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  1. #1

    Default 21 Day Solo Winter Trip

    My first backpacking trip of 2021 runs from January 14 to February 3 and becomes a true solo trip as I only see one backpacker in 21 days.

    The trip occurs in the mountains of Tennessee on these trails---(In Bald River and Upper Bald River Wilderness)---
    ** Bald River (did it 3 times back and forth).
    ** Brookshire Creek.
    ** State Line Ridge Heading West to Sandy Gap.
    ** Kirkland Creek Down and Up.
    ** BMT from Sandy Gap up and over Waucheesi Mt.
    ** Repeated FS 126/384 roadwalks.
    ** Warrior's Passage to Old Furnace Roadwalk and out.

    All pics can be seen here---
    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...o-Winter-Trip/



    I get dropped off a mile below Bald River Falls and hike up to the Falls and get on Bald River trail which climbs behind the falls and alongside Bald River for many miles. Pack of choice is McHale with about 100+ lbs of too much food and winter gear. Top is Patagonia capilene thermal weight hoody.


    As I backpack up Bald River I stay on the East bank and groove on the neato sound.


    About midway thru the wilderness I set up in Big Pine Camp and get some snow. What's remarkable about this pic is in 2009 I set up my very first Hilleberg Keron tent at this exact spot in snow. See next pic.


    Same spot but in 2009 with my first ever Keron tent.


    Bald River trail after a light snow.


    I use Bald River trail too connect to Brookshire Creek trail in Upper Bald wilderness and have to get in bare feet and crocs to cross several cold creeks.


    I usually put my boots under pack lid for creek crossings---for better stability.

  2. #2

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    A typical trash fire in a low elevation campsite. I always take out "book rolls" and burn the reading material day by day.



    As I climb Brookshire Creek trail I gain about 2,000 feet in elevation and encounter more snow.


    I always carry trail tools on my trips to clear blocked trails. Here's a pair of brand new Felco #9 pruners to replace my worn out #9.


    Once I go up Brookshire trail a couple miles I jct Benton MacKaye trail and reach Sled Runner Gap near Rocky Top Mt where I camp.


    All set up in Sled Runner Gap on the BMT for another cold night.


    Kahtoola microspikes are necessary coming off Rocky Top Mt with its 3 major hill descents.


    My backpacking buddy Patman meets me near Rocky Top and he's the only backpacker I see in 21 days. We backpack together west along State Line Ridge to Hazel Gap.

  3. #3

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    We camp here in Hazel Gap along State Line Ridge and in the morning a stiff cold wind cuts into our flesh. Time to move west by northwest to Sandy Gap.


    Patman and I reach Moss Gap and dogleg east and stop at Gateway Rock for a pic.


    I hike Patman to Sandy Gap where his car is waiting and I backpack down Kirkland Creek trail off the BMT and set up by this creek during a terrible thunderstorm.


    Here is the creek after the rainstorm and I cross it in bare feet and crocs for a backtrack up Kirkland trail to Sandy Gap and return to the BMT up to Six Mile Gap.


    I reach Six Mile Gap and climb over Waucheesi Mt and roadwalk many miles down to the back door of Bald River wilderness and return to Bald River trail and pass this waterfall---the Cascades.


    Uncle Fungus hangs out at Cascades in high water.


    I need to leave Bald River wilderness and get to Warrior's Passage trail so I leave thru the back door and roadwalk 8 miles on two forest roads---126 Bald River road and 384 Wildcat Creek road. This is 126.

  4. #4

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    After a long day I reach Warrior's Passage trail and Wildcat Creek which must be crossed.


    I spend one night on Wildcat Creek and a couple more nights further north on Warrior's Passage trail at this spot in a new snowfall.


    Warrior's Passage trail ends here on Old Furnace road which in 3 miles gets me to my evac point on Tellico River.


    My trip ends here and so ends another great winter backpacking trip.

  5. #5
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    Default

    i wonder who put that new bridge up...

    and if it will stay around......

  6. #6
    Leonidas
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    Default

    I always enjoy your reports, and this one even more since I hiked through some of the areas on the BMT. I was hoping to run into you when I went through last year.
    AT: 471 mi
    Benton MacKaye Trail '20
    Pinhoti Trail '18-19'

    @leonidasonthetrail https://www.youtube.com/c/LeonidasontheTrail

  7. #7
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    I was hoping to run into you when I went through last year.



    you did......you just didnt realize it....

  8. #8
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    hazel gap?


    is that where there's a blue blaze to indicate water source?

    and down near spring, looks like people have camped around there?

  9. #9
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    picture 192------i see you got introduced to the great out doors......

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    i wonder who put that new bridge up...

    and if it will stay around......
    No clue on that. Not usable anyway at least for me---too risky.

    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    hazel gap?


    is that where there's a blue blaze to indicate water source?

    and down near spring, looks like people have camped around there?
    Here's a pic of the marked side trail leaving Hazel Gap down to the spring---



    And here's a good pic of the actual spring below the gap---


    All this of course is on the Benton MacKaye trail.

    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    picture 192------i see you got introduced to the great out doors......
    Where there's cars and trucks there's trash.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by JC13 View Post
    I always enjoy your reports, and this one even more since I hiked through some of the areas on the BMT. I was hoping to run into you when I went through last year.
    I was on the BMT for 8 days out of 21---and I didn't see a soul.

