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Tipi Walter
04-11-2017, 10:31
It takes me almost two weeks to reach on foot the scene of the November Joyce Kilmer wildfire but by Day 12 of this trip the Quest is fulfilled by leaving Four Mile Ridge on the Benton MacKaye Trail (off Haoe Peak at 5,200 feet) and dropping down into the Scorched Mts on various burned out wilderness trails including Haoe Lead, Jenkins Meadow and Naked Ground trails.

Here's the trip report. Too see all pics go here---

https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/

There are two different wilderness areas joined together at the TN/NC state line---the Citico Creek and the Kilmer/Slickrock. My trip begins in Grassy Gap on the Citico side in TN.

QUEST
FOR
SCORCH MOUNTAIN

TRIP 181
March 17-April 4, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS
** 64 BACKPACKERS SEEN
** BACK WITH THE CRANBROOK SCHOOL ON THEIR 48TH ANNUAL WILDERNESS TRIP
** SEEING GORDON'S GROUP ON THE SOUTH FORK TRAIL
** CAMPING WITH CHAD'S GROUP IN THE DONNER CAMPS

** FRANK NORTON SWINGS INTO DONNER CAMP
** MEETING HEATHER AND JAMES FOX ON THE NORTH FORK TRAIL
** ALL DAY BACKPACKING UP THE NORTH FORK WITH HEATHER AND JAMES
** CAMPING WITH JEFF AND CAROLINE'S GROUP IN SNOW CAMP

** THUNDER HELLSTORM ON BRUSH MOUNTAIN RIDGE
** 7 BACKPACKERS FROM EARLHAM COLLEGE ON FOUR MILE RIDGE
** 13 BACKPACKERS COMING UP THE NUTBUSTER TRAIL FROM CARSON NEWMAN COLLEGE
** 42ND CLIMB (WITH TRAILWORK) OR THE NUTBUSTER TRAIL

** JENKINS MEADOW TRAILWORKED
** NAKED GROUND TRAILWORK FINISHED
** THE DOUBLE HELL LOOP: DOWN JENKINS, UP NAKED GROUND, DOWN NAKED GROUND, BACK UP JENKINS

TRAILS
Entrance at Grassy Gap in the Citico Wilderness
Grassy Branch
Clemmer Detour
South Fork Citico
**Donner Camps**
South Fork
North Fork
**Stump Site**
North Fork
**Rock Ledge Camp**
North Fork
Cherry Log Gap
Fodderstack Ridge
**Snow Camp**
BMT Connector
Trail 149
Brush Mountain Trail
**Brush Mt Ridge Gap Camp**
Brush Mountain Trail Backtrack
Trail 149
Cold Spring Gap
Trail 54A South
**Bob Bald Meadow**
Four Mile Ridge
Naked Ground Gap
**Hangover Mt Clearcut Camp**
Hangover Lead South
Big Fat Gap Trail
Slickrock Creek Trail (Leg 1 Nutbuster Trail)
**Nut Gate Camp**
Nutbuster Trail
**Buckeye Camp (End of Leg 3 on Nutbuster Trail)**
Nutbuster Trail 42nd Climb
**Naked Ground Landon Camp (2)**
Four Mile Ridge to Haoe Peak
Haoe Lead Trail
Jenkins Meadow Trail
**Jenkins Switchback Camp**
Jenkins Meadow Trail
Jenkins Connector Trail
Naked Ground Trail
**Low Dog Camps Santee Creekside Camp**
Naked Ground Trail
**High Dog Camp**
Naked Ground Trail
**Naked Ground Gap Landon Camp**
Naked Ground Trail Descending
Jenkins Connector
Jenkins Meadow Trail Ascending
Haoe Lead Trail
**Toad Camp**
Haoe Lead Trail to Haoe Peak
Four Mile Ridge
Naked Ground Gap and Bob Bald
54A South to Cold Spring Gap
**Wedge and Little Cove Camp(2)**
Wedge to Cold Spring Gap
Fodderstack Ridge to Beech Gap
Skyway Roadwalk to Jeffrey Hell Trailhead and OUT

