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JohnH0802 12-08-2009 11:36 PM

Son's first backcountry trip
I am in the preliminary stages of planning my 11 year-old son's first backcountry camping trip. I am looking at cabin flats off of the Bradley fork trail in the spring. While my son has no experience with this, I have experience in both camping and navigation (13 years in the Marine Corps reading topo maps and navigating in unfamiliar terrain). Any suggestions/input would be greatly appreciated. In addition I am looking for a good book to get him for Christmas that would help introduce him to the skills that would be needed, again input would be greatly appreciated.

mora521 12-09-2009 12:35 AM

John,you will not need any navigation skills just follow the signs.The Curtis Creek Manifesto by Sheridan Anderson is the best primer for catching trout out of creeks I have ever read.

Jim Casada 12-09-2009 06:55 PM

John--You don't say how old your son is, but Cabin Flats is a pretty long haul (5.5 miles with 1,000 foot change in elevation). It is a beautiful place. On the fishing side of things, the stream size should be conducive to easy wading, but it will be pretty tight from a casting perspective. Getting there is no problem--just follow the trail.
When it comes to woodscraft (and again I don't know the age, and this is a factor), arguably there's never been a finer primer written than Horace Kephart's "Camping and Woodcraft." It is extremely long and 100+ years old, but other than changes in technology it is as relevant and helpful today as when it was first published. Incidentally, it is one of the ten bestselling outdoor books of all time, and it has never been out of print. The Univ. of Tennessee Press has a paperbound reprint for which I wrote a lengthy Introduction, and you can find it listed on my Web site. I have lots of problems with Kephart as a man, and even more with the tone and tenor of his best-known book, "Our Southern Highlanders," but he knew his woodscraft as few ever have.
As for books, are you looking for a general primer which covers everything from knots to casting techniques or a guide to how to fish small streams. Let me know and I'll make some suggestions.
Jim Casada

sammcdonald 12-09-2009 08:11 PM

you might look at back country 18 on west's not a difficult hike in, pretty site, and fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high ( well the trees are)

Jim Casada 12-09-2009 10:13 PM

John--Just realized, in re-reading, that you did say how old your son is. If he is fit, Cabin Flats is probably doable. However, I'll posit some other destinations. SAmmcdonald's suggestion is a good one. On the N. C. side, you might want to consider Bearpen Branch on Noland Creek or Bumgardner Branch on Deep Creek. I took my daughter to both when she was around your son's age, and she handled it just fine (of course her mother slipped and broke an ankle at the latter site, something which occasioned quite a bit of trouble before we dealt with it after a harrowing and painful night for her).
In the Bradley Fork drainage, you might also want to consider Chasteen Creek. Over in the Cataloochee area, Pretty Hollow is 1.9 miles from the trailhead and is a lovely place.
There are, obviously, lots of possibilities, and my apologies for missing the obvious on the lad's age the first time around. Hope this helps a bit.
Jim Casada
P. S. I personally think 5.5 miles could be a bit much, but by that age I had made half a dozen trips to the Bryson Place, and that was when the Deep Creek Trail still featured more than a dozen fords. That's about the same distance as what you are contemplating, and the going on Bradley Fork is basically fairly easy (unless you are old and overweight, like me, then it is arduous--but I plan to go there in the spring).

JohnH0802 12-09-2009 11:15 PM

I ordered two books from you site tonight, but never saw the area where I could ask you to sign the books. If you see this in time please sign the books, and thank you for the information.

GrouseMan77 12-10-2009 08:21 AM


You might consider site #50. I have been by there several times and have been amazed at how easy of a hike it is. It might be perfect for a youngster. The site is very pretty and really close to some good water.

Sam is also right about #18 which is another nice little hike and great site. #18 might "feel" like you are a little further away from things than you are.

Jim Casada 12-10-2009 09:01 AM

John--I've already acknowledged the order and I'll be delighted to sign the books. I actually sign anything I sell which I have written or edited as a matter of course, but now I will personalize them as well. Thanks. As for the PayPal form, I think you enter requests like this in the special instrucitons area. At least that's where folks usually indicate they want a booksigned (although I'll confess I don't know doodly-squat about the technical side of things--my webmaster, who lives a country away in Missoula, MT, sets up all these things for me).
Jim Casada

Rog 1 12-10-2009 10:50 AM

When my son was the same age I took him up to #24 above Elkmont...this is a 4.2 mile hike but is not a hard climb...the water up there is fairly wide open and you can catch all three species of trout up there. Most of the hike is along the Little River and it has a way of taking your mind off the walk and putting it on the fishing.

Elk riverrat 12-10-2009 10:47 PM

In the mid 80's when oldest son was 6, we made our first jaunt up to Cabin Flats, easy walk up a service road for at least 80% of the trip.

Great place to get lost for a few days, we were up there 6 days and didn't see a soul until day 5 and it was a fellow from Florida who had taken a tumble coming off the AT, said our hellos and he was on his way.

Had a young cub in camp a couple night, someone had left trash at a site below us, few wild boars and a bobcat.

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