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  1. #1

    Default 200th Anniversary Trip

    Since I moved to Tennessee from North Carolina in 2001 I've pulled 200 backpacking trips and this is number 200---but it turns out to be a difficult trip due to 8 days with walking pneumonia-influenza, blown out boots, fasting for a day, and a 3 day hellish 70mph windstorm/rainstorm at 5,000 feet. My tent barely survived.

    And the trip started in our 70th+ day of drought with all wilderness creeks very low but we got sufficient rain in the 18 days I was out. Here's a link to all trip pics---

    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...tbuster-Trail/

    The trip occurred in the TN and NC mountains---of Citico Creek wilderness and Slickrock Creek wilderness---and I pulled my 47th backpack up the notorious Nutbuster trail---Upper Slickrock Trail #42---considered to be the hardest trail in the Southeast.


    The trip starts at the Jeffrey Hell trailhead on October 12 2019 with a 90 lb McHale pack at around 8,000 cubic inches. North Face Reactor shorts, silk baselayer top, Mt Hardwear ochre t-shirt---smartwool mountaineer socks and Zamberlan full leather gtx boots---great winter boots except . . . see later pics.


    After about 3 miles I reach South Fork Citico Creek and it is very low so I don't have to get into crocs for the crossing. My first night CS is on the South Fork trail not too far from this crossing.


    On Day 2 I leave my high South Fork camp and descend thru "God's Anus", a terrible thicket section on an old SF logging cut. Somewhere in the middle I take a break---15 oz swig bottle, white grapes, pb sandwich, writing journal---fleco pruners on left.


    I descend the South Fork trail several miles and reach Citico Creek which I cross and get set up on the other side. The back of our drought is broken here with the first rain of the trip. Tent of choice---8 lb 10oz Hilleberg Keron tent---a great solo backpacking tent.


    I leave Citico Creek and the "southern" part of the Citico wilderness and enter the northern part on the Rocky Flats trail---where I encounter the usual blowdown but I have my corona folding saw to help me get through.


    VOILA!! Small blowdown cleared.


    I reach near the end of the Rocky Flats trail and set up camp by this old homestead chimney. At this time I have walking pneumonia/influenza and I'm sick as a dog so I pull a zero day here to recuperate. Coughing up my guts, burning lungs, blowing snot---the works.

  2. #2

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    I leave the chimney camp on Day 9 and in several miles reach the trailhead to Crowder Branch #84. It has 8 main creek crossings and about 15 minor crossings---and it has a couple very steep nut climbs.


    As I climb the tough Crowder Branch Nuts I am warned "Turn Back!!" I do not.


    After a couple days and another rainstorm I reach the end of the Crowder Branch trail and get on Fodderstack Ridge which is the trail separating the TN Citico side from the NC Slickrock Creek side. From Fodderstack Ridge I look off the Big Stack trail and see Hangover Mt at 5,000 feet---my eventual goal. But first I have to descend to Slickrock Creek and climb the Nutbuster trail 3,000 feet up to Hagnover Mt's ridge---I call it Seven Mile Ridge.


    Once on the other side of Fodderstack Ridge I use the Big Stack Gap trail to drop 2 miles and lose 1,500 feet of elevation to arrive at this CS on Slickrock Creek by Slick's 12th crossing.


    On Day 12 I see the first backpackers of the trip---two guys who camped at Wildcat Falls for one night and are headed out to Big Fat Gap. The guy on the right seems to have a vintage Dana Designs Astralplane pack, a real load hauler.


    Day 12 turns out to be a big day of seeing other backpackers. I leave my camp on Slickrock Creek and start up the 10 legs of the Nutbuster trail---a rugged trek---and run into Anthony and his friend Angie coming down Leg 4 of the Nutbuster. He thruhiked the AT in 2018 with trailname Juke Box---and her name is Angie. What's most amazing to me is a trail crew finally came out and cleared 80% of this difficult trail. It's an early Christmas present to me. And it's my 47th backpack up the thing.


    As I climb the Nutbuster trail and set up at a mid way camp I inspect my fancy Zamberlan boots and find a significant failure. Dangit, these were my favorite winter boots.

  3. #3

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    On Day 13 I finish my trek up the Nutbuster trail and find the ample trailwork SAWS did to open up the worst part of trail on Leg 5 in the Open Cove section. They cut at least 40 of these kind of blowdowns.


    Near the end of Leg 5 on the Nut trail I stop by Anchor Rock, a pretty gateway up to the worst of all Nut sections---Leg 6 on Lonesome Ridge.


