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  1. #1

    Default 18 Days with Jimmy, Johnny and Billy

    Okay boys, I just got back from a June/July backpacking trip into the Citico/Slickrock mountains of TN and NC. My goal was to spend 18 days backpacking along two major creeks---the North Fork Citico and Slickrock Creek---in order to stay cool during the summer Furnace heat.

    All trip pics can be seen here---
    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...illy/i-sWRPPLX

    18 DAYS
    WITH
    JIMMY, JOHNNY
    AND
    BILLY

    Trip 191
    June 15--July 2, 2018

    HIGHLIGHTS
    **QUEST FOR THE TWO CREEKS
    **BAKED INTO SUBMISSION: 18 DAYS IN CHEROKEE NF
    **MR. STONE GLACIER NORTH FORK BACKPACKER
    **55 CREEK CROSSINGS
    **49 BACKPACKERS SEEN
    **NORTH FORK JIMMY MY RATTLESNAKE FRIEND
    **THE HELL SLOG ACROSS FODDERSTACK RIDGE
    **FODDERSTACK JIMMY MY RATTLESNAKE FRIEND
    **VERY COOL DAYHIKERS JIM AND TIM IN CROW CAMP
    **22 MORMON BACKPACKERS AT CROWDER CAMP
    **RANDY CADENZA, WALL TENT DAVE AND JOE ON BIG FAT TRAIL
    **BIG FAT BILLY MY RATTLESNAKE FRIEND
    **STUDENT CONSERVATION CORPS IN ELYSIUM FIELDS
    **BACKPACKER WSP SCOTT CLIMBS HANGOVER MT
    **LIGHTNING STORM ON HANGOVER MT
    **DAYHIKE TRAILWORK ON NUTBUSTER TRAIL
    **BIG HAMMOCK CAMP ON NORTH FORK TRAIL
    **RANDY DRAPER BACKPACKS THE NORTH FORK

    TRAILS
    Entrance at Beehouse Gap on Citico Creek Road and Roadwalk
    South Fork Trail
    North Fork Trail
    **NF Crossing 1 Camp**
    North Fork Going Up
    **Stump Camp After Crossing 6**
    North Fork Going Up
    **Camp 7 After 7th Crossing**
    North Fork Up
    **Rock Ledge Camp**
    North Fork Up
    Fodderstack Ridge Heading North
    **Mill Gap**
    Fodderstack Ridge North
    **Crow Horse Camp on Crowder Creek**
    Crowder Branch/Fodderstack Ridge
    Big Stack Gap Trail
    **Wildcat Crossing Camp on Slickrock Creek**
    Slickrock Creek Trail Upstream
    Nutbuster Trail Leg 1
    **Nut Gate Camp**
    Nutbuster Leg 2
    **Burnthouse Camp**
    Nutbuster Leg 3
    **Buckeye Camp**
    Nutbuster Trail Backtrack Down
    Big Fat Gap Trail Up
    Windy Gap Trail
    **Windy Gap Spring Camp**
    Windy Gap Backtrack to Big Fat Gap
    Hangover Lead South Up
    **Elysium Fields**
    Hangover Lead South Up
    Hangover Mt
    **Airjet Camp on top of Hangover Mt**
    7 Mile Ridge
    **Landon Camp Naked Ground Gap (2)**
    7 Mile Ridge
    Bob Bald
    54A North Down
    Fodderstack Ridge North
    North Fork Down
    **North Fork Crossing 1 Camp**
    North Fork Trail
    South Fork Trail
    **Donner Camp on Citico Creek**
    South Fork
    Beehouse Roadwalk
    Indian Boundary Lake Roadwalk to Skyway and OUT


    My trip begins with a shuttle from Little Mitten and Zoe Dog (Devil Dog) to Beehouse Gap on Citico Creek road above my first trailhead on the South Fork 105 trail. This is my fourth long trip using a Dan McHale Demo pack pictured above in blue (with my green tent sticking up). Total pack weight is about 85 lbs.


    My first day gets me off my roadwalk and up the South Fork Citico trail to veer off on the North Fork trail which starts with its wooden footbridge. Check out the McHale Demo pack---loaded with the Accoutrements of Idiocy.


