Porter's Creek and Manway Epic  11/09/14                     

Frank and Will negotiate one of the mega log jams on Dry Sluice.

So we made sure to get plenty of rest the night before at the Porter's Flats campsite.

This is the returning dynamic duo from last weekend's epic backpacking fail.  We were determined to wash that taste out of our mouths.

It was a grand time in a campsite devoid of anyone other than Highlanders and their guests.

Some folks bent over backwards to have a good time.  That there is a new one who got a trail name.  We welcomed Cash Cameron into the fold for a night.

Of course there was laundry being aired.

A Highlander version of "Burning Man".

This looks like the start of a good lawyer joke.   Our lawyers know how to have a good time.

This is what happens when you give Myers my camera.

This is what happens when I get it back.

Next morning our numbers had dwindled with regard to intent to climb Porter's Creek manway.  Attrition had reduced our ranks to three.  Right off the bat we find this moonshine still.  Great backcountry artifact in the Smokies.  I have climbed this manway six or seven times and never seen this relic. This is a replay of the last two trips.  http://www.southernhighlanders.com/Porters11.html

So you begin crossing Porter's Creek.

That is Charley's Bunion. 

It used to be marked with a plethora of cairns.  Or "Korans" if you will.

Sometimes there was a piece of tape.

And sometimes you are entirely on your own.  For three and a half hours we climbed from 3700 feet to 5500 feet.

Frank enjoyes the sunshine along the AT at the Sawteeth.  We would lose it fairly soon.


We hit the snow about 4500 feet.

We decided to drop back down an undetermined drainage as the day was getting on so we descended a branch with HUUUGE drop offs.  Here you can barely see Will in the upper middle and look at the waterfall to his right.  I have gone up and down most branches of this area but this one was the most treacherous.  How we didn't bust our heads open is beyond me.  There were several sections where we hung off rhodo and our feet had nothing to scrape.  I was literally swinging from branch to branch with 20 foot drop offs below.

That is Leconte in the background and a beautiful Christmas tree that I want to donate to the White House.

When we got out of the creekbeds, Frank was so happy that he kissed one of those "Korans" and threatened to convert to Bushwhackery.  He had lost his cell phone, broken his hiking pole and ripped his britches good.  And he thought last weekend was something.  He obviously hasn't bushwhacked with me.

We were all as scratched up as this tree when we popped out 6.5 hours later.  Then we had to pack up camp and get back to the trailhead 3.7 miles further.  In all honesty, this was the most epic ascent of Porter's I have made.  The rock cairns were scant this year and the trail all but obliterated with all the recent storms.  We spent more time on our hands and knees and rhodo surfing than I can remember.  But Frank and Will did an exemplary job of busting through sawbriers and dog hobble.  I am quite proud of their attitude and forbearance. It was one for the books.  I am considering another epic offtrail the weekend of the 22.

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