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  1. #21

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    Very cool trip report and the photos are awesome! It's still hot as blazes in Ole Miss and I'm longing for Fall weather but mostly just wanting to hit the trail! Come on 2020!
    "I love the unimproved works of God" Horace Kephart 1862-1931

  2. #22

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    great report Tipi, sorry to have missed you so far this summer,

    I was last in that area weekend of August 16th. It was hot as hell in the day, overgrown, and devoid of people (which was nice). I spent one night on the Bob and another on South Fork, didn't see another soul (or sole). It looked like 149 had been cleared/brushed out and Fodderstack for sure had been brushed out from the 54A intersection to Cold Spring Gap. The lack of nettle stings caught my attention.

  3. #23
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Enjoyed your trip report as always. Great pictures.
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  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by PatmanTN View Post
    great report Tipi, sorry to have missed you so far this summer,

    I was last in that area weekend of August 16th. It was hot as hell in the day, overgrown, and devoid of people (which was nice). I spent one night on the Bob and another on South Fork, didn't see another soul (or sole). It looked like 149 had been cleared/brushed out and Fodderstack for sure had been brushed out from the 54A intersection to Cold Spring Gap. The lack of nettle stings caught my attention.
    Good to hear from you. I usually don't see a soul either but on one trip I did see two Soles---

    Trip 198 (146)-XL.jpg

    Trail 149 has been cleared from Cold Gap to the Brush Mt trailhead/trailpost---not by me but by a trail crew---but go beyond there to the North Fork and 149 is/was in terrible shape. Problem is, the forest service renamed 149 "Fodderstack Ridge 95" which is a misnomer since the original Cold Spring Gap trail 149 goes from the gap to the North Fork.

    On this trip I worked a couple days on 149 to keep it open.

    Trip 199 (124)-XL.jpg
    Here's a typical blowdown on 149---one of dozens.

    Trip 199 (125)-XL.jpg
    Cleared.

    And speaking of nasty nettle stings---there's a patch of very nasty nettles by the Brush Mt trailpost and they are Wood Nettles---the worst kind. They will bite!!

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    On this trip I worked a couple days on 149 to keep it open.
    []
    Here's a typical blowdown on 149---one of dozens.
    []
    Cleared.
    Exactly which saw are you carrying and do you know a weight for it?

    I can tell from the image that it's a Corona RazorTOOTH Folding Pruning Saw. Can't tell if it's the 10-in model (available at Lowes for $20) or the 8-in model (available at HomeDepot for $25).

    I've been using the Gerber Exchange-a-blade folding saw. The blade is only 7-in, but extremely sharp, and if you leave the sheath and 2nd 'Fine' blade at home, I believe the weight is below 8oz.



    If someone is looking for something usable but especially lightweight and compact, Gerber also has the Sliding Saw. It's only 5oz, and less than 9" long when closed. Wouldn't be the workhorse those Corona's would be... but then this would be for someone looking for ultra-lite... not a workhorse.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Exactly which saw are you carrying and do you know a weight for it?

    I can tell from the image that it's a Corona RazorTOOTH Folding Pruning Saw. Can't tell if it's the 10-in model (available at Lowes for $20) or the 8-in model (available at HomeDepot for $25).

    I've been using the Gerber Exchange-a-blade folding saw. The blade is only 7-in, but extremely sharp, and if you leave the sheath and 2nd 'Fine' blade at home, I believe the weight is below 8oz.
    It's a 10 inch corona from Lowes $20. The Ranger Kids were using a large Silky but I find Silkys to be too heavy (and expensive) for my needs. Since the corona blade cannot be sharpened I usually get a new saw once a year.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    It's a 10 inch corona from Lowes $20.
    Lowe's quotes it as 0.8lbs (or 12.8 oz).

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    It's a 10 inch corona from Lowes $20.
    Do you have a problem with "the gap"?
    According to an Amazon Review, when the blade is closed, there's a gap between the handle and the teeth such that some of the teeth are exposed rather than protected by the handle. The reviewer complains the exposed teeth keeps getting snagged on other stuff in his pack.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Lowe's quotes it as 0.8lbs (or 12.8 oz).
    I like the corona cuz I can fold it up and drop it down the front of my t-shirt when I'm backpacking and pull it out when needed with the pack on.

    But really, the more important question is---what kind of pruner do I use? Because I do 80% of all my trailwork with my fantastic Felco #9 hand pruner---and can do it while backpacking---clipping briars and grapevine out of my face, rhodo branches.

    My fave is the Felco 9 model for left handed users---

    https://www.felco.com/us_en/our-prod...s/felco-9.html

    The right handed model is #8---

    https://www.felco.com/us_en/our-prod...s/felco-8.html

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I do 80% of all my trailwork with my fantastic Felco #9 hand pruner
    You've got some nice equipment there. The combined weight of the pruner and saw must be about 22oz. Seems like a lot of weight. But when you consider what you can get out of them... not too bad.

