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Scouting No-Name Ridge May 4, 2014

Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
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Craig enjoys the splendor of No-Name Ridge.

Craig enjoys the splendor of No-Name Ridge.

Last weekend I viewed the different approaches to No-Name Ridge from Anakeesta Ridge. Yesterday a group of us climbed up to No-Name, but by a different route than the one I’d intended—not a bad one, though. Our party consisted of myself, Craig Hutto (who will be my co-leader on the July 20 outing for the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club), Greg Hoover, Chris Sass, and Clayton Carver.

We went up Alum Cave Trail a short distance to the split between Styx Branch and Alum Cave Creek and began our rockhop up the stream. Alum Cave Creek is hemmed in by dense rhodo almost the entire way, so it becomes a challenge to keep your feet dry when you get to a deep pool with no easy way to bypass it on either side. Having been up this creek twice before, I’d already decided beforehand that I wouldn’t go to a special effort to keep my feet dry. This is also because I’m not the greatest rockhopper in the world! 🙂

I was so busy negotiating the stream that I didn’t take photos along the way. I didn’t wade through any deep pools but felt free to step on rocks an inch underwater. I did end up accidentally going knee-deep in one spot!

Greg and Chris walk across a fallen log.

Greg and Chris walk across a fallen log.

The idea was to get up to a stream junction around 4560′ and look for the bottom of a Y-shaped landslide scar.

I took this photo of the slide last weekend from Anakeesta Ridge.

I took this photo of the slide last weekend from Anakeesta Ridge.

When we reached that section of the stream, things got complicated. We saw minor logjams and water that had a reddish discoloration from disturbance of sulfuric Anakeesta bedrock. Within a very short distance, we found several places where slides had come down.

The one we picked turned out to be past the correct route, the Y-shaped scar. But it was a fun way to go, alternating between Anakeesta slabs and patches of vegetation that weren’t too bad.

The bottom of our route.

The bottom of our route.

When things didn’t open up into a completely bare landslide area, we realized we’d missed the Y-shaped scar. But we couldn’t see it from where we were, and traversing across looked as though it would take us through a tangle of briers and laurel. Plus, the way we were going seemed pleasant.

Hoover climbs up one of the open slabs.

Hoover climbs up one of the open slabs.

Clayton relaxes in the sunshine.

Clayton relaxes in the sunshine.

Before long we reached the ridgecrest. Because our route had gradually angled eastward, we reached the ridge above the spectacular open area. So we downclimbed and scrambled over the fun rock spine with its little ups and downs.

We found a great spot to stop for a break, and by closely examining the photos of the ridge I’d brought along, we determined that the Y-shaped scar was probably directly below us—though it couldn’t actually be seen, because of the belt of heath immediately below the ridgecrest.

Some folks wanted to drop down to confirm the location of the slide, while others wanted to continue with the original plan, to go up the ridge to the Boulevard trail and over the top of LeConte. Since my co-leader preferred to go down, and Hoover had some surveyor’s tape with him, I was happy to let them take the much shorter route back down as long as the departure point for the Y-slide could be clearly identified. Chris and I continued upward while the other three went back down to the stream valley. And they did indeed find that the Y-slide was just below.

The upper section of No-Name is long, steep, and brushy, so it took Chris and me a while to get up it. But we eventually popped out onto the trail and sat for a rest, while passing hikers noticed our disheveled condition and assured us “it wasn’t much further” and so on, obviously having no idea of the route we’d taken to that point.

So, we are now all set to take any experienced off-trail hikers up the Y-slide on the SMHC outing in July. And we will remove the surveyor’s tape as we go—I always hate to see tape left in the woods.

 

No-Name spine. Chris and I climbed over the knob at upper right.

No-Name spine. Chris and I climbed over the knob at upper right.

 

 

 

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Comments»

1. Brian Reed - May 4, 2014

“passing hikers noticed our disheveled condition and assured us ‘it wasn’t much further’ ”

Hahaha! I suppose all people with obscure hobbies have similar moments. I passed a group once on the Ramsey Cascades Trail headed downhill with heavy packs. They looked totally beat up and covered in dirt. I smiled. “Did you by any chance come from Mount Guyot?” Yep. Turned out they were western hikers used to more open forest. Their map made Ramsey Prong look like a natural off trail shortcut.

Jenny - May 4, 2014

It’s always best if people on the trail see you at the moment of actually emerging from the underbrush. Otherwise it’s impossible to explain!

Al - May 8, 2014

On an long ago OT exploration down to Indian Creek from Sunkota Ridge I managed to put myself in a very embarrassing situation I was encased by rhodo most all the way down. I finally saw the road for the first time just in front of me. One more mighty bound would free me from the jungle. Just as I made my leap to freedom a jogger passed me, I’ll never forget the piercing screams from this young woman who was now running at the speed of light. I tried to explain but she was out of sight in a twinkling of the eye. Since then I have tried to be more aware when emerging from the brush.

2. Kent Hackendy - May 5, 2014

Before I started following your blog, Jenny, I probably would have had the same reaction as the hikers you encountered and pitied you for your poor physical condition. Heh!

I’m beginning to suspect my issue with balance might prohibit me from ever being a good off-trail adventurer.

Jenny - May 5, 2014

Well, hey, you won’t know until you give it a try!

Kent Hackendy - May 5, 2014

That’s true, of course. And after rereading my comment it did sound a bit defeatist, didn’t it? Onward and upward. : )

3. Jenny - May 5, 2014

Not defeatist—just lacking definite information. I gather that despite your extensive hiking experience, you haven’t done much or any bushwhacking—after all, that’s true for most hikers. It is almost impossible to imagine what it’s like until you do it. So I hope you will give it a try sometime.

Kent Hackendy - May 5, 2014

No, I have zero experience at bushwhacking – unless you count occasionally getting off the trail purely by accident. And I’m not even sure I’d describe my on-trail hiking experience as “extensive.” I’ve just done seven hikes to LeConte and a handful of others around the park. First time I ever strapped on a backpack was three years ago.

No, you’re right, you never know what something is like until you do it. For instance, I never could have imagined what it was like to fly down a mountain at 50 MPH on a road bike until I did it. (And the first time I was lucky I didn’t blow a tire off the rim because I was riding the brakes too much out of fear.)

I will definitely give it a try because once I get obsessed with something, there’s no turning back!


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