After the rhodo section the Wolf Ridge trail climbs thru a neat section of big tripe covered rocks.
DAY EIGHT TRIP 141
TRAIL Wolf Ridge
CAMP Big Frog Mountain (4th Camp)
MY WARMEST DAY
I'm up at 4 in the morning and the sky doesn't look good for movement so I can't sit around all morning if I want to get to the Frog. It's the warmest day of the trip so I'll leave in shorts and a t-shirt if I can pack a dry tent early on and push the 1.8 miles up many hundreds of feet to the Frog where I'll set up in a stiff wind. Yes, the wind is back so what else is new? With the wind comes rain eventually and then after the rain will come the cold. I'm at 3,020 feet. The .7 mile climb from the Grassy Gap jct is 2,440 feet so it's 580 feet to here.
WHITEBLAZE.NET IS ANTI-ULTRALIGHT
This is the title of a thread started by Jake D on BackpackingLight.com on 11/30/2012 and is a reaction to a long discussion we had on Whiteblaze about UL backpacking where I joined in with posts. See http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=70866
Jake D says,
"A certain member (that would be me) enters every topic involving lightweight backpacking and touts his preference for carrying a 70 lb pack for 20 days without resupply in the snow. Apparently this is the only way he thinks backpacking should be done and will not stop until everyone has cupped his balls about it."
It reminded me of chimpanzees cupping each other's scrotums for security in worrisome conditions. Plus, he's wrong about entering every UL topic as hundreds go by on the UL forum without my participation. Good old Mags enters the fray with this wonderful comment---
" . . . . it's just one base camper who extrapolates his limited experience (granted, he does know winter camping very well) to every type of backpacking. He has a small amount of vocal followers."(12/02/12).
Jake D (Jakedatc) returns and asks Mags, " . . . . you don't think TW's rants and ramblings are disruptive when he puts them in threads where it has no place?"
And Mags responds, "Sure it is out of place, but does it really matter? His insights are something most people ignore and/or find laughable. After a while he'll take his ball and go out into the woods on yet another trip he'll make out to be WILDERNESS (he brings a -10F bag and a 4 season tent in the summer. HE claims he wants to be prepared for blizzards. During the summer in TN??? . . . .) and we'll hear bupkis from him for 3 weeks. Just treat is as entertainment."
Don H comes in with this retort to JakeDatc, "Whiteblaze doesn't discourage UL, it's just that everyone has their opinions and some of them don't agree with yours." Amen, brother.
And to Mags---I don't make out the places I go backpacking to be wilderness, they are so designated as such by Congress and the forest service---Citico, Slickrock, Bald River, Big Frog, Lewis Fork, Little Wilson Creek and Cohutta. And I don't bring a -10F sleeping bag out in the summer, it's an old 0F Marmot bag which is patched and has lost it's loft and therefore it makes a great 3 season and yes summer bag, and it comes in handy in June on Wilburn Ridge in Mt Rogers.
Anyway, this little presentation killed an hour so I'm one hour closer to sunrise and packing. I gotta get to the Frog before the rain hits and I know it kills people to know but yes I pack and move most everyday and yes I'm backpacking inside a wilderness. It ain't the Wrangell-St Elias but it's the best and the biggest there is in the Southeast. And no, I'm not a basecamper, that's someone who sets up once and stays put for the whole trip. In fact, yesterday I humped 8 miles and today 6---not stellar mileages favored by the ULers and high mileage punch 'em out boys but good enough for me. 18 Days in the Biggest Wilderness in the Eastern United States. As Little Mitten once said and I repeat---we are all like babies arguing over which crayons we want to use.
MEN ARE BABIES
Men are babies anyway and we need pointless drama over testosterone-fed minutiae to stir things up when we're at home and not out on a trip. Tarps vs hammocks, hammocks vs tents, UL vs ultraload, pack covers vs pack liners, down vs synthetic, hiking poles vs none, merino vs capilene, cuben vs silnylon, boots vs trail runners, water filters vs iodine, TarpTent vs Hilleberg---you name it. Birds of a feather fight together. Why? Because we know enough to do so and as Mags says it's purely entertainment and a way to kill time at the computer at home while planning the next trip. No sweat.
People who really get upset like JakeDatc seem to me to be unfulfilled and repressed because maybe they don't get out enough. I've noticed that the people who backpack all the time and are always planning a next trip never get hung up on forums and can laugh stuff off and move on. The guys who get out once a year often become the most agitated, reactive, defensive and personal. You always know who these people are by making a comment like "tarps suck for these reasons" and they write a counter post "you are an idiot and I hope you go to hell." See, they get personal which is the worst thing you can do on an internet forum.
Name calling ends a discussion. You can attack a behavior or a piece of gear (like dayhiking or racing motorcycles or hammocks) without getting personal and calling individuals idiots. The conversation on vegetarianism often turns personal I've noticed as many meat eaters bristle up fast to put down the veggies. And some vegetarians call meat eaters cruel and heartless and wrong. Ain't life grand? We all think our watch is right, as Ramakirshna says. "What works for me" is the basis for our disagreements especially with me when it comes to tarps and hammocks (which is tarp camping), and when it comes to food weight and long trips vs UL loads.
FROG SUMMIT SUCCESS
It started raining before dawn but I was on the trail by 8 and on the Frog by 11 in the morning but started out in shorts and the rain jacket and in Curbow Fields I went to just a t-shirt as I was generating too much heat. I now have broken the climb up into 8 sections from Chestnut jct on Wolf ridge and they are---
** Climb out of camp.
** Right turn and steep up the ridge.
** Into Curbow Fields.
** Climbing up thru rocks.
** A level ridge.
** A tough climb thru more rocks.
** Into the rhodo tunnel.
** The last rock cliff hump(pretty and my fave).
** Out of the rocks and the final push.
There are 4 main camps on the Frog and they are all in a straight line from the highest to the 4th which is my camp. There's room for the Keron at the highest camp too (and there used to be a firetower here), and the next 3 camps have towering dead trees but the dead one in my camp is far enough away to not be a problem. The others though are right in camp and could ruin a tenter's day (or night). The rain decided to increase and has gone from a mist to a drizzle and is now light so I thankfully got set up just in time. I immediately went on a water run and got enough for 2 days if I feel like pulling a zero on the Amphibian.
The reason I left so early today was because of this all day rain and it's hitting now as the day reaches towards noon.
RANDY NO SHOW
After the afternoon rainstorm I leave the tent and get a call out to Little Mitten and see there's a message on my phone and wouldn't you know it but Randy leaves a short no nonsense message something like "I'm still sick and won't make it so hope you're okay in the rain. Bye." And so ends the last 2 days of anticipating and route planning to be on the trail he was gonna come in on and then pushing up here to the Frog in time to meet up with him. Now I can forget about hooking up and go where I want without sitting around waiting. It's for the best as my solitude is important.