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View Full Version : Slickrock Creek Wilderness next week anyone?



SGT Rock
2013-04-05, 16:38
I'm thinking of doing some hiking around the Slickrock Creek Wilderness next week. The idea is to finally go walk and plot some alternate trails for bypassing the Slickrock Creek crossing when the weather is bad. The trip should include the hangover, Naked Ground, Stratton Bald, and Slickrock Creek itself possibly. No exact details except hiking from Tuesday to Thursday.

Is anyone interested?

Hog On Ice
2013-04-05, 16:47
I would have jumped on this one but I have a Dr. appt on Thursday

SGT Rock
2013-04-05, 16:50
Tell him you'll be there Friday.

SGT Rock
2013-04-06, 08:11
OK, last night on my break I made some tentative plans.

Tuesday, Day 1:

0930 Link up at Big Fat Gap.

Hike out to Yellow Hammer Gap and then back to Slickrock Creek with side trips on a couple of trails. Then up to the BMT on Big Stack Gap Trail and back. Total walking this day should be about 10.2 miles and camping on Slickrock Creek.

Wednesday, Day 2:

Wake up and do breakfast at camp, then hike up to Big Fat Gap. on the Big Fat Gap Trail. Since we have to go right past the cars again, I plan to only take one day of food on Day 1, and resupply from my car before continuing up the trail. From Big Fat Gap, head up to Haoever Lead, Naked Ground, and eventually go to Cherry Log Gap. Once there, head back up to Naked Ground and camp there since there is supposed to be a spring close by. Total walking this day should be about 11.5 miles with side trips.

Thursday, Day 3:

Do breakfast and then head down Slickrock Creek Trail (AKA Ball Buster) to Windy Gap Trail, with a side trip to the cascade. Then take Windy Gap back to Big Fat Gap for the end of the trip. Total mileage this day should be 8.3 miles.

The total miles hiked over the three days should only be 30 miles.

southmark
2013-04-06, 10:25
Wish I were not so far away or I would join you. Tried do do Hangover back in January after Ruck but did not know road to Big Fat Gap was closed.

Bearpaw
2013-04-06, 15:50
If it were a weekend,I'd be in, but I've only got one personal day left for this school year. Let me know how things go.

SGT Rock
2013-04-06, 16:01
I'm sort of the other way around. I work a lot of weekends and I had some days off this coming week that they haven't scheduled me mandatory overtime for yet. So I decided I needed some time in the woods. I know a year ago Gene said he wanted to do some of these hikes with me, but this is probably peak thru-hiker season for him.

Update....
The weather for the hike:

Tuesday - High 77, low 58, 10% chance of precipitation.

Wednesday - High 75, low 60, 20% chance of precipitation.

Thursday - High 71, low 54, 40% chance of thunderstorms. Maybe I'll make it out before they start...

Subtract 1 to 15 degrees for elevation for each night.

SGT Rock
2013-04-08, 12:48
Getting my pack finalized. Anyone think they may make it?

sheepdog
2013-04-09, 00:02
I'll be in jail.

Bearhunter
2013-04-09, 00:26
I'll be in jail.

Probation violation again ;)

SGT Rock
2013-04-09, 00:52
He is only out on work release now.

sheepdog
2013-04-09, 01:30
It was a misunderstanding and then I got screwed by my lawyer. I'm totally innocent.

jrwiesz
2013-04-09, 02:54
He needs relocating to Shawshank.

Big Mac
2013-04-09, 07:34
It was a misunderstanding and then I got screwed by my lawyer. I'm totally innocent.

Lol - I had a pastor that spent 20 years as a prison chaplain. He always said he never met a guilty man in all that time.

Tin Man
2013-04-09, 08:19
I'm taking some Scouts hiking the AT in NY from Cats Rocks area to Bear Mtn. bridge Sat-Tues. or I would go with you. :)

SGT Rock
2013-04-09, 08:25
I've just put my stuff in the truck and I'm about to head out.

Tin Man
2013-04-09, 08:27
Enjoy!

SGT Rock
2013-04-11, 20:53
I just got back. Man that was brutal. HOI you are probably better off for not coming. Wilderness off the BMT is WILDERNESS.

Skidsteer
2013-04-11, 21:05
I just got back. Man that was brutal. HOI you are probably better off for not coming. Wilderness off the BMT is WILDERNESS.

You're not fooling anyone. We know you dug it.

Big Mac
2013-04-11, 21:07
You're not fooling anyone. We know you dug it.

Exactly what I was thinking.

SGT Rock
2013-04-11, 21:15
I did have a good time. But I am whipped.

Bearpaw
2013-04-11, 21:15
I just got back. Man that was brutal. HOI you are probably better off for not coming. Wilderness off the BMT is WILDERNESS.

Too bad you couldn't hook up with Tipi Walter. He uses downed trees and preserved bear scat as major landmarks.

SGT Rock
2013-04-11, 21:17
I kept expecting to run into him, but never did. I've got about 100 pictures of my hike to share. After I take a shower.

SGT Rock
2013-04-12, 23:15
Slickrock Trip report: AKA beat me up hike.

The morning of April 9th, I departed from home expecting it to take about 1.5 hours to drive to the trail head as it was only about 46 miles from the house, but it turns out the country roads were a little slower than anticipated and It took me a little longer to get there. As it was I started hiking about 0930.

I started by going down the lower half of the Hangover Lead Trail. I had heard this was a rough trail as it was designed in the days of straight up and down ridges, and it lived up to that reputation. Fortunately for me the way was mostly down. That said, I quickly found out that in this wilderness area, trail maintenance is not done with any frequency. It isn't easy finding people willing to hike miles straight up and down mountains with a crosscut saw and cut blow downs for hours. I'll add that hogs are now starting to tear up the trail bed hunting for food. At times I was not sure if I was on the trail because there were no established foootbeds, and these hog furrows erased any remainder of a trail sign. But in general, if you were going straight up or down the most likely path, then you were likely on the trail. It reminded me of the Duncan Ridge Trail.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/slickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20001.JPG
Typical lower half of Hangover Lead Trail.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/a-slickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20002.jpg
Straight down, yep there is a trail there somewhere.

