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  1. #1

    Default 21 Day Quest for Warrior's Passage

    Here's my trip report from April/May 2021 into the mountains of NC and TN.

    TRAILS I Backpacked---Trip 211

    **Jeffrey Hell down to South Fork Creek.
    **South Fork trail downstream.
    **Brush Mt trail up to Trail 149. (30th Backpack of Brush Mt Trail).
    **Trail 149 to North Fork trail up to Cherry Log Gap.

    **Fodderstack Ridge to Farr Gap.
    **Stiffknee trail down to Slickrock Creek.
    **Ike Branch trail from Slickrock Creek to Calderwood Lake.
    **Patman drives me from Calderwood Lake to Big Fat Gap.

    **Hangover Lead South trail up to Hangover Mt.
    **Seven Mile Ridge to Bob Bald.
    **54A South to Trail 149 to Brush Mt Trailpost.
    **Trail 149 to Cold Spring Gap to Beech Gap.
    **Skyturd Road BMT from Beech Gap to Whiggs Meadow.

    **Sycamore Creek trail down to Fish Hatchery.
    **Tellico River roadwalk to Bald River 126 roadwalk up to Sugar Maple Gap.
    **Logging Cut 40832 to Skull Gap.
    **Henderson Top trail to Fire Crew Manway to Panther Branch to Tellico River.

    **Tellico River roadwalk and hitchhike to Bald River Falls.
    **Bald River trail heading south.
    **Bald River 126 roadwalk to Basin Gap to end of 126 at FS 384 road.
    **Warrior's Passage trail northwest to Old Furnace roadwalk and OUT to Tellico Beach Drive In.


    My trip begins in Citico Creek wilderness (TN) on Jeffrey Hell trail down to South Fork Creek where I stand by the Grassy Branch trailpost and jct. Pack of choice is McHale loaded with about 95 lbs of food and books and gear. Boots of choice---Zamberlan Evo Lites goretex. Top green sack under lid is 5th overflow food bag.

    Jeffrey Hell trail gets me on South Fork trail and several miles later I reach Brush Mt's jct with SF trail where you have to cross SF Creek and so I begin my 30th backpack up the hardest trail in Citico---Brush Mt. Here I stop on Brush Creek's first of seven crossing to put on crocs.


    Amazingly all of my 21 day trip is in below normal cold temps and so I don't have to suffer in the furnace heat. Here I am in my warmth torso layers---Patagonia thermal hoody with turtle fur hat etc. The two plastic jugs behind me are vegan Mayo and of course peanut butter.


    Of course backpacking Brush Mt is never easy and Mother Blowdown is always fun---dump the pack and slide it underneath. Like sliding a gun safe under a church pew.


    One of my favorite spots on Brush Mt Trail---Beauty Rock reststop atop Brush Ridge. Notice Felco #9 pruners on rock. All backpackers should carry hand pruners.

    Trip 211 (70)-M.jpg
    A typical Brush Mt blowdown. Out comes the invaluable Corona 10 inch folding saw.

    Trip 211 (72)-M.jpg
    VOILA fixed and an easy step-over.

  2. #2

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    Near the end of Brush Mt trail I run into Tellico Rangers Grey Buckles (right) and temp worker Tally. We discuss all the trails in the area most esp Mother Brush.


    Hallelujah I reach the end of Brush Mt with my Anvil weight pack and so ends Goal #1 of the trip---from Jeffrey Hell/South Fork to Brush Mt and up to Trail 149.


    I take Trail 149 north to North Fork trail and go up into the steep NF bowl which has this odd level spot right below Fodderstack Ridge and Cherry Log Gap. I call it Snake Mt Camp.


    I climb hard from Snake Mt Camp up to Fodderstack Ridge and head north many miles to Farr Gap. Along the way I find this bear pile.


    Fodderstack Ridge trail goes north and gets me to Crowder Branch high camp by the spring box and I find previous occupants left me a message---it's now called Hippie Camp.


    Dinner at Hippie Camp on Crowder Creek---wild ramps with vegan mac and cheese.


    I leave Crowder Camp and head north to Farr Gap and descend the worst trail of the trip---Stiffknee. It's bad only because it hasn't been maintained in years and is one big thicket hell slog with 5 crossings over Little Slickrock Creek.

