On Day 8 I leave Oak Camp and get to the Bob Tee for the usual fotog.
DAY EIGHT TRIP 143
TRAIL 54A South
CAMP Bob Bald South Col
FROM FRIGID TO COLD
It's 3 in the morning with a moderate wind coming over this Bob finger I'm perched on at 4,800 feet and at a cleared place I call Mighty Oak Camp because it's towered over by several mighty oaks. While below freezing it's nothing like yesterday morning in frigid temps with the Berries. I hope they got down the NG trail okay and got shuttled to Big Fat although I think that 6 mile dirt road is closed for the winter but maybe they have a key to the gate. Today's goal is easy and fun and it's to pack and move uphill to the Bob and find a campsite good enough in a cold wind with possible rain or snow. South Col?
THREE BAG TEA AT 8:30
It's cranberry, nettle and ginseng with a tablespoon of Y.S. Eco Bee Farms raw honey.
A FANTASTIC SUNNY BLUE MORNING
Yup it's a great day to backpack up to the bald and a great day to set up camp and wait for Patman or Hootyhoo or Michael and Abbi or whoever else. Since I didn't lose any elevation the return won't be hard and after I finish my morning tea my water load will be minimal. Along with tea there's a breafast of whole grain bread with almond butter and jam, good enough for this motarded bonobo. All the Cranberries are scrambling to get to their 2 day camps for their solos whereby the leaders set up and camp (and eat) while the kids spread out in single clear tarps to camp and fast for 24 hours. None of them will be on Four Mile Ridge because they want to be by water so they're all in the valleys or in the wedge.
RESTING IN A COLD WIND AT THE BOB TEE
Leaving Mighty Oak Camp was fun since there's no real climb to the Bob and I sit midway up at the rock in Bob Tee in shorts so my bare legs are a little bit cold but who cares as I've got cold tea on the left, vegan jerky on the right and my journal in the middle. It's early in the day so the sun isn't warm enough to do much of anything and the cold wind keeps me distracted. There's a good campsite past Oak Camp and before the Tee and all it needs is a dozen briars cleared to have room for my tube uterus. I'm not checking my phone for messages cuz I don't wanna know who's coming or not coming so surprise me. It's a Friday on Bob Mt and anything can happen, heck even Hoppin John could show up since he knows my weekend whereabouts since we parlayed with Michael and Abbi about it last week but he has a bike race this weekend I think so he's occupied.
I ain't cuz I won't be happy until my Mystery Ranch pack is completely worn out. The next section of trail from the Tee to the Bob is the coldest so I'll be shaking and huffing all at the same time especially if I stay here too long and get hypospermia. I think rain is coming but so far the day is crystal blue with no clouds so we'll see but don't start unzipping each other's pants yet cuz spring is a few weeks off and up here at 5,300 feet it's over a month away. Go down a thousand feet and the ramps will be just starting to bud but don't tell anyone as then the motards with their steel claws will come out and harvest the whole hillside.
These bastardos can't just take a few for a meal, they have to rip up everything in bushel size bags and run home in pickup trucks to their kitchens. Thing is, most of the ramp killers never even backpack or spend a single night in the woods and are mere dayhikers out for their greedy fix of ramps. Just another in a long line of ethnic cleansers---the heavy handed presence of the good old human---the ginseng killers, the galax killers, the ramp killers. I've seen em' in pick up trucks on Whiggs Meadow and various other places so I shouldn't even mention the plant or the motards who harvest it.
"There's plenty to go around!" they howl but not if a thousand more like them come out.
"It's a grand southern tradition. My grandma did it too!!" they scream but old grandma didn't have 315 million Americans all down her throat and 315 million homo sapiens with claws for hands and jackhammer wheels for feet. The old log cabin days are over.
DEATH TREE CAMPS (HUTNONS)
I found an excellent flat campsite past the Tee on the trail up to the Bob and it's on the right as the trail climbs thru a rocky ditch. Look for it. There's water closeby and the Bob is up ahead. Right now I sit in the grass of the Bob and in the sun with a moderately cold wind hitting my resting form.
As I sit on the Bob facing south I can see Huckleberry Knob which is the biggest mountain in the area at 5,600 feet. It slants down to the right and the first hill is Hooper Bald and the second Hooper is to the right of it. Then the ridge dips down to a small point where the Snowbird Creek trail tops out not far north of Laurel Top. Big Jct is to the right again and is a gap between Snowbird Creek trailhead and Haw Mt to the right. Next to Huckleberry, Haw is the highest point at 5,500 feet. It slants down to the right across Mud Gap and climbs to Little Haw before dropping completely to god knows where.