It also didn't take long for me to relaize that my skin was pasty white from wearing long pants and shirts at work, and the trees were not even close to budding this spring yet.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20007.jpg
pasty white hiker starting to burn

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20008.jpg
At the end of the trail I ended up on my section of the BMT. The best maintained part of the whole hike BTW. The distance for the lower half of Hangover Lead Trail is ~2.5 miles. I relaized I was a little low on my initial estimate of the trail length. This was to become a trend...

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20010.jpg
I stopped for water at the intersection of Yellowhammer Gap Trail at one of my favorite springs. While there I took a quick side shot of my homemad epack version 3.0

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20012.jpg
I'm no plant guy, but I think this is Trillium.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20013.jpg
I'm starting to like this new camera! In the old days I would have screwed up this picture.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20014.jpg
Ferns starting to come out. Does this constitute a fiddlehead fern?

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20015.jpg
Purple flowers.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20016.jpg
Yellow flowers.

Eventually I got down to the intersection with Nichols Cover Trail. This area is the site of the Dotson family's farm. Here I found some man made stacks of rocks, old roofing, and some other stuff like old tubs. Length of the Yellowhammer Gap trail was ~1.8 miles long, longer than I expected.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20017.jpg
Rocks

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20018.jpg
old roofing and tubs.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20020.jpg
It's hard to tell from this picture, but it looks like a squared off rock basin for a spring box.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20022.jpg
And here at the intersection sign are the graves for two girls of the Dotson family.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20024.jpg
It's hard to read from the photo, but it says:

Two Daughters of John and Margret Dotson
Born December 14 1914
Died December 20 1914

It's sad to think about the hard life people lived in these remote areas. Imagine being pregnant and having to deliver twins in your own snowed in little cabin 30 miles from the nearest town (Robbinsville). Then losing them 6 days later and having to dig into frozen ground for their graves. If they had lived, they would now be 98 years old, about to turn 99 this year.

After eating lunch and fixing some of the rocks surrounding the little cemetary, I moved on up the trail past Windy Gap Trail and down to Slickrock trail The total length for that section of the Nichols Cover Trail was ~1.7 miles. I then went down and crossed Slickrock Creek which was very welcome since the temperature was about 78F

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20030.jpg
Who is that fat guy in the creek?

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20031.jpg

On the far side I sat down and had a snack and closed my eyes for a quick nap. A quick nap turned into an hour nap. It was good. If it were not for needing to walk Big Stack Gap Branch Trail (that is a mouthfull) I would have quit there for the day. But I'm doing this for the annual BMT walk through and looking for a bypass for the deep ford of Slickrock Creek further down stream when the weather is bad. BMT, this ford is an option using that strategy which I'll write up at a later date. The creek here is about half the volume that it is further down at the "official" crossing. There are approximately 8 major feeder creeks into SlickrockCreek at this point. Below this point there are 8 more major feeder creeks into Slickrock Creek before the official crossing. This would be the shortest bypass route for a hike with the obvious possible drawback that this could also be too high.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20031.jpg
To give an idea of how powerfull this creek can be. This is a piece of railroad that has washed down the creek from back when this area was logged. This creek had numerous crossings that would wash out during its operational history, and parts of the railroad that couldn't be recovered are still in the valley.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20035.jpg
Another part.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20033.jpg
What this creek is looking like today. This is up, as this has been a rainy few months lately.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20037.jpg
A ford site across Slickrock Creek at the low end of Big Stack Gap Branch Trail. This would not be part of the bypass.

I climbed the trail which is pretty unremarkable as trail goes. Near the top of the trail there is a spring and sign eating trees. The length of this trail is 1.7 miles, and the connector of Slickrock Creek Trail is about 0.8 miles.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20038.jpg

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20040.jpg
Campsite on the BMT at the top of Big Stack Gap Trail. Water is 0.2 miles down the trail near the sign eating tree.

Anyhow. After finishing the recon, I walked back down to where I took my nap and set up camp. I did about 10.8 miles total this day.

End of day one.

SGT Rock
2013-04-12, 23:56
The 10th of April (Wednesday) I got up and started to pack up. I realized I had left my grits in my re-supply bag at my truck. I only carried 1.5 days of food for the start of my hike since I was going right past my truck again that morning. So I packed up and made a quick trip up to my truck via the Big Fat Gap Trail. On the way I found a campsite with an old wood stove at it.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20041.jpg

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20043.jpg

The Big Fat Gap Trail ended up at about 1.5 miles long. When I got to the truck I cooked grits and made lots of coffee. I really took a longer break than I had planned on. Oh well....
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20044.jpg

From there I started hiking up the upper end of Hangover Lead Trail. Along the way I got a glimpse of the ridge I was heading to that day
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20045.jpg

I never actually saw the intersection with Locust Ridge Trail, but there is a campsite at a gap near there where I think it would be logical for a trail to join in. At a later date I may go back and look at that. Up the trail a little further I found a cool rock that makes a semi-good lean to with a table under it
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20046.jpg

Past that I made my way up to a gap without a name on the map, where there were a couple of campsites and it looked swampy enough that there should be water around it somewhere, but I never found it. Maybe Tipi Walter can tell me if there is water. Past that the trail got bad. First I had to use my hands at times to climb, then it started around a knob and the trail has briars starting to grow into it, and the trail sags and climbs constantly
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20047.jpg

But eventually there was some pay off. Near the top I found a sping and a side trail out to a little rock bald point where there was nearly a 360 degree view
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20048.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20049.jpg

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20050.jpg
So I had lunch of Nutella and flat bread with cold spring water and a cool breeze.

After lunch I made the sort finish to Saddle Tree Gap. This is a point I had been sweating: two maps showed a short trail up to Haoe Lead Trail, but Nat Geo didn't show the trail. Luckily the trail was there. The Hangover Lead Trail section up to here was about 2.8 miles
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20051.jpg

I followed a side trail that was supposed to lead to the site of an old fire tower, on the way there, this cool bald with campsites made for a nice break:
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20053.jpg

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20054.jpg
View from the bald.

