Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness (NC)

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Thread starter #1
6/25 - 6/27/18

I had a couple nights to myself to recover from Sweden and I realized that I had not been back to the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness in a while. I decided to start at the bottom and climb the Slickrock Trail to Naked Ground and then over to the Bob Bald and then maybe check out the Foderstacks to complete the circle. As usual with this wilderness area, things did not go according to plans.

I got to the trailhead and it was looking to be hot and humid, no real surprise for the end of June. I knew that the Slickrock Trail had lots of creek fords, so I hoped the humidity would not be too bad. It was bad :) By the time I had hiked about a mile, I was soaked with sweat. I got to the creek and stripped down and jumped in. The water was on the cold side, but felt good.

I slowly made my way up the creek/trail and got more soaked when the sky opened up, but eventually I got to a good campsite near the intersection with the Stiffknee Trail. It wasn't as far as I had expected to go, but it was a good stopping point and I was a little frustrated with how overgrown parts of the trail were. Basically, I was ready for a break and a little bourbon pick-me-up :)

Along the way, I passed a couple nice trickles ...


... and drops in Slickrock Creek that made me get out the tripod.


Someone must have really liked Jere Lee to put the effort into this sign :)


I quickly setup camp since it looked like the rain might come back ...


... and then enjoyed the view and sounds of Slickrock Creek ...


... and the Rhododendron flowers.



The next day I got moving up the trail still with the idea that I would take the direct route to Naked Ground via the "Nutbuster".

I took my time and stopped for an early lunch at Wildcat Falls.








And then a little later I ran into 3 guys camping who mentioned that @Tipi Walter had told them that the trail being covered with blowdowns and a couple rattlesnakes. Given that info and my frustration with the trail the day before, I decided to take the long way to the bald and go through Big Fat Gap.

Along the way I ran into a trail crew doing trail work and Tipi Walter. He showed me photos of the snakes which made me glad to avoid the Nutbuster.

I got lucky and caught the end of the Flame Azaleas blooming ...


... saw some great views ...




... and made my way to the Bald. I was a little hopeful for some stars mixed with clouds given what the sky looked like when I first was setting up camp ...



... but the weather changed very quickly. I was in a pretty exposed area and the wind really picked up, so I actually broke camp in the pouring rain and moved to a more sheltered area.


The next morning, things looked a little better, or at least a little drier. I was still pretty damp from sweat and humidity and rain, but was hopeful that things would dry out a little bit...


... and then I got back on the trail and was promptly soaked by all the wet leaves. At this point, I checked the weather on my InReach and thought a little bit about bushwacking in the rain and decided that I would rather head for the car and sleep in a dry bed.


As I hiked, the sky made me think that I had made a reasonable decision.


So I retraced my steps back to Big Fat Gap and then took the Windy Gap Trail to Nichols Cove Trail to Yellowhammer Gap Trail to Ike Branch Trail and back to my car. In those roughly 5 miles I got to do more bushwacking and got completely soaked by a couple inches of rain.

At one of the trail intersections is this little grave site. The inscription basically reads "Two sisters born Dec 14 1914, died Dec 20 1914" yet another reminder of how hard life was in these parts a hundred years ago.




On the way home, I stopped at the pullover on the Tail of the Dragon for a photo op, this is looking down on Calderwood Dam on the Little Tennessee River.
 

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Jackson

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#2
Don't know how I missed this one! Beautiful shots, as always. I just spent the weekend in Indiana, and that combined with your trip report have me wanting to do some backpacking out there.
 
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Thread starter #3
Don't know how I missed this one! Beautiful shots, as always. I just spent the weekend in Indiana, and that combine with your trip report have me wanting to do some backpacking out there.
Let me know the next time you are in the area and maybe we can figure something out.
 

Titans

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#5
6/25 - 6/27/18

I had a couple nights to myself to recover from Sweden and I realized that I had not been back to the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness in a while. I decided to start at the bottom and climb the Slickrock Trail to Naked Ground and then over to the Bob Bald and then maybe check out the Foderstacks to complete the circle. As usual with this wilderness area, things did not go according to plans.