    I camp here by North Fork Creek and it makes for a pretty picture with the falling side creek waterfall. Backpacking in the summer heat is better when you do it next to a creek---cooler air, loud creek music, frequent swimming to cool off etc.


    As I backpack up the North Fork trail I run into my first friend of the trip---North Fork Jimmy--and we spend 20 minutes talking and exchanging trail information. He's curious and wants to talk.


    This pic shows my sleeping gear and the new 10mil white ground cloth I cut for the trip---brand new. I always place my ground cloth inside the tent for various reasons. The pad of choice is the second generation Thermarest Trail Pro pad in large size. Excellent 4R pad.


    I finish my North Fork hump---it's steep---to Cherry Log Gap and take Fodderstack Ridge trail north as seen in this pic.


    As I make my way north on the ridge trail I hear a buzzing underfoot and have the good fortune of seeing Fodderstack Johnny resting by the trail and so we talk and he wants my email address so we can meet on a later trip. A beautiful fellow.

  2. #2

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    Fodderstack Ridge gets me north here to Crowder Camp and I pause for a break before descending to Crow Horse Camp by Crowder Creek for the night. Backpacking t-shirt of choice? North Face Reaxion---soft and cool.


    I set up in Crow Horse Camp at the top of Crowder Branch trail by the creek (and below Fodderstack Ridge a hundred yards) and run into these dayhikers coming up Crowder Branch trail. They show off their pruners and the guy on the right has a pair of red Felcos---the same kind I carry. Clip as you hike, boys. All backpackers should carry pruners.


    The next day as I pack up at Crow Horse Camp several backpackers come down the trail from a higher Crowder camp to get water from Crowder Branch. They belong to a Mormon backpacking group out of northern Virginia.


    It's not often you see so many water jugs in a heap.


    And it's not often you see 22 Mormon backpackers at Crowder Camp on Fodderstack Ridge. We talk and cavort as they head south on the ridge trail and out at Beech Gap and I bail off the ridge down the Big Stack trail to Slickrock Creek, the next creek on my trip itinerary.


    Once I bail off the ridge and reach Slickrock Creek I start up the Nutbuster trail (Upper Slickrock trail #42) and reach a favorite spot next to Hangover Creek called Buckeye Camp. Tent of choice? Hilleberg Keron 3. I spend a couple days trailworking the lower 3 legs of the Nutbuster trail.


    Once I get finished with the lower legs of the Nutbuster trail I leave Slickrock Creek and climb up the steep Big Fat trail and along the way I meet my old backpacking buddies Randy Cadenza and Wall Tent Dave. We spend about 20 minutes discussing crap and then they continue down to Slickrock Creek while I head up to Big Fat Gap and a campsite on the Windy Gap trail.

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    Am I lucky or what??? As I hike up the Big Fat trail I run into Big Fat William but he goes by Billy. We discuss the day's events and I convince him to get off the trail and into some deep brush so idiot humans won't kill him if they see him.


    As I pass thru Big Fat Gap I get on the Windy Gap trail (BMT) and see all these tents set up and they belong to a trailworking crew called the Student Conservation Corps---out for the summer to open up some NC side Slickrock trails.


    After spending the night on the Windy Gap trail I begin the nut hump up Hangover Lead South trail and set up a tent spot in Elysium Fields about a thousand feet above Big Fat Gap. While camping I see some SCC boys digging in water bars on the South Lead trail.


    This is definitely my favorite pic of the trip! Its a SCC trailworker taking a break as WSP_Scott comes up the trail behind her. To me it's Divine Mother waiting for the next backpacker to bless. I've been out too long.


    As I climb the Nut hump up to Hangover Mt I share the trail with WSP Scott and we talk about the terrible condition of some of the wilderness trails.


    I reach the top of Hangover Mt at 5,000 feet and get hit with a tremendous lightning storm which dumps buckets of rain on my tent and into my campsite. Another good reason for using a Hilleberg tent---as underneath becomes a lake but I stay dry. Don't try this in a tarp.