    Once finished with Leg 5 and I start up Leg 6 and it's steep, boys!! Very steep. This shows the trail climbing up past the rock and once on top you turn right onto Lonesome Ridge and the climbing really begins.


    Still on Leg 6 but after the worst vertical section so I dump the pack to rest at this Alcove Rock.


    At the end of Leg 6 I reach High Tooth Creek for a break and get another warning: Keep Away from the Nutbuster Trail!!! I do not.


    FACES ON THE BMT. After 5 long hours of punching out the Nutbuster trail I end up at 5,000 feet in Naked Ground Gap and set up camp to prepare for the big forecasted storm coming on October 24 thru 27. Now I'm on the Benton MacKaye trail and meet this guy named Yeti who is pulling a south bound BMT trek from the Smokies down to Hiwassee River for his section hike. Just after he leaves the big 42 hour rainstorm begins along with the hellish 52 hour windstorm.


    After Yeti leaves Naked Ground 3 hillbilly backpackers pass thru---local boys from Robbinsville NC---and something you never see---backpacking hunters. We talk for a long while until the cold rain pulls us apart. These boys know everything there is to know about the area and we share all sorts of stories. They came in from Wolf Laurel and are headed to Jenkins Meadow on Haoe Lead to spend a couple nights. I spend 3 nights here in Naked Ground Gap and get walloped by 70mph winds and I think of the boys 2 miles away on a similar ridge.

  4. #4

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    I say goodbye to the local boys and notice one has a vintage canvas Yucca style pack and he says it's loaded with 31 lbs---shoulder straps used only and no hipbelt. Old school.


    On Day 15 October 26 the real brunt of the storm hits Naked Ground---that night wind gusts top 70mph and I barely hold on. 52 hours of wind and 42 hours of rain.


    On Day 16 after the big storm the weather of course turns beautiful and so I leave finally Naked Ground Gap and pass over Bob Bald on a 5 mile day down to South Fork Creek.


    After leaving Bob Bald I drop a thousand feet to Cold Spring Gap where I start down the South Fork Trail #105. It's an elevator drop to SF Creek.


    I spend one night on SF Creek and cross the creek on Day 17 and head up the Jeffrey Hell trail where all this madness began. I find a CS next to Falls Creek for my last night.


    On Day 18 my trip ends where it began---at the Jeffrey Hell trailhead. My pack is much lighter but my boots suck. I pull a 2 mile roadwalk to Grassy Gap and wait for my shuttle ride out.


    On my roadwalk out I check out Waucheesi Mt on the right---and State Line Ridge going to the left---which is also the Benton MacKaye trail.

  5. #5

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    I reach Grassy Gap and check out the trailhead to the Grassy Branch trail---another way to drop down to South Fork Creek.


    As I wait for my ride out I check out all the hunters up on the road with rifles. Bear hunters.


    And so Trip 200 ends in Grassy Gap.

  6. #6
    Registered User gollwoods's Avatar
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    Default nice trip

    Amazing trip!! Enjoyed the photos

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by gollwoods View Post
    Amazing trip!! Enjoyed the photos
    Thanks. And thanks again.

  8. #8

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    Thank you for the photos and the detailed trip report! I have four more months in the shop and then I'll be headed to Springer! Keep the inspiration coming!
    "I love the unimproved works of God" Horace Kephart 1862-1931

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwistedCF View Post
    Thank you for the photos and the detailed trip report! I have four more months in the shop and then I'll be headed to Springer! Keep the inspiration coming!
    Thanks for the blurb. I'm approaching 70 years old so I'm going from trip to trip, i.e. each trip could be my last.

  10. #10
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    Great picture's and great trip report, thanks tipi.. very impressive indeed almost seventy years old lugging that big bag on them big hills and providing trail work to boot. Always like and appreciate your trip reports very much.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    Great picture's and great trip report, thanks tipi.. very impressive indeed almost seventy years old lugging that big bag on them big hills and providing trail work to boot. Always like and appreciate your trip reports very much.
    Thanks. Hauling a 90 lb pack isn't too bad if you only go 5 miles a day max. Just eyeball your boot placement religiously so you don't fall and break something important.

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    I know a few 70 year olds that would beg to differ. And maybe I shouldn't have used the word to boot, sore subject.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    I know a few 70 year olds that would beg to differ. And maybe I shouldn't have used the word to boot, sore subject.
    No, I like your Boot pun---my boot stories are like . . . uh . . . well . . . a boot up the butt---

    My wonderful Asolo 520s back on a trip in 2013.