Past the bald (maybe the site of the cabin for the fire tower guys?) there was a rocky point which is probably where the fire tower was. 360 degree views!
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20057.jpg
The point

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20055.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20056.jpg
The views.

The distance on the side trail was about 0.2 miles. Back down to Haoe Lead Trail heading to Naked Ground, the area looks like the remnants of an old bald. Lots of grassy "fields" wifh short trees mixed with very old gnarled trees. There are campsites and possible sites all along this area inclucing a couple with springs if you can belive it.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20059.jpg
Typical terrain along the ridge.

I stopped at Naked Ground where I was going to camp that night, and did a quick map check to figure that the distance from the last intersection was about 1.1. Then I headed to Stratton Bald, which is no longer bald at all and was about 0.5 miles from Naked Ground. Past that I got close to Bob Bald, but just before I got there I could smell Balsam trees and the trail then went right through here where the first shade in hours was
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20062.jpg

Past that was Bob Bald, about 0.8 miles past Stratton Bald. Pictures don't do it justice.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20063.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20064.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20066.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20067.jpg

From there I went down to the intersections of two trails (I have to find a name for them somewhere) near a piped spring. This piped spring is only about 0.5 miles from Bob Bald which is very convinent if you were going to camp on Bob Bald.

I hiked back to Naked Ground and went to get some water from the spring, but found hogs had been wallowing in the closest spring. Total miles that day was about 10.2.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20068.jpg
Luckily this area is full of springs, so I found another and got water, which I still boiled that night just in case.

I set up back near the top of Naked Ground because the breeze was keeping the skeeters away
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20070.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20071.jpg

Later than night, the nice breeze turned into about 30 mph winds. I had to set my tarp up for bad storms just to keep the wind out.

End of day two.

saimyoji
2013-04-12, 23:58
ok...i'll be the first to say it:

Damn, you got FAT! Starting to look like me.

Great report Rock, great pics. Suckage.....

SGT Rock
2013-04-13, 00:01
ok...i'll be the first to say it:

Damn, you got FAT! Starting to look like me.

Great report Rock, great pics. Suckage.....

My legs and arms are still lean. Middle aged spread when you stop trying to keep up with 20 year old soldiers.

I'm tired. I'll finish this tomorrow. Trying to keep up with Bearpaw standards is hard work.

Bearpaw
2013-04-13, 00:14
That area is maybe an hour from my new home. I HAVE to get out and check out Bob Bald and the Naked Ground area.

Bearpaw
2013-04-13, 00:17
My legs and arms are still lean. Middle aged spread when you stop trying to keep up with 20 year old soldiers.

I'm tired. I'll finish this tomorrow. Trying to keep up with Bearpaw standards is hard work.

The trick is to write up the report on Word and paste in the IMG code from Photobucket. Then paste the whole thing into the comment box. BLAM! A whole day posted with pics in about 15 seconds. I can post a four day trip in a minute or so.

Keep cranking. It's getting me excited about getting out there.

Bearhunter
2013-04-13, 00:33
That's a great report and pics!
Thanks :cool:

It's also a really nice looking area. I'm originally from Alabama and those pics remind me a lot of home :)

SGT Rock
2013-04-13, 04:51
That area is maybe an hour from my new home. I HAVE to get out and check out Bob Bald and the Naked Ground area.


The trick is to write up the report on Word and paste in the IMG code from Photobucket. Then paste the whole thing into the comment box. BLAM! A whole day posted with pics in about 15 seconds. I can post a four day trip in a minute or so.

Keep cranking. It's getting me excited about getting out there.
I was working with notepad, but word would probably work better. I didn't use photobucket, I just uploaded to my own server. I keep thinking I should get the gallery software to go with the site so we can share photos easier. But besides doing the journal stuff I am also looking at the tracks in DeLorme and making trail notes for the guidebook. this fall when I do the updates I'll be including some of this information in a couple of new pages for the bypasses around the major fords since they seem to scare people. I figure most people will never need them, but the comfort of having them will overcome some fears of the trail, and it is a great excuse to go hiking. I already did the Noland Creek bypass recon last year.

Bob Bald, Naked Ground, and that site of the old fire tower would make an excellent hike into meeting for some folks around here. It wouldn't be a far walk at all, the trails are not killers, and we could do a loop over a couple of days with short miles and hit both, or drop a car on one end and hike from the other. Naked ground AO is perfect for hammockers too since it is like a bald, but full of trees for hanging off of. I've also hung up on Bob Bald. I was thinking that later this year we should plan some sort of get together up there. Maybe HOI and some of the Georgia/Alabama/Virginia folks could come. Hell, even Tin Man could make this one.


That's a great report and pics!
Thanks :cool:

It's also a really nice looking area. I'm originally from Alabama and those pics remind me a lot of home :)

I'm originally from Decatur Alabama, and my wife is from Alabaster.

generoll
2013-04-13, 09:05
are those apple trees on Bobs Bald?

Bearhunter
2013-04-13, 18:47
I was working with notepad, but word would probably work better. I didn't use photobucket, I just uploaded to my own server. I keep thinking I should get the gallery software to go with the site so we can share photos easier. But besides doing the journal stuff I am also looking at the tracks in DeLorme and making trail notes for the guidebook. this fall when I do the updates I'll be including some of this information in a couple of new pages for the bypasses around the major fords since they seem to scare people. I figure most people will never need them, but the comfort of having them will overcome some fears of the trail, and it is a great excuse to go hiking. I already did the Noland Creek bypass recon last year.

Bob Bald, Naked Ground, and that site of the old fire tower would make an excellent hike into meeting for some folks around here. It wouldn't be a far walk at all, the trails are not killers, and we could do a loop over a couple of days with short miles and hit both, or drop a car on one end and hike from the other. Naked ground AO is perfect for hammockers too since it is like a bald, but full of trees for hanging off of. I've also hung up on Bob Bald. I was thinking that later this year we should plan some sort of get together up there. Maybe HOI and some of the Georgia/Alabama/Virginia folks could come. Hell, even Tin Man could make this one.



I'm originally from Decatur Alabama, and my wife is from Alabaster.

