Faction Action and Lower Ekaneetlee Manway

April 29-May1 2011


This is from the top of Gregory's bald on Saturday.  We were able to hook up with the Muir Faction after our loop up out of the TN side of Ekaneetlee manway.

Remember these guys?  It's been a while but our Chapter 3 brethren are back on the trail in fine style. As the manway crew descended, the Bald crew climbed up Gregory Ridge to spend a gorgeous spring afternoon.  We (Kevin and I)were able to catch them as we looped back around after reaching the Appalachian Trail.  By now we had done about 8 miles and sat below the .6 path to the summit.  We walked up and caught Dave coming down.  The Faction was still sunbathing so we went and confiscated the remnants of their water.

Including President Dumblin.

It wasn't difficult to locate their camp.

It was kinda difficult to find a spot, though.  What with it being a primo weekend and all, 12 was kinda popular.  We had a bit of a run in, as usual.  A boy scout troop set up and burned our firewood during the day saturday.  Dave had to give them a little seminar on camp etiquette and let's just say, dinner was on Troop Weblos.

But back to the task at hand.  It was our mission to complete the lower Ekaneetlee trace.  Super Dave obtained all the Beta.  Saturday morning, we were on it, sort of.  Dropping about a half mile down from cs 12, we hooked into Ekaneetlee Creek where it split.  This manway is not marked in any way.  There is an old Chestnut stump that let us know we were on the right trace.

As it was decaying, this main marker is very difficult to identify. Don Batten did our initial recon and provided the beta that put us at the start.  Many thanks, Gator Man!

(recognize this)

There is no path or trail.  For an hour we hopped back and forth across the creek until we spotted a pathway.

We "scratched" our way through a beautiful hardwood forest rarely seen by humans any more.  As a matter of fact, the Smoky Mtn Hiking club abandoned their annual off trail trek up this trace, calling it too overgrown, according to Umberger.

Take a look at this Poplar.  We saw several of these massive specimens that escaped the sawblade, likely due to the remoteness of this section.

We came across a path and it was much more defined than the Carolina section.

It was because of this, my lucky hiking stick.  Kevin and I spotted it at the beginning of Ekaneetlee.  It was like a magic staff that led us up through the faint traces of Ekaneetlee.

After 6 or 7 creek crossings, the climbing began in earnest.  In total, we were on lower Ekaneetlee for about four hours.

Giant, healthy trees, always good to see.

And yes, a bit of requisite rhodo surfing.

We popped out on the Appalachian Trail a few yards from Ekaneetlee Gap, where Rakestraw and I had arrived from the other side in November, here.

Congratulations to Dana, aka Mountain Momma for correctly identifying all of last week's wildflowers. She earned an Outlaw Hiker bumper sticker.  This week was even more bountiful as evidenced below.  There is a stretch about 2 miles up from cs 12 where the varieties are unparalleled.  So, this week, you must properly identify all the beauties featured below to get your own personal SouthernHighlander Bumper sticker.

  No penalty for incorrect guessing.

After a long day, the camp was a welcomed sight.  By now, we were joined by Jerky Mike, High Speed Alexander and GD Jack who appeared like a phantom in the night.

Jerky rests before assaulting wood.

The Faction enjoys some camp time.  They are from Ohio and are limited in their ability to enjoy this wonder we have in our backyard.  But they do get out, more than most folks who live here.

Ledge takes a turn doing them dishes.

This is from Gregory Ridge Trail looking back up Ekaneetlee drainage.

Ekaneetlee Gap is the notch on the right.  We crawled through that drainage to pop out along the A.T. about a mile and a half from Doe Knob.  From there it was a couple more miles to Gregorys making for a 12 plus mile day total for me, Kevin and Super Dave.  Just a bit of random information that I would like to share.  Having brought along the trusty heart rate monitor I was able to log seven hours and 45 minutes of hiking.  My average heart rate, including breaks, was 100 and total calorie burn was 1945, which is pretty amazing even to me.  It takes a lot of energy to do these manways and now I have data to prove it.  I don't think any of us were disputing the info that night at camp. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Don Batten for doing an early recon and verifying our ascent data and start point.

This is the Gregory's crew.  As far as weather weekends are concerned, none have been better.  The wildflowers were blazin, the manway wasn't too snaky and the company was excellent.  Great to see our Muir Brethren again as we send them back to represent in the Ohio Valley. I was very pleased to have completed the Ekaneetlee sojourn.  It had been nagging at me since November. We stopped to return the Gandalf staff to its rightful position a few yards down into the beginning of the manway.  May it lead another successfully up the trace to to Ekaneetlee Gap.

(Stephanie, here is your snake.  You don't see him?  He's right in that hole.  Yep, about a five foot long black rat snake.  He was hanging half out of that hole right next to Sally Dumplin.  Before I could grab the camera that snake sucked himself right back into that little hole. It was pretty amazing how quickly he backed up because his head was sticking out to ambush our beloved President.  Couldn't you imagine leaning up against this for a break and getting that surprise?  Several of these pictures are compliments of Chuck Adams, factioneer extraordinaire.)