The Crooked Arm,  Southern Forest Watch Board Meeting and Christmas Nuts and Bolts




This week's narrative may seem a bit tangential so bear with me.  It began at 9 am on Friday morning at Suntrust bank.  That is Southern Forest Watch treasurer Gregg Bostick endorsing the first check from a very generous donor.  If Gregg seems happy it is with good reason.  He has worked diligently to pursue non profit status for the Southern Forest Watch.  Friday morning symbolized the fruition of those efforts.  To be honest, we were both giggling like schoolgirls.  So much of our fight against the backcountry fee involves tearing down the lies and manipulations disseminated by Dale Ditmanson and his cronies.  Friday represented a block in the new building.  Our organization is officially recognized by the state of Tennessee as a corporation.  And we are getting ready to hit you up for money to sue the NPS.

This is the SFW board of directors minus Jim, Adam and Gregg who were unable to do an overnight backpacking trip.  You see, part of our charter stipulates that we hold an annual board meeting somewhere in the backcountry around a crackling fire.  That was Myers brainchild.  And we dutifully obliged.

From left to right: Frank, John, Rob and Myers

Of course, our SouthernHighlander President, Sally D missed last weekend in the mountains so he was jonesing to hit the backcountry.  Frank had thrown out the Crooked Arm a couple of weeks back.   Dave and I have many fond memories of the Crooked arm site.  It didn't take much to coax us there.  What is that thing in the foreground you may ask?

Well, it is my new tent.

What is the story with that?  You may have noticed the ad on our webpage.  When Martin turned me on to the Bear Paw Design that was so popular on the AT, I looked into their product line.  I have been in the market for an ultralight tent and pack since my back and joints aren't getting any younger.  This tent utilizes your trekking poles and weighs just two pounds. I approached the company owner to ask if he were interested in an ad swap and he was game.  Come to find out the owner, John Stultz, has roots here in Knoxville.  It costs me about $150 to run this website annually so any time I can offset a cost is a win. We decided to make this offer to our regulars in the backcountry.  Some of our gang are going to approach some other gear manufacturers.  I hope those other Highlanders can work out similar deals.

 Since we were assured of the likelihood of precipitation and my other tent is in the hospital, the Crooked Arm site was a perfect fitting out run for the Bear Paw Wilderness Designs AT2 model.  This tent has a full floor and is incredibly spacious.  It did rain considerably last night and the tent performed admirably despite my choice of spot that was three inches deep.  The result was that I awakened to a puddle beneath me that did not penetrate the super thin flooring.  That is a good testament to his design.

And Myers returned from his dayhike for new ink.  I think he got about 11 miles on Saturday.  Isn't this a good shot of the sunset over the TurkeyPen campsite?

So now we are  back at the campfire with our new friends, Iman and his Dad whose name escapes me.  They are super nice folks from Huntsville on their second backcountry outing in the Smokies.  We enjoyed sharing our fire with them.  As we sat around the fire a headlamp approached at the top of the hill.

Yep, it was another Slappy cameo in the dark hours.

About 45 minutes later, we become aware of something else approaching camp.  You can imagine our surprise when we spy this apparition nearing our campfire.  What in the world could this be?

Yep, it was George in all his Christmas glory.  He came into camp lit up like a Christmas Tree, because he was.  I was going to say that I have never seen George so lit but,  he was really lit up in a festive fashion.  His light show was such a coup that we made a resolution to honor his appearance in our SFW board meeting. It will be one for the story books when we are decrepit.

Isn't that something?  Merry Christmas.

After disrobing, he shared the solar powered light show with the campsite.

I don't really know what is going on here.  It looks like Slappy is getting in Myers face and George and Rob are about to square off.  You would think that tempers had flared and a brawl would ensue.  I can assure you that this was not the case.  Although I do think that the SouthernHighlanders are giving it to the Hell Guys.

In reality, though, we are all boots on the ground together.  In our passion for the Smokies and our defense of the liberties therein, Highlanders and Hell Guys are a great match.

Myers calls it doing laundry.  I call it "There goes the Harry Lane advertising swap."   Guess I don't need a new car.

The cheese board is a Muir Faction tradition.  Rob handled that on this trip and we wish to formally give a shout to the SouthernHighlander Chapter 3 Muir Faction guys in the Ohio Valley.  At some point we will have to incorporate the Hell Guys into our clan.   They think they can avoid the initiation process.  Slap might have some thoughts about that.

After a delightful evening that included, and I am not kidding here, Christmas carols and tent visitation by Santa, we were ready to leave the rain and descend back to Cades Cove.  Our board meeting was a success and we passed many new initiatives.  But most important is the fund drive.  Beginning today, we are accepting paypal donations on the SFW site HERE.  I don't need to tell you why we are doing what we are doing.  If you follow this site you are well aware of our lawsuit against the National Park Service so I will spare you another tirade.  Your tax deductible donation will go to legal fees and collateral expenses.  We would appreciate any amount you can donate.  Nothing is too small.  If you are strapped right now, then do us a favor and send that link to a couple of friends or put it on your social media page.  The fee is set to begin "early" next year.  This is your Smokies as well as ours.

The cove from Crooked Arm.

As I caught up with Dave at the Cove loop road, he was standing quietly observing this 10 point buck at the center of the picture trying to mate with a doe behind the stump of the uprooted tree.  We stood for five minutes as three other bucks challenged this big one for the doe that looked absolutely worn down.  It was like being smack dab in the middle of a nature show.  I wondered if they might become aggressive with us but they had other things on their mind.  I was fortunate to be with a deer behavior expert in Sally D who was a better narrator than Stan Brock.

We had an exceptional time at one of our favorite spots with plenty of merriment and Christmas cheer.  We may do a Friday night outing next week, FYI.

Check out this article!  I knew we were always onto something.  My favorite quote from the article?

 “We show that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multimedia and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50 percent,” the researchers conclude.