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  1. #1

    Default 21 Days with 8 BMT Thru Hikers

    This April/May backpacking trip was spent in Bald River Backcountry---about 100,000 acres stretching from Whiggs Meadow to Sycamore Creek and northwest to Bald River wilderness and Brookshire Creek/State Line Ridge to Waucheesi Mt and Warrior's Passage trail---all in the mountains of Tennessee.

    All pics can be seen here---
    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...T-Thru-Hikers/

    TRIP 217
    April 22-May 12, 2022

    HIGHLIGHTS
    ** WHIGG RIDGE TRAIL 86 BACKPACKED FOR FIRST TIME
    ** TIC TOCK AND COOKIE BMT THRU HIKERS ON SYCAMORE CREEK TRAIL
    ** OLGA AND BLUEBERRY BMT THRU HIKERS AT FISH HATCHERY
    ** A TRIP OF NIGHTLY INCONTINENCE
    ** PANTHER TRAIL DESTRUCTION
    ** BACKPACKING SKULL MT TO BALD RIVER
    ** BMT THRU HIKER JARED "BEAST"
    ** BMT THRU HIKER SPITFIRE
    ** FIRST CAMP IN ROUND TOP COVE
    ** BALD RIVER TRAIL 80% CLEARED
    ** SANDY GAP BECOMES SATAN GAP
    ** TREMENDOUS TRAILWORK ON KIRKLAND CREEK TRAIL DAY 15
    ** FOUR DAYS ON KIRKLAND TRAIL IN A THREE DAY RAINSTORM
    ** DAD BOD AND ALY BMT THRU HIKERS IN SIX MILE GAP DAY 18
    ** FINAL QUEST TO WILDCAT CREEK ON WARRIOR'S PASSAGE

    TRAILS(**overnights)
    Entrance at Mud Gap on BMT
    Mud Gap to Whiggs Meadow
    **Whiggs Meadow**
    Whiggs Mt Roadwalk for 2 Miles
    Whigg Ridge Trail #86 Down Hill
    **Thank God Creek Camp on Whigg Ridge Trail**
    Whigg Ridge Trail to Sycamore Creek
    Sycamore Creek Trail Going Up
    **Low Hobo Camp**
    Sycamore Creek Trail Going Up
    **High Hobo Camp**
    Sycamore Creek Trail Going Down
    **Bear Camp on Sycamore Creek**
    Sycamore Creek Trail Out to Fish Hatchery
    Sugar Mt Trail Up to Top
    **Pretty Pine Gap on Sugar Mt**
    Logging Cut 40921 Heading Northwest
    Logging Cut 40832 Heading Northwest
    **Skull Cove Camp on 40832**
    Cut 40832 to End
    Henderson Top Trail North by Northwest
    Cow Camp Down to Bald River
    **Rock Ledge Camp on Bald River (2)**
    Bald River Trail Heading South
    **Big Pine Camp**
    Bald River Trail South and Out
    Bald River Roadwalk Heading East
    Brookshire Trail Going Up
    **Brookshire Horse Camp**
    Brookshire Trail Up to Sled Runner Gap
    **Sled Runner Gap Camp**
    State Line Ridge Heading West
    **Round Top Cove Camp**
    State Line Ridge to Sandy Gap
    Kirkland Creek Trail Down
    **Crossing 12 Secret Camp on Kirk Trail (3)**
    Kirkland Trail Backtrack up to Sandy Gap
    **Sandy Gap Camp**
    BMT from Sandy Gap to Six Mile Gap
    **Six Mile Gap**
    Waucheesi Mt Manway up to Mt Top
    Waucheesi Mt Roadwalk Down
    Warrior's Passage Trail Heading Northwest
    **Wildcat Cove High Camp**
    Warrior's Passage to Wildcat Creek
    **Wildcat Creek Camp**
    Warrior's Passage Trail to Old Furnace Roadwalk and OUT.


    I get dropped off at Mud Gap on the BMT and in 2 miles (and 500 foot elev gain) reach Whiggs Meadow at 5,000 feet. The mountain behind is Haw Knob at 5,500 feet and the highest point in Monroe Cty TN.


    Day 2 and it's time to leave Whiggs Meadow and explore a new trail never hiked---Whiggs Ridge Trail #86---newly cleared by the American Hiking Society. My McHale pack is about 90lbs of too much food and crap.


    After a two mile roadwalk off the Whigg (and off the BMT) I reach the elusive trailhead to #86---and it's a mostly dry scrub trail which drops hard to Tellico River.


    One of the best ways to descend a steep trail with a 90 lb pack is to wear cleats---in this case microspikes. They help immensely for traction.


