BACKPACKING THE CITICO/SLICKROCK WILDERNESS IN TENNESSEE
February 20-28 March 1 2009
Three Georgia Backpackers And A Big Black Dog
Baby Skunk At Iron Camp
Two Girls From Asheville On The Little Santee
Ann Arbor Girls With A Cranbrook Student
Three Day Rain At Naked Ground
Three 'Ville Boys With The Tarp At Naked Ground
THE FAMILY JEWELS: A full pack with 10 days of supplies. I go into the Citico Wilderness from the South Fork trail and stop at the first creek crossing and survey my route across. My Mystery Ranch pack is fully loaded and the big thing on the right is my winter Thermarest pad, the Base Camp. The bottom green tube is my tent.
"POISONED IN THE BUSHES AND BLOWN OUT ON THE TRAIL": A Bob Dylan quote comes to mind on the South Fork trail after climbing steeply up to an overgorwn and briar-filled logging cut trail. I stop by a big cairn of rocks to rest, a place I call the Hippie Cairn.
ARCTERYX NAOS 55: On my way up the South Fork I run into 3 backpackers from Georgia and a big black dog. One of them has a fancy waterproof Arcteryx pack which I check out as I head up river to my tentsite at Iron Camp.
THE BACKPACKING DOG: I remember when we all looked like this, young and healthy.
FROZEN IRON CAMP: I reach a great campsite on the upper part of the South Fork trail and get hit with cold temps and snow the next morning. A baby skunk found my tent and went inside for a visit!
I WOULDN'T LIE: Nope, a baby skunk did come into my tent for a moment and then stumbled out and away. Goofy little thing.
ON TOP OF THE SOUTH FORK: I leave Iron Camp and get to the top of the South Fork trail and turn left and in about 1.5 miles I reach a campsite where I run into the same guys I saw before from Georgia with the dog. They're on their way out to Beech Gap in the newly fallen snow.
THERE THEY GO: The Georgia boys leave Uncle Fungus to the cold and the snow but I'm A-OK.
SNOW CAMP IN . . . UH . . . THE SNOW: I leave Camp 149(where I saw the Georgia boys), and hoofed it up the BMT connector trail to a place I call Snow Camp, a fine camp close to Cherry Log Gap on Fodderstack Ridge.
OVER BOB BALD AND DOWN: I leave Snow Camp and go up and over the Bob and reach the Stratton Ridge trail which I take and pose here by the Wolf Laurel junction. I call Stratton the Horse Cove trail and follow it all the way down to the Joyce Kilmer memorial forest, the place with the big trees.
CAMPING ALONG LITTLE SANTEETLAH CREEK: I bypass the big Kilmer trees and find a low campsite at the bottom of the Naked Ground trail, a good place to stay for the night. The next day I'll go explore the massive poplars and hemlocks.
THE WAY AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL USED TO LOOK: What happened to all the big trees in my wilderness world? Loggers, chainsaws and bulldozers. But there's a fraction of them left, and here I pose by one of them.
SITTING WITH MY GRANDADDY: Do we respect out elders? Not really.
BLOWDOWN GATEWAY: I head up the steep Naked Ground trail and pass thru a forest of fairly large trees, some of them down on the ground.
UNCLE FUNGUS ON THE LITTLE SANTEE: Half way up the Naked Ground trail I stop at High Dog Camp and set up for the night.
THE FOUR MICHIGAN GIRLS: I make it up to the 5,000 foot gap at Naked Ground and set up camp in a very cold rain and four girls from Ann Arbor pass by and one of them asks, "Are you Walter?" It turns out the one on the left used to be a Cranbrook student and knew me from their wilderness trips out here every year.
WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST-GOD SENDS A NEWT: It's hard to get lonely when you have a friend like a newt.
TWO COLD WET DOGS: These guys walked up the steep Naked Ground trail and passed thru a wet camp and I took their picture from inside my tent. They did not smile.
I'M JOINED BY THREE NASHVILLE BACKPACKERS: I was getting lonely despite the newt and these friendly guys showed up and were wet but set up their camp in a hurry. They later set up a rain tarp and we all had a good time talking and eating.
THE NASHVILLE TARP: Shelter From The Storm, and we're back with the original quote of this blog trip report. The boys were friendly and I'll give them that.
THE LAST DAY TRAIL: I leave Naked Ground and pull about 10 miles to get out thru the Citico wilderness on the Pine Ridge trail. Shunka dog leads the way.
TIPI WITH A FULL RUCK: It's always glorious to hike thru snow and I'm given it on my last day of Trip 91.