WhiteBlaze Pages
A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
$10 for printed copy(paperback). $6 for interactive PDF. $2 for printable PDF.
Read more here WhiteBlaze Pages Store

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 39
  1. #1

    Default 21 Days with 70 Backpackers

    I get back from a Feb/March 2021 backpacking trip into the NC and TN mountains---where I see over 70 backpackers including three main groups.

    The trails I backpacked---

    Seven Mile Ridge (Beech Gap to Naked Ground Gap)
    Naked Ground Trail Down.
    Stratton Ridge Trail Up.
    Fodderstack Ridge Trail Heading North.
    Mill Branch Trail Down.
    Rocky Flats Trail to Citico Creek.
    North Fork Trail Up.
    Trail 149 South to Cold Gap
    South Fork Trail Down to Citico Creek.
    Grassy Branch Trail Up and OUT.

    All trip pics can be seen here---


    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...0-Backpackers/


    My trip begins at Beech Gap on the Benton MacKaye trail at the TN/NC state line. Pack of choice is a McHale loaded with over a 100 lbs of winter gear including microspikes and snow shovel (remember it's March---Blizzard of '93. My first day is a tough nut hump of 3.5 miles with a gain of 1,000 feet.


    The only snow I see for the entire trip is on the north side of Bob Bald---and I'm loving my Zamberlan Evo Lite GTX boots.


    Day 2 becomes a zero day on Bob Bald in a 28 hour nonstop cold Feb rainstorm but by Day 3 I'm ready to head East on Seven Mile Ridge---the trail which runs from Beech Gap to Hangover Mt. This is a pretty rock on the ridge.


    The first of three large backpacking groups I see happens on Day 3 when this group comes up the Nutbuster trail into Naked Ground Gap---and I'm camped nearby. It's a group called "3 Of 7" led by ex-Navy SEAL Chadd Wright.


    Trip leaders with Chadd Wright on left. He has a website and blog describing the purpose of his group. Google him up, boys.

    Chadd20Cover20RGB.jpg


    Chadd swings by the tent and he asks me "What's your most important piece of gear?" I should've pointed to my Willing Heart to Be Outdoors but instead I lifted up my down sleeping bag---the ticket price to winter backpacking. We talked about Mystery Ranch---my old packs---and he said that's the same pack he used in the SEALs. I asked him what's the heaviest load he ever had to carry (including body armor etc)---"300 lbs" he said. My 100 lb load is ultralight.

  2. #2

    Default


    On Day 4 I leave Naked Ground Gap and go down Naked Ground trail in a light rain and eyeball pretty Little Santeetlah Creek in a valley that's never been logged by humans.


    As I descend Naked Ground trail I reach Frog Rock but I'm too late---it has eaten another hiker and burped out his hat.


    I reach the bottom of NG trail and eyeball the Joyce Kilmer Memorial plaque. I tried to connect one of the memorial loops to Stratton Ridge trail but the loop was officially closed.


    One of my hardest days was on Day 6 when I connected NG trail to Stratton Ridge trail and it's the toughest trail of the 5 trails on the Kilmer side of the wilderness. Here's a neato foundation going up Stratton trail.


    Stratton Ridge trail is about 9 miles long and Wolf Laurel trail jcts it so I set up camp and go to Wolf Creek for water. At this point I'm about a 1,000 feet below Bob Bald.


    I'm supposed to be back on Bob Bald on May 5-6 for a Quillen meetup so I leave Wolf Laurel Camp and start the climb. Along the way I see Naked Ground Gap in yellow and Watauga Camp in red (a great place to camp).


    I reach Seven Mile Ridge and set up at the highest point in the combined wilderness---at nearly 5,400 feet. My backpacking buddy Rob Bush surprises me as he came up NG trail and is headed to Bob Bald.

  3. #3

    Default


    I reach Bob Bald and set up east of the fir tree grove and meet Chris Phillips on right who I haven't seen in 10 years.


    Here's a pic of Chris when I saw him in 2011 in the old in Naked Ground Gap.


    I finally hook up with John Quillen on right and he brings a large crew of backpackers up to the Bob. (He summited Mt Everest 2 years ago).


    I spend a zero day on the Bob and watch Rob Bush pack up and leave down the trail I came up---Stratton Ridge. He's carrying a vintage Dana Designs Astralplane pack.


    Rob's neato pack---an heirloom.


    Another surprise is seeing Robert Carver---RCarver---with Quillen's group. I first met him with Jody Brown at 7F on Hangover Mt in 2005. See next pic.


    A cold night at 5,000 feet on Hangover Mt. Robert says it's about 1F.

  4. #4

    Default


    On Day 11 it's time to say goodbye to everyone so I get a pic with John Quillen and we hike out together to Bob Tee where he goes south and I go north.


