Sunday, November 23, 2014

Citico Creek Camping Trip

Tiny copper lanterns on the awning of the camper.


Camping at Indian Boundary and Hiking
Dana & Kenny Koogler 
Friday Oct. 21 thru Sunday Oct. 23

Pictures are here starting with frame 401
(photos in this album are a collection from many  trips over the seasons)
Citico Camping Trip Pix 


 We had long planned a camping and hiking trip to Indian Boundary Camp Ground.
We wanted to relax and do some enjoying Fall colors. Sit by the camp fire. Enjoy
each others company in private.  Unplug for awhile.  We had no great ambition, but
did decide to use the trip to the area to see about accessing the one hundred foot
waterfall on Jake Best Branch.   We had tried before when I was getting over being
sick and found the top part.  It was a single thirty five foot falls set apart from the 
main falls by quite a bit.   We got camp set up and decided to try to find the falls.
 
 Our rig at Indian Boundary for our Fall excursion. 

  The day was perfect. It was sunny with blue skies and mild Fall temperatures.
Autumn colors were past peak at the top of the Skyway, but peak around the mid to lower elevations where we were staying.   Very pretty. Not the most brilliant Fall we've ever seen, but 
good.  We are always glad for the change of seasons and Autumn is a favorite.  

   We set off toward Citico.  It was surprising how few people were camped there.
We saw perhaps two camps in total.  I think that is a record low!   We went up toward Cold Springs Gap and decided to try again from the top to reach the big falls.   The colors on this road and the scenery were splendid.  After much struggling we bombed out again.  We got within 200 feet of the Falls, but the terrain is dangerous, steep, unforgiving.  We had some laughs at the idiotic, self flagellation we put ourselves through sometimes all in the name of waterfalls!  

    We drove back down the road checking GPS coordinates and distances from the destination point.  We finally went back down to The Narrows of Citico Creek. Here the river bends in a sharp oxbow.  One day in the future the water will erode through and there will be a section of Citico Creek cut off from itself, but for now it is a sharp bend and only a few feet between one side of the ridge and the other.  The cliffs here are steep and crossing Citico here would always be a wet foot crossing.   We thought perhaps we could locate Jakes Best Branch by coming down to the Narrows and accessing it and then just following it up. Kenny kept trying to explain to me that "we won't have to cross Citico Creek here".  I was unable to get him to understand and accept the lay of the terrain until long after we'd returned home to K├╝gler Haus and I showed him on Google Earth maps from the satellite view.   He then capitulated that I'd been correct.  He still pointed out an area coming in from one side but down lower than what we'd tried two previous times. He thinks that should be the next attempt. I agree that is what we'll try.  Frustrating? You bet.
New to us? Not a chance.   We have visited so many of the "easy" waterfalls in the guidebook and
on Tennessee Landforms that what is left is the hard stuff.  It is going to be this way sometimes.

       Citico Creek was lovely and gloomy in the evening sun.   We just soaked up the 
pretty weather, beautiful scenery and scent of Autumn.   



Citico Colors up high






Double Camp area in the evening glow.


Double Camp again in the sunshine. Winter will come with those gray days that make us long
for the sunshine and warm days.

Sitting by the fire in the evening.  It got cold!

   We had a nice dinner and enjoy sitting around the fire talking.  It was quiet and peaceful.
We discussed what we wanted to do the next day.  I had been wanting to hike to Wildcat Falls
for a couple months.  I had only been there once and that was with Kenny in Summer time.
I did not feel confident in going alone on this hike or I'd had already done it.  It is Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock
Wilderness and the trail in to the falls is a little confusing.  Kenny liked the idea so that is what we planned
 to tackle the next day.  We'd need our blaze orange because it is bear hunting season.

     We had a nice breakfast the following morning and packed us a lunch and prepared to make a
day of it.  Robbinsville here we come!  We drove all the way across the Cherohala Skyway and it was beautiful. I knew from having seen Fred Deegen's photos on Facebook that the upper parts were done.
I figured as much even without seeing them.  The upper portion of the Skyway is 5,000 feet elevation or more.  It is going to get done leaf color wise before either end of the road.    

     We arrived at Big Fat Gap parking area to a whole passel of bear hunters and dogs.
We had hiked it before as a nine mile shuttle.  We had a vehicle here at Big Fat Gap and one at Cheoah Dam.   We went all the way through and got to see Wildcat Falls and Lower Falls on Slickrock Creek the first time.  Today we'd just do an out and back.  We encountered many hikers, backpackers and bear hunters with their dogs.     It was down hill on the way in and would be all up hill on the way out.

    We did not have any trouble until we got to the intersection just before Slickrock Creek and fortunately a fellow hiker saw us struggling with which way to go. He quickly righted us and once we got past that snag we never had any further trouble.   We repaid the favor on the way out by getting a hunter his dog back safely and helping some fellows who were backpacking.  They were searching for the way to Big Stack Gap
and we were able to set them right.   I had been very comfortable temperature wise though the day
began quite cold it warmed up to 70 degrees. I was glad I wore shorts and brought my water shoes.
I did wonder on the hike in "Why does my left instep feel different from my right?" but dismissed it.

     We saw some signs of the old railroad and some pioneer junk today in the woods.

 Here is an old wood cooking stove!
   
