When you're on the Hangover ya gotta check out the view.
DAY NINE TRIP 143
TRAIL Four Mile Ridge
CAMP Naked Ground
WOODSMOKE POLLUTION AND A WINDSTORM
Yup, the day clicks over to 9 and the sky completely clears which ain't good if you hoped a late night rain would wash out the sky of the woodsmoke smell which prevades the Unicoi crest. A high blasting wind keeps pounding the Bob and occasional gusts come to the South Col Camps and slaps the tent around but it's the smoke smell in the air which controls the mind. It's just past midnight and I don't think anyone came up in the night though I won't know for sure until I go out at first light and look. If it's not gonna rain tonight then let's just give me time to pack and move in the morning and we'll call it even. You can start after I get to Hangover Mt. The temps have climbed enough so I can sit in the tent with a silk top and my t-shirt---we call 'em baselayers---but I still need the bag. It's easy to pack when it's not frigid, you just get up and move.
UP AT SEVEN
Now the sky is a mean looking thing with edges and a pre dawn glint in its eye so I expect rain at any moment. I still wanna move and will try to get an early start by 9 if possible. At first light I'll recon the Bob for latecomers but it's almost certain it's just me myself and Kurbin Toment. The time change has caused my mornings to be dark at a later hour which is weird. It's been too windy to burn trash but I need to do it as there's one last book roll and four 3 inch candles to get rid of but I'll keep one in case it gets frigid before I leave. The big winds of last night are still around but they have done their job and brought in the Dark Blue Poem and now the winds seem to be slowly leaving the Bob to other haunts.
Just as I write this a nasty gust slaps the tent with a face slam. Oh well. Let's figure this out but there's nothing to figure, it's the usual maybe/maybe not rain event. I need to kill a couple hours and what better way than to brew hot tea?
It's empty of course. After tea I'll stick to the original plan and hike 3 miles to the Hangover. The latest wee'tard report calls for 20% rain today and tomorrow with "severe weather" on Day 11.
BEST WEEKEND GONE TO WASTE
It's sorta sad cuz if you take the Cranberries out of the equation you end up with no backpackers in the Cit/Slick or at least between Bob Bald and the Hangover. Of course I'm not yet at the Hangover because I'm sitting in Naked Ground which is empty but I needed to check my phone messages in case Patman left something. Today is the hottest day of the trip which I'm sure the Cranberries are appreciating as they sit in their solo tarps. If I had any sense I'd bail off the mountain and go to Little Santee Creek but then I would for sure miss my tentative friends so it will be delayed until tomorrow whereby a choice is made---to Slickrock or Santeetlah? Do I go left or right, north or south? My next hike is up the 4 hills to Haoe Peak and down to the Hangover so should I delayer or not? Gloves or not? Tuque or not? Merino tops or t-shirt? Sunglasses are a given and I'm already in shorts.
I'm headed to the Hangover and they are haded to NG so we pass each other near the fourth hill to Haoe Peak. The hill still has alot of snow so the footing is tricky coming down but not so bad going up. My next stretch is down and steep but nothing worth worrying over.
I haven't been here in a good while so I stopped in the clearcut to get water at the spring and then climbed the short distance to Airjet where my usual spot is taken over by a rocky firepit so I got the message and moved several feet over to an actually better spot not under any problem trees. Airjet Camp is nice because unlike the clearcut or Bree Camp in Saddle Tree Gap it's out of the wind in a little sunken pocket of trees and heath.
A SPIN ON PEAKS
I've camped enough on the 3 peaks of Four Mile Ridge to become a sort of psychic medium on the places---the Bob, NG and Hangover Mt. First off, all of them are around 5,000 feet and all are connected by the ridge trail I call Four Mile Ridge. The Bob is the open meadow and is probably the highest of the 3 but not the most rugged. We'll save the Hangover for that distinction and while the Bob has a good view the best by far is the Hangover. The view off NG ain't bad either. The Bob has the most campsites followed by NG and then the Hangover. The most exposed place for camping in the wind is the Bob and then NG and then the clearcut camp on the Hangover.
The Bob is fairly public and wherever you set up can be disturbed by boy scouts and other campers. NG is the same way of course but the top camp on Hangover Mt is fairly private and not too subject to crowding. Of course NG has a couple camps on the fringe like Watauga where you can get your privacy and have water too. Same with the Bob below the bald and above on the Wall. Vibe wise the Bob seems less wild because it's closer to the Scarway and even vehicles can reach the top on the gated tractor road. NG is better in this regard and the Hangover feels the most remote of all. All are subject to getting hammered by blizzards and deep snow but the Bob offers the easiest escape to the Scarway.
No visit to the Hangover is complete without a visit to the overlook on a sunny blue day so that's now finished and I can sit back in the tent and look at the pics. So far I've seen no one here which is odd as it's the best weekend of 2013 and a Saturday.
LITTLE MITTEN CALL OUT
Airjet Camp gets reception and during a call I feel selfish for being out and leaving Mitten at home.
THREE BACKPACKERS FROM ATLANTA WITH TWO PITBULLS
I hear voices down in the clearcut and find 3 guys with 2 dogs and some neat gear like Arcteryx clothing and packs. They came up from Kilmer on the Naked Ground trail to NG and the 4 hills to here.
GOODNIGHT TO DAY 9
I hope to fall off the mountain early and get some rain free weather to see me the 5 or 6 miles all the way down to Slickrock Creek where I'll cross and hit either Little West Camp or Johnny's Camp, both on the Big Stack Gap side of the creek so I can bail to Crowders in case of a big storm on Monday Day 11. If the rain comes tonight or tomorrow well, who knows what I'll do but I gotta lose some elevation. I have no idea what the weather will be by next weekend and by Day 16, my evac date.