Early Fall in the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Area

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
528
October 10-12, 2015. Western North Carolina.
This was my 4th trip to this southeast gem and it did not disappoint. This area is some of wildest left in the southeast and that tends to draw bear and boar hunters in droves in October. We forgot to wear orange but no one was mistaken for Yogi. If you are into the whole "Furry" subculture, leave the costumes at home. Weirdo.

We left Lexington, Kentucky's clear skies and head towards...rain. It'll stop any minute. No seriously.
After a 4.5 hour drive and killing another hour in the car at the trailhead we went for it, rain be damned. Excellent decision.
The rain turned to a light mist and made for a surreal experience hiking down to Slickrock Creek and Wildcat Falls. Low clouds were the norm on this one and the crazy early fall weather made it quite memorable.
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3 miles to the creek and only 1 other group along the way. We grabbed our favorite camp and set up, waiting for it dry out. Somehow a fire was made, the rain stopped and peacefulness ensued, the only sounds were the rising creek and the occasional gaseous outburst (I blame the beef jerky and beer). What else is there to do on a soggy evening but crack open the beers we hauled in, find a dry spot to sit and stare at a water logged fire that just would not give up. Excellent conversation, good beer, tasty vittles and off to bed.

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The next morning we woke up in the mist with the teasing blue skies making an appearance now and again. Don't fall for it, it's a trap! Killed some time at Wildcat Falls and made the slow slog back up to the the car (we did the "cheat" route) for a lunch break and to refill our beer supply for round 2. Up and more up on the Hangover trail, destination 5240' Hangover point, one of the finest views in the southern Appalachians. The clouds and sun were battling it out, no clear winner in the deep forest but with all the day hikers coming down the trail we assumed it was socked in up high. We were correct...until we set up camp and the magic happened. Patience and perseverance is usually rewarded when you backpack 7 miles up a mountain loaded down with tasty beverages and s'mores. We had the best campsite on the mountain, dry wood and blue skies clashing with the low clouds...surreal. We high-fived until our hands hurt. The sunset was fantastic, weather was perfect if not a little cool, and the sunrise the next morning was as good as it gets.

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Team Slickrock

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One of 4 crossings. Water was up a bit but still warm.

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Slickrock Creek above the Falls

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Wildcat Falls with a healthy flow

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Fall is upon us

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Skittles. Hangover Trail.

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Victory! Thank you weather gods. Working on a hangover on the Hangover.

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Camp on the saddle between Haoe and Hangover.

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The White Sea

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An island of color and the optical phenomenon "glory" in the bottom left. Never seen it in person.

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Sunset

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The album cover for our new band, "The Silhouettes".

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Sunrise

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Sunrise

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Good morning

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Appalachian Breakfast

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You can take the girls out of Kentucky, but you can't take the Kentucky out of the girls...Hangover camp

2 more weeks should be prime time for full on fall colors. I hope to be in the right place at the right time.
Cheers

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slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
Messages
1,686
nice! I love the shot of the clouds surrounding the color patch.
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,094
Phenomenal sunset and sunrise above the clouds Brandon. Glad you got that nice payoff after that climb. Whenever it's cloudy and overcast I always pray for a nice undercast like that up top, but rarely get it. Some people follow Dave Matthews, some follow their favorite team or the Nascar circuit... this year I'm trying to follow the foliage like you. Should be peak locally for me this weekend, then heading south the following weekend. I'll be interested to hear where you decide to head in 2 weeks on the weekend of the 23rd?
 

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
528
Phenomenal sunset and sunrise above the clouds Brandon. Glad you got that nice payoff after that climb. Whenever it's cloudy and overcast I always pray for a nice undercast like that up top, but rarely get it. Some people follow Dave Matthews, some follow their favorite team or the Nascar circuit... this year I'm trying to follow the foliage like you. Should be peak locally for me this weekend, then heading south the following weekend. I'll be interested to hear where you decide to head in 2 weeks on the weekend of the 23rd?

Not sure yet, its the Russell Fork Rendevous on the VA/KY border, a meeting of whitewater boaters from all over taking advantage of the fall release and some quality kayaking. I'm in photo mode though, it will be great over there but I may seek some more solitude...Linville Gorge in NC or the Obed River area in TN. Chasing the rainbow is fun.
 

dfcooper

Dave
Joined
Jun 11, 2015
Messages
19
Great photos! I did a little loop in the Smokeys out of Bryson City last week and the leaves looked like the middle of July. It obviously didn't take long for them to change, but I was a little further south. I'm guessing they'll peak within the next week or so. Thanks for sharing.
 

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
528
Great photos! I did a little loop in the Smokeys out of Bryson City last week and the leaves looked like the middle of July. It obviously didn't take long for them to change, but I was a little further south. I'm guessing they'll peak within the next week or so. Thanks for sharing.

Bryson is a bit east/northeast of Joyce Kilmer. The colors were spotty, above 4500' we saw the most variation. Most places are in transition or still green. 2 more weeks! Check out the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, it might be a closer to Raleigh and equally spectacular.
 
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