  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Do you have a problem with "the gap"?
    According to an Amazon Review, when the blade is closed, there's a gap between the handle and the teeth such that some of the teeth are exposed rather than protected by the handle. The reviewer complains the exposed teeth keeps getting snagged on other stuff in his pack.
    To avoid the gap teeth I keep my corona folding saw inside a used bread bag and cinched with a rubber band---and it fits next to my Nalgene in the pack's water bottle pocket---or inside my t-shirt when I'm moving thru crappy stuff.

    The Corona blade rusts fast so I bring a tiny bottle of machine oil and coat the blade periodically on a trip and put the oily saw in the bread bag.

    Here's a pic showing the saw inside its bag---

    Trip 199 (55)-XL.jpg
    It's the red thing next to my yellow pack lid.

  12. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    You've got some nice equipment there. The combined weight of the pruner and saw must be about 22oz. Seems like a lot of weight. But when you consider what you can get out of them... not too bad.
    Yes, it's more weight but when you hit something like this---

    P1000340-XL.jpg

    It's much easier to drop the pack (opportunity for a reststop) and clear a way instead of fighting thru with a 90 lb pack.

    P1000341-XL.jpg
    VOILA!! Cleared. Then when you come back to the area a month or two later, guess what? The trail is easier to get thru. It's amazing what a 10 inch folding saw and pruners can do.

    In a perfect world, ALL backpackers should be required to carry hand pruners and clip as they hike. 99% do not.

  13. #33
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    Yeah, a few month back I was doing a hike in GSMNP with my son when we came upon a tree that had fallen and taken several laural trees with it. The trunk of the tree wasn't an issue to get over. But the laural branches made the trail impassable. We were on the side of a steep hill and I was aghast to see evidence of people stepping off the trail trying to go around this stuff (I considered that option far too dangerous for us... with packs especially).
    It took about 10 minutes of work, but branch by branch, I was able to cut my way thru with my saw and we were able to safely get thru.

    The biggest thing I think I've managed with my saw was a 5" diameter log that had fallen across the trail. You could step over it... but it's location on an up-hill climb made it very awkward. But a few minutes with the sharp blade of my saw and I had it cleared out of the way.

    BTW: I don't do anything to take care of my saw (such as oiling). You only have to be a little carefully that you do not bend the blade on the forward stroke.

  14. #34
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    And speaking of nasty nettle stings---there's a patch of very nasty nettles by the Brush Mt trailpost and they are Wood Nettles---the worst kind. They will bite!!



    pretty sure that little crop has been there for years.........

    i remember it when i came through that area...

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Yeah, a few month back I was doing a hike in GSMNP with my son when we came upon a tree that had fallen and taken several laural trees with it. The trunk of the tree wasn't an issue to get over. But the laural branches made the trail impassable. We were on the side of a steep hill and I was aghast to see evidence of people stepping off the trail trying to go around this stuff (I considered that option far too dangerous for us... with packs especially).
    It took about 10 minutes of work, but branch by branch, I was able to cut my way thru with my saw and we were able to safely get thru.

    The biggest thing I think I've managed with my saw was a 5" diameter log that had fallen across the trail. You could step over it... but it's location on an up-hill climb made it very awkward. But a few minutes with the sharp blade of my saw and I had it cleared out of the way.

    BTW: I don't do anything to take care of my saw (such as oiling). You only have to be a little carefully that you do not bend the blade on the forward stroke.
    I call it Collapsed Rhodo---when you can't get thru a trail due to a big wad of laurel branches in your face. Here's an example of a bad patch---

    TRIP 106 103-L.jpg

    Trip 165 132-XL.jpg
    If you have the patience and the time the corona 10 inch can cut thru some big stuff. These two blowdowns blocked a trail I've been using for years and I finally got tired of it and cleared the path.

    The worst blowdowns on big trees blocking the trail at a steep angle with very little room to crawl underneath. On one trip to Pisgah NF I hit this blowdown and couldn't get over it and couldn't slide under so I dumped the pack and ferried individual items off the pack underneath on several trips. Sucked.

    TRIP 174 207-XL.jpg

    Then there's the Mother Blowdown on the Brush Mt trail which required dumping the pack and sliding the heavy wad underneath. Sucked.

    Trip 189 (382)-XL.jpg

    Another pic on a later trip---
    Trip 198 (173)-XL.jpg

  16. #36
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    Take that 1st picture and imagine a double trunk tree in the middle, and that's about what I was facing.
    The tree trunks were each about 9" in diameter... the 1st one low enough to step over, the other high enough to duck under. Just had to have patience cutting thru all the Rhodo... which was a lot easier than back tracking and taking the long way home.


    Big tree crossing trail on a steep angle... encountered several of those over the years in GSMNP. So far, I haven't encountered one that I couldn't find some way around... however sometimes those ways around haven't seemed exactly 100% safe.


    The only time blow-downs have forced me to turn around was at the start of a hike. Had planned a trip upto Gregory Bald from 20 Mile Ranger Station in GSMNP. What I didn't know was that while I was driving to the park, it was getting hit hard by wind storms. Didn't make it 100 yards up the trail before we encountered our first downed trees. Got around them easy enough, but less than 100' farther was an even denser group of downed trees. Decided to turn around and change plans. Glad I did because when I finally hiked the area after it had been cleared, I could see where the pattern seemed to repeat for about a mile of trail.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    I've re thunk my stance on carrying while backpacking after having two incidents that scared the poop outta me...

