The Hangover Mountain Clearcut Trip 69
TRIP 69 November 2007
** Hangover Mountain Clearcut
** Knoxville 10 and 5 Dogs
** Monroe County Randal
Beech Gap BMT
Four Mile Ridge
**Airjet Camp Hangover Mt**
**Low Dog Camps**
Little Santee Naked Ground Trail
Four Mile Ridge
Beech Gap and Out
Trip 69 starts in a cold November rain and shows me what the Forest Service and the Cheoah Ranger District can do on a bad day---clearcut an acre of wilderness on top of Hangover Mt. But this comes later in the trip. Here I am in Cold Spring Gap and starting the trip in a cold rain but protected by a Gregory pack cover and a Marmot Minima goretex rain jacket.
JOURNAL TRIP 69
My hands are numb and I've been walking in a cold November rain all morning but here I sit on the Going To The Sun Tral as it makes its way to Bob Bald. I'm dressed in the usual t-shirt with rain jacket and shorts, any more and I'd be a sweaty mess climbing up with a 75 pound pack on my back.
The WhiteBlaze grapevine had it that Sgt Rock, lover of trails and hammocker fanatic, spent the night on the Bob last night and I'm hoping to catch him on the way out. No such luck yet as there's no car at Beech Gap so if he came in for just one night where did he park? I think I saw him driving out on the Skyway.
I'm about rested and I'll have more to say about Trip 69 when I set up camp.
NOVEMBER FOGGY BOB CAMP
I reach the Bald and set up the dome tent but before this I walked the area looking for the Rock but with no luck. When I got to camp my exposed hands were cold, wet and numb, typical when hiking in a cold rain. My quick lunch will have to be a Bear Valley pemmican bar with an Odwalla protein drink.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TRIP 69
When I moved my Mom from NC to TN last May, I gave up any chance of going backpacking or living in the woods save for my nightly sleeping down on Chickasaw Creek. The big tent on the Chickasaw has become my sanctuary and my tipi in short sessions, the rest of the time I need to look after my Mom.
Little Mitten graciously decided to throw me a bone and let me go out on another long trip, she saw stress in my face and saw the pitiful condition my condition was in, so she agreed to look after Mom while I now sport in the mortal coil in a wilderness of my choosing as is my wont. Hooray therefore for this opportunity to hit the trails with a massive pack on my back, to load Shunka with a similar pack and to camp in cold temps on a high bald.
BTW, the fine book I brought on this trip is GAMES CLIMBERS PLAY, edited by Ken Wilson with essays by Reinhold Messner, Ed Drummond, Al Read, Lou Reichardt, David Cox and others. At 670 pages it'll keep me busy.
Well, okay, I checked the Bob spring and it's aflowing pretty good with several pools, one of which is plastic bag-lined and excellent(see fotogs eventually posted).
MY GEAR LIST
Pack: Mystery Ranch G6000 6400 cubic inches
Tent: Hilleberg Staika
Bag: Western Mountaineering Puma
Pad: Thermarest Expedition large
Jugs: Nalgene liter(2)and Nalgene half liter
Stove: MSR Simmerlite with 32 oz fuel and MSR titanium pot
North Face Nupste down jacket
Arcteryx Delta SV fleece jacket(outer layer)
Wintersilks heavyweight turtlenecks(2)midlayer
Outdoor Research goretex rain pants
Asolo Fugitive GTX boots
Smartwool Mountaineer socks
Silnylon poncho 8x10 ground cloth
Two pair gloves
Thick poly watch cap
Pur Hiker water filter
Coast 5 LED flashlight
Two ditty bags
Two big food bags
An early supper at 3:30 in the afternoon to fill a hungry stomach. The 3 raw eggs I brought, well, one is gone in the pot, eaten with noodles, peas and carrots! I took the dirty pot down to the spring and after some grit and dead leaves to scour the thing is cleaner than when I bought it.
Just after my meal a hard cold windy rain comes to tapdance atop the tent soaking the hung dog pack but not much else. So far there's no thunder and the wind is manageable so I've enetered the Raven's Yard once again, a cool relaxing place beneath nylon where all humans should spend a portion of their busy lives.
I'm using basically the same gear I always use but with one big exception: The inevitable arrival of a bag I've been dreaming about since 1980: Western Mountaineering Puma! In my mostly impoverished years of living out, a good down bag was in reach always, the best down bag never was. Well, times change and with a little extra cash kept in savings I'm able to dial up Backcountrygear.com to get this right zippered bag thru the mail. A genuine WM bag, not a sample or seconds, but the real thing in a pretty sky blue, my favorite color.
