To Rabbit Creek.  Its in the Bag


Despite all the park service warnings and closures of all roads into and out of the park, we were determined to follow through with our plan to meet at good ole Rabbit Creek Saturday night.  Even Frank drove over from Nashville to make this journey despite the NPS twitter feed blowing up every five minutes with some other kind of dire warnings to stay home and be afraid.

I suppose that is scary stuff in some circles.  It's just beautiful to me.

This is the view from Pine Mountain summit looking over towards Chilhowee Lake.

We trudged through several inches of white stuff in an uncharacteristic Fall snow event that apparently dumped anywhere from a foot to 10 depending on which news outlet was outdoing the other.

We soon ran into Myers who got turned around trying to come in from the Cove.  They closed the Cove road and evacuated tent campers from the frontcountry campsites.  So Myers had to circle back and come in from Abram's Creek.

This is Frank making that chilly crossing outside of cs 15 with which we are all familiar.  It was very cold Saturday.

When we arrived at the campsite after crossing over Pine Mountain summit and back down to a somewhat lower elevation, there was no one there.  (This was pre-Myers so stay with me).  George told me he was going to be there with Amy after spending the night at 17 the previous day.  Myers had the saw.  I had the water filter.  But I left out part of the story.

Right about the time of this picture, about halfway up Pine Mtn, I came to a terrible realization.  In all my years of backpacking I had never experienced this phenomenon.  I was trudging along, enjoying the beautiful early winter wonderland.  Last weekend, I threw a party for Uncle Larry at my home.  One of my out of town houseguests by the name of Rob Spire had apparently gotten cold and went to my basement and taken my sleeping bag from its normal place.  As I marched towards the top of Pine Mtn I was already fully aware that my sleeping bag was in an upstairs bedroom and not my pack, thanks to Gobbie.

I informed Frank and decided to march on anyway.  In my head I could use my down jacket and shiver all night.  Frank didn't like the sound of it.  I hoped to hike on in to 15 and meet Myers or George and be able to leave Frank with a night in the mtns for all his driving at least if I had to go in the middle of the night.   Since no one was in 15 (I later found out George and Amy had such a miserable night at 17 with crashing trees and snow/rain, that they headed back out, and I don't blame them.)

After Frank made the crossing and we evaluated options, the decision was made to head back out.  That is when we intercepted Myers.  By this time everyone had decided what the hey, and we all walked back to the vehicle.  I even suggested we bivy at 16 but that spot has no water and I didn't feel like melting snow all night. 

Myers was good natured, as usual, about things.  He was ready to stay out and so was I.  I asked Frank if I could borrow his sleeping bag.  He reminded me it was a Western Mountaineering and I remembered Old Yeller, laying off somewhere between Broad Peak and K2. 

We returned to the trailhead at dark to see a ranger parked behind my car jotting down license plate numbers, I suppose.  He intercepted us to inquire about our activites.  After relating that we were coming out, we were reminded of the danger and peril from which we had escaped. It was at that point I told the Ranger the only peril was the aftermath of Rob Spire who could screw up a one car funeral but in the end I should have double checked on the sleeping bag.   So there you have it.  Like Myers quipped, "We will remember this one for years to come."  And he is right.  I will forget dozens of Smokies outings but this one will never go away.  I have forgotten tent poles, water filters, stove fuel, jackets, flashlights and a dozen other things.  On a 20 degree night, I omitted my most important piece of gear.  And that is more than a little funny.

We still had a blast and I enjoy getting to hang with my SFW buddies whenever they can make it down.

For those of you who are on Twitter, consider following me for updates from climbs etc.  I have been on Twitter for several years and basically forgot about it until my book was mentioned and I decided it was a good vehicle to post updates on things. I'm not a facebook or social media person but Twitter is a good way to convey short updates and I think it may be of use when my next book comes out before Christmas.