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  1. #1

    Default My Longest Trip: 27 Days w/o Resupply

    Okay boys and girls---I return from a backpacking trip in the TN and NC mountains and it's a return to Snowbird wilderness for 17 days of the trip and then an exploration of the 5 peaks surrounding the Snowbird backcountry starting on Day 17---Hooper Bald, Huckleberry/Little Huckleberry Knob, Haw Knob and Whiggs Meadow. The last 10 days finds me on Sycamore Creek down to Tellico River and up and over Sugar Mt to Brookshire Creek.

    All trip pics can be found here--

    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...s-wo-Resupply/

    27 DAYS
    WITHOUT
    RESUPPLY

    TRIP 206
    August 18-September 13, 2020

    HIGHLIGHTS
    ** 27 DAYS WITHOUT A SMARTPHONE
    ** 27 DAY THRUHIKE FROM HOOPER BALD TO GREEN COVE CABIN
    ** 32 CREEK CROSSINGS
    ** 4 BACKPACKERS SEEN IN 27 DAYS (INCLUDING PATMAN)
    ** DAY 1 TWO BACKPACKERS SEEN ON TRAIL 154 AND THEY SPEND 4 DAYS IN MEADOW BRANCH CAMP
    ** SNOWBIRD CREEK GOES WILD: BIG STORM ON DAY 8
    ** TRAIL 415 REACH AROUND ON WILDCAT KNOB AND NEW CS ON FS 2581
    ** PATMAN JOINS ME IN SASSAFRAS CREEK CAMP
    ** HURRICANE LAURA DELUGE RAINSTORM ON SASSAFRAS CREEK DAY 12
    ** TREMENDOUS RAINSTORM ON DAY 13 IN FORGOTTEN CAMP DAY 13: 10 INCHES IN 3 HOURS
    ** THIRD BACKPACK UP KING'S MEADOW
    ** BACKPACKING IN A TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR MISS NATURE GIVES ME A BATH DAY 14
    ** 3 NIGHTS ON KING'S MEADOW TRAIL
    ** BACKPACKING LITTLE HUCKLEBERRY, BIG HUCKLEBERRY, HOOPER BALD, HAW KNOB AND WHIGGS MEADOW ON AN 8 MILE DAY
    ** 2 NIGHTS IN HOBO CAMP ON SYCAMORE CREEK

    TRAILS
    Entrance at Hooper Bald in North Carolina
    King's Meadow Trail Down on Gravel Road
    Trail 154 Heading Southwest
    **154 Cove Camp**
    Trail 154 Down to Snowbird Creek
    Snowbird Creek Trail Downstream 6 Crossings
    **Camp 7 on Snowbird Creek**
    Snowbird Creek Trail Downstream 5 Crossings
    **Meadow Branch Upper Campsite**
    Snowbird Creek Trail to 65A to Middle Falls
    **Middle Falls Camp**
    65A Backtrack to Snowbird Creek Crossing Above Middle Falls
    **South Bank Burnt Rock Campsite**
    Burnt Rock Ridge Trail Going Up
    **Burnt Rock Ridge Camp**
    Burnt Rock Ridge Trail Going Down to Sassafras Creek
    Sassafras Creek Traill Down
    Snowbird Creek Trail Heading Downstream
    **Sassy Bird aka Jalopy Camp**
    Snowbird Creek Trail Heading Downstream to Jct City
    King's Meadow Trail
    **Owl Camp Footbridge Camp**
    Snowbird Creek Trail Backtrack Up
    Trail 415 Snowbird Mt Trail Heading Up
    FS Logging Road 2581 East to Deep Gap and old 415 up to Wildcat Knob and Backtrack to 2581
    **2581 West Camp**
    415 Backtrack Down to Snowbird Creek Trail
    Snowbird Creek Trail Upstream
    Sassafras Creek Trail Up
    **Sassafras Creek Camp (2)**
    Sassafras Creek Backtrack Down
    Snowbird Creek Trail Up to Footbridge
    **Main Footbridge Camp**
    Trail 64A Up
    Snowbird Creek Trail Upstream
    **Forgotten Camp Near Upper Falls**
    Snowbird Creek Trail Backtrack Downstream to Jct City
    King's Meadow Trailhead
    **Owl Camp Footbridge Camp**
    King's Meadow Trail Up
    **Arrow Camp Near High Owl Camp Creek**
    King's Meadow Trail Up
    **Upper Deep Gap Camp**
    King's Meadow Trail Up
    Hooper Bald Trail Heading East
    Huckleberry Knob Trail to Little Huck Trail
    **Little Huck Camp (2)**
    Little Huck Trail Backtrack to Huckleberry Knob Trailhead
    Skyturd Roadwalk
    Hooper Bald Trail Backtrack
    Skyturd Roadwalk from Hooper Bald to Big Junction
    Haw Knob Bushwack Up and Over to Whiggs Meadow
    BMT/Sycamore Creek Trail Down
    **Hobo Camp on Sycamore Creek (2)**
    Sycamore Creek Trail Down
    **Low Sycamore Camp aka Bear Camp**
    Sycamore Creek Trail Down to Tellico River
    BMT/Sugar Mt Trail Up and Over to Brookshire Creek
    **Horse Camp on Brookshire Creek Trail**
    Sugar Mt Backtrack Up to Top
    **Pretty Pine Gap on Sugar Mt**
    Sugar Mt Trail Down to Tellico River
    Sycamore Creek Trail Backtrack Upstream
    **Low Hobo Camp on Sycamore Creek**
    Sycamore Creek Trail Backtrack Downstream
    Tellico River Roadwalk to Green Cove Cabin
    **Green Cove Cabin High Campsite (2)**
    Picked up by Little Mitten at Cabin and OUT.



