Cold Settlers and the return of Scooter


Grady and I begin our nightwalk.  That seems to be our pattern of late, hiking in the dark, and cold.  This time, however, we had good reason.

  It was the return of Scooter.  He is back with his Highlander cabal.  And Jerky Mike is glad to see him.  Martin says, "Have you seen my new knife?"

Then Mike took it away from him.  Martin's "Edge" got a little dull in his absence, it would appear.

If this were the only rangers we were to see in the backcountry, my attitude about the fee might change.  Unfortunately, there was a bit of trash left about.

Martin demonstrates his new, homemade pack.  He took an external frame and purchased a cuben fiber gut to store all the stuff, like a main compartment.  This successfully reduced his weight to about 2 lbs with all that storage.  In case you are unfamiliar with cuben fiber, check out John Stultz's website.  John is a Highlander benefactor and Martin turned me on to him.  You may have noticed his ad on our webpage. 

This is the 2lb AT tent manufactured by BearPaw Wilderness Designs that I have carried some this winter while mine was incapacitated.  I let Martin give it a go.  Even though it is really not designed for this cold weather stuff, I think it performs quite well, especially considering the weight.  I have had it in all kinds of weather and it has not let me down.  Even the time when George broke the guyout, it still did ok.

Speaking of hiking cameos, look who shows up even later than us.  It's Dr. Trail Bailer with a doggone shrimp board.  I'm not kidding.  That's a new one.

He even made his own, delicious, horseradish cocktail sauce.  This is decadent stuff, people.  He just had to one up the Muir Faction.  And we didn't mind.

Of course we still enjoyed the filet and cheese board to which we have grown so accustomed.  The Muir Guys created quite a legacy.

A little later, we noticed that someone was missing from the group.

You see, he was ashamed because he had been caught in the act of an egregious camp violation.   Texting.   You see, our original plan was to go to campsite 20.  The Park service had a different idea and closed the roads to Elkmont.  We were forced to bushwhack into #33.  Since 33 is so close to the road, there is cell service.

Grady was removed from the tent after his forced exile.

The problem was that he gave Martin the bright idea of cellphonery.   Camp cellphonery.  A sanction will be imposed upon them both.  I'm thinking that Martin will have to produce some more of those biscuits for Grady to eat.  Butt biscuits from Cracker Barrel.  That is because we ended up at Cracker Barrel following this grueling 1 mile hike to replenish the lost calorie and gorged ourselves on biscuits and gravy.  There were spare biscuits so Martin dutifully wrapped them up and we departed.   Martin, never being one to let anything go to waste, placed them in his jacket and entered the bathroom.   A few minutes later, as Donna and I waited on our two ladies to finish up, Grady came speeding by, anxious to depart.  I received a text within 10 minutes informing me to stay away from any baked good offerings from Scooter.   So I did.

That's Sally D walking the old settler walls.  Dave has a theory about all the walls in the smokies.  There are, after all, miles upon miles of them.  Dave surmises that is why the pioneer families were so big.  Daddy sent the kids out to roll rocks to give him and Momma some alone time.   Makes sense to me.

It was great to have Scooter back on the trail with us.  We had a wonderful night in the backcountry with our friend and AT trail volunteer.  He and Donna made a speed run to celebrate his Grandmother's 100th birthday.  Donna was very gracious to allow Scooter to hit the backcountry with us for a spell.  They's good people, the Old Settlers would reckon.  And I say, "Weeeeell Doogie".    Later in the day, I received a text from Jessica .  She asked if that were my car parked somewhere along 321.  Apparently she and Ricky Bobby had been staying at their getaway cabin and passed us.  They couldn't come up because they had their dogs in tow.  Same with Donna.  It was definitely a 3 dog night, though.

I want to share a cool link, though.  It is a collection of every bird sound in North America.  Have you always wanted to know what a pileated woodpecker sounds like?  Here ya go.   They are all in here.  I'm  impressed with this vast ornithological collection.  Go check out the junco, Carolina Raven, Bald Eagle.  Stuff we have all heard in the backcountry and never properly attributed to the right flying fowl.   ML: Macaulay Library

I have an update on climbing plans.  Some of you had asked about the Mexico trip which fell through over Christmas.  It gave birth to a resumption of our desire to go into what has been called by Galen Rowel, "The throne room of the Mountain Gods"  the Karakoram.   Bugsy and I are setting our sights  upon Broad Peak, adjacent to mighty K2.  Stay tuned for developments. 

And finally, if you haven't sent in your donation to the Southern Forest Watch, please consider doing so.  You gift is tax deductible and goes toward the legal fees to keep the Smokies backcountry fee from the pestilence of bureaucratic boondogling.  Many people have given generously.  I can't personally thank you enough for your contributions.