Back by popular demand....

The boys and I haven't been on a long backpacking trip in a while. A few short one nighters, but nothing big. We were supposed to do a big 4 day trip on Forney creek back in March, but was cut short after the first night by a death in the family. So I was determined to get a BIG trip in so 5 days over Memorial Day weekend seemed like a good way to go big. Since Julie was coming along as well, that meant the dogs too, so it was off to the National Forest instead of the Smokies. The plan was to start at Big Fat Gap (3060'), hike to the Hangover (~5200') for views of the sunrise, over to Naked Ground where we would take the Slickrock trail down the second nights camp by the creek. The next day we camp just below Wildcat falls, and though we had planned originally to keep going, we decide to stay at Wildcat two nights, and head out via Big Fat Gap Trail Monday.

We got a late start Thursday, so I didnt get many pictures on the way up. It was getting dark by the time we got near, and since I hadn't been here before and I didn't have time to scout around for the actual "Hangover" we found a campsite on the mountaintop and setup for the night. The next morning, Nolan and I climbed a tree in camp and snapped a few pictures of the sun rising over North Carolina.

Our camp viewed from the tree.

The sunrise.

When we were coming down from Naked Ground we passed though another amazingly beautiful azalea bald (which the boys affectionately dubbed "Purple Death Land", and Jack asked if it was possible to die from claustrophobia.) I had to stand on a rock and hold the camera over my head to get this picture. The rest of the trail was a blur of purple, green, and bees.

Then we had the rest of the slickrock trail to get down. There isn't much to say or show about that trail. It is unmaintained, overgrown, steep, miserable, with a couple of steep 6-8' dropoffs thrown in for fun. Somehow though, the boys pushed through it all without a single complaint! We've been on much easier trails that I had to drag them along, I almost thing it was the fact that the trail was so challenging that kept them engaged the whole time. Even going downhill, it was the worst, and most exhausting trail I've ever been on.

We made camp near the confluence of Slickrock and Hangover creeks. The next morning Jack and I went fishing. Jack was the first one to hookup, and I was happily surprised to see that he had caught a brookie on a yellow neversink. I was curious whether brookies existed in the upper Slickrock drainage, and searching online, I never found a definite answer, though i saw opinions both ways. Now I know.

From here we packed up and hiked down below Wildcat Falls. We decided to take it easy and spend two nights there. We found a wonderful campsite, well off the trail. right on the water with plenty of room for all all five of us.

And the boys did what boys do... swam, caught salamanders and crayfish, made hiking sticks with their names carved in them, played stickwars, read books, swung in their hammocks, and ate, ate, ate.

to be continued.....