In November, I was held captive by a Yeti. Three months later I was pulled from a western Carolina cave, rescued by a group of volunteers who had seen Missing Hikers. With one of our buddies still lost in the wild I had to act fast. Last weekend, Scott Caper and I geared up, tuned in, and checked the forecast before setting out to find Will Singles.
022010, 10AM, Day 1: The trailhead at Big East Fork warns of extreme trail conditions. We scoff and head in. Within minutes Sister Mary Irony has us going in the wrong direction. No fault of ours mind you. The people who went before us hadn’t a clue where they were going. A quick check of the GPS and it’s confirmed…the parking lot is 50 yards in the other direction. Not a good start for sure. Thankfully, two hikers pop out and we fill their gap. One step at a time, deeper into Pisgah National Forest, traversing snow-covered trails and fighting rhododendrons patches.
CHRIS: Where’re the tracks?
COOP: There…and it looks like the guy has a dog.
CHRIS: Orange tape must be a makeshift trail marker.
COOP: Good enough for me.
We push on with the sun shining down on our shoulders. Sweat pours and we lose our gloves, then our hats. Man, we look way cool. Shades, backpacks, gaiters…yep, real experts.
Hour in, we determine the trail is improvised bushwacked. Suckerooskivich! Up, down, more up, rocks, snow, ice, mud, jump, up, climb, slip, fall, strain, break, bleed, climb, and we’re back on the trail.
COOP: Where’d that come from?
CHRIS: Eh, whatever.
We’re still tracking the dude-and-dog trail. Quarter mile later a group of leprechauns is sittin’ with their hellhounds ’round a fire. Another half mile and the man with the size 14 shoe is hollerin’ at us from below.
14: Where you guys headed?
CHRIS: Stranger Danger Scott
COOP: Shining Rock Gap.
14: Naw man, it’s too deep up there. I just came from up there. Went up and had to turn around. Been walking back for about an hour.
Neither Scott nor I are fans of treacherous hikes in the dark so we stay the night with 14. Coop and 14 gather wood. I gather rocks for the pit and set up a place to relax. Sun’s going down. The three of us stomp out paths to the creek, tents, the pit and the main trail above (rather not get injured on the first day). As the others get settled I build a snowman to ward off bobcats (little known fact btw). The campfire is slow going. Simply doesn’t want to stay lit. Three starters later and the flame is cooking our steaks. I blaze the Pocket Rocket and cook rice and pilaf. Coop grabs the iced beverages. After chowin’ down, Coop and I enjoy a smooth Punch. A great end to a great day. Tomorrow we tackle the SRG trail and hit Flower Knob.