    A nifty Whigg Ridge blaze.


    Before the trip I try to clean the throttle cable in my MSR Simmerlite stove and of course can't reinsert it so I go into my Gear Museum and pull out a vintage Whisperlite stove for the trip---and bring the usual 40-44 ozs of white gas.


    On Day 2 I find a neato CS by a creek on Whigg Ridge trail and then on Day 3 finish the trail where it jcts Sycamore Creek trail as shown---and now I'm back on the BMT.

  2. #2

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    I take Sycamore Creek trail up about 1.5 miles and reach the end of switchback #1 with this trailsign. My CS is behind the sign at a primo spot.


    Dinner for Day 3 is scrumptious yellow cornmeal grits with wild ramps picked on the side of Whiggs Meadow.


    On Day 4 I climb up Sycamore Creek trail to another favorite CS and then on Day 5 backtrack all the way down Sycamore trail in a cool fog.


    The first backpackers I see on the trip happen on Day 5 when I see Tick Tock and Cookie pulling a 22 mile day and I tell them I just pulled 1 mile. They are headed up to Whiggs Meadow and I'm headed where they came from---down to Tellico River and over Sugar Mt.


    Day 5 on my long descent down Sycamore Creek on pretty trail.


    At the bottom of Sycamore trail by the fish hatchery on Tellico River I meet more BMT Thru Hikers---they are Olga and Blueberry from Wilkesboro NC. Southbounders.


    I leave Tellico River and climb up to the top of Sugar Mt on the BMT and then veer off on the Yellow line---logging cuts 40921 and 40832---which connect me to Henderson Top trail #107 which side doors me into Bald River Gorge wilderness.

  3. #3

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    Henderson Top trail aka Skull Mountain has some VERY steep descents so I slap on the cleats for traction.


    Henderson Top trail 107 ends here on its western end with Cow Camp trail which descends steeply to Bald River and into BR wilderness.


    I reach Bald River and set up a couple camps by water and burn some trash---i.e. I bring Colin Fletcher's Complete Walker IV and burn the whole thing over time and it's dang heavy.


    I head south on Bald River trail and stop at Cascades waterfall a mandatory reststop---before heading southeast to Brookshire Creek trail and back on the BMT below Sugar Mt.


    Old Dog Falls on Brookshire trail just below where it jcts the BMT.


    I climb Brookshire trail and it's a steep workout but I reach the top water source for a CS in Sled Runner Gap on State Line Ridge.


    I set up in Sled Runner Gap and meet my next Thru Hiker---Jared aka Beast from Florida---and a little bit confused about the route.

  4. #4

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    Just after Jared leaves Sled Runner Gap this Thru Hiker walks by and her name is Spitfire.


    I leave Sled Runner Gap and head west on State Line Ridge and stop at this spring source on Round Top Mt #6 (there are 7 total Round Top hills).


    Getting water at Round Top spring and I call it Rattlesnake Spring. See next pic.


    On a previous trip I stopped at the spring and got full water and then stood up and noticed this pit viper---right next to where I was pumping water. Odd.


    Morning with nettle tea on State Line Ridge.


    State Line Ridge heads west and drops me down to Sandy Gap and two miles later I'm in Six Mile Gap where I see my last BMT Thru Hikers---Dad Bod and Aly.


    I leave Six Mile Gap and the BMT on a manway trail up to Waucheesi Mt which connects me to Warrior's Passage trail a mile below the mountain.

  5. #5

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    I reach the top trailhead to Warrior's Passage and slap on the microspikes for a couple steep sections.


    Warrior's Passage is a great backpacking trip and you have to cross Wildcat Creek as you head northwest.


    After a night on Wildcat Creek I gear up on my last day and pull a 3 mile Old Furnace roadwalk and stop for a snack break.


    The trip ends on Tellico River by Tellico Beach hamburger stand.


    A great place to end a trip cuz it has covered picnic areas.


    And so the trip ends as I wait for my ride home.

  6. #6

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    Great all around report. Do your pit vipers no longer get names?

  7. #7
    Siestita's Avatar
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    Thanks for another great report with fine pictures!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Recalc View Post
    Great all around report. Do your pit vipers no longer get names?
    Yes, this one is Jimmy---and alot friendlier than another snake I saw on State Line Ridge---named Adolf Hissler.

  9. #9
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    Default

    Enjoyed the report, looks like a great trip.