No kidding :cool:
I'm originally from just outside of Eva and moved to Montana in '95.

Cuffs
2013-04-13, 19:30
There ain't nothin outside Eva. Cept maybe Cullman, but who the hell wants to be from there?

SGT Rock
2013-04-13, 19:49
are those apple trees on Bobs Bald?

I didn't try and eat the tree, but it looked like it was made from wood.

SGT Rock
2013-04-13, 19:53
No kidding :cool:
I'm originally from just outside of Eva and moved to Montana in '95.


There ain't nothin outside Eva. Cept maybe Cullman, but who the hell wants to be from there?

I couldn't even picture where Eva is, I had to look it up.

Elder
2013-04-13, 20:06
There ain't nothin outside Eva. Cept maybe Cullman, but who the hell wants to be from there?

Hey! My wife has family from Cullman...oh, good point.

Bearhunter
2013-04-13, 20:33
There ain't nothin outside Eva. Cept maybe Cullman, but who the hell wants to be from there?

Yep, I grew up 'in the sticks' and still live 'in the sticks' in Montana too :cool:

Growing up, the fields and woods were my 'playground' ;)

And yes your right... Cullman SUCKS :D

SGT Rock
2013-04-13, 21:34
Day 3, 11 April, the day I got thrashed by the trail.

It started out well, I got up early (for me) at about 0730 and had a great breakfast with lots of coffee and some good music. I packed up and the pack was pretty light at this point, what could go wrong?

Well I have been hearing these horror stories about the upper end of Slickrock Creek trail. Things like: “The creek is the trail”, “It goes STRAIGHT DOWN”, and “It’s covered up in rhododendron from lack of maintenance”. So when I left Naked Ground, the obviously most traveled trail went right down into the springs and kept going over into heavy growths of rhododendron. So I followed that. After about 20 minutes I had made about 0.2 miles, and it was like this:
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20072.jpg

I took that picture thinking someday the searchers would find my body and that would be some sort of record of what killed me. Luckily I am smarter now than I used to be, so I quit going down and fought my way back up about 200’ of elevation through that crap back to Naked Ground and started doing a clover leaf search pattern. It didn’t take long to figure out that there was this trail that was well maintained, fairly level, and DRY descending down and to my right. I came back and cut an arrow into a tree (please forgive me LNT gods) and took a picture so future hikers would know what to look for instead of paying attention to all the rumors.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20073.jpg
Forked tree beside the fallen log

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20074.jpg
The arrow.

The upper end of this trail was VERY well maintained, nothing like I had heard, although it did go through some rhododendron.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20075.jpg

At about 0.4 miles out, I found a nice bowl in the rhododendron that had a great view from the high spot in it.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20077.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20078.jpg

About 0.2 past that through, the maintenance ended. The trail wasn’t bad, but you could tell a difference.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20079.jpg

About 0.3 past that point, the straight down the side of the mountain stuff started. I’m not bullshittin’. At times I felt like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. And when I wasn’t doing some sort of acrobatics going downhill, it seemed like I was crawling under something or over the top of something else that had fallen into the trail. At times I could literally lean on the trail I had just walked on in a mostly standing position. There has been some trail maintenance there, but you gotta wonder at times if it isn’t more of a help to have a blowdown to climb up on rather than dirt. I guess some maintainer thought the same way and actually cut steps into one blow down that made it easier to get up and down in this spot than if they had removed the tree:

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20080.jpg
That tree is at eye level to where I am standing a couple of feet away from it.

Not too far from that last point, you finally go down a cliff and find some flat ground. The cliff is interesting in that at the very bottom there is a hole about the size for a bear to climb into. I wonder if one makes his winters there?
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20081.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20082.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20084.jpg

At this point I think the hell must be over. I’m down the trail just about 1.5 miles from where I started this morning, but it’s taken me about two hours since I broke camp to get here. There are some briers here, but nothing too bad, the ground seems mostly level and I even find some new flowers to photograph.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20086.jpg

But not far from that spot I run into Hemlock Hell.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20088.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20089.jpg

This is only a couple of these trees, and almost every one standing behind them is also dead and are coming down in stages. Imagine these trees at about 3’-4’ wide at the base and that gives you an idea of the scale. There were a lot more dead trees, but mostly I was trying not to fall off them. This tree was even my trail for a few feet
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20090.jpg

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20092.jpg
The trail is supposed to be in there somewhere.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20093.jpg

The trail here was blocked with vines and other crap, so I used another blow down as a trail around the high side
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20094.jpg

That section was only about ¼ mile long, but it was slow progress. Once I got past that I thought maybe I finally had normal trail, but again, it started the straight down thing again, though not as bad as before.

Finally at about 2.8 miles I landed (literally) on an old road bed. The trail went down that bed, but I needed water, and the other way on the old road led to a nice cascade
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20095.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20096.jpg

I enjoyed a good break and cooled off for a minute. It was now about 3 hours from when I had started. Normally by this point on the BMT or AT I would have walked about 6 miles or more.
The old road went for a while, and there were signs of human habitation along the trail like a wash tub
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20097.jpg

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20102.jpg
Whatever this was.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20103.jpg
A piece of train rail

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20104.jpg
Wheels off what may have been a train car or something.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20105.jpg

And lots of flowers
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20098.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20100.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20101.jpg

At the point I was finding all this, there was also supposed to be a side trail 0.7 miles to some cascades on the upper Slickrock Creek Trail. After some head scratching and looking at what made sense, I realized I had passed an old road bed that was not in use a few hundred feet back. So I went up that, and I did see occasional signs of foot travel along the road, and it did what one map said it should do. Another map didn’t have this trail at all – I should have used that map because that trail is FUBAR. It took me nearly an hour to make about 0.6 miles. I spent most of that time I was fighting rhododendron and not seeing much of the cascades. I eventually made it to about where I figured the end of the trail was. There were some cascades, but nowhere to camp, and nothing out of the ordinary for Slickrock Creek by way of rocks and water.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20106.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20107.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20108.jpg

So I hacked my way back down to the real trail and somehow tore up my sleeping pad pretty bad doing so. Unless I’m marched at gunpoint, I don’t plan to ever go back up there again. It is not something I would recommend either, unless you just want to say you did it.

