PDA

View Full Version : 17 Days in the Bald River Backcountry



Tipi Walter
12-20-2016, 11:42
Okay boys, I pull a fairly long backpacking trip into Tennessee's Bald River backcountry and figure I'll share some pics. All pics of the trip can be seen here---

https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/

17 DAYS IN THE BALD RIVER BACKCOUNTRY

Trip 178
December 1-17, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS
** AFTER THE DROUGHT AND THE FIRES
** PATMAN CAMPS WITH ME ON BALD RIVER
** PATMAN AND I SEE NO OTHER BACKPACKERS IN 17 DAYS
** 30 CREEK CROSSINGS
** 55 HOUR RAINSTORM BREAKS THE DROUGHT
** TRAILWORKING KIRKLAND CREEK TRAIL
** ARCTIC COLD SNAP ON STATE LINE RIDGE AT 12F
** TRAILWORKING BROOKSHIRE CREEK TRAIL
** TRAILWORKING HENDERSON TOP TRAIL
** TRAILWORKING PART OF PANTHER CREEK
** COW CAMP/HENDERSON TOP/PANTHER CREEK/TELLICO RIVER/COW CAMP LOOP
** A 15F COLD SNAP ON BALD RIVER

TRAILS
Entrance at Bald River Falls
**Black Cave Camps**
Bald River
**Big Pine Camp**
Bald River
**Cascade Winter Camp (2)**
Bald River
Holly Flats Roadwalk
Kirkland Creek
**Kirkland Camp 3**
Kirkland Creek
**Kirkland Camp 12**
Kirkland Creek
**High Kirk Spring Camp**
Kirkland Creek
Sandy Gap
State Line Ridge
**Hazel Cove**
State Line Ridge
**Sled Runner Gap**
Brookshire Creek
**Fern Camp**
Brookshire Creek
Holly Flats Roadwalk
Bald River Trail
**Rock Ledge Camp**
Cow Camp
Henderson Top (Skull Ridge)
**Skull Mt #1 Camp**
Henderson Top
Logging Cut 40832
Panther Creek
**Panther Creek Camp**
Panther Creek
Tellico River Roadwalk
Cow Camp (North)
**Cow Knob Camp**
Cow Camp (South)
Bald River
**Big Pine**
Bald River
**Black Cave Camp**
Bald River
Tellico River Roadwalk and OUT

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-V3L3Kzb/0/XL/P1000022-XL.jpg
How to carry alot of bread on a backpacking trip? This is my solution---a Thermarest stuff sac filled with the stuff and strapped on the outside of the pack.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-tqZ4s48/0/XL/P1000023-XL.jpg
Voila! The contents of my food bag. Some bread got crushed in the making of this trip.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-KmDK7RW/0/XL/P1000069-XL.jpg
On Day 2 of the trip my backpacking buddy Patman joins me as I emailed him my trip schedule beforehand and we link up in the Bald River wilderness. He's setting up his new Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 tent.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-Q4t54xH/0/XL/P1000111-XL.jpg
On Day 3 it's time for Patman and I to go our separate ways---Him downstream and out to his car and me up-river and deeper into the wilderness. Check out my nice Patagonia capilene hoody---warm and perfect for backpacking-sweat management.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-8hcVW77/0/L/P1000127-L.jpg
On Day 5 I reach the trailhead to Kirkland Creek but first I must cross Bald River so I de-boot and put on the crocs.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-Frqz2vK/0/XL/P1000152-XL.jpg
A problem blowdown on the Kirkland Creek trail but my corona saw allows me to pass thru.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-6BvKPhN/0/XL/P1000214-XL.jpg
By Day 8 I finished the Kirkland Creek climb and start up the 15 Nut Climbs of State Line Ridge on the BMT. Here I am 4 nut hills above Sandy Gap and heading north.