    In January I too took the Warriors Passage trail, over to Waucheesi Mt, manway to BMT and then camped down in Secret Camp on Kirkland Creek. I took Kirkland Creek all the way to the end the road and walked back to WP trail and out. Some pics from camp and before and after on WP trail.
    20A72136-F77D-4284-9F23-BAE60A2CDC4D.jpg735B37CC-6DF9-4FA4-9C1C-4DCBB9544BE3.jpg92BA0971-FBFD-4A3B-92CB-17E212D896BD.jpgF10485A6-F5AC-451B-9378-331CFEB5CD7D.jpg

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    Enjoyed the report, looks like a great trip.

    In January I too took the Warriors Passage trail, over to Waucheesi Mt, manway to BMT and then camped down in Secret Camp on Kirkland Creek. I took Kirkland Creek all the way to the end the road and walked back to WP trail and out. Some pics from camp and before and after on WP trail.
    20A72136-F77D-4284-9F23-BAE60A2CDC4D.jpg735B37CC-6DF9-4FA4-9C1C-4DCBB9544BE3.jpg92BA0971-FBFD-4A3B-92CB-17E212D896BD.jpgF10485A6-F5AC-451B-9378-331CFEB5CD7D.jpg
    You're one of the rare backpackers ever to use Warrior's Passage. I also did Kirkland on this trip and spent many hours trying to open it up with my pruners and folding saw. It's a mess.

    Trip 217 (294)-XL.jpg
    Here's my Kirkland "secret" camp.

    Trip 217 (282)-XL.jpg
    One of a thousand blowdowns on Kirkland trail.

    When you finished Kirkland did you roadwalk Bald River road up to Basin Gap and get back on Warrior's Passage or did you backtrack up Kirkland to Waucheesi Mt to WP???

  11. #11
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    We finally visited Bald River Falls several weeks ago and walked the trail for a little bit (just a dayhike). Was nice to reminisce for a moment while reading your report.
    The day we visited the forecast used a word nobody had heard before, graupel. Looked it up, and apparently it's snowflakes that have had water freeze on them. Not sure how it's different from sleet.
    Anyhow, we donned our graupel pants and graupel coats and carried graupel umbrellas. Took a couple short videos of the graupel hitting the rocks and bouncing off - just like sleet.

  12. #12
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    You're one of the rare backpackers ever to use Warrior's Passage. I also did Kirkland on this trip and spent many hours trying to open it up with my pruners and folding saw. It's a mess.

    Trip 217 (294)-XL.jpg
    Here's my Kirkland "secret" camp.

    Trip 217 (282)-XL.jpg
    One of a thousand blowdowns on Kirkland trail.

    When you finished Kirkland did you roadwalk Bald River road up to Basin Gap and get back on Warrior's Passage or did you backtrack up Kirkland to Waucheesi Mt to WP???
    Many thanks for your work on Kirkland, I would not have enjoyed that in the summer, it was exceptionally brushy in January.

    After Kirkland I roadwalked Bald River Road all the way to its junction with WP trail, past Basin Gap. It was quite a peaceful, enjoyable roadwalk as the snow was really coming down (3ish inches, thick flakes) and I did not see a single vehicle the whole walk and didn’t even see tire tracks in the snow. I looked for a manway you’ve mentioned before connecting Basin Gap to Mule Pen Gap but couldn’t find it on either end.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    We finally visited Bald River Falls several weeks ago and walked the trail for a little bit (just a dayhike). Was nice to reminisce for a moment while reading your report.
    The day we visited the forecast used a word nobody had heard before, graupel. Looked it up, and apparently it's snowflakes that have had water freeze on them. Not sure how it's different from sleet.
    Anyhow, we donned our graupel pants and graupel coats and carried graupel umbrellas. Took a couple short videos of the graupel hitting the rocks and bouncing off - just like sleet.
    I prefer sleet. I don't know if I can grapple with graupel Ha Ha Ha. Bald River trail is a great backpacking trail for newbies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    Many thanks for your work on Kirkland, I would not have enjoyed that in the summer, it was exceptionally brushy in January.

    After Kirkland I roadwalked Bald River Road all the way to its junction with WP trail, past Basin Gap. It was quite a peaceful, enjoyable roadwalk as the snow was really coming down (3ish inches, thick flakes) and I did not see a single vehicle the whole walk and didnít even see tire tracks in the snow. I looked for a manway youíve mentioned before connecting Basin Gap to Mule Pen Gap but couldnít find it on either end.
    I've done this 126 roadwalk several times to connect Bald River wilderness to Warrior's Passage---without having to go up Kirkland to Sandy Gap to Six Mile Gap and up to Waucheesi Mt etc. It's a tough roadwalk from Bald River up to Basin Gap cuz it's steep. In Basin Gap I stay on Bald River road 126 down to where it jcts Warrior's Passage by Tobe Creek but I keep roadwalking until 126 jcts FS 384 (Wildcat Creek road) and follow it up to another WP road crossing where I get on WP etc.