So back on real trail, more flowers..
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20110.jpg
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20111.jpg
I’m not sure what species of plant that is. Actually it was a 1.5 liter bottle of kerosene that looks like it had been there for a long time. I got it up and carried it out.

Slickrock Creek got deeper and wider as I went down. And I wondered if there is a lower falls of Slickrock, is there an upper fall(s)? I can’t find one on a map anywhere. But there are lots of cascades.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20112.jpg

Uneventfully I made the rest of the trail back down to the junction with Big Fat Gap Trail and my campsite for the first night. The total length of the Slickrock Creek Trail between Naked Ground and this point looks to be about 5.3 miles. I’ll have to work out all the side trips I made looking for stuff to make sure I estimated that right. For what it is worth, the local name for this trail is “The Ballbuster” and Backpacker Magazine named it one of the twelve toughest trails.
Since I had already walked Big Fat Gap Trail up to Big Fat Gap, I decided to go back up to the Windy Gap Trail and try that route to Big Fat Gap. It was a little steep getting back up there, but by this time anything that wasn’t covered in landslides, rhododendron, briars, and blow-downs was a cake walk. The only thing that put a hitch in my step by this point was the heat was in the 80s and there wasn’t any tree cover for most of the walk. But I was on real trail, the wind was blowing some of the time, and I was close to the truck. At times I could catch glimpses of the ridge I was just up on the day before.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20113.jpg
That funny peak is where the fire tower used to be (I think).

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20115.jpg
And there were some new flowers to photograph

I finally made it to Windy Gap and found it was indeed windy. The entire time I was there the wind was constant. At first I couldn't figure out what had happened to this tent that was abandoned there, but I finally figured out it was a wind break for someone to use when relaxing up there or camping.
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20116.jpg

It is a nice spot to camp if you don’t mind the wind. Lots of firewood laying around, and it is on the end of a section of closed road that used to extend from Big Fat Gap to this point where there was parking. But when Slickrock was protected as wilderness, this place was inside that zone, so they closed the road at the point the wilderness starts. It is a nice, easy walk from Windy Gap to Big Fat Gap. This would make a good first night campsite for someone going to hike in Slickrock. You could get here and camp, then start hiking the next day. Sweet.

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20120.jpg
Mostly this section of trail is like this

And if the Windy Gap campsite is in use, there are others along this road
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20117.jpg

That trail was about 1.6 miles long, and the Windy Gap campsite is about 0.8 miles out from Big Fat Gap. In all, I did about 31 miles counting all the exploring and getting lost.

Bearhunter
2013-04-14, 00:24
Another great report! You shoulda crawled in the cave and looked for the bear :D :p

dixicritter
2013-04-14, 11:15
Another great report! You shoulda crawled in the cave and looked for the bear :D :p

Bella says he shouldn't have because she wasn't there to protect him.4899

Hog On Ice
2013-04-14, 12:17
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20012.jpg

yes its a trillium - Trillium sessile I think - common name toadshade
the smaller white flowers were white hepatica - Hepatica nobilis var. acuta

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20014.jpg

yes they are fiddleheads of a fern but not "fiddlehead fern" - not real sure which fern species it was - by the scales I would guess one of the wood ferns

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20015.jpg

long spurred violets - Viola rostrata

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20016.jpg

yellow violets - Viola pensylvanica I think

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20020.jpg

more long spurred violets

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20086.jpg

I'm stumped on this one - maybe a sedge of some sort (swag)

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20097.jpg

trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) and spring beauties (Claytonia caroliniana) I think

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20102.jpg

lots of spring beauties

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20103.jpg

spring beauties and foliage for dutchman's britches (Dicentra cucullaria) I think

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20104.jpg

spring beauty and foliage for trout lilies and dutchman's britches

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20098.jpg

nice trout lily pic, spring beauty in background

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20100.jpg

nice grouping of spring beauties and a few yellow violets

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20101.jpg

common blue violets - Viola sororia I think

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20110.jpg

nice mix of trout lilies and spring beauties

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20111.jpg

some triliums in the background - possibly Trillium grandiflorum

http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20115.jpg

trailing arbutus - Epigaea repens - flower smells very nice

Kanga
2013-04-14, 12:56
You never cease to amaze me HOI

Loneoak
2013-04-14, 13:16
HOI, thanks for coming along and naming those flowers. one day I'm goin to get me a wildflower book

SGT Rock
2013-04-14, 19:51
Hiking with HOI is always cool. He is a man of many many tallent.

Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

Rasty
2013-04-20, 19:35
Really cool pictures! I have been looking for my next trip. Slickrock may just have climbed to the top of my list. Maybe in January I will see Tipi.

Been lurking for a while and figured I would say something.

SGT Rock
2013-04-20, 20:48
Have fun down there.

john pickett
2013-04-22, 18:25
Damn! I miss the South!

Superman
2013-04-22, 19:12
I hope I'm free to go down south next year.

Hog On Ice
2013-04-28, 21:17
http://hikinghq.net/images/slickrock/aslickrock%20creek%20april%202013%20086.jpg

I'm stumped on this one - maybe a sedge of some sort (swag)



I asked the Shen Park Botanist about this plant and she asked another botanist in NPS, Jake Hughes, and we now know that this plant is Cymophyllus fraserianus (Frazier's sedge) see http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CYFR4&photoID=cyfr_2h.jpg and http://www.vaplantatlas.org/index.php?do=plant&plant=1302

SGT Rock
2013-04-28, 21:19
I was beginning to think it might be one of those pod plants from space that replace humans with exact replicas.

Bearpaw
2013-04-28, 21:34
I asked the Shen Park Botanist about this plant and she asked another botanist in NPS, Jake Hughes, and we now know that this plant is Cymophyllus fraserianus (Frazier's sedge) see http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CYFR4&photoID=cyfr_2h.jpg and http://www.vaplantatlas.org/index.php?do=plant&plant=1302


I was beginning to think it might be one of those pod plants from space that replace humans with exact replicas.

