Noland Creek, Feb 18-20, 2012


On a beautiful mid winter day, Noland Creek drainage is a lovely sight replete with picturesque cascades and abundant fishing.  Full of rich history and mountain lore, this Carolina finger of the Smokies has much to be explored.

We did not get to do that much exploring though.  Instead, we held a "tarp" revival in the monsoon.  Here, Jerky Mike bows in reverence.  You see, it was President's day weekend and we were also paying homage to our wonderful SouthernHighlander President, Sally Dumplin.

It is customary on President's Day, that the pres prepares a cheese board for his people.  A "last supper" of sorts from which we all commune.  It is also an appropriate time to give a shout to the Muir Faction, chapter 3 who conferred this delightful tradition upon the Highlander ranks.

It is also customary that we give the President a black eye, just for good measure.  "What" you say?  Well, let me explain.

It all started when someone put too big a log onto the smoldering mess of a fire we maintained through the 20 plus hours of perpetual rain.  Dave caught Mike roaching that sucker but it was too late.  The damage was done.  President Sally Dumplin swoll up like a watermelon and had to sit under the tarp he carried from the allergic reaction.  Good thing he carried that 6 pound tarp 6 miles up to Jerry Flats campsite.  Did I mention that the "overcrowded backcountry" was empty?

Well, except for these guys.  That dude on the right is the infamous Myers Morton, our attorney who is and has been helping us fight the FEEASCO and Ditmanson.  Myers dropped off down Deep Creek with other members of his group appropriately named, the Hell Guys.  I'll bet they thought hell when Myers came up lame on the first day.  Apparently, his knee swoll up worse than Dave's eye and he had to limp the rest of the way out to the tunnel.  Myers was a good sport about it thought.  Too bad he missed the steaks and cheese board we had prepared in honor of the Hell Guys.

I'm not including Greg Bostic in with that mix since he is a member of the clergy and did participate in our Tarp revival.  They dutifully shepherded their lame horse back to truck.  (not pictured is John the Red, because he wasn't there, at all)

We camped in the shadow of this small cemetery on the hill across the way.

After the monsoon relented, we were back to our usual champ chores, namely tommyhawking that sucker.  Sunday evening, the winds blew in colder air.  Not that a cold rain in the upper 30s and low 40s isn't chilly.  When the front lifted, we got snow flurries.  Good thing we kept the fire blazing through it all.

Since we were doing a campsite inventory for Ditmanson, we sidehiked to cs 65, Bear Pen Branch (I mistakenly identified it as 61 and was promptly chastised by BC George, thanks George).  I don't mean to sound negative, but this is, without a doubt, the most unappealing, abused and generally ugly spot that exists in the Smokies backcountry.  They say a picture tells a thousand words so I will let the following picture do just that.

  Need I say anymore about the damage here?  Skip this craphole at all costs.  Why there even needs to be a horse camp one mile in is beyond me.  Also, we don't have picnic tables on the Tennessee side of the Smokies in the backcountry.  I can't think of a single place over here that has that.

So, in summary, we feted President Dumplin and gave him a black eye.  We tried to hook up with the Hell guys but hobbled one of them and they ran off and Bill and George were 4 miles on up Noland Creek knocking out some miles.  They were too lazy to come down and join us, can you believe that?

And speaking of the overcrowded Smokies backcountry, we were the only backpackers in that part of the park.  There was no one in any of the three sites we encountered.  The overcrowded Smokies Backcountry is a myth perpetuated by a career bureaucrat (Dale Ditmanson) whose intention it is to run our ilk out of the park.  It will, of course, not happen.  All he will have succeeded in doing, should his plan go through, is created a LEGION of Outlaw Hikers.  It's what I hear from backpackers all the time.  There will be pirate camping throughout the Smokies and folks will have him to blame. 

In closing, I want to publish a quote from my friend, L.Perry Fuqua on the matter.

Ousted from the mountains: A Perspective   by L Perry Fuqua
First came the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and all of us who know anything about US history know it was not just the Cherokee who were systematically removed from their homelands. Second came the settlers, who loved their new lands as much as the indigenous peoples before them, and were ousted by the Rights of Emeninent Domain in order to creat the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Thirdly come the backpackers who camp in the wilderness now known as the GSMNP. The NPS who administers the GSMNP want to impose fees on the backpackers who camp in the wilderness, and the NPS knows the backpackers for the most part will disappear ... since most backpackers don't have the money to pay such fees.
Now the Cherokee, the settlers and the backcountry campers are kindred spirits in the loss of use of the mountains all of us call home. And all the losses are atributable to our fine democracy, our government.

borrowed from the comments on the Natl Parks Traveler Piece.   So very eloquently spoken by one of our own!  Way to go Perry.


follow the FEEASCO.