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Greenbrier thicket, wrong ridge, but otherwise tons of fun September 10, 2011

Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
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Dave graciously sent me this photo.

Plus I lost my camera.

Had it in a pocket that I normally keep zipped, but I must have forgotten to zip it shortly before we crawled through the greenbrier. Only saving grace is that I wasn’t that crazy about the camera, apart from its convenient light, small size and its being waterproof.

Our goal was to do a “transverse traverse of  Anakeesta Ridge”: up a slide on the northwest side of the ridge that no one ever seems to climb, then down the obvious scar you can see from the Newfound Gap Road.

We left a car at Walker Camp Prong and then shuttled down to the Alum Cave trailhead. Going up the trail, we encountered the last bridge below Arch Rock, which the USGS LeConte quad shows as going over Alum Cave Creek.

It does not go over ACC, it goes over Styx Branch, but I didn’t realize that, never having gone up ACC before. And we started angling to the right immediately, so that I didn’t recognize features of Styx that I’d encountered before.

We ran into the most hellacious greenbrier thicket I have ever encountered—I am not exaggerating. Imagine the thickest rhodo or laurel you have ever dealt with, but replace each branch with a thorny greenbrier. It stayed that way for quite a while. My arms are so scratched up that I’ve decided to wait until tomorrow to take a shower in the hope that the scratches will be healed over slightly and not be quite so painful.

I have to express my total admiration for one of our group of three, Ronnie, who’d never been off trail before! I couldn’t believe what a good sport he was about it! Any normal person would have been whining and cringing and looking for the fastest way out. He dealt with the obstacles like a pro.

So we finally topped our ridge only to find that—hey, what about that—Anakeesta Ridge is across the next valley. We had a great view of the slide we thought we were going to climb. And 360 degree views of everything else on this lovely clear early September day. Well, the saving grace was that this knob was such a beautiful place that we were just happy to be there.

We found a much easier way back down to the stream, which at this higher elevation we immediately recognized as Styx Branch rather than the Alum Cave Creek we’d intended to climb. (We’d already known that as soon as we topped out, but now we actually saw its familiar features.) We stayed in the creek most of the way so that we would be able to correctly identify its junction with ACC.

We’ll give it another try before long, I hope.

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Comments»

1. AdamB - September 10, 2011

Wow glad I wasn’t on this one. Thought about you today I was up on Eagle Rocks Prong with duckypaddler. We went up above Eagle Rocks falls and fished. Also went up Chapman Prong today to Lost Prong. Was a long day.

Jenny - September 10, 2011

Those are absolutely beautiful places in the upper Greenbrier. So glad you had the chance to visit those places. But how high up Eagle Rocks did you get, haha! (A bunch of crazies have been hoping to go to its headwaters.)

AdamB - September 12, 2011

Jenny we went about .6 mile up it I am guessing. Also the topo maps don’t show it but if you go to Dunigan’s page and look at the DOQ view and look just above where Buck Fork comes in you will see that there is a huge island. The interesting thing about the island is that it is formed by Eagle Rocks Prong and you will see that basically one leg of Eagle Rocks Prong empties into the Middle prong down near Buck Fork and a totally separate leg or branch of it runs into Chapman Prong. I saw this on the DOQ view before we went so while we were up there we went up the first leg of ERP all the way to the main body of it and up about a tenth of a mile above that. There is a big falls right above where it splits off. Then we went down the other leg into Chapman Prong and then up to Lost Prong. Finally we went all the way back down to Buck Fork following Chapman Prong so we completely traversed the huge island. So even though we only went up .6 miles we actually covered over a mile of ERP which is funny.

Jenny - September 12, 2011

Interesting. Yes, the USGS map just shows a straightforward junction of Eagle Rocks with Chapman. (Not surprising, considering how inaccurate its adjacent quad is in the Arch Rock/Styx/Alum Cave Creek area.) I have only been on that stretch of Eagle Rocks once, many years ago–coming down from my first climb of Woolly Tops–and I don’t remember the details of the streams in that section (just that crossing the Middle Prong was tough!) Sounds like you’ve been doing some great exploring. I would like to do more in that area.

2. Ronnie McCall - September 11, 2011

Beautiful day and I had a great time,I fed my soul all day!

Jenny - September 11, 2011

So glad you enjoyed it!

3. brian - September 11, 2011

That photo says it all. Really sucks that you keep losing cameras like that. Although at least now you can’t blame me for being along, haha. Adam, you gonna post some photos somewhere? I love that area.

Jenny - September 11, 2011

I consider you to be responsible only for the cameras I lose by submersion in water. This one was lost by submersion in a brier patch.

AdamB - September 12, 2011

I am working on getting some photos together Brian and I can see why you love that area. I went up there with Duckypaddler from griztrax forum and he knew the BF manway. Even then we couldn’t find it coming back and madhatted all over till we finally found it again. Talked about you too and went a few pools up BF trying to figure out where you must have stayed during the heavy rain when you were stuck up there.

4. AdamB - September 12, 2011

Wow Jenny I just read and saw the pics of this trip on Griztrax looks like you all got some major battle wounds on this one I love it!


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