    My wonderful Limmer boots back in 2004---


  14. #14

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    That's awesome. Sometimes you make me wish I kept some kind of log. About the best I can usually come up with is which states I've hiked in on any given year. Hope you're feeling better.

    Wait, 200 trips...since 2001? I've done that many in 5yrs before. And I thought you were a backpacker!
    'Course 200 trips for you is likely 4000+ nights. If I do 200, 160 of them are probably "weekly overnighters", and the total's more like 375. Not quite the same thing

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by OwenM View Post
    That's awesome. Sometimes you make me wish I kept some kind of log. About the best I can usually come up with is which states I've hiked in on any given year. Hope you're feeling better.

    Wait, 200 trips...since 2001? I've done that many in 5yrs before. And I thought you were a backpacker!
    'Course 200 trips for you is likely 4000+ nights. If I do 200, 160 of them are probably "weekly overnighters", and the total's more like 375. Not quite the same thing
    I went years back in the 1970s/1980s without ever carrying a camera to record my backpacking trips and I feel bad about it today---cuz I wonder about all the old gear and the old friends and the old campsites---now lost in the blur of history. So I think it's important for backpackers to start a record early on and look at the neato pics 60 years from now. "Wow! Remember those Osprey packs!!??"

    My buddy Patman does alot of weekend trips---one nighters and two nighters---and I always joke with him that he does alot more backpacking trips per month than I'll ever do. He does about 3 trips a month and I only do 1---1 butt long trip.

    I never tried to compute all my backpacking bag nights/trip days since 2001---it used to be about 180 nights per year---6 months out of the year.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the trip report. Hope to b out on the Northville Placid trail this week. I have cabin fever.

    thom

  17. #17
    Registered User rmitchell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post

    On Day 13 I finish my trek up the Nutbuster trail and find the ample trailwork SAWS did to open up the worst part of trail on Leg 5 in the Open Cove section. They cut at least 40 of these kind of blowdowns.


    Near the end of Leg 5 on the Nut trail I stop by Anchor Rock, a pretty gateway up to the worst of all Nut sections---Leg 6 on Lonesome Ridge.


    Once finished with Leg 5 and I start up Leg 6 and it's steep, boys!! Very steep. This shows the trail climbing up past the rock and once on top you turn right onto Lonesome Ridge and the climbing really begins.


    Still on Leg 6 but after the worst vertical section so I dump the pack to rest at this Alcove Rock.


    At the end of Leg 6 I reach High Tooth Creek for a break and get another warning: Keep Away from the Nutbuster Trail!!! I do not.


    FACES ON THE BMT. After 5 long hours of punching out the Nutbuster trail I end up at 5,000 feet in Naked Ground Gap and set up camp to prepare for the big forecasted storm coming on October 24 thru 27. Now I'm on the Benton MacKaye trail and meet this guy named Yeti who is pulling a south bound BMT trek from the Smokies down to Hiwassee River for his section hike. Just after he leaves the big 42 hour rainstorm begins along with the hellish 52 hour windstorm.


    After Yeti leaves Naked Ground 3 hillbilly backpackers pass thru---local boys from Robbinsville NC---and something you never see---backpacking hunters. We talk for a long while until the cold rain pulls us apart. These boys know everything there is to know about the area and we share all sorts of stories. They came in from Wolf Laurel and are headed to Jenkins Meadow on Haoe Lead to spend a couple nights. I spend 3 nights here in Naked Ground Gap and get walloped by 70mph winds and I think of the boys 2 miles away on a similar ridge.
    That last picture looks like a hallucination from your fever! At least you have photographic proof.

    Black powder guns?

    In black and white the picture might look as if it were taken in 1930.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheyou View Post
    Thanks for the trip report. Hope to b out on the Northville Placid trail this week. I have cabin fever.

    thom
    That looks like a pretty cool trail---with alot of bogs and lakes. Will cold weather or snow affect your hike?

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rmitchell View Post
    That last picture looks like a hallucination from your fever! At least you have photographic proof.

    Black powder guns?

    In black and white the picture might look as if it were taken in 1930.
    They were carrying shotguns for squirrels. The guy in the back really got my Southern Highlanders mojo going---looked like the real thing!! I talked to the guy in front so long that his buddies left him and went on to their campsite 2 miles away. The pic was taken at the start of a 42 hour rainstorm---and the start of a terrible windstorm. I thought about them in those 70mph gusts and they probably thought about me as I was about a thousand feet above them.

  20. #20
    Registered User rmitchell's Avatar
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    Squirrel hunting makes a lot more sense. Hard to pack out big game for miles.

    Hardly anyone shoots squirrels around here anymore. We're over run by them and rabbits.

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