12/27-29  2013   Caldwell Fork

Rob proves that taking another trail might have been a better idea.

Mike says, "I took the other trail."

We are admiring the star filled sky.  It was not to last.  Very cold night on Friday, so no rain.

Cold enough to freeze water, I reckon.


Rob considers taking up ice climbing.

There were a few minutes when the weather didn't suck.   It has been five weekends in a row with precipitation.  This shot was from the hike in on Friday.

I came out to old campsite 41 via the Rough Fork Trail.  I had a dose of this sinus/head cold deal that has been going around and chose to forgo the unbridged crossings on Caldwell Fork proper.  It was a nice 5 mile stoll up and over and back down into the Caldwell Fork drainage.

Blurry elk I met halfway in.

Rob and Myers braved through the Caldwell fork unbridged crossings.   And regretted it fully.   Let's just say wet boots for the weekend.  And they had many miles to do the next day with the Hemphill section.

Chief Lodgebow didn't care, though.  He was a true new miler.  Under 80 for this guy now.  Isn't that something?  Here he says, "Billiam is going to get skunked by me pretty soon.  They are going to make me a Major for this!"


After a nice evening, that was quite cold, I decided to remain in camp and be what Highlanders have dubbed "camp bitch" for saturday.  I didn't need any of the Hemphill bald loop and chose to be the support team, gathering wood, drinking coffee and exploring the area.  Jerky Mike, Myers and Rob took off for a 14 mile day.  After all, we were expecting John the Red, Grady and Sally Dumplin.  And we waited and waited and waited.  But they never showed.  For some strange reason, they never ever showed.

And at 2 pm, it started raining.   And it didn't stop until I got back to the car the following day at noon.

By the time Jerky Mike returned, I had a surprise for the big hiking crew.  I had intended to have a surprise for Sally Dumplin and John the Red as well, but they bailed on us so they didn't get to eat any of the barbecue I prepared for these uber hikers.  If they endured the rain and snow, they needed a warm fire and some grub.  Tending a fire in the rain all day is quite a chore anyway.   Someone had to do it though.  It was the fire or me.

Then it rained some more.

And Myers is thrilled about it. But he is always on message about his legal battle against this egregious backcountry fee.  For those of you who haven't been following the daily details let me tell you that Myers has filed counter motion after counter motion to fight this fee and we are keeping our head above water and taking the fight to these royal kings and queens in the NPS.  We continue to fight for the rights of backpackers daily and we are hosting a fundraiser Jan 16 at Suttrees.  Please mark your calendars, come down and purchase some raffle tix, drinks or food to support the Southern Forest Watch.  All of our funds have gone to legal motions and we need to refresh the battle coffers.  Will you consider a tax deductible donation?   If we win, you can claim a personal victory in this war.   http://www.southernforestwatch.org    Just look at some of the most recent motions we have filed:  Legal%20motions%20december%2020%202013.html

They were so thrilled they went to bed after their mileage day and left me with the fire and all the wood I had gathered.    Next morning, the Hell Guys decided to go out with me and I shuttled them back.  And the same elk was in the same place the next day.

A rainy departure.  And Rob and Myers decided to avoid Caldwell Fork on the return.  They had wet boots for two days.