The Beech Bottom trailhead so go ahead and take a break.
DAY ELEVEN TRIP 142
TRAIL Beech Bottoms/FS 62/Chestnut Mt
CAMP Nut Jct
MIDNIGHT GUYOUT AND CODDLED TOILETS
I go out at midnight to guy out the tent as there are some gusts needing attendance as we wait for the impending rain not yet arrived. I put a little vitamin E oil on my cheeks and nose---raw and red---and then settle in for the night with a couple gulps of cold mountain spring water. I imagine laymen have the hardest time with these 2 things---taking dumps in the woods and drinking creek water. Both are things Americans take for granted in homes and have to work at outdoors. Each takes conscious thought and some amount of prep. Winter backpacking also has many negatory facets for the average coddled American as there's no flip of the thermostat or toilet for comfort. It's always a battle with the cold which sounds monumental but it's not, it's more nitpickingly routine though constant and sapping of your mental focus and dad-blam it, it just gets old.
There's relief constantly with exertion or in bed so it's not all bad and winter's have been getting warmer year by year, at least here in the Southeast. Snow is always fun and pretty especially in a basecamp situation but moving thru snow can be the most difficult backpacking feat of all (see the movie Grey) and like with high water crossings you need a good map to find emergency bail out points to stay on schedule or get to your evac area. Often this means a roadwalk and a hitch. Thankfully the Big Frog/Cohutta is surrounded by remote rarely used dirt roads but a big blizzard can shut down a trip with zero days in a tent.
THE RAIN STARTS AT 1 A.M.
It just comes on like a light switch and causes the once tight tent to loosen and get slack but it won't stop for me to go out and tighten. It's a pleasant rain in the moderate to heavy category and not a deluge pounding which can keep a person up all night looking for lake effect or leaks so let's go back to sleep, boys.
MORNING WAKE UP
I get a pot of Beech Creek water after burning the rest of my paper reading material and then cooking up a pot of 3 bag tea while eyeballing a sketchy sky for more rain. I want to move out of the Bottoms today and finish the trail to FS 62---Big Frog road---which in less than 2 miles will take me to Chestnut Mt trail and possibly a water source off the north side of the road which looks to be a blue line on my topo map. I have used these blue lines often on my treks to get needed water at otherwise dry locations (Panther Top comes to mind) and so this way I won't have to hump full water off the Bottoms trail which has spring sources along its way almost to the top trailhead at the road.
Anyway, I'll figure this out by and by as the day unfolds. The Knox wee'tards say it'll be 18F tonight so count on another butt cold camp at Nut Jct if I can make it. The last time I did the 62 roadwalk I saw a fox and a lizard skink and a big turkey feather so maybe this time I'll see a bear or a mountain lion or a burmese python but hey Florida I won't try to kill it. Live and let live. I have a feeling the Georgia backpackers will be spending just one night out here and will be passing by in the next 4 hours if I decide to sit put here and do a zero day, a possibility if it rains.
YUP THE BACKPACKERS PASS BY
A one night stand---slept with Miss Nature and got the hell out.
A THREE LEG JOURNEY FOR A 7.7 MILE DAY
Okay boys, I packed under a rainy sky and by noon there were patches of blue but by then I was finished with the 4 mile Beech Bottom trail and hooked right on FS 62 which got me to the Chestnut Mt trail and along the way I dumped the pack for an off-road down the holler water run which will keep me alive at Nut Jct. On my map there's a blue spring marked a quarter mile past the trailhead and I need to check it out but I've got plenty of water here and now and so there's no need for more walking. Chestnut Mt has been renamed Hemp Top but it's a stupid move cuz we're no where near Hemp Top Mt or the real Hemp Top trail in the Cohutta.
In fact when you get to Nut Jct what do you see? A trail sign for Chestnut Mt and Wolf Ridge. Let's keep the old names please. At least I will and why break Wolf Ridge trail into 2 parts? It's Wolf Ridge trail from Pace Gap to Frog Mt in my book and I'm sticking with it. BTW, I'm on the route favored most by Frog Mt dayhikers just to let you know. It's a tough nut of 3.7 miles and an elevation gain of a couple thousand feet. We've been thru this all before on my last trip. Lunch is a peanut butter larabar which is damn good and the same one which pulled my 2 crowns and bridge off at Dog Hat Camp on Nichols Cove trail in the mighty Slickrock. Afterwhich I had a molar pulled and one crown replaced. 80% of all eating therefore is on the right side which sucks.
It's cold and I'm in shorts so let's keep moving.
CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN WIND ABUSE
I get a quick call out to Mitten at the trailhead and she's a little under the weather but we're happy to talk to each other and then said our goodbyes as I buckled up and hit the spine of Chestnut Mt which got me good in a crossfire of a butt cold wind. Now I'm behind a cut bank hill which blocks the wind to eat another larabar and a very good one called Uber roasted nut roll, the best. Nut Jct will be very windy and very cold and I'll have to pull my rodeo 8 second calf roping to get the tent up fast and to get inside and layer in geese.
There's a major switchback on the Chestnut Mt trail and here's something neat---there's a campsite next to the switchback and here's the kicker---there's a water source spring down the washed out cliff next to the campsite but it may be intermittent and it's not easy to reach. This camp is small yet big enough but I went on and past the switchback the climb is tough and a little nutbuster but it squirts you out at Nut Jct Camp and hell it's my camp cuz I hauled 3 liters of water from the road. It's good to know the casual dayhikers coming to see Frog Mt must bust a true nut to get there; just getting here is tough enough.
A NUT JCT WIND
It's ice cold but I have to go out and lay pipe and dig a hole while being stripped naked figuratively by the cold wind. Task done, I retreat to the loving tent and give thanks to have a strong shelter from the cold. My stomach's in a knot for some reason so I'll either need to fart repeatedly or blow out another stool into another dug pit. I almost looked around for another place to dig a second prep pit but it was too cold and whatever pit is dug will have to wait for the actual dumpage. Nut Jct is a high exposed knife ridge camp at the very end of the Chestnut Mt trail. Here 2 trails continue, Wolf Ridge to the left and down to Grassy Gap jct and Wolf Ridge straight ahead and up up up to Curbow Fields and the Frog.
It's only 1.8 miles from here to the Frog but it's a nutbuster and I did it on my last trip so the plan tomorrow is to drop to Grassy Gap and take it to the Big Creek jct and turn left to follow it to a campsite somewhere near Peter Camp Branch or beyond just so I can be by water and it's a trail never hiked. Afterwards I can either take Yellow Stand Lead up to Low Gap for Thursday night or backtrack up Big Creek to Grassy Gap and finish the last bit of Big Creek never done---to the top of the Frog as of course I'd like to spend the weekend on the mountain. First comes the weather reports as I have to be at Thunder Truck on Tuesday, Day 18.