After Snow Camp I finish the elevation gain from the South Fork and reach Bob Bald where a mandatory reststop has to happen.
JOURNAL TRIP 55
MORNING AT SNOW CAMP: The rain stopped a couple of hours ago and up above I hear the wind blowing thru the treetops and at Raven Camp. It's a big wind but it is not too bad here. I need to get up and pee and hang the food bags once and for all and survey this place I call Snow Camp, something I haven't done since arrival. There is still a slight pitterpatter along the old lodgeskins but I think the worst of it is over, now it's just the wind blown stuff. Well, I might be wrong as here it comes agan. I have everything I need on this trip and here's a list of gear:
****Dana Designs Terraplane LTW pack
****Hilleberg Staika tent
****Marmot Couloir sleeping bag
****Thermarest Expedition large pad
****Nalgene Lexan jugs
****MSR Simmerlite stove and 2 fuel bottles
****Asolo goretex boots
****2 Outdoor Research food bags
****Walmart pot with lexan spoon
****Canon film camera
THE SACRED SEVEN NYLONS
I have the Seven Holy Nylons: Pack, tent, pad, bag, food, clothing and water. Now it is 23 hours of rain and counting, will it hit 24? Everyone carries the 7 Nylons but that's about it as some have boots, some use sandals or go barefoot, some have a stove, some don't, etc. But the 7 Nylons remain constant. The pack could be tiny or huge, a duffel bag or a sack. The shelter could be a tarp, a hammock, a bivy bag or a shower curtain. The pad could be a thick Thermy or a thin Z rest, the bag could be a blanket, a poncho liner or a minus 20 degree mummy. The water jugs could be anything or almost nothing and the food and clothing are entirely personal but in all the choices these 7 will still be carried by everyone even though I've heard of young Boy Scouts going out without a pad and triple crown types discardng all water bottles and drinking only when they pass a spring or creek. But for 99.9% of us we will be carrying some form of these 7. Any input from the Whiteblaze bunch?
Morning slowly comes and first light squeezes out in the near constant 28 hour precip pow wow. I'm mostly dry though my tent is a soaked mess due of course to condensation and the heavily saturated outside air. It will all dry soon enough and this falling rain will also come to an end soon enough. I'll give it 5 to 6 hours before any real movement is needed. I expect to see the yellow orb sometime today, let us pray. It's been pretty lonely and quiet on the B Mac trail these last 15 hours but then who would be crazy enough to walk it in this kind of weather? I don't even wanna be here but patience will see a pretty day come and the burning off of these low hanging clouds.
This morning I will make a point of firing up the stove and cooking a regular meal whether it be oats or rice it doesn't matter, I just need to use up my food! Speaking of which, it seems my food bags got thru the night ok without disturbance from a mouse, a raccoon or a dog. More for me! As usual I brought too many meals-to-cook, too much pasta, rice, beans and mashed potatoes and in 3 days I've only had one cooked meal cuz I've been snacking on bread, sandwiches, pemmican, chips, rice cakes, cheese, cabbage, gorp and carrots. Today I'll try to eat 3 cooked meals.
A tilted stick of incense wafts inside the tent and it is time to lay back down and wait for a better morning to come. The sun is out!! The rains of February and of this day have ended! A meal is cooked! Did I say the sun is out?
Ok, I left Snow Camp and immediately ran into 12 inches of snow going up to the Bob tee and it took me twice as long and twice as much energy to climb. I knew as soon as I got to the tee there would be a multitude of boot prints flattening the snow and I was right, the trail from the tee to Raven Camp went quickly and so here I sit once again on the sacred Bald enjoying the full light of day in a moderate breeze. I am finally feeding Landon but not much, a carrot and some cabbage. I put on my bottom layers and put my wet socks back on so they'll dry faster.
Ok, I got to Naked Ground where I found an ungodly mess, 3 empty Coleman propane canisters, a 2 quart pot with lid, a Eureka tent stuff sack, about 10 heat paks, a Nalgene liter bottle, a Columbia bush hat, a grill, several fire logs, a spice dispenser, cordage: It looks like they got caught in some hellish snowstorm, cold and wind cuz I found 2 tent stakes in the ground with the torn loops still attached.
Ok, I found a little spot to put my tent far enough from the firepit and a human fecal pile over on the trail going down to the Kilmer loops. I cleared this spot long ago but this is my first time to camp here. Though Watauga Camp beckoned I decided to park my world right here, thank you. At 7:45 I am settled in the tent after spending 90 minutes using a firelog I found and burning all the trash that would burn, mostly plastic and paper. I photographed the fire and the remaining items incuding 13 tent stakes, a broken hiking pole, a spoon and fork and a tent bag full of propane canisters. When we got back to camp Landon tried to get into the tent and squeezed into the vesti whereupon I not so gently yanked him out. There's a cold wind blowing thru here and it may bring rain and ice.
The 3 mile walk today kicked my cold blue sac and I barely made it thru the deepest snow I've seen since leaving Boone 5 years ago. My feet got cold and numb and by the Bob I had to pull over and expose my toes to the noonday sun. Any walking around here will take more time and extra calories, it's like walking drunk as I constantly stumble, slip, slide, jerk and jar myself into a strange uncomfortable daze. I can see how 2 or 3 feet of snow this far from a town and this high up could cause panic.
Going one half mile in it is about like going 6 or 7 miles without it, and a level or downhill trail ain't much help, either. It's called postholing at best or stumbling at worse, other people's boot holes only make it worse unless many have come before and then it's a level trail without too much concern.
Day 4 ends with a full stomach of mashed potatoes and dulse seaweed, cold water and soon sleep. I only walked 3 miles today but it was hard going in the crusty stiff snow. Tomorrow I hope to either stay here another day or cruise back up to Raven Camp. I sorta miss Watauga Camp, maybe I'll go there tomorrow and stash those stakes and silverware under a rock for future reference. I could hike over to the Hangover and camp, hmmmm. After my last experience at Raven Camp in the Nammy I'm afraid to subject this baby to the same high hellish winds. At least I'm outdoors, man!