Tipi Walter
12-20-2016, 11:52
https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-P9hn4Mw/0/XL/P1000228-XL.jpg
The morning of Day 9 gets very cold and around 12F but I'm camped in Hazel Cove on State Line Ridge in a brisk December wind and it's tough to pack up and spend all day hiking the spine of the ridge in the devilish cold. Solo tent of choice? Hilleberg Keron.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-PrXFV5Q/0/XL/P1000264-XL.jpg
After pulling the 15 Nut climbs of State Line Ridge and I set up in Sled Runner Gap and perform my morning ritual of hanging out the down bag every morning to dry the microfiber shell of slight condensation moisture.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-JVfM5CZ/0/XL/P1000255-XL.jpg
While hiking down the Brookshire Creek trail I run into several nasty blowdowns including this baby so I stop and throw off the pack and pull out the saw.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-7XsBBZq/0/XL/P1000256-XL.jpg
Voila! Trail cleared so now I'm able to get thru with my gigantica pack.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-5CtJvB3/0/XL/P1000281-XL.jpg
After finishing my Kirkland/State Line/Brookshire loop I reenter the Bald River wilderness and stop at the Cascade waterfall for this pic. Note pack on the left.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-LXv8NsQ/0/XL/P1000295-XL.jpg
While in Bald River wilderness I decide to pull the rarely-hiked Cow Camp/Henderson Top/Panther Creek/Tellico River loop and so I draw up this map while sitting in camp.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-VXFbkCQ/0/XL/P1000303-XL.jpg
I spend one night on Henderson Top trail and by Day 13 I connect to the top trailhead to Panther Creek which btw is the steepest trail in the whole Unicoi Mt area---very steep going down!

Tipi Walter
12-20-2016, 11:58
https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-Vx6BSWF/0/XL/P1000309-XL.jpg
I survive the Panther Creek descent and set up in the bottom of the cold valley and about one mile in from the Tellico River crossing.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-d4g3w3M/0/XL/P1000313-XL.jpg
By Day 14 I finish Panther Creek trail which ends at this footbridge over Tellico River. It's the only footbridge left over the river as the others have been washed out. Now begins the long 5-6 mile Tellico roadwalk to reconnect into the Bald River wilderness.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-qRssRMg/0/XL/P1000322-XL.jpg
After my roadwalk I get to the Cow Camp trailhead which is a side door into the Bald River wilderness.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-Zv4h2Zt/0/XL/P1000346-XL.jpg
On the morning of Day 16 it is very cold again so I take a pic of the cold indicator---curled up rhodo leaves.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-GFhGk8K/0/XL/P1000377-XL.jpg
On Day 17 I leave the Bald River area and hike out to meet Little Mitten and my ride home. No snow but a great trip anyway.

TNhiker
12-20-2016, 12:27
so that sign was ripped out in one day?


mutha--fffffffffff........

TNhiker
12-20-2016, 12:27
sorry----17 days....

TNhiker
12-20-2016, 12:39
also-----the basin lead trailhead with the old abutments-----how far is that from the falls?


and wonder how passable that trail is?

Tipi Walter
12-20-2016, 12:52
also-----the basin lead trailhead with the old abutments-----how far is that from the falls?


and wonder how passable that trail is?

I roadwalked it from the Falls and it's about 2-3 miles. I scoped out the old footbridge crossing and in moderate water levels it's possible to ford the river upstream from the old bridge. I wish the forest service would pour money into replacing this footbridge (instead of servicing the roads so much and their car campgrounds). With a new bridge you could link up Basin Lead trail to Basin Gap and the Warrior's Passage trail for some great loops.

On my last Warrior's Passage trip I followed Basin Lead trail up to Gravelstand Top where I camped. Here's a pic of the trail as I am camping directly on it---so it's pretty clear and would be easy to reopen or bushwack all the way to the river---
https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/21-Days-on-Warriors-Passage/i-XqMvWWg/0/XL/P1000124-XL.jpg

Dogwood
12-20-2016, 17:48
Those waterways aren't big enough to be hailing a 10 person raft. :D

Enjoy your trip reports. Pics are always shweet.

Looks like Patman had a new engineering play :)toy to figure out.

TNhiker
12-20-2016, 18:06
Looks like Patman had a new engineering play :)toy to figure out.



ive been emailing with him today (he borrow my bear canister) and he had a windstorm knocking it around up at shining rock......

rocketsocks
12-20-2016, 18:44
A three men tent...right on Patman! One of my biggest regrets is buying a coffin tent and thinkin' it's what I needed at the time. For the extra pound or so I often espouse others to take (stating "it won't break your back") at a minimum I'd recommend a two men, but since thinkin' don't cost nuthin' I spouse a three man could work for me as well...maybe I'd even take up yogo. Thanks for the trip report and pictures Walter.

