Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trip 3 Citico Wilderness

January 2002 Trip 3
Trails: Rocky Flats/Mill Branch/Fodderstack/Crowders/Rocky Flats
Lost on the Stiffknee
The Inbred Dream

On this trip I parked the old truck at Warden's Field(above)and hiked up the Rocky Flats trail to Doublecamp road and connected to the steep Mill Branch trail where I slept in the tent at a very little level area before the terrible section.

This old chimney homestead is on the Rocky Flats trail and is a nice little landmark for the exploring backpacker. On the second day I left my little camping spot at the Mill Branch crossing and humped up to the Fodderstack ridge trail and continued up to the grassy gap camping spot at Crowders and then past Crowders I turned left and got up to Farr Gap and the start of the Stiffknee trail.

At the Stiffknee junction I went down steeply but in a little forgotten gap I got lost and went straight up Tallassee ridge instead of turning right in the gap and down into the Stiffknee valley. After staying on the wrong ridge for a long while, I reached a red steel farm gate and see ATV tracks and knew I was way off mark, so I turned around(my first Citico reach around!)and headed back up the harshly steep Stiffknee back to Farr Gap where as darkness approached I found a ridgetop tentsite and crashed.

The weather was cold and wet and my clothing had been wet with sweat and rain and so I headed down the Fodderstack to Crowders trail and go down in sleet on a very hard to follow trail. Like an idiot, I stepped on a wet frozen log crossing a small creek and fell hard on the palm of my right hand thereby tearing open a large hand wound. I stayed on the trail and made it to the forest road where I planned on getting to the Rocky Flats trail and sleeping at a spot I found there by the old chimney site. Everything was wet and so was I. After going up steeply I descended to the old homesite and put up the wet tent and spent a very miserable night shivering in my own sweat and exhaustion. Even my down bag was wet. But not all was bad as I found this big chestnut stump on the Rocky Flats trail(with Little Mitten by it on another dayhiking trip), and marveled at it's size.

The worst part of this whole weird trip was the nightmare I had by the old chimney site, a twisted thing of hypothermia and local-boy inbreds. I woke up early and in a panic quickly walked out back to Doublecamp road which I followed for 6 miles in the cold fog back to the car and out. Glad to be out.

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