    In Basin Gap you can shortcut to WP to Mule Pen Gap on a gated logging cut as shown with this map---my yellow line shows the logging cut manway.


  14. #14

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    Man.....I love me an uncle fungus trip report


  15. #15

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    This pic shows the old logging cut shortcut from Basin Gap to Mule Pen Gap---as my pack is sitting in Basin Gap during a reststop.


  16. #16

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    Also, I am rather shocked there is a trail in the wilderness that you haven't been on. Right on!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue indian View Post
    Also, I am rather shocked there is a trail in the wilderness that you haven't been on. Right on!
    Whigg Ridge Trail #86 is a strange trail and one I never hiked--because it climbs to a dirt road---altho if you're heading up to Whiggs Meadow from Sycamore Creek it's one option but steep. I prefer reaching the Whigg on Sycamore Creek trail---longer but much easier. But I had to do it on this trip cuz it's been recently completely cleared and opened.


    The red line shows Whigg Ridge trail coming from Whiggs gravel road down to Sycamore Creek.

  18. #18
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I've done this 126 roadwalk several times to connect Bald River wilderness to Warrior's Passage---without having to go up Kirkland to Sandy Gap to Six Mile Gap and up to Waucheesi Mt etc. It's a tough roadwalk from Bald River up to Basin Gap cuz it's steep. In Basin Gap I stay on Bald River road 126 down to where it jcts Warrior's Passage by Tobe Creek but I keep roadwalking until 126 jcts FS 384 (Wildcat Creek road) and follow it up to another WP road crossing where I get on WP etc.

    In Basin Gap you can shortcut to WP to Mule Pen Gap on a gated logging cut as shown with this map---my yellow line shows the logging cut manway.

    Yeah Tobe Creek is where I got back on. Thanks for the manway pic, I thought that might be it but the fact I couldn’t find it’s ending when in Mule Pen earlier deterred me from trying it. I’ll have to try it next time. Any pics of the shortcut in Mule Pen by chance? The only other path I noticed there was a road that went down to a creek crossing and the wrong direction. I noticed a few side-trails branching off of WP shortly after Mule Pen but none seemed to be heading the right way??

  19. #19
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    Wow, I missed you by a day! I did the BMT section from the Fish Hatchery to the Hangover starting on May 13th. I also thought of you when I dropped down off the BMT, using the Haoe Lead and then the Jenkins Meadow trail to the Joyce Kilmer. Jenkins Meadow trail is an overgrown Haydes of briars, blowdowns, and invisible trail...really looked completely abandoned and all I kept saying was "where is Tipi with his loppers when I need him?" Too bad I missed seeing you...I even drove slow when I went past Tellico Beach to see if you were lounging around waiting for your ride! Thanks for the trip report!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    Yeah Tobe Creek is where I got back on. Thanks for the manway pic, I thought that might be it but the fact I couldnít find itís ending when in Mule Pen earlier deterred me from trying it. Iíll have to try it next time. Any pics of the shortcut in Mule Pen by chance? The only other path I noticed there was a road that went down to a creek crossing and the wrong direction. I noticed a few side-trails branching off of WP shortly after Mule Pen but none seemed to be heading the right way??

    This pic shows Mule Pen Gap on WP. The red line is coming in from Basin Gap on the old logging cut. The green line shows the actual Warrior's Passage trail entering the gap from an ATV trail above Rocky Branch Creek. The red line climbs the hill with this carsonite trailpost---


    So if you're standing in Mule Pen Gap it's easy to miss where WP trail leaves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mockernut View Post
    Wow, I missed you by a day! I did the BMT section from the Fish Hatchery to the Hangover starting on May 13th. I also thought of you when I dropped down off the BMT, using the Haoe Lead and then the Jenkins Meadow trail to the Joyce Kilmer. Jenkins Meadow trail is an overgrown Haydes of briars, blowdowns, and invisible trail...really looked completely abandoned and all I kept saying was "where is Tipi with his loppers when I need him?" Too bad I missed seeing you...I even drove slow when I went past Tellico Beach to see if you were lounging around waiting for your ride! Thanks for the trip report!
    Just missed each other. And yes, Jenkins is always a narrow hallway of CRAP---and very steep coming up from the bottom. And dangit the forest service really blew it when they abandoned the Jenkins connector trail to Naked Ground trail. And Jenkins is really bad going up from the parking area on Kilmer memorial road. Briars out the butt etc. But Jenkins does have a couple nice CSs.

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