    During a break in the weather I leave Hangover Mt and climb to Haoe Peak at 5,240 feet as I make my way on 7 Mile Ridge to Naked Ground Gap. I spent most of the trip in soaked boots and so of course I got a few blisters on my toes.

  4. #4
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    you meet alot of snakes named Jimmy........

  5. #5

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    As I camp in the high gap of Naked Ground this guy comes for a visit to the tent and we share rattlesnake stories.


    I leave Naked Ground and take 7 Milel Ridge to Bob Bald where I meet Bo from Alabama. He knows me indirectly from past trip reports. We marvel at the terrible conditions of the BMT between the Bob and Naked Ground.


    I end the trip by bailing off Bob Mt and head down Trail 54A North to Cherry Log Gap and take the North Fork trail all the way down to its familiar footbridge.


    On Day 17 I'm camping in a rainstorm on Citico Creek and run into my backpacking friend Randy Draper (on right) who's about to end a wilderness trip with his friend. The next day I pack up and pull a 5 mile trek to meet Little Mitten and my ride out. So long pit vipers!!

  6. #6
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing.
    How are you and Dan McHale’s backpack getting along?
    Cheers!
    Wayne

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    Thanks for sharing.
    How are you and Dan McHale’s backpack getting along?
    Cheers!
    Wayne
    Excellent! I went wild with the Demo pack because I used it for 4 major trips with about 80 days of tough backpacking.

    Of course I knew I had to eventually send it back so I did last week as he builds a finished pack for me. The Demo is just a temporary see-if-it'll-fit kind of thing.

    This is sort of what my finished pack will look like---except in red cordura with the same yellow spectra back pocket and top spectra lid---
    White Yellow side rear_1069 12x.jpg

  8. #8

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    It was quite wet when I was up on the ridge the week before you went out. After a good storm the first night, it was was foggy/wet/ and cool the rest of the trip. Only saw one other BPer, though, so not going to complain too much. I did hear lots of wood chopping this trip. Is that coming from Swain?

  9. #9

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    Kinda curious how you persuade a rattle snake to mosey off the trail?
    This past week included a trip to the Black Forest Trail in PA that featured one stubborn rattle snake at a vista probably just looking to get a sunbath on a sunny ledge that unfortunately was just about the only feasible path to negotiate that part of the trail. I sat down for about 10 minutes (needed a break anyways) and watched it slink along into a wild blueberry bush at a very slow speed. I tried tapping my trekking poles to encourage it to keep on going to no avail, then tapping my feet, also useless. Upon closer approach it coiled up defensively, so I backed off and waited a few more minutes before admitting defeat and walking back and circling around the stubborn jimmy.
    Any tips to make it more of a win-win?

  10. #10
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    You sure know how to find the snakes! Good trip report and pics, thanks for sharing.
    "In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks"....John Muir

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by martinb View Post
    It was quite wet when I was up on the ridge the week before you went out. After a good storm the first night, it was was foggy/wet/ and cool the rest of the trip. Only saw one other BPer, though, so not going to complain too much. I did hear lots of wood chopping this trip. Is that coming from Swain?
    Chainsaws and sawmills surround the wilderness---esp on the Graham County NC side.

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleTim View Post
    Kinda curious how you persuade a rattle snake to mosey off the trail?
    This past week included a trip to the Black Forest Trail in PA that featured one stubborn rattle snake at a vista probably just looking to get a sunbath on a sunny ledge that unfortunately was just about the only feasible path to negotiate that part of the trail. I sat down for about 10 minutes (needed a break anyways) and watched it slink along into a wild blueberry bush at a very slow speed. I tried tapping my trekking poles to encourage it to keep on going to no avail, then tapping my feet, also useless. Upon closer approach it coiled up defensively, so I backed off and waited a few more minutes before admitting defeat and walking back and circling around the stubborn jimmy.
    Any tips to make it more of a win-win?
    I always like to scare pit vipers and other snakes off foot trails if possible. Mainly because I don't want idiot humans to kill them---and to let them know to avoid humans, possibly. Sometimes I'll use my hiking pole to touch their tails, other times a long branch to gently prod them along.