    Here I am with Bert Wildcat Emmerson---triple crowner and long trail legend.


    Here's the Quillen crew before shove off on Day 11.


    Day 11 and I'm back to my solo trip and have a long day falling off the Bob and heading north on Fodderstack Ridge to Mill Branch trail and down to connect to Rocky Flats trail and stop at this old homestead chimney.


    Rocky Flats trail dumps me out on Citico Creek and I head up North Fork trail and reach Crossing 5-6 as shown.


    As I climb the tough nut that is North Fork trail I pass thru the Blue Rock Gateway below Old Goat Falls. I camp 2 crossings above the falls.


    As I climb North Fork trail I run into avid backpacker Erik Soltan out for a South Fork/North Fork loop.

  5. #5

    Default


    North Fork trail connects me to Trail 149 which I take to Cold Spring Gap and camp. Here I am on 149 by the Brush Mt trail jct and trailpost.


    As I camped in Cold Gap I run into my one and only Cranbrook group out for an 11 day wilderness backpacking trip. It's led by Chad O'Kulich on left---an old friend.


    I am camped in Cold Gap and Chad's group is about 400 yards away in The Wedge by Bob Creek.


    On Day 17 and 18 I leave Cold Gap and descend the tough nut of South Fork trail and run into more friends---Taylor Burns on left and Randy Taylor on right---negotiating the SF Ditch before entering God's Anus---a terrible thicket of briars and grapevine.


    We all backpack together many miles down South Fork trail and then have to cross SF Creek.


    Here are the Taylor boys near the bottom of South Fork trail.


    On Day 19 I leave South Fork Creek and pull the Clemmer Detour to Grassy Branch Creek. The detour as shown avoids two major SF Creek crossings---and Grassy Branch trail climbs hard to Grassy Gap and my exit point.

  6. #6

    Default


    I spend my last rainy night in Grassy Gap and on Day 21 leave the gap and roadwalk several miles past Flats Mt to Lake View Overlook where I wait for Little Mitten to pick me up and end the trip.

  7. #7
    Is it raining yet?
    Join Date
    07-15-2004
    Location
    Kensington, MD
    Age
    44
    Posts
    1,021
    Images
    62

    Default

    You lost us @ 100lb pack.
    Be Prepared

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCloud View Post
    You lost us @ 100lb pack.
    What? No interest in a 21 day winter trip with no resupply? Not inquisitive about Southeast trails and the mountains of TN or NC?

    And yes, a 100 lb pack is a beast on occasion---

    158493261_4011404375539056_975540669827822615_n.jpg

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-10-2013
    Location
    Indiana
    Age
    58
    Posts
    453

    Default

    Didn't lose me -- I look forward to your trip reports. I enjoy seeing and hearing about the many different places you hike, the challenges you encounter, and the different people you meet. Ultra-lighters zooming thru the AT are a dime a dozen. I love this stuff.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  10. #10

    Default

    Sometimes UL means Ultra Loader

    I really would love to watch you put that thing on. I have tossed up packs north of 70lbs, but it takes real skill to toss 100lbs up there and not tear off an arm.
    “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait until that other is ready...”~Henry David Thoreau

    http://lesstraveledby.net
    YouTube Channel
    Trailspace Reviews

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-10-2013
    Location
    Indiana
    Age
    58
    Posts
    453

    Default

    In the movie "Wild" there is a classic scene where she struggles to put on and stand up with her massive Beast of a pack. I laughed so hard because yeah, that was me once (with 50lbs.) I wouldn't take my pack off for breaks during the day because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get up again! I can't even imagine 100lbs.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSpirits View Post
    Didn't lose me -- I look forward to your trip reports. I enjoy seeing and hearing about the many different places you hike, the challenges you encounter, and the different people you meet. Ultra-lighters zooming thru the AT are a dime a dozen. I love this stuff.
    Thanks for the positive input.

    Quote Originally Posted by LoneStranger View Post
    Sometimes UL means Ultra Loader

    I really would love to watch you put that thing on. I have tossed up packs north of 70lbs, but it takes real skill to toss 100lbs up there and not tear off an arm.
    No arms involved in my on-pack procedure---I just sit down, put on the shoulder straps and tighten then shift the load up on a half-way squat and Step 3 is lifting the load from half-squat to full stand. The standing part is where the weight really registers as in---Can my thighs and legs actually lift it?? I asked Chadd the SEAL about putting on a 300 lb load and he always did it from a sitting position---and often helped up by a friendly hand from a buddy.

    And what's really odd is once the pack is on my back I don't have any problem moving forwards even on steep climbs. And of course during the course of a trip the pack gets much lighter.

