A SUPER JAKE WEEKEND  and Highlanders all over the darn place.

Sally Dumplin and Slap stand atop the peak of our little bushwhacking adventure.  But wait, I'm getting ahead of things.

Friday night, Nov 4, 2011.  7:30 pm.      I'm loading hot dog buns and a bag of four dollar and 50 cent potato chips onto my backpack.  They barely fit.  I've got just 3.5 miles to hike alone, in the dark and uphill to campsite 27 on lower Jakes Creek. (thanks for the correction, I hate campsite numbers anyway) It's the only way to maximize a weekend when you have to work on Fridays.  From Maryville to Elkmont, it's a race against the night and I lost.  Just me, alone with the creek and switchbacks.  No one hikes at night any more.  An angry barred owl chased me out of the newly renovated parking area with his shrill, petulant screaming.  "Go on, go on, leave me alone."  So off I went into the fog and pitch of night.

Somewhere I passed the Walker sisters cabin.  Then I came to the first creek crossing.  The fog was so thick I couldn't see the rocks but somehow made it dry.  Another switchback and altitude was clicking off.  I'm headed uphill and sweating out.  The humidity is tremendous.  Why is my pack so heavy?  For a two day trip with hot dogs, drinks, a chair?  This is getting out of hand.  One hour and twenty minutes to camp.  I don't see anything until I stumble onto the fire.  It's Sally D and Wayne, aka Slappy.  Man, it's good to be HOME!  9.30 pm

(These things look better in daylight)

Anyone want to put a caption on this one?

One of the great things about the hike out is to see what you managed to cross in the dark.  That bridge was kinda freaky in the pitch black fog.  I felt like a character in a Sherlock Holmes adventure on the moors.  The Hound of the Smokeysvilles.

As mentioned, our goal was to pursue this offtrail route that I am not going to name. We may have use for it later.  Saturday dawned gloriously; it was a magnificent weather weekend and this has been the best Fall backpacking season I can personally remember.  So we bushwhacked to this point and found our objectives.  I might add, it far exceeded our expectations.  If you are an offtrailer, you already know where we went.

These views would not be possible with leaves.

So we did three or four hours of playing around and return to find our camp invaded by an Irishman and a Redhead.  This is the making of a good joke.  Does anyone have one that would fit these two?  Send it in.  I'm thinking of a limerick,           there once was a hiker named Red.....................

Who became ill that his iphone went dead

So he decided to eat instead.

But had no hot dog bread.

The daylight was waning and tired of his moaning, we

let slapnuts go upside his head.

Nicknames are strange with our group.  They evolve arbitrarily at times.  Then again, sometimes not.

(last clue from our bushwhack)

A super great and relaxing two days on Jakes Creek.  Fantastic.  Speaking of that.  The SouthernHighlanders had three backpacking trips going off that same weekend.  Bill led a group up around Hannah Mountain for a three dayer and Ricky Bobby and UL and Grady led a group to another spot on Big ridge.  Here are some pics from their escapade in Dark Holler.

that one looks like a REALLY good story!



And finally.  As many of you may know, there is a bunch happening on the fee proposal front.  First, I received a reply from my Freedom of Information Act Request.  I asked to receive a copy of the comments submitted on the Backcountry Fee Proposal by all individuals to the NPS.  At first I was told by Asst Supt Fitzgerald that it was illegal to forward that information. (stonewalling)  Then I went over his head and filed this request with the NPS Headquarters.  They responded 20 days later to inform me that I was not entitled to a fee waiver and that my Freedom of Info Request would cost me $1200.  Freedom aint free is it?  I am working on my appeal but did discover that there are apparently 1500 comments.

Second, we have secured another endorsement from a high profile Smokies Author and hiker/backpacker to assist our cause.  Johnny Molloy furnished me with a statement opposing the fee.  Check out what he said here.   http://southernforestwatch.org/