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-h3SKhRk/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%286%29-XL.jpg
THE ACCOUTREMENTS OF IDIOCY. Part of my 85 lb pack load in Grassy Gap and the start of the snowy Grassy Branch trail.
TOP TO BOTTOM DESCRIPTION:
** Green rice cake bag with three bags.
** Orange bag with my down pants and parka.
** Red Hilleberg Keron tent bag.
** Hunersdorf water bottle.
** Crocs.
** Dark green Ridgerest Solar ccf pad.
** Trail tools---Felco pruners and saw.
** Last bag---Thermarest Trail Pro inflatable pad with rolled up white 10mil ground cloth.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-rLsp6qG/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%2827%29-XL.jpg
The first backpackers I see are the Cranbrook school out for their 48th annual wilderness trip whereby they spend 10 days backpacking thruout the wilderness areas. The first Cranberry group I see is led by Gordon as above.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-fRs9Zsk/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%2859%29-XL.jpg
I hike down the Grassy Branch trail with its 9 creek crossings and jct with the South Fork Creek trail where I run into Gordon's group and then set up camp on Citico Creek where I run into my second Cranberry group led by Chad and Natalie.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-kdwBbrF/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%2879%29-XL.jpg
On Day 2 I leave the South Fork and connect to the North Fork Creek trail and pull its 6 crossings and enjoy the pretty trail.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-qb2QppN/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28100%29-XL.jpg
On Day 3 I climb up the Citico nut trail of the North Fork and run into James and Heather Fox who join me in the trek as we cross the North Fork at the 7th crossing.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-dc6P5Bk/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28119%29-XL.jpg
Heather and James make it to where the North Fork trail jcts Trail 149 where I camp but they turn right and get on 149 to the Brush Mt trailhead and camp, and then finish their NF/Brush loop back down to South Fork Creek.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-K7GMQwM/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28123%29-XL.jpg
Here is the North Fork trail junction with Trail 149 at the new trailpost.

Tipi Walter
04-11-2017, 10:43
https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-qhKNW6n/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28137%29-XL.jpg
On Day 3 I finish the tough climb up the North Fork to Cherry Log Gap and turn right to Snow Camp where I set up camp and meet my third Cranberry group led by Jeff and Caroline. We camp together before shoving off in separate directions.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-mhwhsjH/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28163%29-XL.jpg
The next day we hike together for a couple miles before splitting up and as I get water from Birch Creek the Berries hike past.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-kQX95gK/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28195%29-XL.jpg
I leave Snow Camp and Fodderstack Ridge and connect to the Brush Mt trail and descend one mile to camp and get hit by a tremendous thunderstorm so the next day I backtrack up Brush Mt and take Trail 149 to Cold Spring Gap and head up Trail 54A South to Bob Mountain at 5,300 feet where I set up. This mountain is on the BMT.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-9hgFMn7/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28206%29-XL.jpg
I leave Bob Mt and meet up with 7 backpackers from Earlham College in Indiana and we hike together to Hangover Mt.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-Rf9gz5v/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28220%29-XL.jpg
On Hangover Mt looking out into North Carolina and Cheoah Bald with the Earlham college kids.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-gXcZxm9/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28242%29-XL.jpg
On Day 8 I leave Hangover Mt and drop 3,000 feet in 4.5 miles and reach Slickrock Creek where I meet two backpackers from Alabama, Wayne and Tony---headed to Wildcat Falls two crossings downstream.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-5DsK3J6/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28245%29-XL.jpg
Wayne and Tony crossing Slickrock Creek.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-QHNSHHp/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28263%29-XL.jpg
After seeing Wayne and Tony I begin my trek up the famous Nutbuster trail---the hardest trail in the Southeast---Upper Slickrock Trail #42---and run into 13 backpackers attempting the trail to the top. They are from Carson Newman College in Knoxville.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-zZHXFpJ/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28282%29-XL.jpg
There are 10 tough legs to the Nutbuster trail and I follow behind the college kids and watch them pull the rock section on Leg 4.

Tipi Walter
04-11-2017, 10:55
https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-FFbt352/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28320%29-XL.jpg
As I attempt my 42nd backpack up the Nutbuster trail I have to do a tremendous amount of trailwork. This is a nasty blowdown on Leg 7.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-GRfSwvh/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28336%29-XL.jpg
Once I finish the nut climb on the Nutbuster trail I reach the high gap of Naked Ground to camp and by Day 12 I reach Haoe Peak and begin my mighty Quest for Scorch Mt as I descend on the Haoe Lead/Jenkins Meadow trail into the burned out regions.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-dRLxT2H/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28367%29-XL.jpg
Jenkins Meadow is another hell-trail with plenty of blowdowns so I stop for yet another.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-RSJP23g/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28393%29-XL.jpg
Jenkins Meadow trail drops thru the burned out forest and I connect to the Naked Ground trail and stop at the new footbridge which DID NOT burn up in the fires of 2016. I had to do a godawful amount of trailwork on both the Jenkins Meadow and Jenkins connector trails---and parts of the Naked Ground were in terrible shape.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-kFFw3MB/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28421%29-XL.jpg
Here I am climbing up the Naked Ground trail which parallels Little Santeetlah Creek in a burned up valley.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-sthhCGn/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28436%29-XL.jpg
Welcome to Scorch Mountain on the upper reaches of the Naked Ground trail.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-2bNCpRv/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28470%29-XL.jpg
Praise Neptune and Wotan!! I finish my crazy Hell Nut Loop on Haoe Peak after pulling a back and forth loop of arduous proportions---Down Haoe Lead/Jenkins Meadow trail, across Jenkins connector, up Naked Ground trail---Camp in Naked Ground Gap. THEN head back down the Naked Ground trail to Jenkins connector and up Jenkins Meadow trail to Haoe Peak.