    Little Mitten and Zoe dog drop me off on Hooper Bald in NC at 5,400 feet. In the distance on left is Huckleberry Knob where I will be on Day 17 after a full exploration of Snowbird wilderness.


    I leave Hooper Bald and lose several hundred feet on King's Meadow trail to this spot---where I take Trail 154 into the Birds.


    It's remarkable but on Day 1 I see backpackers who are fishermen from Charlotte headed down to Snowbird Creek to basecamp 4 days on the creek to fish. I see only 4 backpackers for the entire trip.


    Trail 154 punches me on Snowbird Creek trail where I turn left and get into crocs for the trip's 30+ creek crossings. This is #1 below 154 jct. Pack is a Dan McHale model coming in at alittle over 100 lbs---with 65 lbs of food/fuel and 7 books etc.


    As I tool down Bird Creek I run into the 2 backpackers from Charlotte and they are camped on Meadow Branch---a side creek from the north running down into Bird Creek.


    My campsite is higher up on Meadow Branch Creek---at a fine spot. Solo tent of choice is my 8 lb 10 oz Hilleberg Keron 3---the perfect long-term solo backpacking tent.


    On Day 4 I pull 11 Bird Creek crossings and reach Middle Falls, a major landmark in the Birds. This shows slightly higher than normal flow---but then Hurricane Laura hits.

  2. #2

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    On Day 13 of the trip I return to Middle Falls for a looksee after Hurricane Laura hits my world. A before and after shot.


    On Day 5 I leave Middle Falls and barely get across Bird Creek to reach the South Bank so I can backpack up this trail---which climbs to a ridge and drops to Sassafras Creek, another side creek joining Snowbird Creek.


    As I climb up to Burnt Rock Ridge I stop to check out this massive shelf mushroom.


    Once on top of Burnt Rock Ridge I clear a spot and set up for the night---and get water at a spring just below the ridge.


    On Day 7 I leave the ridge and "thruhike" Burnt Rock Ridge trail to its end here on Sassafras Creek.


    On on Sassafras Creek trail and take it out to where it jcts Snowbird Creek trail and turn right and reach the mandatory Sassy Creek crossing where I go upstream and discover this crude footbridge. A week later Hurricane Laura takes this bridge out.


    The same footbridge after Laura gets done with it as I manage to cross the creek and inspect the bridge on Day 14.

