Hangover 2015   October 15-18

It's 6.30 am and I saunter up to the rock in the fading darkness as the first evidence of a new day's sun threatens emergence from beyond the Snowbird range.  I join two dark and heavily bundled figures comfortably placed for the impending sunrise on Hangover.  It is Skidmore and McLovin.  Soon I am aware of other folk braving the briskness for God's promise of a new day on Earth's most beautiful spot. I am quietly and respectfully flanked by Frank Whitehead, Danno and Asher.  It was 34 degrees inside my tent, which in no way helped move me from a warm bag.  The deflating air pad did that job quite well.  It was the coldest day of a newly christened Fall but the colors hadn't yet received the memo. 

Some folks go to church on Sunday and I do too.  But this weekend I was in mine for three days and two glorious nights. It only seemed fitting to humbly consider the gift of each new day and the precious few we have been able to herald from this spot beyond Saddle Tree Gap in the Cheoh district in a designated Wilderness.

As you can see, the turnout was quite high.  I attribute that to the good weather, which is traditionally stable around the weekend closest to October 15.  And that is the usual Hangover date.

It began Friday afternoon.  This was Frank's first turn on the hill and we ascended the traditional Lead trail.  It is 2.8 miles and 2172 feet of climbing to your final elevation of 5249.

Reaching the heath bald gives a false sense of hope.  There is still a good clip before Saddle Tree Gap.

New signage.

In an unusual Friday night showing, Danno and Gobbie and Greene made cameo appearances.  Along with Will and his dog.  We told Will not to bring a dog.  But he is a vet and loves dogs.  So there you have it.

But following that climb, a meat and cheese board was much appreciated.  That is a tradition folded in from the Muir Guys, whose presence was greatly missed on this trip.

We met a new friend, Randy Redwood from Nashville joined our ranks for Friday's festivities.  Randy was well aware of Highlander and SFW excursions and makes quite a few himself.

Will just can't separate from his dog.  But I'm glad we have Vets like him.

Danno got jealous though and soon things became uncomfortable.

But let's not forget what drags us up.  This is Frank's first time on the rock in broad daylight.  We broke his Smokies "streak".

For some reason, this farmer kept showing up in overalls trying to take flight from the rock.  I remember one year when he almost did.

Later on Saturday, we had more arrivals.  Grady is fresh off  a Peru trip.  RBobby was making an annual appearance.  Asher stands unsure of what could potentially unfold.  Will tries to look happy but is really obsessing over the whereabouts of his dog, though.

There was requisite chilling and bluediny-ing.

And what about A Super Dave sighting!  Awesome.

Grady reacquaints himself with someone who looked familiar but couldn't quite place.

Frank has hot and cold moments as Will dreams about his dog.

Yes, its Abner.  And that is our favorite position for him.

Asher still is unsure of what he has signed on for.  He first thought the ascent up Lead would be a quick jaunt.  But he learned why we in the mountaineering circles call bivouac the French word for "mistake".   below Grassy gap he lay Friday.  Our boy did eventually make the summit early Saturday much wiser for the experience.

There was merriment and much roasting.  This year's Gobbie target was the offspring of a Highlander.  Who is female. But he brought her into that fold and surely expected it. 

the above 3 pics courtesy Frank.


My morning panorama from the Hang was lacking but it was worthy of  a roll out.

Hangover 2015 was a success with the second largest showing of all time, I believe.  Every year I repost my feelings on this place and will make no exception or excuses.      http://www.southernhighlanders.com/Hangscan.htm


Upon my return I was met with good news from Myers regarding Southern Forest Watch's appeal to the sixth circuit in Cincinnatti.  It seems as if we will be presenting oral arguments in December.  Remember SFW this year in your charitable giving as we prepare for this battle in our war against injustice for outdoor citizens of the country.  Myers will forfeit time from paying work to make YOUR case before the federal govt.  We have hotel costs, transportation etc.  Frank, Rob, Adam, Jim Gregg and I are but humble sons of the Smokies of modest means.  We have some money in the kitty but not much.  Perhaps someone could give us some points towards flying Myers up or a hotel room or something.   SFW has always been blessed by the charity of common taxpaying citizens like those of you who read these pages.  I was reminded of that fact this weekend as we met folks, previously strangers, who are appreciative of everyone's efforts.  

I bid everyone a splendid Autumn.  The colors are late but this cold snap will bring em on with a vengeance.  I salute you and our beautiful mountains with a toast of french pressed coffee (appropriately festooned with a SFW logo) from the Hang this morning.  Best wishes to all---John