  3. #3

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    Stiffknee trail drops me hard to Slickrock Creek and this crossing to get on the Ike Branch/Yellowhammer Gap side. This used to be the old Benton MacKaye trail until it was rerouted up Seven Mile Ridge because of this crossing.


    Once across Slickrock I jct Ike Branch which climbs up to Yellowhammer Gap and the BMT.


    After I climb Ike Branch trail I stop in Yellowhammer Gap and see my first BMT thruhikers---Gumby and Prince Ali---headed to Tapoco Lodge for lunch and then on to Fontana.


    I set up camp about a mile from Yellowhammer Gap on Ike Branch trail and cook up wild ramps with brown rice for dinner.


    While camping on Ike Branch my backpacking buddy Patman finds me somehow---cuz my garbled phone message only said ". . . Farr Gap . . ." but he figured it out. Pack of choice---Gossamer Gear.


    Morning with hot tea as I visit Patman's TarpTent on Ike Branch trail.


    Patman gets a wild hair and convinces me to backpack with him down Ike Branch trail to Calderwood Lake and Highway 129 where he leaves his car and we drive up Big Fat Gap road 6+ miles to Big Fat Gap and start our nut hump up Hangover Mt with full water.

  4. #4

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    As we climb the nut hump up Hangover Lead South trail we run into another BMT thruhiker---Tom Tom---headed north to Tapoco Lodge and Fontana.


    As we climb up Hangover Mt---2,000 foot hump from Big Fat Gap---we stop at the cave for a break.


    We camp midway up Hangover Mt (place I call Elysium Fields) and the next day Patman returns to Big Fat Gap and home while I continue my nut hump up Hangover Mt. I stop here in the heath tunnel and look at where I was several days ago---Fodderstack Ridge and Big Fodderstack Mt (on far right).


    My hump up Hangover Mt end atop Haoe Peak at 5,240 feet on Seven Mile Ridge (what I call the ridge which runs from Hangover Mt to Beech Gap).


    I finally reach Bob Bald at 5,300 feet and get caught in a May 4th hellstorm with nonstop rain and high winds---so I sit put for a couple zero days.


    What's most remarkable is during the worst of the May 4th my backpacking buddy Rob Bush shows up in the worst of it and sets up nearby for a great meetup. He comes up the rugged 9 mile Stratton Ridge trail.


    Rob Bush brings his big Hilleberg tent called Nammatj GT and sets up east of me near the fir tree grove on Bob Bald.

  5. #5

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    Rob's purpose on this trip is to meet up with an old friend from 30 years ago when they both pulled their first backpacking trip in Slickrock/Citico. She comes in on the Beech Gap side---the TN side. Her name is Marion.


    It never stops raining so Rob sets up his Hilleberg tarp and we all hang out together during one of Miss Nature's better Urine Storms.


    The next morning in the rain I leave my tent and go visit Rob's camp and watch him cook up a big omelet---sad because I'm currently in a Vegan Phase.


    Marion cooks up morning oatmeal with hemp/flax seeds.


    On Day 14 it's time to get the heck off Bob Bald and so Rob unties the tarp as my pack on left sits underneath. We go our separate directions in the rain---him and Marion down Naked Ground trail to Little Santeetlah Creek and me down to Cold Spring Gap and Trail 149 about 1.5 miles to camp.


    The Wet Dogs of May---still life with packs---left is Rob's Dana Designs Astralplane.


    I hike all day in a light rain and punch off the Bob and lose a thousand feet to another campsite next to the Brush Mt trailpost.

  6. #6

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    Once I leave Bob Bald I reach Trail 149 (where I was on Day 5) and set up by Brush Mt trailpost and wait for the 4 day rainstorm to end.


    Finally on Day 15 the rain stops and I have a big 12 mile day of backpacking on the BMT from Trail 149 to Beech Gap and Mud Gap and Whiggs Meadow down to Sycamore Creek.


    Since I'm heading south on the BMT I have to pass thru the Rock Quarry with the high mountain in the background where I was in the morning.

    Trip 211 (271)-M.jpg
    Uncle Fungus makes it to Whiggs Meadow at 5,000 feet. Just a way station on the BMT.


    May 7th is actually the coldest morning of the trip and I have to use my top layers and gloves. I am descending Sycamore Creek trail to Tellico River and the Fish Hatchery.


    I reach Tellico River road and get off the BMT and roadwalk down to Bald River 126 road (in red) and walk it up to Sugar Maple Gap and backpack old logging cut 40832 (in yellow) to Skull Gap Camp and the trailhead to Henderson Top trail 107.