What if the botanists were actually plant aliens that had already taken he original botanists' bodies?! We'd never see the invasion coming!

saimyoji
2013-04-28, 21:35
I hope I'm free to go down south next year.

thats what she said....

Hog On Ice
2013-04-28, 21:35
well what it is is dang rare - Jake had never seen one in person - only pictures - most states where it has been found list it as Threatened, Endangered, or Special Concern

Bearpaw
2013-04-28, 21:37
well what it is is dang rare - Jake had never seen one in person - only pictures - most states where it has been found list it as Threatened, Endangered, or Special Concern

Well hell. Now they'll make us reroute the BMT a few miles away...

Damned aliens.

SGT Rock
2013-04-28, 21:44
well what it is is dang rare - Jake had never seen one in person - only pictures - most states where it has been found list it as Threatened, Endangered, or Special Concern

They're all over the place down in the Slickrock valley.

SGT Rock
2013-04-28, 21:45
Over there

https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR_l__inbSPUETvcMb-QlNucjyGpT9pfRrifmVEBme9ps7s-PnbiA

john pickett
2013-05-02, 13:18
Bearpaw! What have you been drinking?
Whatever, I want some!

Tipi Walter
2013-06-15, 15:28
I was out during your trip but several miles away in the Bald River wilderness and working my way to you on the Nutbuster by way of Brookshire, Sugar Mt, Whiggs Meadow and Beech Gap/Fodderstack---and much of it on the BMT. That April trip is here---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2013-1/Tipi-Walter-Slickrock-Creek/29319457_8pfx62#!i=2500939858&k=fPXW7wx

And then in May I returned because in April I followed your footsteps and backpacked up the NUTBUSTING NUT EATER SAC DRINKING BALLBUSTER TRAIL in a late April rainstorm (it was that crappy April 26th weekend) and discovered my favorite trail of all (the Nut Eater) totally hellish with all the hemlock blowdowns in the once Open Cove section which in your pictures is full of hemlock blowdowns. The above trip report has all the info and pics.

So, In May I spent 18 days in the Slickrock camping and working on the Nutbuster trail with my Corona folding saw and hand loppers. I cleared the bastard the whole way and even made that Hemlock Battlefield passable---so go back and enjoy it, boys. It was my 30th time climbing this most favorite of trails and I hope to be back on it in late June. My recent trail working trip is here---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2013-1/Tipi-Walter-Upper-Slickrock/29799851_cpDPQR#!i=2554284982&k=q6Tp89X

Tipi Walter
2013-06-15, 15:39
http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2013-1/Tipi-Walter-Upper-Slickrock/i-6M43BP7/0/L/TRIP%20145%20057-L.jpg

This pic pretty much encapsulates my last trip on the Nutbuster.

Anyway, here's MY report on YOUR report---and your surmised route---

** Started at Big Fat Gap.
** Took the hated Hangover Lead North out of the gap.
** Got to "Belding Gap" with that funny trailpost with written hiker's scrawls---"Never Hike!", or "Turn Around Now!!".
** You took Ike to Yellowhammer Gap and took Yellowhammer to the graves at the jct with Nichols Cove. (Down the Nichols a hundred yards is a great campsite with water).

** You took Nichols to Slickrock Creek and followed Slickrock to the Big Stack jct. You say "a fordsite across Slickrock Creek at the low end of the Big Stack Gap trail"--is the ford leading to Wildcat Falls.

** You take Big Stack to Crowders---a personal fave camp for me.
** You go back down Big Stack and up the Big Fat trail past that old woodstove---I call the spot "Potato Rock Camp" cuz I found a perfectly shaped rock just like a potato.

** You get to Big Fat Gap and take Hangover Lead South up past the "rock cave" and to a long level gap which I call Elysium Fields. THERE IS WATER in this gap but you have to turn right by the fire ring and veer down and to the left. It's a bushwack.

** As you climb up the South Lead trail you pop out in a heath tunnel and if you turn right there's that "little rock bald point" which you like. Here's another pic of it---a very special spot---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2010/23-Days-with-Hootyhoo-Sgt-Rock/i-m7sNBCF/0/L/TRIP%20115%20166-L.jpg

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2010/23-Days-with-Hootyhoo-Sgt-Rock/i-s4Gqr2p/0/L/TRIP%20115%20165-L.jpg

OKAY, LET'S CONTINUE---

Tipi Walter
2013-06-15, 15:52
ROCK'S TRIP

** After South Lead you get to Saddle Tree Gap and Hangover Mt where you see a neat looking "bald" but that terrible blight was a helicopter landing zone put in by the forest service with chainsaws in November 2007. I have all the pics.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2007/The-Hangover-Mountan-Clearcut/i-jHZskHL/0/L/TRIP%2069%20036-L.jpg

They clearcut the wilderness mountaintop which pissed off many people including John Quillen of the Southern Highlanders and Will Skelton of the Knoxville Sierra Club and ME! In fact, I was the first one to take pics of the rape and sent them to the Sierra Club.

** Then you leave the Hangover to Naked Ground and to the Bob on the ridge I call Four Mile Ridge.

** Bob Bald has it's own spring and it's right under the fir trees to the left when looking out towards the Skyway.

** Off the Bob the intersection of 2 trails is where 54A South and 54A North junction.

** Then you return to Naked Ground to tackle the Ballbuster trail. Your first attempt was probably down the left veering trail which is the Naked Ground water trail. The right turning trail is the actual Nutbuster.

** I have divided the Nutbuster into 10 legs or sections and Leg 5 is the blowdown hemlock hell zone.

** Leg 6 before it (when descending) is the most rugged and steepest part of the trail---what you call "monkey stuff." Now imagine coming down it (or up) with a 75 lb pack. Your pic of the log cut step is on Leg 6. It took me 5 full hours to clear just this leg of the nutbuster.

** The "cliff" is the start of Leg 5 and after the hemlock dieoff Leg 5 has become a war zone of blowdowns. All your pics show well the hell.