 

Slickrock Creek in the afternoon light on our way back.  This is one of my all time favorite areas to
hike. Kenny loved it so much he has agreed he will go backpacking with me here!

  Slickrock Wilderness is for me what the Smoky Mountains used to be. I still enjoy hiking there, but the
politics and regulations, the manipulations, the crowds, etc have spoiled it for me.  I cannot feel any of that
when I am here and it helps me recall how the Smoky Mountains and hiking there used to make me feel.
Today was one of those days that feels like it should have its own sound track.

       Many creek crossings today. I think there were seven or eight.  Most were ok, but three of them
required water shoes to negotiate.   I noticed on the way in "I have water .. just a trickle.. coming in the toe of my left boot.  Why is it only coming in my left boot? Why is it coming in at all? These boots are only a year old!  They shouldn't be leaking at all on these shallow crossings!"  But again.. I dismissed it. My mind was on the beauty of the forest, the stream.. how incredibly clear and perfect it was... and on the crossings.
Making them safely.  Once across Slickrock Creek just above the first drop of Wildcat falls is a narrow ledge of stone you have to make your way along.  I was very focused on that and not fretting over minor
things like leaky boots.

   It was not long until we came to Wildcat Falls.  It was even prettier than it was in Summer on our first visit here!  The Autumn leaves framed it with orange, red, gold, and copper.   It had more water coming over it today than it had then.    We sat down here to have lunch.  Beech leaves of yellow, gold and copper came floating down in flurries.  It was a memory I will treasure. I'm here with my hubby eating lunch in this pretty spot.  It is perfect.  Sitting there soaking up the scene and another memory came creeping back to my mind.   I laughed.  I turned around to ask Kenny if he remember this spot and the rock we were sitting on?
He did.  You know if it involves these two outlaws it is not going to remain a Hallmark moment for long.
We laughed remembering getting busy behind the rock we were now sitting on to eat lunch.  It IS a beautiful spot and inspires romance ok? 

   
Wildcat Falls has four drops total. The lay of them prevents a getting a clear photo of all of it at once.





This is the trail such as it is.  not really as bad as it looks.

http://cumberlandgal.smugmug.com/Travel/Hikes-and-Scenic-Drives/Cherohala-Skyway/i-hxLnrXT/0/M/Citico%20165-M.jpg
Another vantage point to photograph Wildcat Falls.

   We fed the dog here and enjoyed the area.  We made sure to feed him so he'd follow us back out.
We began our hike back out.  It was easy at first.   One of the stops on the way back I sat down to
put my boots back on and wondered why one shoe lace was brown and the other black?
The reason was simple. I had on two different boots! The left boot was one of my old Vasque boots.
The right boot was my new Lowa boots!  We had a good laugh over that. No wonder one was leaking
and did not feel the same!  I am like the court jester without meaning to be. I don't even have to try.
I have all my life dressed myself funny. Grandma Edna called me Glady's Earl because of it. Dad called me
Gravel Gert. 
I really lived it today.   I will leave the house with two different socks, different shoes, dress hung in the back of my panty hose, hair sticking up, frizzing out, shirt wrongside out,  pimple cream on my cheek, mismatched colors, etc.  I really have tried to not be that way, but after fifty years of it.. it ain't likely to stop.





This was taken just prior to me realizing I was wearing two different boots! ha! Kenny and his sexy legs.
http://cumberlandgal.smugmug.com/Travel/Hikes-and-Scenic-Drives/Cherohala-Skyway/i-d788d5q/0/M/Citico%20192-M.jpg
We took a blessed wrong turn and this is what we saw!  We also saw Santeetlah dam for the first time!
Everything we encountered today made us not want to leave and plan for the next trip back to the area.

   We hauled our tired carcasses back up that hill to the parking area.  I think the uphill is about 1.4 miles
It is not that bad, but Kenny tortures himself and me by talking about how awful it is.  I have to get in a good
head space for hard things to dull the pain of the effort.  He doesn't seem to know how to do that and what
is worse.. he tries to keep ME from doing that.  I got on him about it and made him stop.

We had a neat experience on the way out of two owls calling one to the other!  One called out. The other answered. 



http://cumberlandgal.smugmug.com/Travel/Hikes-and-Scenic-Drives/Cherohala-Skyway/i-wcStwdk/0/M/Citico%20183-M.jpg
Slickrock Creek and a pretty cascade

     Back at the camp we fixed dinner and rested.  We talked. We sat by the fire again.
We were tired and went to bed with the chickens around 9 pm.  It was nice to be unplugged from the
internet and TV and phones.   Good to get away.

    Next morning we slept in.  Ate a big breakfast.  Did an easy hike to Fall Branch Falls.
Enjoyed the colors along the Skyway.   We packed up and went home at a decent time.
Trying not to make these camping trips such marathons that they wear Kenny out.

We did not winterize the camper, because we planned another camping trip to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure in two weeks for our 30th Anniversary.



Colors along the Cherohala Skyway at Turkey Pen



http://cumberlandgal.smugmug.com/Travel/Hikes-and-Scenic-Drives/Cherohala-Skyway/i-q29jGPR/0/M/Citico%20255-M.jpg
Fall Branch Falls. Today was an easy hike and working on learning different techniques with my camera.
I'm still trying to gain a little mastery over it.  Kenny helped me make some progress today.
I am a slow learner any how and brain damage from illness hasn't made me any smarter.