21 Days with TN Wild and the Sierra Club No Show Trip 137
Little Mitten hikes the Flats Mt trail with little Zoe Dog and accompanies me to a Thermarest cache for pickup before returning to the car and driving a couple miles further on the Skyway to Grassy Gap where my trip begins. So begins Trip 137.
UPPER BALD RIVER
August 31 September 1-20 2012
** 21 Days with TN Wild and the Sierra Club No Show
** Graham County Rescue Squad on Bob Stratton Bald
** Two Crowns and Bridge Pops Off on Day 7 Oops
** Cold Temps on Slickrock Creek
** All Day with Jeffrey Hunter and TN Wild
** Is Flats Mt Dry?
** No Flats Mt is Wet
** Poison Dust on the Long Branch Trail??
** Camping on Hemlock Creek
** Sierra Club No Show
** Kirkland Creek/State Line Ridge/Brookshire Creek Loop
** Flood Conditions on Upper Bald Horse Camp
** Running into the Chattanooga Hiking Club
** Cow Camp, Baby Falls and OUT
Grassy Gap/Grassy Branch Citico Wilderness(Eagle Camp)
South Fork Citico(Iron Camp)
Bob Bald and Four Mile Ridge(Bob Bald and Watauga Camp)
Hangover Mt(Clearcut Camp)
South Lead(Elysium Fields)
Nichols Cove(Dog Hat Camp)
Slickrock Creek(Stiffknee Camp 2 Nights)
Big Stack Gap
South Fork Citico(Donner Camps)
Flats Mt(Flathead Camp and Camp Hope)
Hemlock Creek(Hemlock Creek Camp)
North River Roadwalk/Tellico River Roadwalk
Bald River(Rock Ledge Snow Camp and Big Pine Camp)
Holly Flats Roadwalk
BMT/State Line Ridge(Moss Gap Camp)
Brookshire Creek(Horse Camp 2 Nights)
Holly Flats Roadwalk
Bald River and OUT(Rock Ledge Snow Camp)
JOURNAL TRIP 137
Entrance at Grassy Gap Citico Wilderness
TRAIL Grassy Branch/South Fork
CAMP Eagle Camp South Fork
9 EASY CROSSINGS AND THE 2 YEAR BLOWDOWN
Sure there are several blowdowns on Grassy Branch trail but there's one that has been obstructing the trail for at least 2 years and the Crosscut Mountain Boys haven't yet figured it out. It will probably keep frustrating backpackers for the next 2 years and then it will become the 4 year blowdown.
Little Mitten, myself and Zoe Dog left Tellico Plains and drove up the empty Skyway to Flats Mt where I hiked in quick step without the pack to get my 2 month old cache left there for the last trip. Mitten was behind carrying Zoe in a new chest pack of weird design. She hiked partway up to the first Flats Mt bald by the time I returned and we went back to the car for a final push to Grassy Gap where I saddled up a ginormous pack with 8 internet "books" and 2 regular books and 45 lbs of food along with everything else---the Keron tent, the MR pack, the 40th Anniversary pad, the Marmot sleeping bag, the stove and pot and 44 ozs of fuel and a brand new Black Diamond hiking pole which is the twin sister of the other pole now discarded because the corking broke off the handle.
I emailed Black Diamond 3 weeks ago about the problem and of course never got a reply so I chalk the company up to being large and insensitive to its customers. Words gets out about such behavior and anyway I never have cared much for Black Diamond products. Their headlamps seem cheap next to Petzl.
The Citico waters are low today and so the 8 Grassy Branch crossings were easy and in boots. The final 9th crossing across the South Fork was in crocs and then I got to Eagle Camp and quickly threw up the tent and then went swimming in the cold waters of the creek.
BOOKS OF THE TRIP
** The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990 by Marilyn B. Young, 1991 Harper Collins.
** Three Hundred Zeros: Lessons of the Heart on the AT by Dennis R. Blanchard, 2010.
Here's a short quote from the forward of the Vietnam book: "In the largest sense, the US was in Vietnam as a crucial part of the enterprise of reorganizing the post-World War II world according to the principles of liberal capitalism." page ix, MARILYN B. YOUNG. Here are some outline points---
** Viet Minh established in 1941 to resist Japanese occupation who were allied with Vichy France.
** Japanese rule created a famine killing 1.5 - 2 million Vietnamese.
** Ho Chi Minh real name? Nguyen Tat Thanh.
** 100 million pounds of herbicide dropped on over 4 million acres of South Vietnam, page 82.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
I " . . . put on my headlamp. I could just make out the outline of the bear; it was huge! I used my better judgment and decided against barking; imagining this bear might have dog tags in its scat." page 36, DENNIS R. BLANCHARD.
FOUR GOALS OF THE TRIP
** To hike the South Fork trail.
** To hike the Nutbuster trail.
** To tie in with Jeffrey Hunter and the TN Wild doing a one day dayhike of Slickrock Creek and Fodderstack Ridge.
** To tie in with a 3 day Sierra Club (Harvey Broome) backpacking trip pulling a Bald River and Upper Bald loop.
The first two are based on recent trailwork by Bill Hodge and the SAW boys who I missed on my last trip,. At least now I can check out their handiwork on the 2 mentioned trails. In fact, I'll be climbing the South Fork tomorrow and will check to see if the boys fixed the steep trail section going to the logging cut (it needs steps and cut trail work and brushing out), and whether the boys finally once and for all cleared the brambles and grapevine on the rocky "detour" section. Then I may check out the Nutbuster trail from the top down and see what the boys did on that mother of all trails.
Sadly, I think they only did the upper 1.5 miles of the trail which won't even get them into the worst part of leg 5 called the Open Cove. Why come out and do only 1.5 miles of a trail? Ya got me. Heck, me and Coy did that much on the same trail while wearing backpacks.
The last 2 goals are meet ups---one with a TN Wild group doing an ambitious dayhiking loop from Farr Gap and Stiffknee to Slickrock Creek and up past Wildcat Falls to Big Stack and Crowders and out on the Fodderstack back to Farr. I hope to meet up with them somewhere around Slickrock. The other group is led by Will Skelton of the Harvey Broome Sierra Club out of Knoxville and they don't have a clue I may be looking for them. Their route is a 30 mile loop from Bald River Falls to Holly Flats and up Brookshire Creek to Sled Runner Gap and State Line Ridge to Sandy Gap and down Kirkland Creek back to Holly Flats and Bald River.
So, I'll have to join the Citico with the Bald and do so using one of the Brushy Ridge trails---either McNabb or Hemlock or Long Branch or the Skyway BMT to Sycamore Creek and Sugar Mt, a backdoor way to Brookshire. We'll see what happens. First I have to hump an eighty pound pack up the South Fork.