  3. #3

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    On Day 8 my plan was to backpack down Bird Creek and go up Snowbird Mt Trail 415 but a hard rainstorm causes me to bypass 415 and hurry down to Jct City and the start of King's Meadow trail where I camp on Owl Camp Creek by its footbridge.


    Here is the magnificent King's Meadow steel footbridge which saves backpacking lives because Snowbird Creek at this low point is way too high to cross on foot.


    Snowbird Creek at the KM footbridge.


    My camp on Owl Camp Creek is close to the steel footbridge and therefore close to Jct City---the main entrance point for Bird backpackers.


    On Day 9 several big rainstorms are over and so I backtrack off King's Meadow and go up Bird trail to Trail 415's jct with Bird. 415 is called Snowbird Mt Trail and it's supposed to run about 12 miles from Jct City to Mitchell Lick but the forest service gave up on the thing and abandoned it. My goal is to backpack as far up the thing as possible until it completely peters out near Deep Gap.


    My 415 adventure ends in disappointment as after 2 miles 415 ends near Wildcat Knob so I camp below the Knob and on Day 10 return on a backtrack to Bird Creek and head upstream to this crossing over Sassafras Creek.


    Once I cross Sassafras Creek I head up Bird trail to Sassafras Creek trail and climb to a primo CS where Sassy trail jcts Burnt Rock Ridge trail. I spend a zero day here when Hurricane Laura hits and during that time my backpacking buddy Patman finds me after a long trek from Hooper Bald down King's Meadow to here.

  4. #4
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    Wow what's your estimated mileage? This is definitely a different type of trip than I'm used to, seems cool. I don't want to think about that much time with 6-7x my typical pack weight on my back though.

  5. #5

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    After a tough night of rain Patman gets out of his TarpTent and starts packing up in the rain---while I wait for the sun to poke out and move. He backtacks out on King's Meadow and I go up Bird Creek to the big wooden footbridge 11 crossings below Middle Falls.


    The sun actually pokes out during the hurricane which give me a window of mvt to the main spot in the Footbridge Camps. Uncle Fungus at your service.


    Here is the big wooden Bird footbridge which I call Mouse Knob Bridge because Mouse Knob Creek jcts Bird Creek here.


    On Day 13 I leave Footbridge Camp and take Trail 64A west which avoids 11 nasty Bird Creek crossings below Middle Falls.
    This drawing shows the exact nature of Snowbird Creek trail around Middle Falls. There seems to be alot of confusion regarding Bird trail 64 and 64A and where each crossing is. There are in fact 25 total Bird Creek crossings from bottom to top (not counting Sassafras Creek crossing).

    The right side of the drawing is Footbridge Camp where 64A splits off of Snowbird Creek trail and detours away avoiding 11 creek crossings. This 11 crossing trail reaches Middle Falls.

    64A bypasses the creek and reaches a sign as pictured. A trail leaves the sign and drops south down to another sign and Middle Falls.

    64A continues west beyond the top sign and junctions Snowbird Creek trail by a creek crossing which goes over to Burnt Rock South Bank side.

    If you stay on Snowbird Creek trail 11 crossings up to Middle Falls, the actual Bird trail crosses one time above Middle Falls to reach Burnt Rock trailhead and crosses a second time to return to the other side of Snowbird Creek, i.e. the North Bank.


    On Day 13 I get hit by the worst rainstorm ever when Laura pounces on a CS I set up near Upper Falls on Snowbird Creek. It rains 10 inches in 3 hours---and of course my tent is in a temporary lake. Around midnight Bird Creek makes a terrible high water hiss and I hear loud crashes whereby boulders are getting pushed down the creek. The next day I gladly leave camp and backpack all the way down to King's Meadow trailhead and this is what Bird trail looked like---a mud pit.

    This is one big reason why I wear full leather goretex boots and NOT trail runners---to keep my socks dry as much as possible.


    On Day 15 I'm ready to leave Bird Creek for good and start up the toughest trail in the Birds---King's Meadow. The first mile up is very tough with some of the steepest climbing anywhere. This gateway blowdown I calls Passing thru the Bird's Rectum.