This mountain range would be spectacular had not the hated Cherohala Scarway cut thru all the high peaks and ruin them with motorcycle noise pollution. Winter is the only time they should be hiked unless you're a nascar fan and love roaring engine noise and the smell of engine exhaust. So the best months to backpack and hike the mountain kings is December to April, otherwise you'll be so disgusted and burned out on the American love affair with traffic that you'll write long screeds on rolling couch potatoes and their bonobo throttle envy. Right now at this moment on a sunny Friday the Scarway is quiet because it's cold and windy enough to block any noise coming up from the asphalt scar. Let's name it the Cherohala Scarway as that's much better.
2 P.M. UPDATE
I'm still sitting in the sun on the Bob but the wind has increased a bunch and may make the death tree camps untenable for peace of mind camping unless you want to use all your stakes and stay in tumult mode thru the night. The 2 South Col Camps offer more protection.
Here we go again, more comments on the status of country music in America. "Bonfire", "take another swig", "out in the sticks", "homegrown hicks", "country backwoods". Here are some important keywords from the country song Bonfire by Craig Morgan. These country folk love to be outdoors apparently but only around a bonfire and nursing off the booze teat. Some will even end up sleeping outside all night but not because they want their bag nights but because they're too drunk to make it back home. Such is the outdoorsmen we have in the "sticks". They don't do themselves any favors when they sing about alcohol and drinking but ha ha it's so funny red solo cup and all but such hilarity hides the serious destruction of the south due to booze. County singers for the most part applaud its use and know they'll never get anyone to listen to their songs unless they use the keywords and with an emphasis on alcohol abuse.
Occasionally one of their own says a guy puts a bottle to his head and pulls the trigger but this comes as an introspective interlude after a thousand songs celebrating the bottle and the beer. Which is it gonna be, then? A life long sot yeehaw or an attempt to quit the demon juice? I'm all in favor of stark sobriety and placing alcohol as a consumable where it belongs---forgotten in a buried pit along with all the other pitfalls of human society. But nope, country singers keep singing of its glory as if they've taken the wonderland tour down the rabbit hole and can't come out the other side.
Drunks are never cool but the illusion of cool sells records and Nashville musicians make cash as peddlers of enebriation and cirrhosis. If rock and rollers sang about smoking weed as much as country singers howl about booze they'd be cited and taken off the radio but the booze hounds get a free pass because it's legal and it's a glorious southern tradition until a guy has a heart attack at 50 and no teeth by 40. Let's hear it for the sots.
THE 2 CAMPS OF THE SOUTH COL
Where am I? Well, I got off the open meadow in the Death Tree Camps and swung over to a new camp in the South Col area where I have never camped before although many others have before me like Hootyhoo, Patman, Athens Roger and the N'ville Girls. It's a good place if you clean off the old firepit and throw a new layer of dead leaves on top to keep the vestibule and the tent floor from turning black with wet fire ash. It's a good camp and mostly out of the wind. My usual South Col Camp is 40 feet away by the main firepit. Now we wait. I should run down to the spring and wash my face and hair with bronners. Let's go.
HAIR SCALP AND FACE EAR WASH
It was needed after 8 days of cold and constant balaclava usage. The water is anus-eatingly cold.
It's mac and cheese with butternut squash and goat cheese.
FRIDAY NIGHT ON TIPI RIDGE I MEAN BOB BALD
It might as well be tipi ridge for the amount of nights I've spent up here. It has many similarities and both pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages.
PROS AND CONS
** It's higher by about 1,800 feet and therefore gets extreme weather.
** It has a vast connection to trails and abuts several wilderness areas.
** It has water.
** Visitors come and go which is mostly a plus.
** There's no woodstove for the winter and no permanent lodge.
** The Scarway road is fairly close and makes a motorcycle racket in the summer. This is its biggest drawback.
9 P.M. NO SHOWS
A strong wind hits the Bob and with it comes the stink of wood smoke and a forest fire somewhere in the area but I'm okay and not blaming anyone for not showing since none of us made plans to come and the only thing going for me is it's a Friday on the Bob and I'm grateful to be here alone and grateful for anyone arriving. I wanna stick to my plan and go to the Hangover tomorrow weather permitting and then bail off the high ground on Day 10 to points down. Hootyhoo probably didn't get my message and Patman is probably working and Hoppin John has a race and Michael just came out last week so 2 in a row is a bit much but if they do it'll be around midnight as it was the last 2 times I saw them. The quarter moon is a sliver surrounded by windswept clouds and it's time to lay down and zip up the tent door and put today into the history bin.
tipi walterbob tee