I got to the trailhead and it was looking to be hot and humid, no real surprise for the end of June. I knew that the Slickrock Trail had lots of creek fords, so I hoped the humidity would not be too bad. It was bad :) By the time I had hiked about a mile, I was soaked with sweat. I got to the creek and stripped down and jumped in. The water was on the cold side, but felt good.

I slowly made my way up the creek/trail and got more soaked when the sky opened up, but eventually I got to a good campsite near the intersection with the Stiffknee Trail. It wasn't as far as I had expected to go, but it was a good stopping point and I was a little frustrated with how overgrown parts of the trail were. Basically, I was ready for a break and a little bourbon pick-me-up :)

Along the way, I passed a couple nice trickles ...


... and drops in Slickrock Creek that made me get out the tripod.


Someone must have really liked Jere Lee to put the effort into this sign :)


I quickly setup camp since it looked like the rain might come back ...


... and then enjoyed the view and sounds of Slickrock Creek ...


... and the Rhododendron flowers.



The next day I got moving up the trail still with the idea that I would take the direct route to Naked Ground via the "Nutbuster".

I took my time and stopped for an early lunch at Wildcat Falls.








And then a little later I ran into 3 guys camping who mentioned that @Tipi Walter had told them that the trail being covered with blowdowns and a couple rattlesnakes. Given that info and my frustration with the trail the day before, I decided to take the long way to the bald and go through Big Fat Gap.

Along the way I ran into a trail crew doing trail work and Tipi Walter. He showed me photos of the snakes which made me glad to avoid the Nutbuster.

I got lucky and caught the end of the Flame Azaleas blooming ...


... saw some great views ...




... and made my way to the Bald. I was a little hopeful for some stars mixed with clouds given what the sky looked like when I first was setting up camp ...



... but the weather changed very quickly. I was in a pretty exposed area and the wind really picked up, so I actually broke camp in the pouring rain and moved to a more sheltered area.


The next morning, things looked a little better, or at least a little drier. I was still pretty damp from sweat and humidity and rain, but was hopeful that things would dry out a little bit...


... and then I got back on the trail and was promptly soaked by all the wet leaves. At this point, I checked the weather on my InReach and thought a little bit about bushwacking in the rain and decided that I would rather head for the car and sleep in a dry bed.


As I hiked, the sky made me think that I had made a reasonable decision.


So I retraced my steps back to Big Fat Gap and then took the Windy Gap Trail to Nichols Cove Trail to Yellowhammer Gap Trail to Ike Branch Trail and back to my car. In those roughly 5 miles I got to do more bushwacking and got completely soaked by a couple inches of rain.

At one of the trail intersections is this little grave site. The inscription basically reads "Two sisters born Dec 14 1914, died Dec 20 1914" yet another reminder of how hard life was in these parts a hundred years ago.




On the way home, I stopped at the pullover on the Tail of the Dragon for a photo op, this is looking down on Calderwood Dam on the Little Tennessee River.


Beautiful waterfall pictures and a great trip report, thank you for sharing! We have a friend in Chattanooga we want to visit- so I'm adding this to our list.
Now.... being Scandinavian, I immediately got sidetracked by your amazing Sweden trip report and I just texted a Swedish friend to see if she know what's up with the teddy bears on the trail.
 
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#6
I love that place! Great stuff, thanks for taking me back.
I've hiked down the Nutbuster, it's a beast.
 

Miya

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#7
Beautiful falls! Thanks for sharing!
 
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#8
Cool pics and cool report. I just got back on Sept 14 from a 20 day trip into the Citico/Slickrock and proudly pulled my 45th backpack up the Nutbuster trail, i.e. Upper Slickrock #42 trail---and counted 20 major blowdowns in just one section---but I made it after using my folding saw and Felco pruners in a furious manner. It's called The Nutbuster for a reason.

I'm starting a Smugmug photo album of this most recent trip and it can be found here (shows Slickrock Creek and the Nutbuster etc)---

https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2018-Trips-188-/20-Days-with-a-New-McHale-Pack/
 

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