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Old 10-11-2011, 09:20 AM
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Talking A solo journey through the Raven Fork

I decided to do my trip last week in reverse as a solo day hike, and had a wonderful day. I had hoped to run into my friends Mac & Colby who were up there fishing all week between 47 & 3 Forks, but somehow missed them, or maybe they thought my owl call was really an owl and were hidden in the rhodo in their hammocks. I woke up really early and got to the trailhead around 7:45. By 8:30 I was at the gap and within 15 minutes made it down to 47. I intended to use Kirk’s short cut (would have saved me a mile), but was not completely sure where to drop down, and decided it was better just to walk the creek to ensure a rhodo free morning (other draws are full of rhodo). I saw Mac & Colby’s food bag for when they returned to 47, but that was the only sign I saw of them all day. According to their plan they should have been in the flats above BullDie the previous night so I made good ground at the beginning of the hike passing up the best water to ensure I had plenty of time to complete my hike, to fish a little with them, and because the fishing is usually much slower in the morning before the sun hits it. I was hiking with a fleece on and a hat at this point and would say it was in the low 50’s at best although it soon warmed to the seventies and was a spectacular fall day. I stopped for a decent break to eat and hydrate where the sun was finally hitting the upper end of the gorge and soaked in the scenery a while. I worked upstream to BullDie and put up my hiking poles and busted out the fishing rod. I snagged a little rainbow in the second pool from the bottom and marked that stream off my list. I guess what you could call my obsession with remote creek “Stream-bagging”. I fished a little in the flats above BullDie on Raven Fork and landed 3 pretty quickly when I decided I better work start walking upstream to see Mac & Colby. I was soon at 3 Forks with no sign of them anywhere. From ½ mile below BullDie to 3 Forks, I had been doing my Owl call, but never saw the slightest evidence of them, not even a boot print. At 3 Fork I saw some camping gear of some serious off-trailers, and gazed up Left Fork and said they are probably up there scouting a way to the AT, and sure enough they were. I relaxed for a little while and soaked up the Big Pool before heading up Right Fork. I fished and caught another Brookie in Right Fork, and decided to call it a day fishing, and broke out the hiking poles and put away the fishing pole. I made it to McGee in record time and I took it slow & easy up to 44. I was nice to be back on the trail system around 2. I ran into 3 ladies, 2 horses, and a mile at the intersection right past Hyatt Bald. I then passed a solo hiker who was heading to 44 that had 3 more folks behind him that I passed just past the Enloe Creek junction gap who were from Knoxville and knew my buddy Trey. There was also a horse group of 5 that I passed on top of Hyatt Ridge, and a couple horses as I was heading down the mountain to the car so it was a high traffic Saturday for sure. I also passed a couple that were heading to 47 and had been at Tricorner the previous night. I made it back to the car at 3:50 thinking I would be home early to help the wife, but got caught in the worst bear jam I have ever experienced. 1 hour and 50 minutes later I passed the bear 40 feet up the tree. It took me over 4 hours to get home, but was still worth the price to get to visit such a special place again, and I have yet to get my fill of this place.

Pictures at: http://www.duckypaddler.com/return-to-3-forks.html
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Old 10-11-2011, 09:50 AM
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JoelO JoelO is offline
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Great pics! The picture captions tell a nice story. I imagine its a bit easier to get to 3 forks with the water as low as it was...about how long did it take from 47 to get up there? I assume you were using the stream as your trail the whole way up.
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Old 10-11-2011, 10:20 AM
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It really depends on your speed. And yes with the water this low made all creek walking much much easier. The week before when I hiked out with Kirk we made it from 3 Forks to the car in 3.5 hours, but that was using his short cut, and hiking at a pace few could keep up with. On Saturday I made it to 47 right before 9 AM. I was at 3 Forks by noon. But please realize I hike every week in the Smokies and was hiking the streambed I knew where to cross and have been gearing up for harder hikes in the past few months. Walking streambeds fishing is nothing like doing it 5 times the speed upstream, and until you do it on a regular basis i wouldn't recommend doing it solo in a place like this. Even with good wading boots, and 2 hiking sticks I still almost busted my *** a half dozen times or so. I know many people in good shape that would do this hike in hours per mile not miles per hour. Not trying to be cocky, just don't want someone to have a NarcoCop moment thinking it would be this easy for anyone who hikes or fishes regularly. This is a place where I think Mr Casada describes it right.

Jay might be able to chime in and give a better estimate, but a full day half hiking & half fishing would be much more fun

And yes while I saw signs of the old trail, I would not recommend trying to hike it as you make much better speed streamside.

2.9 trail hike in (up 1800 feet & down 800)
4.3 miles of stream walking to 3 Forks
1 mile up Right Fork
.4 up McGee (500 feet)
.9 to Hyatt Bald
1.7 to Hyatt Ridge gap
1.9 back to car

Felt like alot more than just 13 miles
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Old 10-11-2011, 11:36 AM
JayB JayB is offline
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We just hiked/waded until we got to Bulldie, and then kind of halfway fished and hikes the rest of the way, and it took us about 6 hours if I remember correctly. I think we left 47 about 10am, and got to TF at ~4pm.
And Ducky is correct, it is a fools errand to try to take any trail or grade through here. It is all very overgrown. It may be cold, but not overly difficult to just wade up the river. (When I say it wasnt difficult, remember thats a matter of perspective,what I think is difficult, especially after what I'd been through the day before, and what others think is difficult can be quite different.)
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Old 10-11-2011, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayB View Post
We just hiked/waded until we got to Bulldie, and then kind of halfway fished and hikes the rest of the way, and it took us about 6 hours if I remember correctly. I think we left 47 about 10am, and got to TF at ~4pm.
And Ducky is correct, it is a fools errand to try to take any trail or grade through here. It is all very overgrown. It may be cold, but not overly difficult to just wade up the river. (When I say it wasnt difficult, remember thats a matter of perspective,what I think is difficult, especially after what I'd been through the day before, and what others think is difficult can be quite different.)
It's funny that once you have seen the gorges, it kind of changes your perspective on things, and makes much of what you used to consider rough as easy going. I think I'm developing a Smoky Mountain sickness. others who want to travel with me take heed it well may be contagious

Reservation to Ramsey's trailhead here we go
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:15 PM
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ifish4wildtrout ifish4wildtrout is offline
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That is truly amazing, man. Totally awesome trip.
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:17 PM
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benintenn benintenn is offline
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So, I'm guessing that wasn't a designated, numbered campsite that tent was at. Isn't that illegal...(only if you get caught)?
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benintenn View Post
So, I'm guessing that wasn't a designated, numbered campsite that tent was at. Isn't that illegal...(only if you get caught)?
The three groups I know that were in there all had cross country permits issued by the park. So no they were not illegal They seem much harder to get these days

Now if you camped there without a cross country permmit then you would be doing something illegal, which there seems plenty of evidence around to that fact. One purpose of our permit, and I'm guessing the reason it got issued was to Leave no Trace the site which we did
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