Little Bottoms  Nov 18-20, 2011

Campsite 17 is probably my favorite.  When our Muir Faction brother, Marty Bunyan contacted us and wanted to go somewhere, Dave, as usual, read my mind.

Campsite 17 is called Little Bottoms.  Amy decides to find out for herself.  George is excited by the "proposition". Red reminds her that he is a married man.

No harm, no foul, right? 

I have already mentioned that this has been the best backpacking season I can remember.  As a matter of fact, the rain pattern has held steady since August, when I returned.  The weekends have been clear and perfect.  Therefore, I have been leaving work and hiking in on Fridays, whenever possible.  This time, I was able to catch camp before dark for the first time in three weeks or so.  As I passed campsite 1, there was a guy sitting by his fire, alone.  I had a notion to go over and tell him about the backcountry tax and recruit another supporter but the waning sun propelled me towards my weekend home and I climbed up the hill. 

I wanted to enjoy some river views in the dusk light.

And catch up with Brother Bunyan from the Muir Faction, Chapter 3.  Much later that night, our hardy group of myself, Bunyan, Sally Dumplin, BC George and Amy enjoyed a roaring fire.  We saw a headlight emerge from the forest, it was the ever elusive Rakestraw.  We did not get a picture of this creature but he did let us know he had passed the split to Abrams Creek and got turned around.  He ambled into the camp of the solitary backpacker only to discover that it was none other than our friend, noted Smokies author, Johnny Molloy.  Johnny has recently assisted us with our campaign to stop the Backcountry Tax and we have corresponded several times in the past week.  Steve informed him that he was coming to meet us up here.  I would've gone back and said hello, but it was late and that was a couple of miles night walking.  What are the chances?

Saturday's mission was to find the wrecked corsair.  George and Amy agreed to follow.

Such a glorious day, the river was just sparkling.

Soon, we were bushwhacking uphill 500 feet.

Long story short, I lost George and Amy.  Dropping down the other side of the draw, I entered into a world of rhododendron hell where I swam and crawled and climbed for a couple of hours in and out of the creek in search of a plane wreck.  I wasn't on the map because I didn't have one.  I wanted to try this without a map, although I had a sketch of where the wreck could be, provided I was on the right holler.  After the first hour solo, I found a little cave, fell in the creek and slid down the side of a hill  into sawbriers.  It was a true solo bushwhacking adventure.  That's when I realized that the destination wasn't even important.  I just needed an excuse to slither through the beautiful hemlock and rhodo exploring areas little seen by man.  In that respect, my mission was a capital success.  In the matter of the airplane, not so much.  What that means is that I became intimately familiar with another part of the Smokies and will return to finish the mission later.  As Jerky Mike said upon examination of my cuts,  "You loved it, didn't you?"  I arrived in camp to find that George and Amy had not returned.  I wasn't too concerned.  They looked none the worse for their journey an hour later.

We passed this Redhead coming up.

The cheese board is a Highlander tradition carried over from the Muir Faction.  We are always happy to oblige.

Gang signs are another tradition within the various Highlander sects.

Saturday evening, when Will, Jenny and Slapnuts arrived, we were elated.






There were chores that needed to be completed and they were holding up our schedule.

The boys in blue were anxious for a good fire and popcorn.

This sign is posted at the Abrams Creek trail for a couple of reasons.

This is one of them.

And this is another.  The trail is way too narrow for a horse but some fat lazy equestrian decided to go on out there anyway and ruin parts of a nice path.  I would like to thank them for giving the Park Service a reason to levy a tax upon us backpackers in the form of finding things to fix and complain about.  When the stimulus money came down from the Federal Govt, Dale Ditmanson decided he needed to spend some of it repairing trails that were damaged by horses.  Not to repair hiking trails, mind you, because they rarely need repairing.  Horse damaged trails.  That is the only trail appropriated use of 64 million taxpayer dollars Dale Ditmanson could find to allocate to the backcountry of the Smokies.  After this generous handout to the horse lobby, he decides to levy a fee upon backpackers so we can pay for this "crap".  Yes, Jon, I know that not all horse folks are of this mindset.  However, one horse does what ten thousand backpackers couldn't do.  And this is ridiculous.  And we are going to be taxed to pay for it.  Help stop this egregious Backcountry Fee Proposal now!. Horse riders would be exempt from any fees whatsoever under Dales failed logic.

Sunday morning found Bunyan packed and ready to return to Kentucky.  We enjoyed his company thoroughly and wish that Ledge and Chuck Adams could have also been in attendance.  A special shout to our brothers in arms in the Ohio valley delegation.  May we join you soon in the Dolly Sodds Wilderness!

It was a great outing and I didn't forget anything and saw no snakes.  I did forgot to mention, however, that last weekend, Super Dave forgot his sleeping bag.  That was a good one.  Two nights out and he had to find a quilt from his car.  Nice!

If you are interested in joining our blog campaign to stop this backcountry fee proposal and find our more, please visit the following blogs on the GoSmokies site.  The Sugarlands reads them, we know for a fact.  Any new faces to add to the campaign are a sign of solidarity.  If you do not feel up to date, check out Maggie's blog, with the Cliff's Notes first.  And of course, please "like" our    A news article came out in the KNS last week documenting the decline in Smokies visitation several months in a row.  Instituting user fees is not a good way to correct this problem.  We give 20 million plus dollars to the park annually and virtually NONE of it goes to the backcountry.  Volunteers have always mantained this resource and we always will.  There is not an overcrowding issue, there is a contractor called that is driving this "problem in search of a solution".  Just like a military contractor that urges us to war, this online reservation system appears to have the ear of the NPS so they are creating issues to let this bunch get their hand in our wallets.  Weekend after weekend we pass empty campsite after empty campsite.    Help us Axe the Tax!

Comments - Backcountry Tax - GoSmokies  My blog

Comments - Maybe we need a change at the top.... Down. - GoSmokies   Martin's blog

AX the TAX - GoSmokies  Wayne (Slap)'s Blog

Backcountry Tax: Cliff's Notes Edition - GoSmokies  Maggie's blog.  (Maggie is Lance's fiancee)