Savage Gulf, TN March 19-20 Hangnout & 2sticks (daughter)
Trip that did not go as originally planned but ended up being a lifetime memory for me.
Hiking friend (rayn) and I planned to do this trip as a shakedown for some new gear. After the Pinhoti trip he decided to lighten his pack. My youngest daughter heard me discussing the trip and begged to go. We have hiked a couple miles and camped before but she had never been on a trip with more hiking than camping. We were planning on going to Hobbs Cabin area in the Savage Gulf which is about a 9 mile trip in. I was hesitant but after discussing this with her decided to let her go. I knew she was able to do this physically but was not sure she was mentally prepared to hike the 9 miles. We spent the days before the trip discussing and having her be involved in the planning. This involved discussing the pros/cons of what to bring, how long we were hiking, etc. I was prepared for an early start and late camp to give her the time needed.
On Thursday afternoon Rayn called me with the bad news that he was not going to be able to make the trip. He was sick and heading south. I have this thing about cancelling trips so I knew we were still going. I changed the hike plan to be about 5 miles the first day with a campsite that could be hiked out in about 4 miles without detours.
2sticks and I hit the trail about 10:30 at the Savage Gulf ranger station trailhead. Our plan was to just take our time without any plans other than to arrive at the Dinky Line campsite before dark. I was pleasantly suprised with the pace that 2sticks set for the first mile. She was in the lead for the entire trip to ensure that we hiked her hike.
Our campsite was on the the North Plateau trail but when we came to the sign that showed Savage Falls in the direction of the South Rim she was not going to pass up this detour. This detour added a mile+ to the trip but was worth every minute. I will let the pictures and video tell this part.
2sticks eating lunch above the falls
We explored the area around the falls until after lunch then headed toward the campsite. 2sticks lead the way stopping to explore at times but in the end we actually made the campsite (about 4 miles) about 2:30. We set up camp, played in a nearby creek, hiked another couple miles round trip before supper. We ended up hiking about 7 miles total for the day and she was ready for more. I had to make her go back to camp. When we arrived back at camp another family arrived with Dad, Mom, and 2 kids and proceeded to set up camp right next to us even though the entire campground was empty They proceeded to pull out 3 tents and everything to go with them. I felt like a wimp with my ULA Conduit and 2sticks school daypack.
Breakfast in Bed
We cooked supper and went to bed early. I have not heard as much wildlife at night in a long time. The owls were making some eerie sounds, the coyotes were going at it, and something was chasing another animal close by completing the circle of life. 2sticks was using a 2/3 UQ with pad and another 2/3 uq as a TQ that worked great. I used a prototype UQ Leigh had mad for Rayn. He wanted something closer to a full length quilt with plenty of shoulder coverage. The UQ is 66" long, 48" wide at head end, and 36" at foot end. This is a trapezoid shape that saves weight but puts the coverage where needed. It is about 18 oz minus suspension so it is fairly light also. It is unique with the two tone, center baffle is a triangle with the remaining chambers running at an angle along the triangle. It was a little to big for my bridge but was very toasty.
I realized that our entire setup except for my TQ was DIY except for packs. The black tarp was on its first trip. Soon I will have an entire DIY setup including packs.
I did have one problem with a new marlin spike setup. I was using some carbon arrow shafts for the spike. I had a failure with these. I had a couple biners that I used after this. 2sticks setup had aluminum arrow shafts that worked fine.
I had tied the marlin spike hitch in the amsteel and this put too much pressure in a small area resulting in the failure. It would have worked with the webbing since the forces would have been distributed over a larger area. Live & Learn, better to have failed than never have tried. I did not have the UQ on hammock yet so no harm done. The rope is almost fused to the carbon.
We hiked out the next morning taking our time and making the detour to the falls again with a short trip up to the South Rim trail. The second day 2sticks was into it hiking about a mile at a time with no complaints about pack etc.
This is a trip I will remember for a lifetime. 2sticks taught me that sometimes we focus on the destination instead of just enjoying the day. The time and conversations we had on this trip can not be put into words or captured on camera. I saw her grow as a person and learn new skills that will help her in other aspects of her life. We made the miles we needed, but saw more on the way than I normally take time to enjoy.
Not the trip I planned but much better in the end.
We shot some video as a homework project for missing school. She will be showing it to her class. It is our first video venture but we had fun doing it. She would be into at times and not so much at other times. There is a section early on that she had the camera talking and trying to video her shadow hiking that will make you dizzy but the rest is pretty stable.
2sticks earned the trailname due to the fact she had a stick of some sort in each hand for most of the trip. She kept upgrading until she ended up with 2 sticks used as hiking poles.