I leave the Bob and head down Trail 54A South to Mighty Oak Camp where I run into old acquaintance Greg Miller and his group coming up from Beech Gap and the Snowbirds. They are headed down the Nutbsuter to the Open Cove Camp midway down. Here is Joey, Greg and Chelsea.
DAY SEVEN TRIP 143
TRAIL Four Mile Ridge/54A South
CAMP Mighty Oak
THE COLDEST NIGHT
It's almost cold enough to zip up the bag but so far I'm able to sleep with my Puma thrown over me like a quilt. I attribute this to the exped downmat which adds heat from the bottom. I almost brought my 5R 40th anniversary pad but I'm glad I did not as the 8R of the exped makes all the difference. What's the temp? It's gotta be in the low teens and maybe 12F as the cold wind doesn't help so I'm thinking of the Berries under their drafty tarps as I sit in a double wall Hilleberg with both doors zipped. This cold wind will bring in warmer temps by tomorrow but it's today and this morning we're worried about. I hope to pack nay I will pack today as we wait for Ian to return from his rescue mission to Rattler Ford and he should be back before noon today.
They are going where I am going, at least to Haoe Peak and maybe I'll tag along even further to Elysium Fields as Toad Camp ain't much different than Elysium except that one is on the north side of Hangover Mt and the other is on the south. If I hike alone though I'll probably do Toad. I need to see if the Berries are pulling any solos this weekend on Four Mile Ridge cuz I will be back Friday and Saturday in case Michael and Abbi come up and then Sunday on Day 10 I'm falling down to Slickrock Creek for a few nights before heading back to Beech or some exit point on the Scarway. The last day for the Berries is Wednesday and my Day 13. After that sob I'll be all alone. My torso and arms are cold at 4:30 so let's go back to sleep.
A SUNNY MORNING
I'm up at 8 and need to get out to drain the (w)hole account and boil up water and hang the bag on the bear line left up for this purpose as the bag shell is slightly moist because of the cold frost and condensation in the tent. So far the Berries are quiet but they'll be up momentarily as more sunlight pours across closed eyelids. The leaders might also be awake and I think Kim wants to use my cellphone to see what's up with Ian down in the valley. I gotta get out of this bag and seize the dork I mean the day.
TURTLEHEAD AND TEA
A morning turtlehead got pooped out into a cold hostile world and buried as my butt sat exposed to Miss Nature's glare and then I was back in the tent boiling old spaghetti water cuz I didn't clean yesterday's pot and while boiling I cleaned my hands of offal with my gold bond juice. Now I wait for the spaghetti water to boil with its 3 tea bags of ginseng, nettle and hawthorn. It's done and wrapped in the ridgerest cozy to keep warm so I'm gonna walk around I guess and wait for the sun to defrost the tent.
Kim uses my phone to contact basecamp and they are changing their plan by taking an ankle hurt girl along with the rest of the group down the Naked Ground trail to basecamp and getting a shuttle to Big Fat Gap to stick with their schedule so it'll be me alone heading somewhere.
GOODBYE ALAN AND KIM
I leave Kim my email and phone # as she tells me where Gordon will be for solo---Iron Camp on the South Fork---and I planned to have to be up here on the high ground for this weekend and Gordon won't be getting to Iron Camp until late Friday so I left NG on Four Mile Ridge and now sit in the warm sun on the Bob trying to formulate a plan.
LITTLE MITTEN CALL OUT
Sitting in the sun on the Bob is conductive to calling Mitten and so I do.
LEAVING THE BOB
GREG MILLER, CHELSEA AND JOEY
Four pack animals (dogs) show up to say hello as I sit in the warm grass of the Bob meadow and they decide to all lay in the grass with me and sleep like old lions. We bond. They all belong to Jeff from Robbinsville. As soon as I felt like and as soon as they took off on a scent I saddled up and took the trail off the bald on 54A South but got 2 liters of water by the Tee and then dropped to Cold Gap but before dropping down the terrible pitches I dumped the pack in Mighty Oak Camp and it's my home for the night.
Lo and behold but sitting next to camp is Greg Miller and Chelsea and student Joey. It was a reunion of sorts as I haven't seen Greg for many years so it was a good hobnob with great people. They are headed over the Bob to NG and down the Nutbuster to the open cove campsite on leg 5---the same place me and Coy stayed when he had his hammock and we were doing trailwork.
Since I'm in Mighty Oak Camp doing nothing I decide to ring up both Patman and Hootyhoo and leave them a couple messages of where I will be this weekend so who knows? It's better to try and get nothing than to not try and get nothing.
Day 7 comes to an end and it's still around freezing or below so I'm in geese waiting for my troubled stomach to settle down. Greg's group are the ones who did the Snowbirds and got dropped off in Snowbird Junction and hiked up Snowbird Creek to the old jalopy by Sassafras Creek to camp and then continued up river past the new footbridge to the Mitchell Lick trail and turned right and went up exactly on the old trail I took to a finger of Laurel Top Mt and then finished by taking an obscure sidetrail to Big Jct and the Skyway and then up and over Haw Mt (I think). Somewhere in all of this a shuttle took them from Mud Gap to Beech Gap and POW here they are and there they go.
Oak Camp is peaceful and around 4,800 feet so it's cold with a cloudy sky and it could snow. All my gear is working well and the new Asolo boots are near perfect. I fixed the flawed and failed 520's with McNetts Freesole glue but I'm afraid to take them out. Tomorrow's hike is easy even for me and it's a backtrack to the Bob and then on the next day a 3 mile hump to Hangover Mt. Let's zip up the tent and zonk out.