Looping Abrams

9/19-9/21 2014

When I can leave directly from work and hit the woods it often means a quick in to my "home" area of the park.  The Abrams creek drainage has been the scene of many a peaceful night spent in the backcountry.  My plan was to do a little "low key" time at Little Bottoms Friday and then meet up with AJ and Will and Jenny at Flint Gap on Saturday.

But I had a bit of an issue as cruising out toward CS 1 and started to turn up towards the creek.  A uniformed ranger approached headed back from the campsites.  Seeing our backpacks, he prompty asked where I was going and requested my permit.    I produced said document whereupon he uttered, "I saw your name on the list and was looking for you."   My partner and I looked at each other curiously then I said to him, "You were looking for me specifically?"    To which he replied, "We know who is out here."     I replied, "Is it because I am with the Southern Forest Watch and we are suing you over this backcountry fee?"   The ranger then smiled and said,  "Let's just focus on what a nice day it is out here and how lucky we are to be here."

That is what the government is doing with our fee money.  And this wasn't a backcountry ranger that the NPS crowed about so loudly.  Those backcountry guys are seasonal but the NPS sure told everyone they were hiring two fulltime dedicated Rangers.  This is one of the guys stationed at Abram's Creek.  The "fulltime" dedicated backcountry folks have been reduced already to part time.  Another NPS bait and switch.  It also begs the question as to whether they can legally search and ask for a permit if you aren't in a backcountry site.  For all he knew I was training for my next climb.  And there is one in two weeks.

You must make this crossing on Hannah Mountain.  It has been the scene of many epic fails but we negotiated it deftly.  Then we embarked upon what is undoubtedly my favorite trail in the Smokies.  From this point to its terminus at Parson's Branch road, the undulating rise and fall of this carpeted trail of pine needles creates a meandering footpath through the pine and mixed hardwood forest.  It wears a skirt of rhododendron drenched with rivulets of crystal clear seeps at many turns. Each step pulls you closer to the next bend and anticipation of what will unfold with the ducking sunlight filtered at its three quarter point at Flint Gap.

I don't mind seeing this scene when pulling into a backcountry site.

And here was the culprit, who is now hero of the hour.  AJ had been walking out to Parson's Branch and we met him a while after setting up.  He had been there the night before and enjoyed the solitude of the "overcrowded" Smokies backcountry.

It was now time to relax and enjoy the evening at Flint Gap.

We were well into our good ole Abe Lincoln fire when headlights crested the hill.

It was Trail Bailer and Jenny Howe.

And so the next morning, everyone departed for their respective hikes and we concluded a glorious NO RAIN event in the GRSM.  First weekend of no rain.  I believe it was because Dana did a no rain dance for us.   I appreciate it.

It looks as if I will be heading down to Mexico to make an attempt on Orizaba in about two weeks.  This will be a solo run and I plan to acclimitize on La Malinche.  Really looking forward to getting some altitude and returning for the splendor of Fall backpacking.  No leaf changes are occuring in this part of the park yet.