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...