    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSpirits View Post
    In the movie "Wild" there is a classic scene where she struggles to put on and stand up with her massive Beast of a pack. I laughed so hard because yeah, that was me once (with 50lbs.) I wouldn't take my pack off for breaks during the day because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get up again! I can't even imagine 100lbs.
    As with anything, you get used to strapping on a heavy pack and letting your core muscles do most of the work. Sitting down and taking off such a heavy pack can be sketchy---but what a relief. Negotiating bad blowdowns can really suck with a ginormous pack---as the pack wants to twist left or right and take you with it.

  13. #13
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
    Join Date
    01-23-2019
    Location
    Harpers ferry wv.
    Age
    57
    Posts
    1,413

    Default

    Extraordinary trip even for you thanks alot for sharing.
    Seems to be alot of spring fever out there, alot of nice looking folks.

    That Chad Wright is a real badass, between the two of ya you wouldn't run out of camp fires story's even if you spent the entire 21 days together!

    My favorite is that really cool frog ,he seems to be winking with his or her left eye.

  14. #14

    Default

    Hey Walt, not sorry I missed you after seeing the crowds. Wow. Great report as always.

  15. #15
    Is it raining yet?
    Join Date
    07-15-2004
    Location
    Kensington, MD
    Age
    44
    Posts
    1,021
    Images
    62

    Default

    Do you have a pic of all the stuff laid out? I've got to see what 100lbs looks like.
    Be Prepared

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    Extraordinary trip even for you thanks alot for sharing.
    Seems to be alot of spring fever out there, alot of nice looking folks.

    That Chad Wright is a real badass, between the two of ya you wouldn't run out of camp fires story's even if you spent the entire 21 days together!

    My favorite is that really cool frog ,he seems to be winking with his or her left eye.
    I did get to talk to Chadd in camp for a long while and he was teaching his group how to make a fire using a flint rod etc. He brought cotton balls soaked in vaseline the old standby for kindling. I asked him "What if you had no such fire starter with you in this cold rainy weather? Would you use a feather stick??" And he mentioned how difficult it would be to start a fire in this cold February rainstorm. I offered, "You could use your beard as a fire starter" and he laughed (thank god).

    Then he showed how to built a "log cabin" fire (square arrangement stacked on itself) and I yelled out "Get the Settlers out of the cabin!!!". No one responded. Then he showed how to build a Tipi fire and I yelled out, "Get the Indians out!!!". Silence. Wandered back to my tent.

    But don't discount John Quillen as another real badass---
    5b94a1fea1c05.image.jpg

    https://www.wbir.com/article/news/lo...t/51-565762367

    Quote Originally Posted by PatmanTN View Post
    Hey Walt, not sorry I missed you after seeing the crowds. Wow. Great report as always.
    Thanks for the comment. Ever though I encountered many backpackers on this trip, on 14 days of the 21 I saw no one---like on my Naked Ground Trail--Stratton Ridge loop---and my Fodderstack North to Mill Branch and Rocky Flats to North Fork etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCloud View Post
    Do you have a pic of all the stuff laid out? I've got to see what 100lbs looks like.
    I've never taken the time for a complete Gear Layout with pictures.

    IMG_7893-L.jpg
    The biggest weight component of course is my food load for 21 days. Here's an example---with the yellow containers of peanut butter and almond/cashew butters and other high calorie stuff. I also take 44 ozs of white gas stove fuel. Total food/fuel weight for a 21 day trip comes to at least 50 lbs. And then there's the book rolls which came in at around 5-7 lbs of reading material---all burned during the course of a trip.

    Trip 175 042-XL.jpg
    Example of book rolls.


    This would be an example of a sort of Gear Layout---showing most of my gear. My tent alone weighs 8 lbs 10 ozs---and the McHale pack comes in at around 8 lbs.

  17. #17
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
    Join Date
    01-23-2019
    Location
    Harpers ferry wv.
    Age
    57
    Posts
    1,413

    Default

    I wasn't trying to discount anyone heck you had Mt Everest climbers, triple crowners, Navy Seals, Tipi Walter !

    I would call that a gathering of badasses!! I would have loved to have been around some of them campfires listening to y'all's stories.

  18. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    I wasn't trying to discount anyone heck you had Mt Everest climbers, triple crowners, Navy Seals, Tipi Walter !

    I would call that a gathering of badasses!! I would have loved to have been around some of them campfires listening to y'all's stories.
    Thanks for the comment. Most of these types don't have a lot to say, ironically.

  19. #19
    Is it raining yet?
    Join Date
    07-15-2004
    Location
    Kensington, MD
    Age
    44
    Posts
    1,021
    Images
    62

    Default

    THX for the pix. I don't take that much stuff car camping!
    Be Prepared

  20. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCloud View Post
    THX for the pix. I don't take that much stuff car camping!
    What's your biggest food load for a backpacking trip without resupply? 10 Days? 18 Days? 24 Days?

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •