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No-Name Ridge October 24, 2011

Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
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An incredible place

This started out as an open-ended exploration up Alum Cave Creek. Dave and I wanted to take a look up the creek to see if we could identify any good spots to take off toward a slide on Anakeesta Ridge. On an infamous hike last month, we’d attempted to reach the slide, only to find that we weren’t even on the right creek.

The challenge of ACC is that it is truly hemmed in with rhodo along both of its banks.

Rhodo likes the edges of Alum Cave Creek

The stream does have some pretty pools and cascades.

Cascade on Alum Cave Creek

It became clear that we would not find easy access to Anakeesta Ridge along the stretch where we’d hoped to miraculously discover a secret opening in the underbrush. When we got to around the 4600′ elevation mark, we saw open woods to our left and decided to abandon Plan A and give Plan B a try—why not, indeed? So we ended up climbing No-Name Ridge—a place I’d been thinking about going anyway.

The openness vanished in a couple hundred vertical feet. We ran into a ferocious mix of blowdown and brier.

Dave approaches a giant, man-eating blowdown

We’d escape from the briers into the blowdown, then escape from the blowdown into the briers.

Challenging conditions

The briers in that whole Styx/ACC area are a special, extra-angry variety.

A very special subspecies of greenbrier, it seems

As we approached the ridgecrest, we crawled through a bearway. Dave took his pack off and pushed it along in front of him.

Bears have no problem with this

We arrived on top to discover that this is a magical place.

The Anakeesta rock was lovely for scrambling

The rock slabs reminded me of the particular kind of Anakeesta that you find on the Chimneys, sufficiently eroded to be free of the loose stuff you find on slides more recent in geological time.

Dave soaks it all in

We picked up an obvious manway along the knife-edge ridge and climbed to the 5916′ point where it meets the Boulevard trail, then went out via Newfound Gap. At times on the ridge we had to dodge some obstacles, but the going wasn’t bad. We ran into a few patches of snow.

A friend has told me that he found a good way going up a slide to No-Name. I think there must be a better route starting a little further up ACC. But the advantage of our route was that we had a slightly longer stretch along the open ridgecrest. I would also like to try going up from the stream junction at 4300′.

A wonderful day.

Mountain sunrise