tent closed and hanging all food bags, not just up but high up. The sun sets at Iron Camp and it's going to be another cold night spent here in this South Fork valley, much like my last time here on Trip 54. This place seems to get cold early and stay cold late in the morning, the sun won't hit camp until 11 or 12 noon and anyway there's talk of rain tonight so we don't have much to look forward to.
I gotta get rid of this dog! I threw snowballs at it and they make it run away, run in big circles around the camp. Why am I so hardhearted? Because if I feed it one morsel of food it will certainly stay around for the next 8 days and I'll always be guarding the tent, Shunka's food and my food. It's an unreasonable request to show compassion to this vomiting, squating but can't defecate little beast. Like I said before, if it's still here by Day 9 I'll gladly share what food we have left and by then I'll be truck bound and goodbye but I can't encourage it to stay by feeding it, hard words but they come from a place inside me I hate to acknowledge.
Ok, I won't attack it, but I sure won't be friendly to it. Night comes to Iron Camp, there's a creek nearby singing its song and my bag is wrapped around me as I sit up writing this by candlelight. My evening meal was cooked lentil soup with goat cheese and it was very good. Shunka just fought off the other dog for the 5th time and it is getting old for both of us. I just wanna get up to Snow Camp and let it all slide. I got the Staika set and positioned up against the tree at my usual spot after cleaning the ground of wet snow. It fits good enough and like I said before, the Staika is a joy to set up as it easily fits exactly where I want it to fit.
The weather radio says there will be rain tonight and so I have everything situated, the pack is in the vesti, the food bags are upside down and the umbrella sheet is attached. My boots are wet and cold but I loosened the laces and pried them open in case they freeze by morning as I do plan on humping up and out of this valley tomorrow. I emailed Greg M. in Michigan and he was kind enough to tell me the dates for the upcoming Cranbrook visit in March and also told me to meet him up on the Fodderstack trail on the 14th and 15th so I'll be, god willing, leaving for Trip 56 almost as soon as I get back from this trip. It will be good to see the crew again as I missed them last year.
This will be the 5th year they've come up since I've been in Tellico and the 35th year altogether. His exact words were: ". . . my route runs along Fodderstack(N to S)on 3/14(last half of the day)and 3/15(first half of the day)" My guess is he'll be coming up the Stiffknee trail on the 14th and will camp around Crowders and finish up the next day by going to the Bob or Naked Ground. He may run off on the North Fork trail or take the new B Mac connector and go down the South Fork. No matter, I'll try to be parked at Crowders Monday the 13th and wait on Tuesday for his arrival and then possibly move camp down to the Horse spring if they need the top space. Or maybe I'll go into the big hemlock grove above. The next day I'll walk them south on the B Mac/Fodderstack trail to Snow Camp where we'll say our goodbyes. It'll be a fine trip.
south fork citicoiron campstaikagear