Kbark and I had planned this trip for Dec. 2/3, but some local obligations pushed us back a couple of weeks. We had hoped to get a couple more local guys to go with us as well but this time of year it tends to be a little more difficult to get a decent sized group together.
So since it was just the two of us we figured we would try to do a 2-4 mile hike in and then setup camp, maybe go for a night hike and a short hike out in the AM. The final route we decide on was to park @ Bynum Bluff Trail Head and walk the road to Babel. Hike down Babel to Linville Trail and then take that to back to Bynum and setup camp somewhere along the way.
The weather was perfect 45-50 degrees and sunny skies, we set off at about 1:00 PM and managed to get the first two parts done pretty well, but of course things don't always go as planned and when we got to where Babel meets Linville we headed downstream instead of up. I'm guessing we walked about 1/2-3/4 of a mile until we got to the river at which point we figured out we were going the wrong way...so we turned around and headed back up to the intersection of Babel and Linville. When we got back up there we figured out where we had gone wrong and we were back on our way. Somewhere before the intersection with Cabin Trail we got sidetracked and ended up down at the river again. This was a shorter detour but the terrain was more difficult coming back out so another 30-45 minutes wasted. Again before we got to the intersection with the Cabin Trail we got on a trail that took us down to the river, this time we decided that we would not go back the way we came in since we were running short on daylight so we would just stay along the river and walk upstream as far as we could. This was slippery terrain becasue of the rain the day before which saw me almost completely turtle in the river and Kbark laying on the rocks a couple of times looking for a soft place to rest I guess. We made it to a small waterfall before we had to start back up into the woods at which point we luckily ended up right back on the Linville Trail, but after the intersection with Cabin Trail so our river detour somehow took us past that. Another 30 or so minutes we ended up at the intersection of Bynum Bluff/Pine Gap/Linville. So we took option #4 which was an unmarked trail that led us down towards the river. We got to a pretty decent campsite right at dusk and proceeded to setup camp in the dark. Always fun when you are testing an entirely new setup like I was. After getting everything setup and finding dry firewood in the dark we got a decent fire going, got nice and toasty and had a camp feast. I tucked Kbark into his Manritto setup and spent the next 10 minutes trying to get my homemade underquilt (The Zunderquilt 1.1 Ripstop, 2 layers Climashield)setup, setup. When I finally got it dialed in right I was toasty and good to go for the night, even having to shed layers to stay cool.
Our best guess is that it got into the low 20's overnight, as when we woke up it was light out and 25 degrees. We packed up pretty quickly, had a snack and coffee and hiked out Bynum Bluff to the car. I think we got a little more mileage then we planned initially maybe 5ish on day 1 with all the detours but it was a great trip and I'm looking forward to #OccupyLinvilleGorge3 hopefully sometime in Jan.
*I borrowed a camera from work and the size setting was all over the place for the pics sorry about that.