Joyce Kilmer – Big Fat Gap to Hangover

Avery and I met Friday a few weeks back at at the Big Fat Gap trailhead in the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness area. It was pretty dark when we started hiking, but the trail wasn’t too bad with headlamps. We hiked about a mile or two along the Big Fat Gap trail to Slickrock Creek which is almost all downhill. Avery had wanted to stop at the campsites we passed near the start of the trail, but I knew the next day would be a long day and wanted to get a bit more mileage under our belts Friday. We setup camp once we reached the creek.

Saturday morning we cooked breakfast… which was interesting. I had a read a book earlier in the week about making pancakes while hiking. All you had to do was bring pancake mix, mix with water, and coat the pan with olive oil or butter. I wish I could say it was that simple… it ended up being a giant mess. Edible mess. But a mess. I don’t think we will be trying that again.

Once we managed to clean up breakfast and break down camp, we hid our bags in the bushes and hiked downstream to Wildcat Falls. We had to cross SlickRock creek once or twice to get there – it was definitely a bit slick!

We returned back to camp around 11ish, had a quick snack, and headed up the trail towards Naked Ground. The first mile or two was fairly easy. We reached the point where the trail diverted from the creek and started its ascent. We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us and decided to go ahead and have lunch and top off our water.

The trail from Slickrock Creek up to Naked Ground was hard. Not only did we have to gain over 2,000 feet in elevation, we had to climb over a hundred trees. I wish I could I say I was exaggerating, but I really think it was a hundred. You would climb over one tree and could see at least 2-3 more trees ahead of you. Hurricane Irma came through a few weeks before and I guess that caused so many trees to fall? I would not recommend the trail to anyone until some serious trail maintenance has taken place. It was brutal.

Finally we reached Naked Ground. There was a nice campsite which was very appealing, but we decided to push on to Hangover. It was around dusk when we finally reached Hangover – just in time for the sunset!

IMG_7666

IMG_7632

The sunrise the next morning wasn’t so bad either!

IMG_7699

We packed up camp Sunday morning and headed back to the car. It was a quick couple miles of downhill – thank goodness! If we had to go up more uphill, I probably would not have made it!

 

Max Patch, NC

Bella and I decided to check out Max Patch a few weekends back. We picked up some BBQ, beer, and a book and headed out on our adventure. The weather was simply amazing. We found an awesome spot and setup camp late in the afternoon, and then hung out/napped.

The view from the top of Max Patch is simply breath taking. You have a full 360 degree view.

IMG_6921

Bella and I watched the sunset. I think she may have enjoyed it more than me!

 

IMG_6963

IMG_6978

Sam’s Knob and Black Balsam, Pisgah National Forest

A friend and I camped in Pisgah a few weekends back. It was dark when we arrived. We spent Friday night at the top of Sam’s Knob. It was dark when we arrived, but the view in the morning was gorgeous! So many flowers blooming!

Saturday morning we hiked back to the car to stock up on water and food for the day. From the car, we hopped on the Art Loeb trail and hiked to Shining Rock.

From Shining Rock, we hiked a few miles towards Cold Mountain before turning back. We setup camp for the night on top of Black Balsam.

IMG_5562

I was hoping for a cool sunset, but a bunch of clouds started moving in around dinner time. I started to get worried it was going to rain, but it passed over.

Although the evening was uneventful, the morning sunrise was quite the opposite!

IMG_5743

Gregory Bald, Smoky Mountains, NC

We drove from Atlanta to the Smoky Mountains Friday evening. We parked our cars at the Twentymile Trailhead and hiked to campsite 93. We had to use our headlamps as it was well past 9 pm when we started hiking.

From campsite 93, we took the Twentymile Trail to the Shuckstack Fire Tower. I will warn you – this is mostly uphill so be prepared!

The floor inside the tower was not in the best condition and was a bit scary to walk on.

IMG_2422

I stayed on the stairs but still managed to grab one or two good photos. IMG_2421

IMG_2419

IMG_2402-Pano

From Shuckstack, we hiked north on the Appalachian Trail. We ran into a lot of north bound hikers just starting their journey. IMG_2443

We finally reached the summit of Gregory Bald late in the afternoon. It was pretty brown at the summit. I have heard it is gorgeous in May/June when all of the Azaleas start blooming. Guess we will have to come back then 🙂

IMG_2494

IMG_2495

Saturday night we camped at campsite 13. There were two other groups. We all setup in our own corner and kept to ourselves. The next morning, we woke to find ourselves surrounded by fog. It drizzled a little through the nice, but not too bad.

IMG_2499

The hike from campsite 13 to Twentymile was almost all downhill. We made it back to the cars quicker than I expected. The weather cleared up by the time we reached the valley. There were a few creek crossings – all of which had a small log bridge so we could keep our shoes on.

Raven Rock Falls

Raven Rock Falls is a short easy hike in Lake Toxaway, NC. The trail to the waterfall is an out and back totaling ~.5 miles. The hardest part is locating the trailhead (exact coordinates: 35.1594, -82.9801). Once on the trail, you will cross over a few small creeks before descending to the base of Raven Rock Falls.

Check out my write up on the The Outbound for more details.