Unicoi Mountains  3/15/14


Since the Citico/Slickrock area has become our new home, the quest for mileage over there is prescient.  This past weekend, Jerky Mike, Slap and myself descended into the Doublecamp region for a basecamping/dayhiking event.

  Here Mike is seen ascending Pine Ridge trail

Our original plan was to backpack up the North Fork Citico Trail but that created a somewhat ambitious overnight prospect, especially considering that we had secured a primo base camp at what is now officially dubbed “double naught” by Mike.

 In keeping with Sally Dumplin’s burger preparation ritual, Mike prepared bison for us all and it was outta the park delicious.

   Slapnuts didn’t have any problem with the modified plan.  Because he was still in time out from last week’s stunt.

 Chief Lodgebow enthralls Slap as he spins yarns about his days with General Custer.

  Yep, camp doublenaught is a very relaxing spot.

    But back to the hiking at hand.  This is looking down into the infamous Jeffrey Hell.  Pine Ridge is a 3.5 ascent that gains some elevation as it intersects the Fodderstack Trail, which is the longest in the CNF wilderness.  It also represents the demarcation linke between TN and NC at the crest of the Unicoi Chain.  Unicoi is derived from the Cherokee and refers to the “white smoke” more often seen lying in the valleys and mtns.

This is the base of the Big Fodderstack.  Since I had some time on the clock and this particular day was turning out to be one of the most gorgeous ever, I decided to bust on up to the summit of the Big Fodderstack.

  Fodderstack Summit Selfie.

I returned to find Jerky Mike at the trail intersection.  Feeling much better ( I have been nursing a bronchial infection/virus for about 10 days and wasn’t sure how the hiking was going to work.  I felt like I was at altitude without an oxygen mask) I decided to continue a loop around and back down Mill Branch.  Slapnuts decided to take on Crowder Branch.   Whenever I am inclined to take a fork in a trail or road in life, it always delivers me somewhere for a reason.   Call it the Calvinist in me.  But for a reason unbeknownst to me, I decided to drop back into the familiar Mill Branch campsite where we have spent more than one outdoor backpacking night.

 yours truly and Michael Shannon

So I run into this guy and his wife climbing up from the bottom of Mill Branch.  You may remember Mill Branch from previous trips where we ran into Tipi for the first time.  (Tipi and I have since become great buddies and he is a living legend in these parts).   On this particular day, I run into this guy and we soon figure out that he is none other than Michael Shannon.  If that name sounds familiar then it should.  Michael is the man who so graciously devoted his time and talents to creating the Southern Forest Watch logo.   We had never met face to face and, to borrow his words, “ I figured I would run into you on the trail sometime.”   And he did.  Great to see a good friend and donator to the worthy cause of Smokies fee freedom.  Because if we don't stop the Smokies fee, they will be a coming to this area.  Mark my words.  If the fee stands in the Smokies, you can expect to see it in the CNF, Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock area as well.  We can use your support.


He is an excellent graphics guy and if you ever need some exceptional quality work, I would suggest reaching out to him.  Michael Shannon :: Human Interaction Designer

  (the trail down Mill Branch has had some work done


I then dropped on back down to loop out and end up on the doublecamp road for a .6 tenths of a mile walk back into camp where Slap was reclined reading an excellent book.   (ok, I won’t do the gratuitous self plug here.)  Wait, I changed my mind.  Here is the book he was reading!  broadpeak

When Mike returned from Pine Ridge, it was more Bison thirty.


Then John the Red makes an appearance and considers swimming for a bit.

  This is at our campsite.

  And we barked at the full moon in Sally D’s absence.


And enjoyed the usual wrist sized blaze.  Oh wait, this isn’t the Smokies.  We can burn big logs.  Where did those logs come from?  The Forest service cleared them from the road just for us.  Isn’t that great!

We had a tremendous weekend and intend to do a repeat next weekend.  The CNF and Slickrock wilderness has everything we need right now.   And I intend to get it all while it is still fee free.