Tipi Walter
04-11-2017, 10:59
https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-vsWp9WX/0/O/TRIP%20181%20%28474%29.jpg
I see a crap load of backpackers on my trip but the only BMT thruhiker I see is this guy named Way Finder. I'm dropping off Bob Mt and he's climbing up the mountain.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-DJC7SqX/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28484%29-XL.jpg
On Day 18 I get caught in a gully washing rainstorm below Bob Mt near Bob Creek and watch the ground catch the tons of water falling off my tent fly and come into my tent vestibule. This is why I don't use a tarp anymore.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-7Lr66kf/0/XL/TRIP%20181%20%28495%29-XL.jpg
On Day 19 I leave the Wedge camp by Bob Creek and hike 2 miles to Beech Gap and another 2 miles to my ride shuttle pickup evac. Posing in Beech Gap by the forest sign to say goodbye to another great trip.

clusterone
04-11-2017, 13:16
Outstanding report as always! Good seeing you on the trail for the first time. Made it back up there this last weekend and played in the snow...amazing! - Tony

allmebloominlife
04-11-2017, 13:41
Nice trip report Tipi!! It was beautiful up on Bobs Bald this past weekend. We had on all of our cold weather gear one day and wearing shorts and t-shirts the next. It was an awesome trip!

Tipi Walter
04-11-2017, 21:08
Outstanding report as always! Good seeing you on the trail for the first time. Made it back up there this last weekend and played in the snow...amazing! - Tony

Hope you guys had a good time at Wildcat Falls. Thought about you heading up Big Stack trail etc. Did you stick to your Pine Ridge/Up North Fork loop?


Nice trip report Tipi!! It was beautiful up on Bobs Bald this past weekend. We had on all of our cold weather gear one day and wearing shorts and t-shirts the next. It was an awesome trip!

The Bob is pretty nice, even in July when the rattlesnakes are out in the meadow.

johnspenn
04-11-2017, 21:29
I'm sure you've been asked this before, but what is your food strategy as far as hanging/not hanging when you're carrying so much food?

scrabbler
04-11-2017, 22:33
I wonder how these Cranberry folks have such huge packs when they are sleeping in shared shelters like that?

Cadenza
04-12-2017, 00:15
https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-ff7g63k/A


I know this place. I stumbled into it after temporarily getting off the trail.
I stirred up a nest of ground wasps (yellow jackets) and got zapped by three of them. They made it quite memorable.

Tipi Walter
04-12-2017, 07:49
I'm sure you've been asked this before, but what is your food strategy as far as hanging/not hanging when you're carrying so much food?

I gave up long ago trying to hang my 40 or 50 lbs of food off a bear line and now just keep it in all the tent vestibule with me. Not a system I recommend.


https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/19-Day-Quest-To-Scorch-Mountain/i-ff7g63k/A


I know this place. I stumbled into it after temporarily getting off the trail.
I stirred up a nest of ground wasps (yellow jackets) and got zapped by three of them. They made it quite memorable.

It's one of my favorite campsites on the Nutbuster trail and I call it Buckeye Camp---at the end of the 3rd switchback and across Hangover Creek.

-Rush-
04-12-2017, 10:04
I like that campsite on Bob Mountain. I know it takes effort to clear those blow downs with a hand saw, so kudos to you for doing it. Looks like you had a great trip.

rocketsocks
04-12-2017, 12:08
Walter you're a beast! Thanks for the fine photolog.

clusterone
04-13-2017, 13:00
Hi Tipi,

Wildcat Falls were flowing great. We prepped for rain, but got only a sprinkle. Did change up a bit... We went up the ever fun Big Stack Trail. Then we headed South to see Big Fodder Stack, only to realize the trail does not go to the top! We ended up continuing to Cherry Log Gap, then down to the North Fork. Only went a couple miles in, camped, and hiked out to Wolf Laurel Parking the next day. I do need to get back up there and complete the North Fork. I use to think SlickRock Creek was my favorite, but the South end of North Fork was just as, if not more impressive.

