Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Creek Wilderness

I was sorting through some trip photos from last year and came across these from a trip I made into the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wildernes last October. There’s some pretty good pics from that trip so I thought I’d share them.

Started the first day along the Slickrock creek trail. The first two pictures are of Lake Cheoah.

Slickrock Creek Trail, NC.

Photos of Slickrock Creek, NC

Slickrock Creek Trail covered by leaves in October.

Crystal clear but cold water, Slickrock Creek, NC.

Leaves fill the creek.

A small waterfall along Slickrock Creek, NC.

Slickrock Creek, NC

A small friend.

Waterfalls including Widlcat falls along Slickrock Creek, NC.

My Oware tarp setup next to Slickrock Creek, NC.

The next day I headed for higher ground. 

At the crossroads.

Gaining in Elevation along the Hangover Lead Trail.

My campsite near the Hangover in the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Creek Wilderness.

Sunset looking toward Bob Stratton Bald.

Sunset looking out towards the Tellico Plains.

Sunset looking towards the Smoky Mountains.

The next morning I took Pictures of the sunrise from the Hangover.

The sunrise looking towards Bob Stratton Bald.

Sunrise looking towards the Smoky Mountains from The Hangover.

This is the Hangover Lead Trail ridge I will follow to go home.

Back on flat ground along the Ike Branch Trail.

The sign at the start (for me now its the finish) of the trail.

My lonely car.



Big Summer wrap up

Summer always provides the lightest of days. From a gear stand point that is. The pack gets lighter as less equipment is needed to face the elements and demands of winter. Those spring and fall mid-layers and shells are gone too, and my feet seem to move faster. My shoulders don't call out in pain under the stress of a heavy load. Summer's long days also expand the distances covered hiking, and the daylight hours in camp go up too. I like to bring only the essentials and savor the forest not my gear. 

I went up Mt LeConte in the Smoky Mountains back in June. There were people bringing all sorts of crazy things I'd never put in my pack. One guy brought one of those fire starter logs, thing must weigh five pounds, and it was almost useless after a massive rain shower drenched all the wood around the shelter. 

Don't get me started about shelters in the Smoky Mountains. I don't want to start any kind of riot so I'll just say that I prefer to throw up my tarp somewhere and chill out on the quietude and the sublime. While the people we met at the shelters were all great people, the frat house atmosphere is not quite what I'm after in my outdoor experience. I mean these people carried more alcohol and food than I had gear in my pack.

Now, I must admit I had a damn good time drinking many different whiskeys, and I learned some things; like, Mark Twain is still alive and awaiting the return of Haley's Comet. I really did have a damn good time, but my usual style is a flask of whiskey in my pack, and with that I just get mellow and soak in the views and sounds around me. I'm not against having a good time, but I prefer to party at parties and camp at camp I guess. 

After the Smokys I went up Cold Mountain as I usually try to do each summer and I got to wondering why so many people stop in Deep Gap and stay the night there, only to come up to the summit of Cold Mountain the next day to check it out. I wonder why they just don't come on the rest of the way and stay up top. Maybe they don't know the secrets that summit holds so they stand off. I love being up there where the hawks fly.

I ended the summer with a trip to Panthertown. It was my first time ever there and it won't be my last. The valley and surrounding mountain tops here are a marvel of erosion and many other geological forces. I just wandered in and with my pack at 18 pounds decided I'd just walk around and go wherever I chose. The area has so many trails running through it so I just made up my route as I went along. Upon seeing The Great Wall of Panthertown I was wishing I had brought my climbing gear and a friend.

There is everything you look for in a hike around Panthertown - waterfalls, rivers, flat valley forest, steep climbs, lots of killer views, and lots of exposed rock.





















On a late September evening I set my tarp up at a place called Tranquility Point. I had fortunately stumbled upon the perfect end to the summer and I was soaking it up. Sipping some whiskey and laying back listening to my iPod I watched the sun go down, leaving behind a sky of gold it took the summer with it.



April Cools

 Early April and already its warming up here in Georgia, with temperatures reaching into the upper 60's lower 70's (between 15 and 12 celsius). With a snowy cold winter season seeming in the rear view mirror at this point, I chose to do some camping besides the Jacks river.

 To make a long story short, when I got there the temperature was right at freezing and I'm wearing sandals because its the Jacks River and you have to cross the river over and over. At the first river crossing I decide to take a nip of Bailey's cream from my flask. My thermometer is reading 36 F (2.2 C) and the water is brutal. One swig isn't enough, neither is two. I drink half the flask before I feel comfortable enough to take the plunge.  My feet go numb instantly, my legs seconds later. I brought the Bailey's to take the chill out of the   

night and the next morning and already half was gone and I was not really warm at all.

  As I hiked on the air did get warmer but the water stayed cold. By now blood was pumping through my legs and I wasn't really minding the water temperature anymore.

   At camp I found lots of wood since it was early spring and not many people had been out yet. I cut up some short logs with my laplander saw and then split them into quarters using my knife. I set up the tarp and ate, lit a fire and watched the forest turn dark. A small bog nearby provided me with a constant chorus of frogs. It was weird because around 3 am those forgs just suddenly stopped croaking.

 The next morning I got up and finished off what was left of the Bailey's with my espresso. Did some exercise in the cool morning air and packed up for the walk out. The river and the air were warmer than the day before. I made good time back to the car and began wondering what kind of summer it would be.