** That "nice cascade" coming down is Hangover Creek.

** Then you finish the Nut Eater at Big Fat trail jct and take Nichols up to Windy Gap and Windy to Big Fat Gap. Windy has just been recently cleared. That neat Windy Gap trail campsite where you found the tarp is a favorite camp---see pic---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2012/15-Day-December-Decompression/i-PZNk65h/0/L/TRIP%20140%20051-L.jpg

SGT Rock
2013-06-15, 17:04
Cool report Walter. We were up clearing trail last month. Rick Harris cleared Sycamore Branch Trail of those blow downs. Next weekend we are heading over to the BMT between Towee Creek and Wildcat Creek to do some sawing. I need to get in and do my section as there are a few blow downs on it.

SGT Rock
2013-06-15, 17:37
Skeeter and I went down to Slickrock Creek to meet up with HOI on the first ever "Big ASS Hike". We started that afternoon at Tapoco Trailhead
5041

We got to see some of the new bridges put in on the section of Slickrock Creek Trail we rarely walk. Very impressive
5042
5043
Flowers along the trail

5045
We eventually made it down to Slickrock Creek and enjoyed the climbing and fording that you get along the creek
5044
5046
5048

We passed by the lower falls enjoying the scenery but moving on. We were not camping at this site this trip.
5047

We stopped and did a public service video on the infamous "Slickrock Creek Ford!" for the BMT youtube channel with Skeeter as the demonstrator
5049

We very soon linked up with HOI and changed campsite plans. We ended up at the campsite near the creek crossing.
5050


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV3guzAldMk

SGT Rock
2013-06-15, 17:49
That evening HOI demonstrated his new "sleeping bag" for his camp chair sleeping method
5051

The next day we were doing some trail tracking for possible use in upcoming BMT guidebooks, so we hiked up Nichols Cove Branch Trail to the graves
5054
5053
Looks like a big coupler from a train
5052

Once we got my track for that trail, we went back to Slickrock Creek and went upstream. Eveybody fell in the creek at least once
5055

It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is from a spot where a large boulder is on the side of the trail, and Slickrock Creek has sort of formed a basin around that rock. I took this as a panorama sweeping around the rock
5056

All along this section there are little waterfalls, to many to name them all
5057
5058

There are signs at each crossing, but not all of them are doing so well
5059
5060

SGT Rock
2013-06-15, 18:00
Eventually we made it to the camp near Wildcat Falls. We then set up our chairs and kicked back for some chill time
5061

After we rested and set up camp, Skeeter and I went to go climb on the falls. There are four tiers to these falls:
5062
The top one

5063
Looking down at the second

5064
From the bottom looking up at the lower two

5065
Some butterflies down by the swimming hole

5066
The lower end of the falls trying out my waterproof camera.

5067
Trying to get a good picture of the falls, but the foliage is in good.

5068
This is taken from the top of the 4th tier looking at the 2nd and 3rd.

5069
Back at camp and a small smoke fire to drive off the bugs. That night I saw the strangest fireflies I've ever seen.

Video taken from the falls

http://youtu.be/uuki4bPN7CQ

SGT Rock
2013-06-15, 18:16
The next morning we hit the trail early since I had to get to work that afternoon. It was still getting light down there in the valley
5070

5071
We passed a tree we somehow didn't notice on the way up.

5072
One last shot of a little friend we met on Ike Branch Trail.

Tipi Walter
2013-06-15, 18:38
Always love to see Lower Falls in live action and I hope to be there soon enough.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2012/Tipi-Walter-in-Solitude/i-DqZGQtJ/0/L/TRIP%20130%20124-L.jpg
I remember the story on this bridge as I think it cost the forest service $27,000 to put it in and I heard they winched it up on a cable from a barge on the lake.

The BMT Slickrock crossing can be rough or impossible but there's that back way blue blaze you hiked a person could do---Back up Ike to Yellowhammer and then either do North Lead or Yellowhammer/Nichols Cove/Windy Gap to Big Fat Gap and up South Lead to the Hangover and over the Bob to Cold Spring Gap and the BMT. It's a hell of a re-route.

I sometimes wish Slickrock had this kind of footbridge over Snowbird Creek---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2012/Tipi-Walter-in-Snowbirds/i-NQndj3C/0/L/TRIP%20129%20073-L.jpg
Snowbird Creek footbridge.

Anyway, there's an easier ford on Slickrock if you go downstream about 50 feet. Here's Eman and Cuffs doing the lower spot which is little more shallow and has less rocks.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2008/Camping-with-Cuffs-and-Eman/i-28GRwBH/0/M/Trip%2076%20094-M.jpg

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2012/Tipi-Walter-in-Solitude/i-Jcbf7HB/0/M/TRIP%20130%20093-M.jpg
Here's the Slickrock in normal flow.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2011/Tipi-Walter-and-Johnny-Molloy/i-hc5N53n/0/M/TRIP%20125%20107-M.jpg
Here it is a little higher after Tropical Storm Mitch or Lee or whoever. It can get even much worse.

Hog On Ice
2013-06-16, 20:59
That evening HOI demonstrated his new "sleeping bag" for his camp chair sleeping method
5051


does this dress make me look fat?

SGT Rock
2013-06-16, 21:11
The BMT Slickrock crossing can be rough or impossible but there's that back way blue blaze you hiked a person could do---Back up Ike to Yellowhammer and then either do North Lead or Yellowhammer/Nichols Cove/Windy Gap to Big Fat Gap and up South Lead to the Hangover and over the Bob to Cold Spring Gap and the BMT. It's a hell of a re-route.

My plan is to have a basic strip map of the wilderness with suggested routes to take. Options include going Yellowhammer Gap Trail To Nichols Cove Branch, Nichols Cove Branch Trail to Big Fat Gap Trail and then crossing either there (about half the water volume) and taking Slickrock Creek to Big Stack Gap Branch Trail and back to the BMT; or take Big Fat Gap Trail to Big Fat Gap and walk up Hangover Lead Trail and then take the ridge down to Bob Bald and out the side trail back to the BMT. I figure rather than make a bunch of routes, I'll just have that strip map of the area with mileages and a couple of paragraphs about the pros and cons of each possible trail. Then the BMT hiker can figure their own way around.


does this dress make me look fat?

No. Your ass does.