    And both of these were in the bald river area.......

    And both involved other humans....


    I hike alone with a rare exception and these two incidents changed my thoughts on packing.....

    I did have an incident in the Smokies (and it was off trail, right on the border with the reservation) about 13 years ago which also scared me and that kinda put the thought in my head...

    Please expound. Inquiring minds would love to know.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Thanks for the input---especially about the snakes. Gotta love the reptiles. They put the "wild" in wilderness. I call them the Grizzlies of the Southeast---because they are one of the few things that can kill me.

    Regarding the Cohut---I've done the Dally--Jacks--Penitentiary Loop several times. There are 18 Jacks crossings from Dally down to P.T.---but I like doing it clockwise because P.T. going up IS NOT a beast---at least I didn't find it bad even with my ginormous pack. The other advantage going down the Jacks is getting all those crossings over in the beginning in case you're caught in a rainstorm and the river gets too high to cross safely---one of my backpacking fears---High Water Crossings.

    Do you plan on getting to the P.T./Jacks area and finding a campsite below Jacks River Falls somewhere by the Rice Camp crossing? The reason I ask is because there's an awesome secret campsite just down river from the P.T. jct---just hike past the giant campsite and on the left is a higher ledge CS and then beyond you cross a little side creek and up on the right (before you cross the Jacks to the Rough Ridge side) is this "secret" CS. Check it out.

    Attachment 45659
    This is one of the campsites in the big Camping area where Penal Trail jcts the Jacks.

    Attachment 45660
    When I first got to the Penal/Jacks CS this is what the Jacks looked liked---it's the first crossing leaving camp and heading up to Dally Gap. It would be Crossing 18 if you're coming down from Dally Gap.

    Attachment 45661
    Here's the weird part---as I was camping on the Penal side of the Jacks (the correct side if you need to bail out on Pentitentiary)---a big rainstorm hit that night and in the morning this is what happened to the Jacks---the same crossing as my above pic. Watch out, boys.

    Attachment 45662
    Anyway, here's the P.T. trailpost on the Jacks.
    I am going to rethink my hike and go clockwise as you suggested.

    I will check out the secret campsite. I always like finding something new like that.

    Thanks for taking the time to post this information. Very much appreciated.

  19. #39
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    Please expound. Inquiring minds would love to know.

    in Cherokee----I was on a trail that had been closed down because it cut across private property (wooded)........I got to the property line, which also had a dirt road, and heard some guys yelling something like ---"there he is......up in the woods".........thats when i heard an ATV coming my way.......i ducked into woods furthur and just laid low for a while....turns out the trail ended up paralleling the dirt road and i saw some sort of camp/compound...........not sure if they were growing pot or cooking meth---i didnt care....i was wanted to hike outta there...

    down in bald river---doing a loop from the skyway down to river road.......the halfway point was down by river road and i knew of a campsite right off the road..........i had my tent tucked back up in, but i had a big ol' fire going........around midnight, these rednecks in a truck kept passing by and spinning tires and yelling things........driving back and forth on the road for about a half hour.............their last pass, they drove by, then i could hear them backing up and figured thats when things could get interesting........drove their truck up the path to my campsite and sat there and yelled stuff at me for a few minutes before driving off...

    seeing as it was midnight and i was by myself----i wasnt in the mood for this and just hung low til they went away....

    it kinda shook me up for a little bit as i wondered all night long if they would be back....

    next day----ran into a friend of tipi's up on the skyway and we got to talking........then i noticed on his hip he was carrying so i asked him about it.......he also had a story of a run in with some locals a few years before and thats why he decided to carry......

    so, ive rethought my stance on carrying and went out a bought a small handgun........

  20. #40

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    Hey TNhiker---regarding Bald River---are you talking about camping next to North River road? There are several trails that drop off the Skyway like Long Branch and Hemlock Creek and McNabb Creek (and 3 others) and some have campsites right close to North River road.

    I've avoided these kind of redneck encounters for the last 20 years by never building fires esp when stealth camping---and by getting far enough off a trail that no rolling couch potatoes will ever see me. If they can't drive to it, They will never come.

    In the old days I used to stealth camp everywhere---behind churches, in the woods behind a grocery store, in the trees by subdivisions etc---but I never built a fire and my tents were colored subdued. Now I use a very bright and big Red tent so my days of hiding are over.

    This doesn't mean I don't see sketchy individuals on occasion. One time I saw 3 local "deliverance" type guys camping in Cherokee NF and they got me to worrying. I called them The Three Vandals. I passed their camp and continued up the trail and camped. But they were very weird. And for years they would pass my campsites at dawn going god knows where. Were they out growing weed or cooking up meth? Hard to know.

    But in 40 years of backpacking I've never packed "heat" or even considered it. Why carry something that isn't used every day? My biggest dangers by far are not other humans (except for their noise pollution)---but falling dead tree snags and pit vipers and yellow jackets and creek crossings and lightning blasts.

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