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The crag in fog March 26, 2012

Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
Tags: , , ,

The ridge was a tapestry of rock, myrtle, and fog

My good hiking buddy Chris and I decided to visit what is called by some the “Real Bunion” and by others “Rocky Crag.” The Real Bunion designation comes from looking at the USGS Mt. Guyot quad, which puts the “Charlies Bunion” label squarely on a ridge that practically no one ever goes to, in contrast to the destination of that name that is visited by many people.

Taken on a different day, obviously. Profile of the ridge we climbed.

We picked a date. The forecast called for 30% chance of rain showers. In one sense we lucked out—it was raining hard on the drive over, but the rain stopped before we met at Newfound Gap. In another sense, we didn’t luck out at all—we were shrouded in dense fog throughout most of our hike except where we dipped down below about 4500′.

Our original plan was to go out on the A.T. to Porters Gap and drop down the East Fork of Porters. But the unfavorable conditions and the likelihood of slow going in streams running high led us to opt for a shorter route via the Dry Sluice manway. The steep upper slopes were decorated with white foaming rivulets everywhere.

Water plunged down everywhere on the steep slope.

The footing on the upper manway is never easy, and the wetness made it extra slippery. But we descended without incident, as the expression goes. (“Incident” always means something negative, for some reason.)

Chris on the upper manway.

Once we reached Porters Creek, we walked through carpets of wildflowers: up at this elevation just getting going, so down at Porters Flats the blooms must be going crazy.

Dutchman's breeches.

I didn’t succeed in keeping my feet dry doing the rockhop up Lester Prong.

Distinctive cairn beside Lester Prong.

We turned up our tributary and reached the beautiful cascade not far above the junction.

The cascade was looking its best in the high water conditions.

The rock beside the cascade makes a lovely staircase for climbing. I apologize for the blurry photos—my fingers were frozen and I had a hard time holding the camera steady.

Chris climbs beside the cascade.

Just above the cascade, we followed a nifty corridor of open woods between big communities of rhodo. We reached the ridgetop and followed it over its lumps and bumps.

The first knob along the ridge.

What’s great about the ridge is that despite the steepness and the exposure, you always have friendly Anakeesta handholds or convenient vegetation to hold onto.

Typical ridge section.

We worked our way steadily toward the prominent crag.

Looking back down the ridge.

We will come back on a sunny day when the myrtle is blooming.

Chris has some great photos of the outing here.


Chris relaxes on the crag.


1. GH - March 26, 2012

Looks like fun! A great place. I wonder when the sand myrtle will bloom this year.

Jenny - March 26, 2012

Good question! Last year it peaked around mid-June. I wonder whether the early appearance of wildflowers this year due to abnormally warm weather will somehow carry over to plants that bloom later in the year.

2. Tom L. - March 26, 2012

How fey and spooky. Somebody should write a novel using these formations as the setting of a murder mystery.


Great minds think alike! I am glad to see you knee is better.

Jenny - March 26, 2012

Hmmm…murder mystery…you may be on to something there.

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