Saturday, March 25, 2017

SMHC Backpack

I drove to Maryville to meet up with the SMHC for a backpack/trail maintenance day. We were ready for the drive to Newfound Gap and then to Smokemont to drop off a car. Steve and Tim brought tools for the four of us. Tim carried the loppers, Steve carried the weed whacker and a saw, Amanda had clippers and a folding saw, I had clippers. Ready for battle. We got stopped right away by a group wanting to take our pic and give us trail snacks. They were with the Tremont scavenger hunt team and thought we were thru hikers. There was a lot of traffic between Newfound Gap and Charlies Bunion. We started our maintenance after the Bunion, leaving the crowd behind. Clipping with stitches in my hand from a week ago was challenging (builds character) and sawing limbs left handed was not as easy as I hoped. We managed to wrestle some trees out of the trail but a few are going to have to wait for the chainsaw crew. We cleared trail all the way to Pecks Corner.

There were beautiful views all along the way and we had to stop and soak up as much as we could of all those gorgeous mountains. The Sawteeth always are impressive; Tim pinpointed Bradley's View.

It was supper time by the time we got the shelter. It was a full house with tents all around. I claimed my spot inside but was willing to go hang my hammock if necessary. Evidently hammocks are a no no around the shelters per the head Ranger. With all the thru hikers it's necessary for tents to be allowed. I don't understand how the hammocks would be worse.... The hiker next to the wall was already in his sleeping bag when I got there. Early midnight for him I guess.

I heard a lot of comments from some of the NOBOs about coming back to the Smokies after they finish the AT; they want to see more of this beautiful place. They were all in bed by 7. Thru hikers midnight. It poured down rain during the early morning. It was a good time to sleep in, but two hikers were up and ready to go before daylight, must have been the 23 miles per day pair.  By daylight most of the rain was gone. We cooked, packed, and then started cleaning up around the shelter. One of the thru hikers got a bag and started picking up trash, old socks and things people had left. We filled up the mulch buckets for the privy, and picked up everything but the tissue blooms, that's above and beyond what we do even with gloves on. Tim tied the trash onto his pack, the other guy must have carried the bag out with him (many thanks) after thanking us for all we were doing. This was my first work trip with the club. The rest of the AT maintainers are the hard workers. Read their work reports, you already see their efforts where you hike and sleep and get your water. Their work goes on all year long.

We left with our rain gear on and started up the hill, noticing a couple of hammocks hanging a little ways from the shelter. Then I heard the thump thump thump of a grouse, then a woodpecker laughing. and later another grouse thumping. There sure was a lot of uphill going down Hughes Ridge, getting the 2.6 miles segment I needed for my map :) The rain stopped and it got warm.

Then Chasteen Creek where we went straight down watching for a spur that we somehow missed, seeing beautiful cascades and enjoying the creek views. Stopped at campsite 48 for lunch and resting our feet from the rocky trail. Then to Bradley Fork and out to Smokemont. We piled into Tim's vehicle and started up the road climbing into the rain cloud. I rode back to Maryville with Amanda and managed to leave my shoes in her car. I didn't notice it until I was 30 minutes away. I sent her a message and she sent back one saying she also found my poles and water bottle. Oh my! She said she would mail them ASAP.

She did and the box was at my garage on Tuesday evening. I think she sent a drone to deliver so quickly :)


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