Tipi Walter
04-14-2017, 10:14
Hi Tipi,

Wildcat Falls were flowing great. We prepped for rain, but got only a sprinkle. Did change up a bit... We went up the ever fun Big Stack Trail. Then we headed South to see Big Fodder Stack, only to realize the trail does not go to the top! We ended up continuing to Cherry Log Gap, then down to the North Fork. Only went a couple miles in, camped, and hiked out to Wolf Laurel Parking the next day. I do need to get back up there and complete the North Fork. I use to think SlickRock Creek was my favorite, but the South end of North Fork was just as, if not more impressive.

Yes the North Fork is one of my faves, and was the first trail I ever backpacked here in 2001 when I moved to TN from Boone NC. I consider it one of the Nutbusters of the Citico/Slickrock because it's a tough slog when ascending. I have all its landmarks stored in my brain, and here are a few---

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2002-2004/Citico-Wilderness-2002/i-jQmV2Qt/0/O/trip%202.15.jpg
This is the Rock Ledge in the upper reaches of the NF trail and right below the Trail 149 jct. It's a tricky part of the trail where you have to climb up a very slick boulder.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2011/Tipi-Walter-Brushy-Ridge/i-CZZRDZP/0/L/TRIP%20119%20177-L.jpg
Here's another pic of the Rock Ledge showing the trail going up the rock and to the left. One time I was coming down the NF trail and the rock was covered in ice and I had to lower my pack first using my bear line cord.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2009/The-Brush-Mountain-Hell-Ride/i-DKb5qGP/0/L/trip%201.2-L.jpg
Also, one of the prettiest scenes is on the NF trail and between the old Crossing 8 and Crossing 9.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2005/Nine-Days-With-Johnny-Be-Trip/i-ZGKZBfC/0/XL/45-51%20%20jb%20crossing%20rth%20north%20fork%20%20th reee-XL.jpg
Plus, the North Fork has many crossings and here is one showing my backpacking buddy Johnny B pulling one of them on a 9 day trip we did together back in 2005.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2010/With-Hootyhoo-in-a-Bob-Bald/i-fSSJNfM/0/L/TRIP%20106%20261-L.jpg
Finally, another nice landmark is at the bottom trailhead with its high wooden footbridge.

clusterone
04-14-2017, 12:35
Wow, "Rock Ledge" being frozen looks awesome. We actually camped a bit further down the creek, where the old forge is at. So many small falls and cascades on the upper portion! What is that I see in the last picture, a beast of burden you tried to train to carry your gun safe?! lol Not sure when, but as soon as I can talk someone into getting back up there I will drop you a line and see if you will be in the Wilderness. Feeling like a few days playing in the water, more so than covering mileage on my next outing. Best Regards

PICS from last weekend- https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipNuLI7PHFU6g8b2xFU2A5X5kwgfkA2KUp4d3yPJ2vTvFT 47g8LYmpEqZHfuCSUyfw?key=YWs4anBaU0JjSkxObXd1cXJiU jc2RWF5a2I4UTZB

That is right folks, a Stratospire 2 Tarp Tent w/ a TiGoat Cylinder Stove. Sure make for some nice and cozy nights!

Tipi Walter
04-14-2017, 13:03
Wow, "Rock Ledge" being frozen looks awesome. We actually camped a bit further down the creek, where the old forge is at. So many small falls and cascades on the upper portion! What is that I see in the last picture, a beast of burden you tried to train to carry your gun safe?! lol Not sure when, but as soon as I can talk someone into getting back up there I will drop you a line and see if you will be in the Wilderness. Feeling like a few days playing in the water, more so than covering mileage on my next outing. Best Regards

PICS from last weekend- https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipNuLI7PHFU6g8b2xFU2A5X5kwgfkA2KUp4d3yPJ2vTvFT 47g8LYmpEqZHfuCSUyfw?key=YWs4anBaU0JjSkxObXd1cXJiU jc2RWF5a2I4UTZB

That is right folks, a Stratospire 2 Tarp Tent w/ a TiGoat Cylinder Stove. Sure make for some nice and cozy nights!

Cool pics, Tony!!

** First set---Donner Camp on the South Fork trail by Citico Creek.
** Second set---Beech Gap to Bob Mountain.
** Third set---Naked Ground trail and Little Santeetlah Creek.
** Next---Lower Jenkins Connector trailhead and roadwalk to Horse Cove Trail (Stratton Ridge).
** Past Wolf Laurel to Bob's Wall and the Butt Rock and back to the Bob.

Some neato winter shots.

clusterone
04-14-2017, 14:12
Spot on! You really do know the place like the back of your hand!

Tipi Walter
04-14-2017, 15:56
Spot on! You really do know the place like the back of your hand!

Thanks. It's about the only place I really know.:)