Monday, October 12, 2009

class, this week's theme is fall colors (and bad citizens)


what with Dave closing out his last 100 miles in the Smokies, Highlander hikes have taken on a higher level of 'strategery'. in anticipation of its winter closing, we set off down Noland Divide from Clingman's Dome Road to Noland Creek and along to campsite 63. along the way, we stopped at CS 61 to break the Leave What You Find tenet of Leave No Trace...

the abomination at campsite 61

... to clean up a disaster left by horse riders. hopefully Jeff won't report our 'outlaw asses' over this.

we did good at 61, didn't we guys?

i think we did pretty good, guys. gold stars all around!

we did good at 61, didn't we guys? we did good at 61, didn't we guys? 'Outlaw' Dave after 30 minutes on the clean-up at 61

actually, we didn't have any gold stars in the backcountry so we had to make do with campfire lasagna:

can you say campfire LASAGNA? can you say campfire LASAGNA?

the boys were none too impressed as you can see, just barely able to choke it down...

Jack wolfs down his share Dave approves Ricky Bobby finds the cheesy bread
Doug kills the last of the lasagna Jerky Mike - the mastermind John couldn't get enough seconds

in the morning, i got up early and just sat, soaking up the amazing chatter from the creek. Dave, ever on a mission for new miles, was heading out early to hike up Springhouse Branch trail to the Forney Ridge junction and back. i tagged along for the show. we met back up with the rest of the group at campsite 64 after i was only almost trampled by an overeager horserider. the whole gang hiked out Noland Creek together. [18.4 miles]

John, Jerky Mike, Jack, Ricky Bobby, Doug, me and Dave

John, Jerky Mike, Jack, Ricky Bobby, Doug, me and Dave

the whole shebang can be found here:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

God is in the house

this past weekend brought another glorious hike in the Smokies. George, Dave and i headed in from Cataloochee along the Caldwell Fork trail then up and around the Boogerman loop and on to campsite #41. after the previous week's deluge, we were all a little skittish about more rain. happily, we were only drizzled on about 11% of the time. Boogerman was a bit of a climb, but thankfully horses are not allowed. the contrast to Caldwell Fork's erosion and bogs was stark, especially in high incline areas.

campsite 41 is sprawling and peaceful. i pitched my tent cozy against the creek and slept deeply - wrapped in the soothing song of the water.

Saturday, Hollie's dinosaurs made an appearance at the campfire.

Hollie's dinosaurs

Dave took off early to knock out new miles. George and i followed him west on Caldwell Fork to Rough Fork then south up Rough Fork to Polls Gap. we saw signs that Dave was still ahead of us:

near the end of Rough Fork, we ran into a couple horseriders on Rough Fork with a Highlander worthy bottle of liquor. they also had a plastic bag carrying what appeared to be a burrito. turns out, they were heading out to bury a friend's ashes. [we raised Dickel in his honor that night.]

after chatting with the riders, George and i met back up with Dave at Hemphill Bald for a summit photo before splitting up again.

George, me and Dave at Hemphill Bald

George hiked with me out and back to McKee Branch to get me bonus new miles before heading down Double Gap back to 41. at the double gap trailhead, we stumbled across ne'er-do-wells Bill and Jack. while jawing with them, a black bear emerged on the trail behind us to sneak back off into the woods before a photo could be obtained. it was a profoundly spiritual and humbling experience. we were joined by Jerky Mike and Ricky Bobby in camp. that night, we had a wonderful time trying to move the Big Poplars:

drunk night hiking at its finest - we hug the poplar Jack, George and Ricky Bobby at the Big Poplars

Sunday morning we went off west out Caldwell Fork, east along Rough Fork, up Big Fork Ridge Trail and then back along the last section of Caldwell Fork to the truck. along the way, we stopped to enjoy the dulcet tones of elk in rut. Dave, George and i hit the Newport Rubys where our new favorite waitress assured us we smelled better than her childhood farm and then proceeded to heap abuse upon the boys.

Jerky Mike, Ricky Bobby, Jack, Bill, Dave, me and George

Jerky Mike, Ricky Bobby, Jack, Bill, Dave, me and George

final tally: roughly 35 miles in 2.5 days and another great time, had by all!