    Once I punch out the 1,000 foot hump up King's Meadow I stop and set up camp by the high reaches of Owl Camp Creek where I get water and then burn some trash.

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    King's Meadow is a tough Nut Hump but it punches me out of the Bird jungle to the top of Hooper Bald on a long 7 mile day. I connect Hooper on foot to Huckleberry Knob at 5,600 feet---the highest hill in the area.


    After several miles I reach the top of Huckleberry Knob and the last time I was here was in January 2012 in a cold wind.


    Same mountain, same person, same gear---different time. 2012 vs 2020.


    The only way to connect Huck/Little Huck to Hooper Bald and Haw Knob and Whiggs Meadow is to roadwalk the hated Cherohala Skyturd road---a loud motorcycle racetrack and rolling tourist mecca. Of course during my hike to Haw Knob I pass by this motorcycle wreck---the entire front wheel forks are ripped off his bike.


    My roadwalk takes me to a spot called Big Junction and there I enter the woods on a bushwack trail up to the top of Haw Knob at 5,500 feet. It's an excellent way to connect the Birds to either Citico/Slickrock or Bald River wilderness---and also connect to the BMT on Whiggs Meadow. As I'm climbing up Haw a Lifestar helicopter flies over my head for that bike wreck.


    After a couple hours going over Haw Knob I punch out on the BMT by Whiggs Meadow and run into the 4th backpacker of the trip, a BMT section hiker named Tango. Not very talkative. This turns out to be my longest day at 8 miles---from Little Huckleberry Knob to Sycamore Creek.


    Once off the Whigg I drop 3,000 feet in 7 miles on the BMT/Sycamore Creek trail and reach Tellico River and cross the road and start my nut climb up Sugar Mt.

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    Once I pass over Sugar Mt I get off the BMT and head down Brookshire Creek trail and check out Old Dog Falls on Upper Bald River---now all of this is inside a wilderness area.


    After a night on Upper Bald River I backtrack up Sugar Mt and stop here to reboot after a croc crossing over Upper Bald River.


    Sugar Mt trail pops me back out on Tellico River at this spot so I cover the pack in a light rain and begin my Tellico River roadwalk down to Green Cove community.


    After a 1.5 mile roadwalk I reach Green Cove store and get out of the rain under a roof. Even go in and buy some chips.


    Day 25 completes my "Georgia to Maine" thruhike when I reach my destination---Green Cove Cabin---which used to be the old Green Cove community school.


    I explore around the cabin and find this level CS by a fort built by some cabin kids.


    Little Mitten's Dad Arrants who "runs" the cabin goes on a spring water run below the cabin and I go with him to fill up my water jugs.

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    Little Mitten finally arrives on Day 26 and I set up her tent, a Hilleberg Nammatj 3.


    That night we build a fire and the next day it's all over and a great end to a great trip.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by kewilso3 View Post
    Wow what's your estimated mileage? This is definitely a different type of trip than I'm used to, seems cool. I don't want to think about that much time with 6-7x my typical pack weight on my back though.
    I had several 7 mile days and one 8 mile day. I had 4 zero in-tent days for storms when I didn't move but all the rest of the time I was packing up every morning and shoving off to points elsewhere.

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    Right on. Awesome trip. What’s your go-to map/book for planning trips in the Snowbirds area?
    traveliní light

  11. #11
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Awesome trip report tipi thanks so much for sharing. The baddassery needle just pegged! Hey does little mitten know how intimate you get with them trees?

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    Right on. Awesome trip. What’s your go-to map/book for planning trips in the Snowbirds area?
    My go-to map is this---
    CABIN TRIP 2015 MISC 031-XL.jpg
    But for better overview with logging roads and numbers I use Nat G map 781.

    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    Awesome trip report tipi thanks so much for sharing. The baddassery needle just pegged! Hey does little mitten know how intimate you get with them trees?
    I told Little Mitten 20 years ago that I'm already in a sleep-over relationship with Miss Nature---and so she shares me with the Queen of Green.

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    just outta curiousity----the water that comes from the spring at the cabin-----you filter that?

