Back in November, on a hike with my new TN friends in Big South Fork, they discussed another group hike and hang in Savage Gulf. I had such a good time in BSF, that I wanted to come back for another hike. I did some weather research and found the average temps would be 50’s to 30’s. What concerned me was that February and March had an average of 5.5” of rain. So, I acquired some extra wet weather gear and signed up for the event. Since it was a pretty good drive, I decided to spend the whole week up there. Hangnout and Spamburglar said they would meet me out there on Tuesday.
I arrived at Stone Door Ranger Station at midnight on Monday. It was already 34* so I hustled off to the campsite and got my hammock up and was in my down by 1 AM. I awoke on Tuesday to the sound of rain and temps right at freezing. The rain was light, so after breakfast, I donned my rain gear and set out to explore Stone Door. About 2/3 of the way down the trail, lightning arced across the sky and the clouds let loose. I headed back to the Ranger Station and saw the Ranger in his office. I went in to say hello and he looked at me like I had two heads. He insisted on printing out the current weather forecast, which was pretty bleak, and for the first time that I had seen, proved accurate for the next 36 hours. It rained pretty steady and I spent the rest of the day under my tarp.
I made dinner in light rain and climbed into my hammock at 6:30pm. My hiking companions, obviously having more common sense, were not going to join me on this night. By 7 pm I noticed a different sound and realized the precipitation was freezing rain. It was a pretty wild night with gusty winds and snow flurries.
Wednesday morning was a crisp 25*. I ate my breakfast in my hammock and pondered my situation until Spam showed up at 7:30 am and convinced me to get out of my hammock with the promise of hot water for my coffee. After coffee, I headed back to pack up my gear. I was in the midst of separating my tree straps from the trees when Hangnout arrived. We set out for Alum Gap along the Big Creek Rim trail about 10 am.
We had lunch at Alum Gap and got our hammocks set up. I set up in a clump of small spruce trees on a side slope above the creek. Then we headed off to Greeter Falls.
Thursday morning the temps hovered around freezing, but it had been a rather mild night. After breakfast we headed off down the Big Creek Gulf Trail towards Stone Door. It was roots and rocks for 4 miles, but terrific views of Big Creek and finally Stone Door. The temps were warming and icicles were falling from the cliff as we rested from our climb.
Spam and I headed over to Savage Gulf Ranger Station, while Hangnout went home to get 2Sticks. We met up with FTroop in the parking lot and Sqwerl hanging in the campsite. Others drifted in during the afternoon and into the evening. Friday morning brought the coldest temps at 22* but also a huge breakfast spread and sunny skies. It warmed up quickly and eventually we were off to Hobbs Cabin along the North Rim trail. You can visit here for some videos by Hangnout and MedicineMan during this hike and hang.
Saturday was a rough day down the Connector trail to Stagecoach Road historic trail and then the South Rim trail. DetailMan and I took a side hill down to a dry creek bed, then back up stream to see the creek disappear into a sink. I truly regret not taking a picture of some of TN's finest doing trail maintenance with a leaf blower! Chuck joined me on a longer hike to the Savage Falls campground. Then I had a little side hike to retrieve some gear left along the trail on Friday. It turned into a 15 mi. day for me. No complaints, it’s a nice area to hike.
Sunday, Chuck and I had breakfast at the old still site along Savage Creek, just above the falls. I took some pictures of the area and waited on the others to catch up. We all gathered in the parking lot back at the Ranger Station to say good-by’s before some of us headed off to the Dunlap Family Restaurant.
It was a great week and look forward to hiking with you all again soon. Thanks to FTroop for doing all the recon and setup. Thanks to Spamburglar and Hangnout for coming out early to join me and to Chuck for keeping me company at Savage Falls campground. Oh yeah, thanks to DJ for taking the pressure of me.