Tipi Walter
2013-06-18, 10:43
My plan is to have a basic strip map of the wilderness with suggested routes to take. Options include going Yellowhammer Gap Trail To Nichols Cove Branch, Nichols Cove Branch Trail to Big Fat Gap Trail and then crossing either there (about half the water volume) and taking Slickrock Creek to Big Stack Gap Branch Trail and back to the BMT; or take Big Fat Gap Trail to Big Fat Gap and walk up Hangover Lead Trail and then take the ridge down to Bob Bald and out the side trail back to the BMT. I figure rather than make a bunch of routes, I'll just have that strip map of the area with mileages and a couple of paragraphs about the pros and cons of each possible trail. Then the BMT hiker can figure their own way around.

Your routes sound pretty good. Problem is, a backpacker won't know the BMT Slickrock crossing is impassible until he gets down there to look (and cuss). Then he'll have to hike back up the Ike Branch trail to Yellowhammer Gap and pull one of your re-routes.

Your first re-route from Yellowhammer to Nichols Cove down to Slickrock crossing and up Big Stack is good but there's a fairly good chance that if the lower BMT crossing is high, this upper one won't be much better. If it was me and the lower one scared me, I'd probably not even attempt the higher "big stack" crossing and instead hit Big Fat Gap and go up to the Hangover and out. Then again, I'm easily spooked by high water.

One point which may help---Your second option, to do Yellowhammer to Nichols and down to Slickrock and up Big Fat Gap to Hangover Lead South could be made much easier by doing this:

Yellowhammer to Nichols up to Windy Gap (there's a trailpost in the gap).
Take the Windy Gap trail to Big Fat Gap and then climb up to the Hangover on the South Lead trail.

This would save a backpacker much elevation gains and losses by not having to drop all the way down the Nichols Cove trail to Slickrock Creek and then climbing a thousand feet back up the Big Fat Gap trail. Cuz Windy Gap is a fairly level route straight to Big Fat Gap. (Only the first part out of Windy Gap is tough).

sheepdog
2013-06-18, 14:05
Why not knock a tree down and make a bridge?

Hog On Ice
2013-06-18, 14:20
there used to be a couple trees across the creek right there at the crossing but they got washed away a couple years ago

sheepdog
2013-06-18, 15:19
seems to be a bunch of trees standing close by.

SGT Rock
2013-06-18, 20:09
Your routes sound pretty good. Problem is, a backpacker won't know the BMT Slickrock crossing is impassible until he gets down there to look (and cuss). Then he'll have to hike back up the Ike Branch trail to Yellowhammer Gap and pull one of your re-routes.

Your first re-route from Yellowhammer to Nichols Cove down to Slickrock crossing and up Big Stack is good but there's a fairly good chance that if the lower BMT crossing is high, this upper one won't be much better. If it was me and the lower one scared me, I'd probably not even attempt the higher "big stack" crossing and instead hit Big Fat Gap and go up to the Hangover and out. Then again, I'm easily spooked by high water.

One point which may help---Your second option, to do Yellowhammer to Nichols and down to Slickrock and up Big Fat Gap to Hangover Lead South could be made much easier by doing this:

Yellowhammer to Nichols up to Windy Gap (there's a trailpost in the gap).
Take the Windy Gap trail to Big Fat Gap and then climb up to the Hangover on the South Lead trail.

This would save a backpacker much elevation gains and losses by not having to drop all the way down the Nichols Cove trail to Slickrock Creek and then climbing a thousand feet back up the Big Fat Gap trail. Cuz Windy Gap is a fairly level route straight to Big Fat Gap. (Only the first part out of Windy Gap is tough).
Well what I planned to say was something to the effect of +10" rain in the past week is probably going to cause high water you won't want to deal with. In that case the yellowhammer, Nichols Cove, Wind Gap, Hangover, Bob Bald route is going to be advised. If the water has been less, but more than a couple of inches in the last few days and you are concerned but think it might be worth it, then go by the crossing where Nichols Cove and Slickrock Creek meet and see if that ford is worth trying. It should be about half the volume of the official crossing based on number of feeder creeks coming into the side, and it is also wider and shallower there than at the official crossing. Dick Evans seems to think this option is best, but I have my doubts as you do. If a hiker is paying attention to the weather then they should have an alternate route planned before they walk down to Slickrock Creek. If there has only been a few storms and it's rained less than 3" in the last few days then the official crossing should be fine.

Tipi Walter
2013-06-18, 21:34
And we haven't even mentioned those BMT backpackers coming from Farr Gap and going north down the Stiffknee trail, paralleling Little Slickrock Creek. There are 5 crossings on this normally low water creek but last year I came down the Stiffknee and saw sobering and terrifying flood damage all along the Little Slickrock. See pic below. Old Little Slickrock becomes Big Bad Little Slicky Dicky.

Then they'd have to backtrack all the way to Farr Gap and re-do to Crowders and down Big Stack and hope the upper Slickrock is doable. If not it's a real long haul from Farr Gap to the Bob and the Hangover and down to Big Fat and all the rest. But I'm going nuts with this---best just get there and hike the dang trail and not worry.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2011/Tipi-Walter-Backpacking-TN/i-Kmms793/0/L/TRIP%20125%20164-L.jpg
High water sign on the Stiffknee trail on Little Slickrock Creek.

And Sheepdog---Knocking a tree down to make a bridge is the last thing I would ever consider when I could just change my route and do as Rock says---pay attention to the weather and have an alternate route planned. The reason there's no footbridge like in the Snowbirds is because it's in a wilderness area---and yet is that $27,000 footbridge also in a wilderness?? Maybe the boundary is past those 4 wooden footbridges on the lower Slickrock trail by the Lake. Who knows?

SGT Rock
2013-06-18, 21:40
We will be on Stiffknee next month doing brush clearing and some blow down work.

TIDE-HSV
2013-06-21, 16:32
Sarge, is Bob Bald still divided down the middle, half wilderness? Last time I was up there, the wilderness half was rapidly growing in. I've gone in via the Wolf Laurel parking area several times with my wife, since it's an easier hike for her...

SGT Rock
2013-06-21, 18:13
I think it must be. It looks like the wilderness side is growing over.