Abram's and Little Bottoms 1/30/16

It began as AJ's idea.  He wanted to play in the snow.  Given that our last weekend outing had to be cancelled, we hedged in favor of a short in to a great spot.   And then the person for whom we made the short in willfully bailed on us, as is his penchant.

But it didn't diminish the experience of unequaled mid winter weather in the 60s.  And an essentially empty backcountry, as usual.  Wood was plentiful, which lead to one of the backcountry experiences I have long called "Running the Gauntlet of Smokies Moronory"  So many times have I been lectured by day hikers who have obviously never spent a night on the ground about what I am going to encounter.  It happens most often on Leconte trips by jeans wearing, bear bell toters because everyone going up there is an expert and you are an idiot. They summited and you haven't yet.

Anyway, I had walked up towards the falls a bit to gather wood and found a hum, wrist sized piece that was about 14 feet long.  I can imagine that I was quite a sight maneuvering that behemoth through the labyrinthine trail when I came across a large fellow occupying a seat with his girlfriend.  He could not resist informing me that I needed to be careful because there were rangers afoot.  I stopped and asked him where they were and he said, "Well, they are around, I have seen them at the trailhead before."  I replied, "And why should that be of concern to me?"  Whereupon this moron retorts, "Because if you carry that wood out of the park, it is illegal."

 Ordinarily I would have let it pass but couldn't resist indulging him further.  "Well, tell me this, sir, is it illegal to have a fire in a campsite?"  He replies, "Well, I guess it isn't, is there a campsite nearby?"  Whereupon I reply, "Yes, right around the corner.  Did you really think I was going to carry a 14 foot stick three miles to my 8 foot automobile and take it home?

Being lectured by day hikers seems to be a thing in the Smokies.  I learned that throughout the fee fight.  Our most vitriolic opposition has come from folks that have admittedly never spent a night in the backcountry.  But they know we need to pay to use it.  If the NPS included an IQ test for certain day hikers, they might just win me over!

But guess who finished his miles on that side of the park and didn't bail?

Myers, that's who.

This requires some explanation.  But I'm not explaining.  He did have a big, cold crossing at Abrams, though.

He tried the hammock thing.

But we had an outstanding, star filled evening. 

Apparently AJ had a snow time on Bob's Bald.  Sorry we missed him but glad he got some altitude.

Now for updates on other issues.  The book is so close I can smell it!  Soon it will be off to the printer and Laurel has been diligently proofing for me. 

And Tibet beckons.  I have purchased my airfare and will depart in April for the Turquoise Goddess, Cho Oyu.  Our team is nailing down details and Dan is currently in Lhasa making preparations for us and his Everest clients.  He has been issuing dispatches and we may possibly have to travel through there because the road to basecamp is iffy.  In fact, the whole expedition could be canceled by China at the last minute  They have done that before it political situations don't suit them.  I'm banking that they won't. 

However, training is back in full swing despite varying medical maladies currently rectified.  Swimming, hiking, running, weights and core exercises are the bulk of my present regimen.  My teammate, Andrea Rigotti is the most fit specimen of mountaineering that exists.  My preparation is paltry.  But Freddie seems to be a little behind me with the usual winter time illnesses, so I feel somewhat better.  Either way, things are amping up and it will be here before we know it.