View Full Version : Bald river Camping Trip 09/24-09/25

10-10-2011, 02:01 PM
I have been meaning to post this trip for a couple of weeks now, but haven't gotten to it until now.

I have been trying to get my wife to go on more trips, and while she has always liked frontcountry camping, after a trip last may to Slickrock creek, she has been wanting to do more backcountry camping, as long as the trip isn't too far or too strenuous. We were a little overpacked for the trip to slickrock and so while the camping part was great, she didn't enjoy the hiking part. My wife told me on Thursday (09/22) that she was ready to do another trip. I should mention that for her, the camping trip needs to include bringing one or more of our dogs, which limits us to the national forest. I decided not to take any fishing gear, because I wanted to make sure that the trip was a positive as possible for my wife.

After looking at some possible destinations, I decided to give the Bald River trail a try. Instead of hiking up from the falls, we went to the other end of the wilderness area (off FS 126) and hike downstream.

We did pass the falls on FS 210 on the way in:


We hiked in for about 45 minutes and set up at the second campsite we passed.

The dogs were very much ready for a swim:


Since the main reason the trip in May had put my wife off of backpacking for several months was the weight of the pack, I made sure to pack light and carry as much as possible in my pack and not have hers weigh too much. I had her pack at just about 16 pounds, but she insisted on bringing an old oversized sleeping bag to put on the ground for the dogs. She didn't mind carrying the extra 5 pounds, and the dogs were very happy to have it:


Is dinner ready yet?

Jonas especially enjoyed getting to carry his own gear:


As we were hiking out on Sunday, about half way back to the car we were greeting by a hunting hound, with radio collars and all coming down the trail, looking very happy to see people. My dogs weren't too thrilled about a strange dog coming up the trail and barked and growled until he turned and ran away back the way he came.

Maybe someone who understands the regs better than I can answer this question. If the dog training season ended Sept 13 for Monroe County and Hunting season with dogs doesn't open until Oct 1 (in Monroe county) then there shouldn't have been dogs out and about on Sept 25, right?

Anyway as we made it to the car, I happened to see that the hound was lying down underneath our car. I went over to see him while my wife held onto our dogs a good distance away (and they hadn't seen the dog under our car yet). He was real friendly, but wouldn't come out form under the car. So I traded places with my wife and she went over to him and he immediately came out for her and she offered him some food and water, because he looked like he was in some sorry shape:


Hard to tell in the first picture, but the second one tells the story much better:


He also had some open wounds on the hind leg and under his tail, he barely had any energy to move around. He drank a bunch of water that we gave him, as well as ate the rest of the dog food we had with us. He had a tag on him with a phone number and owners name and the town of Tellico Plains on it, so we loaded him up in the car ( he couldn't climb up on his own, even though he tried pretty hard) and drove into Tellico Plains. Once we got cell service, we called the owner who said that his son was out looking for the dog and that he would get a hold of him and have him meet us at the visitors center. Once we met up with him, we learned that they had been looking in the area along FS 210, and the dog was a good distance away ( on FS 126 under our car). We couldn't get a straight answer as to how long he had been out missing, with the story ranging from 'quite a while' to 'a couple of days'. So either this dog had been out missing for quite a while or this owner doesn't feed his dogs enough, because it was obvious that the dog was underweight for his frame, and very near starvation. I say thing because in the years my wife and I have fostered dogs for a rescue, we have taken care of many dogs that were near the point of death from starvation that didn't look much worse than this one. Hopefully he is feeling much better now...

10-10-2011, 02:31 PM
Nice trip report. Awful nice of you to take such good care of that dog and see that it was re-united with its owner. I know there are people who will defend the hunting dog practices to the hilt, but I just shake my head in disbelief, as it is something I'll likely never understand.

Do any fishing?

10-10-2011, 03:07 PM
No fishing this trip. I was primarily concerned with making sure that my wife had as good of a time as possible so that she would want to go again. Some very nice looking water up there though. Maybe next time...