  12. #12
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    Here's a pic of the marked side trail leaving Hazel Gap down to the spring---



    yeah....

    thats the one i thought.....

    i pitched my tent up beside the trail and then went down to get water and
    noticed there was some sites down there.....

    didnt feel like moving...

  13. #13

    Default

    Great to see you again my friend! I was wondering if you made it all the way down to the secret camp on Kirk or stopped at the false gap. That was a ton of road walking too btw. I had no idea about the impending bridge construction; maybe they'll improve Wildcat Road section up to Basin gap, that is the only section that makes me take an all wheel drive vehicle instead of the sedan (much cheaper on gas).

    TN Hiker,

    You may know this but if you walk over that spring down from Hazel gap there is faint trail that takes you up to the adjacent ridge in about 40 yards. From there, it looks like an old logging cut or manway runs way down the ridge (who knows how far?). So many interesting paths to check out , so little time. I was looking at an old USGS quad of State Line ridge on my phone and there is a trail indicated that branches off near the top of Round Top and also traces the ridge into NC. Tipi and I stopped and looked a bit and I think we found it. Pretty overgrown but worth a few hours to check out.

  14. #14
    Leonidas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I was on the BMT for 8 days out of 21---and I didn't see a soul.
    That's ironic as I think I had 1 day out of 16 where I saw no people. I guess if I didn't count the friend I hiked through the Smokies with, we had 2-3 days where we saw no one else. When I went over the Bob... 100+ people with no exaggeration.
    AT: 471 mi
    Benton MacKaye Trail '20
    Pinhoti Trail '18-19'

    @leonidasonthetrail https://www.youtube.com/c/LeonidasontheTrail

  15. #15
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    TN Hiker,

    You may know this but if you walk over that spring down from Hazel gap there is faint trail that takes you up to the adjacent ridge in about 40 yards. From there, it looks like an old logging cut or manway runs way down the ridge (who knows how far?). So many interesting paths to check out , so little time. I was looking at an old USGS quad of State Line ridge on my phone and there is a trail indicated that branches off near the top of Round Top and also traces the ridge into NC. Tipi and I stopped and looked a bit and I think we found it. Pretty overgrown but worth a few hours to check out.



    i think i saw something in that area...

    i was pretty whupped when i did that stretch......so i didnt check it out..

    thats a great loop though..........


    and then down on brookshire is where we first met (after you lapped me on the BMT before the waterfall)...

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by JC13 View Post
    That's ironic as I think I had 1 day out of 16 where I saw no people. I guess if I didn't count the friend I hiked through the Smokies with, we had 2-3 days where we saw no one else. When I went over the Bob... 100+ people with no exaggeration.
    Yes but I bet it wasn't in January.

  17. #17
    Registered User hobbs's Avatar
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    Default

    Tippi ,whats your next winter Hike? This is the first I know your try and get alot of bag nights...
    My love for life is quit simple .i get uo in the moring and then i go to bed at night. What I do inbween is to occupy my time. Cary Grant

  18. #18
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    Man that pack looks massive even for you! It makes Patman's look like a day pack in comparison.

    I'd say you were a pretty "productive citizen" doing all that trail maintenance. Thanks for your efforts!

  19. #19
    Leonidas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Yes but I bet it wasn't in January.
    That's correct, early November. Unfortunately, we didn't get a cold snap during that time.
    AT: 471 mi
    Benton MacKaye Trail '20
    Pinhoti Trail '18-19'

    @leonidasonthetrail https://www.youtube.com/c/LeonidasontheTrail

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by PatmanTN View Post
    Great to see you again my friend! I was wondering if you made it all the way down to the secret camp on Kirk or stopped at the false gap. That was a ton of road walking too btw. I had no idea about the impending bridge construction; maybe they'll improve Wildcat Road section up to Basin gap, that is the only section that makes me take an all wheel drive vehicle instead of the sedan (much cheaper on gas).

    TN Hiker,

    You may know this but if you walk over that spring down from Hazel gap there is faint trail that takes you up to the adjacent ridge in about 40 yards. From there, it looks like an old logging cut or manway runs way down the ridge (who knows how far?). So many interesting paths to check out , so little time. I was looking at an old USGS quad of State Line ridge on my phone and there is a trail indicated that branches off near the top of Round Top and also traces the ridge into NC. Tipi and I stopped and looked a bit and I think we found it. Pretty overgrown but worth a few hours to check out.
    Thanks Patman for the comment. Yes, I wanted to take Kirkland all the way down its 11 creek crossings but then that mean thunderstorm happened and turned those 11 crossings into Hell Fords---so I backtracked to Sandy Gap and Waucheesi Mt for the roadwalk into Bald River wilderness's back door.

    It was great seeing you on State Line Ridge and even tho we got blasted by cold winds we'll pray for such cold in July.

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbs View Post
    Tippi ,whats your next winter Hike? This is the first I know your try and get alot of bag nights...
    Not sure of your question but in 2020 I pulled a snowy December trip and hope to be out in early March for more fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by fudgefoot View Post
    Man that pack looks massive even for you! It makes Patman's look like a day pack in comparison.

    I'd say you were a pretty "productive citizen" doing all that trail maintenance. Thanks for your efforts!
    Collapsed rhodo and blowdowns require clearing because I can't get thru otherwise with my monstrosity pack.

    Quote Originally Posted by JC13 View Post
    That's correct, early November. Unfortunately, we didn't get a cold snap during that time.
    Early November seems to draw out the Just Right folks, esp to Bob Bald. You know, not too cold, not too hot---just right for being outdoors.

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