    My CS at the end of 40832 is by this old trailpost which is busted up and in the dirt so I tie it together and prop it up and write "107" on the carsonite surface.

  7. #7

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    The big goal is to take Henderson Top trail 107 north and west into Bald River wilderness but the forest boys had a prescribed burn and cut in a new Manway trail away from 107 north to jct Panther Branch trail and the footbridge across Tellico River---and of course I "get lost" and follow their Manway (in red). Oops.


    I'm off course and reach Panther Branch's footbridge over Tellico River---so I have to roadwalk and hitchhike Tellico River road several miles to enter Bald River wilderness from the front door by Bald River Falls.


    As I roadwalk Tellico River I see many fishermen out for the day.


    I hitch a ride with a local guy and he drops me off by Baby Falls on Tellico River.


    I enter Bald River wilderness and in almost 6 miles reach Cascades waterfall where I camp.


    I leave Bald River wilderness and head west on forest road 126 many miles to forest road 384 which connects me to my overall goal---Warrior's Passage trail---which runs northwest along Wildcat Creek.


    You can't finish Warrior's Passage trail without crossing Wildcat Creek---sometimes impassable due to high flood waters.

  8. #8

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    Day 21 is my last day and it starts in a rainstorm so I detach the inner tent from the fly and sit underneath waiting for the rain to taper off before my 4 mile hike out to my evac point.


    One more roadwalk along Old Furnace road which Warrior's Passage trail jcts.


    My trip ends on Tellico River at Tellico Beech hamburger stand. Another great trip in the books.

  9. #9
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    Default 21 Day Quest for Warrior's Passage

    Another great trip report in one of my favorite places on Earth! My daughter loves to run Bald River Road for cross country practice from Holly Flats campground to the Tellico River and then take her ice bath in the river! Thanks for posting!

  10. #10
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Uncle fungus thanks for sharing your adventures!
    Them ramp soups look good, do you look for morals?
    That omelet looked good too was that ova easy eggs (freeze dried) or dehydrated?
    That and ending your trip at a hamburger stand which is my favorite food to end a hike with . I don't know how you do it not indulging, you say a vegan stage not always?

  11. #11

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    Great report my friend. I know I messed up your planned route so I was curious where you went next. Surprised you wound up on Warriors Passage! That's quite a divergence. I came back to the Citco the next weekend and looped around Pine Ridge / Bob/ SouthFork, but I think you were out by then if I'm reading your notes correctly. Take care and I'll probably see you in the furnace soon. It's on now I think.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mockernut View Post
    Another great trip report in one of my favorite places on Earth! My daughter loves to run Bald River Road for cross country practice from Holly Flats campground to the Tellico River and then take her ice bath in the river! Thanks for posting!
    That's a good long route. Does she go from Holly Flats East to Tellico River or west towards the Ranger Station?
    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    Uncle fungus thanks for sharing your adventures!
    Them ramp soups look good, do you look for morals?
    That omelet looked good too was that ova easy eggs (freeze dried) or dehydrated?
    That and ending your trip at a hamburger stand which is my favorite food to end a hike with . I don't know how you do it not indulging, you say a vegan stage not always?
    I rarely see Morel mushrooms but they sure are good. I've always been a vegetarian but for the last 3 years I've had to go the vegan route since I can't tolerate cheese or milk in any form---results in severe sinus/lung infections. Weird but true.

    Quote Originally Posted by PatmanTN View Post
    Great report my friend. I know I messed up your planned route so I was curious where you went next. Surprised you wound up on Warriors Passage! That's quite a divergence. I came back to the Citco the next weekend and looped around Pine Ridge / Bob/ SouthFork, but I think you were out by then if I'm reading your notes correctly. Take care and I'll probably see you in the furnace soon. It's on now I think.
    Actually you didn't mess up my route at all since I was headed up Hangover Mt anyway. And it was a miracle meeting you on Ike Branch---and the drive up Big Fat was a first for me---except for that 1987 Rainbow Gathering---and we passed the very spot the gathering was held.

    After the big storm with Rob Bush I got a wild hair to head into the Bald River backcountry (Skull Gap!) so over the Whigg I went.

