Sat, Apr 17 2004 - Backpack to the Snowbird Mountains (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Bruce
Participants:Joe Donovan, Bo Slaughter, Bruce, Michelle Halley, Udo Licht, Sara Jacenko, Josh Spier, Mike Wiegert, Steve Buchman

Write Up:
Event Details: We had nine hearty adventurers, including Marnette who we met in Robbinsville, NC at Ingles parking lot. We dined on ‘slow food’ at Wendys for breakfast, and then travelled to our trailhead on several curvy North Carolina backroads to our graveled road Forest Service 75. This took us 6 miles, following scenic Big Snowbird Creek to our trailhead some 6 miles in to ‘junction’, end of road, at trailhead. We got our backpacks on fairly quickly, and made our way on the easy part of the journey, the fairly level three-mile trail on old railroad bed. Several filled up second water containers at the pipe spring 2 ˝ miles in, before we rock-hopped the creek, with no mishaps or major spills; and were soon at our camping flat area, next to the confluence of Sassafras and Big Snowbird Creeks. This is a heavenly sound to listen to, sleep to; and most importantly to drown out the snoring section (myself) who set up far away from the crowd.

After we set up our tents, we made out about 1:45pm on the 5-mile moderate to strenuous loop trail in day gear. The first waterfall encountered after the moderate climb on the skinny, overgrown trail up, was Sassafras Falls. We lounged, snacked, and several played in and around the waterfall. Udo had his traditional dip (a cool but pleasant one on this warm day); and Joe and Bo took many wonderful photos here and elsewhere later.

From there we made the most difficult ascent the trail has to offer, up Burntrock Ridge, past sevral ‘experimental area’ signs-referred to the natural primitive state they are letting this portion return to. There were many wildflowers (thousands of trout lilies and white canadian violets). Very little evidence of blazing was left, and some of my old orange marking ribbons helped guide the way when the trail was hard to see. After cutting many ‘similac’ thorny vines crowding the trail; we all made our way down the slopes to our next adventure-the cold water crossing of Big Snowbird Creek.

We all took our boots off and barefooted it our put on sneakers or watershoes for the frigid water to cross. (‘after you are in the water for a minute it was OK, many commented, because feet went numb to feeling) After crossing, we all put socks and boots back on and walked the short distance to Middle Falls where we again lounged, enjoyed the waterfall, snacked and Bo and Joe took many good photos again.

These waterfalls all have their own unique beauty, and I (among others) regretted leaving them and their indelible impression of natural, rugged beauty; for the trail back. We continued back to the Mouse Knob trail, and after several “its all down hill from here” quotes from myself (started earlier on Burntrock Ridge), my credibility was all but gone, as to downhill statements. The new line was its all fairly level from here-which wasn’t believed either. We got onto the fairly level trail back to the campsite; in time for many to gather ‘far’ wood for an evenings ‘far’. Mike brought down half an trees worth of wood along with others bringing their collections, and we were assured of firewood for the evening. Besides making dinner, we all enjoyed each others company, laughs and campfire talk. (thanks to Sara for embellishing my 3-ounce portion of beef stroganoff with some hearty rice and lentils) All had a great time, and after a couple of hours, the fire and ourselves died down and all retired after tying up food stores from bears. The night was cool-low 40’ and most didn’t suffer too badly in the nights sleep or waking up to the cool morning. Bo, Joe and I all woke up around sun-up (around 7am), and the rest slowly followed, one by one; until about 8:30am everyone was up. All had various breakfasts, pre-packed all our gear, but tents left up to dry in later heat.

We then did the mornings short hike to Big Falls, two separate, but beautiful sets of cascades and smaller waterfalls ones the previous day. We all hung out for a good bit at the first one, and enjoyed the scenery and each others company for a while, before setting out for the second set. Then we headed back to camp to take down tents, pack our backpacks and back to the 3-mile flat trail and race for food; felt most keenly by myself (ready to consume mass quantities) We were all hungry, and after several closed restaurants in Robbinsville; and following of the slowest driver in a motor vehicle in North Carolina-at least (nicer than I put it at the time)-we all made it to a pizza parlor in Andrews, NC that used to be my ‘China Hut’ restaurant. It was good, not great food, but welcome because it was real food; not trail snacks; and I made a ‘hawg’ out of myself eating at least 5 pieces of pizza, 3 pizza sticks, beside my 12 inch meatball sub. I was loaded for the day, and thanks to all that contributed to my million-calorie meal. Then we all drove back, said our good-byes and went our separate ways. It was a good time had by all involved in great weather; and in one of my favorite places-a fantastic way to start my birthday week: and I thank all who made up that great and fun hiking crowd, and wonderful weekend.
Written By: Bruce Aldridge
Photos From: Special thanks for many beautiful pictures taken by Bo Slaughter and Joe Donovan