10-10-2011, 09:06 PM
My wife & I found 4 dogs atop of the heath of Hangover once including a dog that made yours look fat. The dogs were from 3 different sets of people, and since I had reception called them all. One lived not too far away and met me at Big Fat Gap and took all the dogs so we hiked them out. It was obvious all the dogs were long off the scent and were lost. Other hikers said they were up there for at least the previous 4 days (the time they were there), but the one had to have been out for weeks. With no water source if it wasn't for kind hikers those dogs would have been toast. The owner that came said his dog (no radio) was running with a pack that had run over the ridge the previous week. Said it was always a good dog in the past and used all his radio collars on younger pups. His dog looked to be in decent shape for a hunting dog.

10-11-2011, 02:30 AM
NDuncan, That is a Plott hound and you done exactly what we HOPE that others would do and that is call the owner. Thank you. I would guess that you didn't get a "straight" answer as to how long the dog had been gone because the man didn't know you and some are leary of "dog huggers". The black collar on the dog is a Garmin GPS collar that sends it's location to a GPS hand held reciever giving the own it's exact location within 3 feet. They are great and I own 5 of them however, they only last between 12-18 hours so they are useless after that. The yellow and black collar is just a normal collar. The third orange collar is a Johnson collar that simply sends out a signal to a tracking box and gives the owner a general location. These are used as back up for the Garmin collars once they go dead however, what we call "beep beep" collars can "bounce" signals off mountains and you will be looking for your dog and it's 5 miles in the other direction. It's not uncommon at all for a dog to get lost for a week or more in the Slickrock and Baldriver falls area before being found even with people looking for them. This hound will literally run to exhaustion because it's just they way they are programmed. That hound can be coming down a trail hardly able to carry it's own weight and if a bear walks infront of it, it will give chase getting even more lost in the process. That hound is carrying in the neighborhood of $500 around his neck and has a freeze brand on his opposite side and I can promise you that man went to bed worried and wondering where his hound was for several nights. He wouldn't (I wouldn't) hang that much money on a no count sorry dog. Now, as far as houndsmen not feeding their dogs.... when you see the winners of these long distance endurance racers most are skinny, wormy, fella's that look like they have already been in a coffin for a month or more. Hounds are endurance racers not boxers or football players. They don't take a break while the defense is on the field, they are running from start to finish. I feed my dogs 1 1/2 cups of dog food a day (what is recommended for my dogs on the bag) of the best dog food that I can find and when they get to their "running" weight there will be food left in their bowls in the mornings.

I am the one that will "defend hound hunting to the hilt" and for those that believe it's a "sure thing" or "lazy man's hunt" when using hounds would be sorely disappointed to learn that it's not. It takes a different type of person to actually find enjoyment in chasing dogs up and down ridges for 7 miles and climb over 1 veritcal mile in 9 hours only to come home empty handed. Yes, I have already filled my tag for the YEAR on a hard earned bear making that only the second bear that I've taken in the past 6 years. I still go running over those ridges even though I can't kill another bear because it never WAS about the killing part to me. It's about my dogs, and the pleasure that I get out of being in the woods, listening to my own little army doing what they were bred to do. It IS one of the only forms of catch and release hunting. ;)

10-11-2011, 10:57 AM
I didn't mean to imply that he wasn't feeding his dogs, my point was that this dog was getting dangerously underweight and to me it looked like he had to have been lost for at least a week without food to be in the bad of shape. He was so weak when I put him in my car, I don't think he would have lasted more than another 24-48 hours out there. My point was that for a dog to be in this bad of shape, there is no way he was only missing for 2 days (which is what the owner's son who picked him up said at one point). When I talked to the owner on the phone, he said that the dog had been out there 'a while'.

I would say that my wife and I are definitely 'dog huggers' because we are always rescuing stray and lost dogs and trying to find their proper owners when necessary. I know how much training and equipment costs go into training one of these dogs, so I understand that it is more than just dumping a bunch of dogs in the woods to chase game, which is the impression a lot of people have. I knew that the owners of this dog would him back for sure and that they had a lot invested him. We were happy to get him back home, and the dog was definitely happy to the rest of his pack when they got there. They probably wouldn't have found him in time because they were out looking for him at least 10 miles away from where he found us.

10-11-2011, 08:43 PM
I had to walk one a bear dog out as well. Extremely malnourished to the point where we decided to stop on the way back and make some oatmeal for him. Seems to be too common. His owner was waiting for him on the way out, which made me wonder why he had not gone in after him.