Though this rain won't allow a clear photo of it, in due time I'll add a 3rd picture to go with the other two and have a complete set showing the evolution of my sleeping bag fantasies.
The first picture(Trail Journals, 2003, Trip 18 March 31: Slickrock Wilderness Day 2)shows me in 1984 holding up what was at the time a fine North Face 550 fill bag, the Ibex. Years later in 2001 caught me in Pisgah holding up the 2nd bag and a better one: The zero rated Marmot Couloir(see Trail Journals, 2003, Trip 18 March 31).
But before I get ahead of myself with the Puma, it must be said that the North Face was used constantly from 1981 to 2001, 20 years of tent camping, bedroll cowboy camps, Tipi camps with a woodstove, and endless cold tents at Lost Valley, Mt Rogers, Conehead, Pisgah, Shenandoah, St Lukes, Beckola's, Bethel's Stone Mountain, Winklers, Sky Ranch, Celo, Sierra Nevadas, Lake Michigan, Raider Camp, Steels Creek, Horn in the West, Swamp Site, Lost Cove, Harpers Creek . . .
Buttress Camp, Cemetary Camp, Ayesha Camp, Brig Camp,Seven Devils, Bald River, Doe River, Temple of the Gods, Bass Lake, Chapel Hill, Duke Forest, Pilot Mt, Love Knob, Beaverdam Ridge, Seven Mile Ridge, Turner Camp, Snaketooth Creek, Buckeye Camp, IA Camp, Hilltop Camp, Stone Altar, Oak Mother and the Dog, Wendy's Camp, Millers Creek, Erosion Canyon and the State Farm Camps.
Suffice it to say the old warm Ibex allowed this Oklahoma high plains drifter boy to see some cold country with a clean heart.
The Couloir came at a time when the Ibex was finished, it was on it's last legs and only worked as a liner with other bags. How many nights did I spend in the Ibex cold and exposed? When the temps dipped to 10, 5 or below I couldn't stay warm like in the old days, I threw on army bags, blankets and quilts to no avail.
At the woodheated Tipi it was hardly a concern, when the temps dipped to -14 below I'd just feed the fire, lay on the thick Camp Rest and use the Ibex as a quilt.
Back in '84-'85, Bob Alderink got a Marmot down bag, at the time the best, and I took a mental note, never having the cash then for such a thing. Then, in 2001, fed up with the loftless Ibex, I ordered a zero Couloir from Footsloggers in Boone and started all over again. The Marmot took me into frozen lands of the Citico and Slickrock, up Bald River to Sugar Mt, Sandy Gap, Peels Top, Moss Gap, Unicoi Gap, Whiggs Meadow and all the rest.
It even took me back to the Stillwinds Tipi for a while, into Pisgah again, up Mt LeConte, on the AT at Walker Gap, Cable Gap, Cheoah Bald and in a tent along a cold Chickasaw Creek, and several blizzards on the Bob, the Hangover and Naked Ground.
The Puma's initiation is being tested on the Bob in a cold whipping windy rain storm in mid-November and when it speaks it says softly, "Please don't let me get wet, not on my first trip!" I reply, "As long as this tent stands my blue down beauty, you'll stay dry."
One thing I noticed with the Marmot and I noticed it up here on the high ground at zero degrees, is that the zero bag did not keep me warm enough to be comfy, it was time to lower the rating and be finally done with it. I'd say, if used constantly, a down bag will last 10 years(without washing, maybe longer with washing). A brand new down bag, right out of the box, will have the fullest loft and the cleanest shell, it will never be the same after that.
And I noticed after washing the old Ibex(once in 20 years), that the loft never came back like before. I wonder if there is a company that washes sleeping bags? So, the Marmot now is my summer bag and it still has a lot of life left in it.
NIGHT FALLS ON THE BOB
The rain stopped so I'm thinking of hanging the 2 food bags with the dog pack already up. With the Nokia tracfone in one hand and my flashlight in the other, I left the tent in a pitch black fog and got to where a signal would work and gave my old backpacking buddy Johnny B a call in Mountain City. Getting back was a minor challenge, I couldn't see stool and the light wasn't much good.
cold gapgearheavy packspack covers