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    just outta curiousity----the water that comes from the spring at the cabin-----you filter that?
    Nope, and it was delicious.

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    Registered User Kaptainkriz's Avatar
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    Very cool trip!
    Plaid is fast! Ticks suck, literally...
    Follow my hiking adventures: https://www.youtube.com/user/KrizAkoni
    Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alphagalhikes/

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    finally looking through all the pictures----it's kinda a shame that 415 is a wide open trail and then just peters out like it did.....

    was that were it hit private land?

    and the last time you were at mitchell's-----were the owners of that land friendly towards you? or were they mean?

    coming up from snowbird creek, in the lick, in that open spot with that big ol tree and behind it goes snowbird trail----

    well---off to the left is where 415 goes...

    i went down that dirt road and it had signs for some cabin up there...

    and i could see the signs indicating private and public lands.....

    and i recall from my memory that i saw the blazes (i think the colors were listed on the map) for a short bit on that road and
    then it took off to the left....

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    couple of questions about sassafras creek trail----since you've been up there a few times lately..

    ---when i went up there about 6 years ago------shortly after the falls, there was some fresh ribbon flagging and someone
    had cut some of the brush making a trail....

    i crossed the creek and saw there was more ribbons but then turned around to camp where sassafras and burnt
    rock met up at..........

    did you see this by any chance?


    also----on the map-----at one point, sassafras creek trail kept following the trail up passed the campsite, (and i dont have map in front of me) and
    i believe it met up with 415.....

    have you ever checked this out?


    when i got done doing that sass>burnt>snowbird loop-----i wondered to myself, since the ribbons on sassafras and
    the ones down on snowbird where 415 cuts off----were the same, maybe they were trying to make that 415
    meet up and go down to sassafras creek...

    it was just a weird co-wink-a dink that the ribbons were the same and the cutting of brush was fresh in both places...


    and around that same time period i remember hearing from either you or will that the owners of the land up there didnt like hikers...

    just a thought of them maybe connecting those.....i dont know..

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    Steel cable over Sycamore Creek. I wonder where this old trail went to??


    i saw that cable when i stayed back there as well...

    didnt realize there was part of a foot bridge there as well as you indicate....

    i thought the cable was from logging and didnt realize it was part of the bridge....

    would also love to know what went on after crossing the creek....

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    TRAIL 86---THE FORGOTTEN SYCAMORE CREEK SIDE TRAIL


    isn't that whigg ridge trail?

    i did that as a loop----sycamore up to whiggs meadow, back track down that road a bit and found the trail
    head going off to the left......

    and then down to the hatchery.....

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    finally looking through all the pictures----it's kinda a shame that 415 is a wide open trail and then just peters out like it did.....

    was that were it hit private land?

    and the last time you were at mitchell's-----were the owners of that land friendly towards you? or were they mean?

    coming up from snowbird creek, in the lick, in that open spot with that big ol tree and behind it goes snowbird trail----

    well---off to the left is where 415 goes...

    i went down that dirt road and it had signs for some cabin up there...

    and i could see the signs indicating private and public lands.....

    and i recall from my memory that i saw the blazes (i think the colors were listed on the map) for a short bit on that road and
    then it took off to the left....
    Taking your points one by one---
    415 reaches Deep Gap on the map and turns right to follow Sassafras Ridge up to Wildcat Knob etc but it skirts private land at this point and there's reason the FS couldn't have continued the trail up on public land all the way to Whereverville---since the ridge forms the boundary between private and public land. I just think the ranger district just gave up on its maintenance---just like they did on Sassafras Creek trail up to 415.

    The Mitchell Lick aka Cease and Desist Lick land owner was polite but clear about not wanting hikers on the fraction of land he owns around the Lick.

    The question of where exactly is Mitchell Lick is up for debate. It's either higher up under that big tree by a fire ring or lower down where the styrofoam sign used to be on the highest reaches of Snowbird Creek. The whole place is a mess of ATV tracks and public/private land disputes.

    The start of 415 our of Mitchell Lick is as you say down the ATV road a bit and off to the left. It's where I found the faint green blaze marks on trees.

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