    And seeing a pit viper is always a great opportunity to throw off the pack and take a serious reststop. I mean, what's the hurry? I like to spend 20 or 30 minutes with each snake and just hang out and eyeball each other. Wanted to be a herpetologist as a kid etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    You sure know how to find the snakes! Good trip report and pics, thanks for sharing.
    Thanks.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by martinb View Post
    It was quite wet when I was up on the ridge the week before you went out. After a good storm the first night, it was was foggy/wet/ and cool the rest of the trip. Only saw one other BPer, though, so not going to complain too much. I did hear lots of wood chopping this trip. Is that coming from Swain?
    Or maybe you're talking about the SCC trail crew that's been out all summer working on the Kilmer/Slickrock trails---Deep Creek, NG trail, Hangover Lead South, Haoe Lead, Jenkins Meadow etc. They're chopping in water bars etc.

  13. #13

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    great report Tipi! I also ran into Randy of the Redwoods in the GSMNP last November. I see he's still sporting that big wooden staff.

    Not sure what your trip dates were but Susan and I camped at that big camp at the confluence of Brush Creek and South Fork Citico on June 30. She has been having trouble getting good sleep on the Thermarest All Season so I bought her the Exped Megamat Lite 12 (it's a monster):


  14. #14
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    Patman------what tent is that you're using?

  15. #15

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    TNHiker, that is a Sierra Designs Meteor 2. I tested it for Trailspace last year. That one is actually a prototype and I'm not sure if SD made any changes pre-production. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Susan loves it for summer with that all-mesh body.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by PatmanTN View Post
    great report Tipi! I also ran into Randy of the Redwoods in the GSMNP last November. I see he's still sporting that big wooden staff.

    Not sure what your trip dates were but Susan and I camped at that big camp at the confluence of Brush Creek and South Fork Citico on June 30. She has been having trouble getting good sleep on the Thermarest All Season so I bought her the Exped Megamat Lite 12 (it's a monster):

    Yeah, I eyeballed Randy's staff and it looked HEAVY. On June 30 I was in Naked Ground Gap and about to pull my 8 mile day over the Bob and down the length of the North Fork trail---we just missed each other.

    That's a great campsite where Brush Creek meets the South Fork---there are several camps on that side of SF Creek.

    Trip 159 121-XL.jpg
    One time I pulled that SF crossing into your campsite and found Little James in the brush by the creek. We talked.

    TRIP 93 010-L.jpg
    Another time I was hiking down the SF and looked over to Brush Creek as it roared with high water. Your camp is to the right of this creek in a little corner box formed by Brush Creek and the SF.

    TRIP 172 146-XL.jpg
    Here's that SF crossing into your camp but looking from the Brush Mt trail side.

    TRIP 126 196-L.jpg
    Here's another pic of your campsite. Great spot unless SF Creek goes wild.

    Trip 186 (284)-XL.jpg
    On a last trip to the Brush Mt trailhead I saw some idiots removed the trailpost and I couldn't find it so I marked it with beaucoup red ribbon. My next plan is to trailwork the Brush from the bottom up and leave copious ribbon. It seems the FS wants to remove olde Brush from the maps as they haven't worked it since 2009. Won't happen as long as I'm upright and alive.

  17. #17

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    "On June 30 I was in Naked Ground Gap and about to pull my 8 mile day over the Bob and down the length of the North Fork trail---we just missed each other."

    Oh man, we nearly camped on the North Fork instead. That would have been a hoot to run into you again on that trail.

    Yeah I looked around and could not find trail sign either. That is bound to trip up some unsuspecting backpacker. Brush Mtn is hard enough to work through as it is.

  18. #18

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    Oh yeah, we packed out a load of trash from that site but literally could not carry it all. Wonderful.

  19. #19

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Or maybe you're talking about the SCC trail crew that's been out all summer working on the Kilmer/Slickrock trails---Deep Creek, NG trail, Hangover Lead South, Haoe Lead, Jenkins Meadow etc. They're chopping in water bars etc.
    That is probably what I was hearing.

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