Scouting No-Name Ridge May 4, 2014Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
Tags: Alum Cave Creek, Mt. LeConte, 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!
The idea was to get up to a stream junction around 4560′ and look for the bottom of a Y-shaped landslide scar.
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.
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.
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.