    Ah yes, the Furnace. My next trip's plan god willing and the creeks don't rise is to return to Henderson Top and figure out where I got lost. And then do all the loops back there like Brookshire and Kirkland and State Line Ridge---Six Mile Gap etc. And another swaray (soiree?) on old Warrior's Passage.

  13. #13
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    [QUOTE=Tipi Walter;2286214]That's a good long route. Does she go from Holly Flats East to Tellico River or west towards the Ranger Station?

    She goes east to the Tellico River as she likes the hill climbs in that direction just before she descends for her river bath!

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

  14. #14

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    Yeah I planned a wet Smokies route last weekend, went up Thunderhead manway to AT, down Jenkins Ridge, Pinnacle Creek manway, up Eagle Creek and back down Bote Mtn, - maybe 50 or 60 wet crossings in three days.....and it was surprisingly chilly for mid-May. Last Saturday morning I woke up at 4AM and actually had to zip up my bag to get comfortable. This weekend should be more amenable to a very wet route.

  15. #15
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    I like that hippie camp makes me .

    A couple more food questions if ya don't mind.
    What is your food weight for 21 days and what is your mainstay food for your trips?
    And when you come out of the woods after 21 days what is the food you crave most and what beverage you crave the most?

  16. #16
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    Tippi you still dehydrating your food? I remember you dehydrate AMYS Burritos and things. Nice trip report cool to see Patman in it...
    My love for life is quit simple .i get uo in the moring and then i go to bed at night. What I do inbween is to occupy my time. Cary Grant

  17. #17
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    Truely inspiring, your trip reports!

    "wild ramps" - thats Bear Garlic?
    We eat this stuff a lot in spring.
    The best part are the flowers roasted a bit in oil, great for seasoning salads and mac&cheese stuff.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by PatmanTN View Post
    Yeah I planned a wet Smokies route last weekend, went up Thunderhead manway to AT, down Jenkins Ridge, Pinnacle Creek manway, up Eagle Creek and back down Bote Mtn, - maybe 50 or 60 wet crossings in three days.....and it was surprisingly chilly for mid-May. Last Saturday morning I woke up at 4AM and actually had to zip up my bag to get comfortable. This weekend should be more amenable to a very wet route.
    Sounds like you're having fun in the backcountry.

    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    I like that hippie camp makes me .

    A couple more food questions if ya don't mind.
    What is your food weight for 21 days and what is your mainstay food for your trips?
    And when you come out of the woods after 21 days what is the food you crave most and what beverage you crave the most?
    Food weight for a 21 day trip is around 50 lbs including stove fuel. Current mainstay is Loaded Oatmeal, Outdoor Herbivore meals, Ramen noodles and Annie Chun's noodles---my cookables. My snackable food bags contain a wide variety of no-cook foods like roasted cashews, peanut butter, rice cakes, jam, vegan mayo (to add to cooked meals), hummus, corn chips, beaucoup GoMacro and Bob's Red Mill bars, dried fruit etc. Also---organic TVP to add to my cooked meals when desired.

    I can survive on Oatmeal and usually carry a couple lbs of the stuff. Loaded means I add olive oil, salt, peanut butter, dried cherries, dates and pineapple, Bob's Red Mill vanilla protein powder, black walnuts.

    At home I "crave" a pot of organic cooked brown rice with organic beans---and tofu sandwiches with mayo, mustard, tomato, pickle, lettuce on toasted whole wheat bread. And really enjoy smoothies with soy milk base and pumpkin seeds, honey and bee pollen.

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbs View Post
    Tippi you still dehydrating your food? I remember you dehydrate AMYS Burritos and things. Nice trip report cool to see Patman in it...
    I'm currently out of my Dehydrating Phase---it gets old.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    Truely inspiring, your trip reports!

    "wild ramps" - thats Bear Garlic?
    We eat this stuff a lot in spring.
    The best part are the flowers roasted a bit in oil, great for seasoning salads and mac&cheese stuff.
    Bear Garlic is Allium ursinum---Ramps is Allium tricocca---both similar and both "wild onions".

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    Thanks Walter.
    Obviously there is more to it than just similar naming. Ramps is not the same as Ramson (which seems to be an old name for Bear Garlic).
    When googling Allium tricocca, there comes any number of poisoning reports, but close to zero about the plant itself - strange.
    I take it that Allium tricocca seems to be kind of a wild onion?

    Anyway, I love your attitude to forage in the woods for whatever edible stuff nature provides.

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    Any plans to post any 2021 trail journals?

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