TNhiker
12-20-2016, 19:19
well....

he did get it for when his wife joins him---typically he uses something lighter for himself....

egilbe
12-20-2016, 19:28
Plenty of cold and snow up here, Walter ;-)

I have a feeling the Winter weather will make it down there soon enough.

Greenlight
12-20-2016, 21:10
I love camping and hiking in that type of weather. Looks like you had a good time. Thanks for the trail maintenance, you rock!

Dogwood
12-20-2016, 21:30
I like the idea of the two loaves of bread and the rice cakes put into a stuff sack stored on the outside of the pack vertically. That Ezekiel and Food For Life Bread you have is some good stuff. This leaves interior volume for the more fragile 100lbs of avocados. :D You make me laugh thinking about hauling all those alligator pears on a hike.

On Day 17 in the pic after the curled rhodo leaves what pants are you wearing?

Venchka
12-20-2016, 21:55
A three men tent...right on Patman! One of my biggest regrets is buying a coffin tent and thinkin' it's what I needed at the time. For the extra pound or so I often espouse others to take (stating "it won't break your back") at a minimum I'd recommend a two men, but since thinkin' don't cost nuthin' I spouse a three man could work for me as well...maybe I'd even take up yogo. Thanks for the trip report and pictures Walter.

An MSR Hubba Hubba NX is my choice of wretched excess shelter. Yes, it's heavier than I would prefer. Yes, I'm already spoiled by the extra space. No, I don't have a Dyneema Composite budget. The Hubba Hubba is state of the possible, not state of the art.
Walter,
I'm always glad when you post a trip report. I really must get out more when the weather is challenging. Well done!
Wayne


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

TNhiker
12-20-2016, 22:24
I have a hubba hubba since 2009 and other than it being heavy---I love the tent..

lots of headroom....lots of space..

ive never a leak with it...

maybe have 200 nights in it....

the last couple of years I've only used it for canoe camping trips and music festivals as Im trying to lighten my bag...

but it's a great tent...

Engine
12-21-2016, 06:13
Looks like a great trip, thanks for the report. You're in no danger of snow here I promise, it was 87* the other day...

Tipi Walter
12-21-2016, 10:47
A three men tent...right on Patman! One of my biggest regrets is buying a coffin tent and thinkin' it's what I needed at the time. For the extra pound or so I often espouse others to take (stating "it won't break your back") at a minimum I'd recommend a two men, but since thinkin' don't cost nuthin' I spouse a three man could work for me as well...maybe I'd even take up yogo. Thanks for the trip report and pictures Walter.

There's probably a logical correlation between a bigger tent and less daily miles, especially on winter trips.


Plenty of cold and snow up here, Walter ;-)

I have a feeling the Winter weather will make it down there soon enough.

This could be the year we get walloped with another "arctic" event or "polar rectum" or whatever else they call it. Remember back in January 1985 we got hit with a "polar outbreak" with temps in Knoxville at -18F. I was camping around Boone NC at the time and we got -30F. Everything stopped.


I love camping and hiking in that type of weather. Looks like you had a good time. Thanks for the trail maintenance, you rock!

Thanks for the input!

TNhiker
12-21-2016, 16:41
With a new bridge you could link up Basin Lead trail to Basin Gap and the Warrior's Passage trail for some great loop



yeah..........

thats what i was kinda thinking....

this trail is in Will's book and i had wondered about it and what shape its in......

ive never seen where the old bridge----just hadnt explore to look for it.............

Tipi Walter
12-21-2016, 17:20
The old Basin Lead trail could still be backpacked in one of three ways---
** Start at Basin Gap and head all the way to the river and ford the river on foot to reach the river road.
** Do the trail down to the river and come back to the gap. In and out. Backpack somewhere along the way.
** Do the trail down to the river and instead of crossing (esp if the water is high) stay on the south bank and bushwack above the river all the way to the car roadbridge by the Ranger station for your crossing. (I think this is called Wildcat Creek road?) What a wild trip this would be as parts of the Tellico "gorge" gets steep, rocky and rugged.

ANOTHER IDEA
** Hike south on the Bald River trail in the wilderness and somewhere near Big Cove Branch cross the river and hike up the branch heading southwest to directly west and connect to the Basin Lead trail without a roadwalk.

TNhiker
12-21-2016, 17:27
One of those two first options was how I was planning on doing it.....

Tipi Walter
12-21-2016, 17:40
Thinking up trail options is one of the main things I do on a long backpacking trip---and compiling a list of fantasy (unbuilt) dream trails allowing me to connect to other established trails to make Grand Supreme Loops etc.

TNhiker
12-21-2016, 18:23
Likewise

and looking through various guidebooks eats up a lot of my time researching things out....

Cadenza
12-24-2016, 22:01
https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/17-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-GFhGk8K/0/XL/P1000377-XL.jpg





How are those Zamberlan boots holding up?

I've had mine for about 5 years without problems but I'm curious of your experience because I know you put a lot more miles on them than I do.

Tipi Walter
12-25-2016, 01:11
How are those Zamberlan boots holding up?

I've had mine for about 5 years without problems but I'm curious of your experience because I know you put a lot more miles on them than I do.

While heavy, they perform perfectly for my winter hiking needs. When frozen solid they don't shrink up much and always allow my feet easy access. No break-in period and comfy. They are waterproof up to six inches of creek water making many crossings easy rock hops or wading in shallow water.

Cons? Weight.

Hikingjim
12-25-2016, 18:07
When my zamberlan vioz got shelved from 3 season backpacking years ago, I thought I had wasted my money. But 12 years later, they are still going strong for winter use and certain other trails where they make sense. Still waterproof, still good tread

tvance0645
12-26-2016, 15:30
So glad I found this thread in the forum, going to start 2017 off with hiking the home trails here in Monroe County and in Citico area. Hope to see you on the trail Tipi Walter!

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

Tipi Walter
12-26-2016, 15:58
So glad I found this thread in the forum, going to start 2017 off with hiking the home trails here in Monroe County and in Citico area. Hope to see you on the trail Tipi Walter!

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

Welcome to whiteblaze. You will be a rarity---a local who hikes Monroe County trails---and even more rare if you decide to backpack these trails. And there are ALOT of trails stretching between the Smokies south to the bottom of the Cohuttas---Slickrock/Kilmer, Citico, Tallassee backcountry, Snowbird backcountry, Brushy Ridge, Bald and Upper Bald River, Little Frog, Big Frog-Cohutta etc. Altogether around 400 miles of trails in our neck of the woods.

tvance0645
12-26-2016, 19:05
Welcome to whiteblaze. You will be a rarity---a local who hikes Monroe County trails---and even more rare if you decide to backpack these trails. And there are ALOT of trails stretching between the Smokies south to the bottom of the Cohuttas---Slickrock/Kilmer, Citico, Tallassee backcountry, Snowbird backcountry, Brushy Ridge, Bald and Upper Bald River, Little Frog, Big Frog-Cohutta etc. Altogether around 400 miles of trails in our neck of the woods.
http://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20161226/207758251ee47a586ad32c85b15d957b.jpg

Getting started on research, any other resources you recommend?


Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

double d
12-26-2016, 19:14
Once again Tipi-another great report and great pictures as well!!!!

Tipi Walter
12-26-2016, 23:26
Getting started on research, any other resources you recommend?


Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

These two paper maps are excellent if you want to spend some real time in Citico and the Snowbirds---esp on backpacking trips---

https://theforeststore.com/product/joyce-kilmer-slickrock-wildnerness-and-citico-wildnerness-map/

https://theforeststore.com/product/snowbird-area-trail-map/

Tipi Walter
12-26-2016, 23:33
Btw, my buddy Will Skelton wrote the book guide in your above picture---here he is (left) on a backpacking trip we did together on the Deep Creek trail in Slickrock wilderness back in 2014---

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2014-Trips-152/21-Days-Yellow-Mt/i-LGMMBq8/0/XL/Trip%20156%20059-XL.jpg