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Topic: First time in Big South Fork, Hiking / Backpacking in BSF< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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backpackbman Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2012, 2:58 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Day 1 (OCT 5th, 2012)
My buddy and I arrived to Bandy Creek Visitors center around 3pm EST.  Met with Ranger Bill Herman, who confirmed our route and gave us our backcountry permit.  We were on trail by 4pm and headed to the John Litton Loop Trail Head. Took in the overlooks and lush plan/tree life on our way to our base camp on the Fall Brach Trail.  Once to the ONLY water source in the area nearest Grand Gap Loop, we set up camp.  Was a cool evening, but very pumped about the day ahead.

Day 2 (OCT 6th, 2012)
Got up around day break.  Was overcast but didn't take away from the scenery.  Headed to Grand Gap Loop for the day.  Overall a very well marked trail.  Met up with only 2 other sets of backpackers the whole day!!  We only saw 5 people the whole day.  Enjoyed the various overlooks and rock formations in this loop.  Was great to have a daypack for this hike, allowed for more scouting and climbing.  Saw absolutely no wildlife this entire day.  Was sorta disappointing, but with the weather changes over the past week, not out of the ordinary.  Ran into many species of mushrooms. All in all a great day for a hike. Got back to camp around 6pm for dinner.

Day 3 (OCT 7th, 2012)
Got up around 8am EST and packed up our gear.  Walked out from Fall Branch to the Bandy Creek Visitors center.  Next stop was Honey Creek Trail Loop.  Took about an hour from Bandy Creek Visitors center to arrive at the HCT overlook. We had decided to hike out from there in order to do a full loop between 7th and walking out on the 8th.  We experienced the steep and cold metal ladders as we descended to the forest floor from the overlook.  Unfortuantley, we took the wrong dirction (had wanted to head West, but instead found ourselves having gone East). Overall, good creek crossings and some confusion with the blazes, but nothing to be frustrated about. Our next stop was the HCT main trail head on the southern end of the loop.  There we took a break.  After the break we headed northwest on the loop to the Honey Creek area of the loop and set up camp.  By that time it was going on 3:30pm, and we wanted to take in more of the loop (plan had been to walk out 1 hour, and we were now on hour 2.5).  We set up camp on an open rock face right above the Honey Creek.  Great spot!  Hoping to have clear skies that night would be a great area to sleep.  After setting up we got back on the trail and headed northeast.  Many creek crossings, rock formations, caverns...was amazing!  We back tracked around 5:30 in order to get back to our base camp prior to dark to collect wood, fill up our water, and eat.  Night came quick and the skies were, for the most part clear.  We checked the weather, was only supposed to be a 10% chance of rain, so we threw down our pads and sleep bags and decided no tent was necessary.  Skies were great!!!  Much more dark than I could ever hope to experience living outside of Chicago.  Stars were as, if not more, brilliant than Shawnee National Forest.  Saw more constellations than I can pick up in Chicago, and even saw a few meteors.  Ended up getting to sleep around 11:30pm CST.  

Day 4 (Oct 8, 2012)
Woke up to some water pattering on my sleeping bag but thought nothing of it.  Around 5pm it was a down pour.  Both my buddy and I contemplated whether or not we should get our packs ouf of the tree and pack up.  With our sleeping bags not being wet on the inside, we held out for another 30 minutes.  By that time we started to take water in through the seam by the zipper.  It was time to move!!!  Packed all of our gear and headed south on the trail back to the main trail head.  Took about 1-1.5 hours.  Was a good experience and lessons learned.  We dropped our packs at the trail head and walked to our car which was located at the overlook about 1 mile away.  Grabbed the car and our gear and headed on the road back to Chicago.

Only disappointment was not seeing much wildlife.  Didn't see any deer until leaving HCT, along with a wild turkey. Other than that, saw a nice size spider of some type.  Wish we had seen a bear or more deer while hiking, but not luck this time.  The HCT does have its moments of confusion, some areas are not well marked.  Overall, great experience in both areas that we hiked in BSF.  Would recommend a Fall hike there for anyone.  Keep in mind that water can be scarce on the Grand Gap Loop.  Happy Hiking!!!


Thanks to Casey for the maps!

Pictures link:  http://s1327.beta.photobucket.com/user/bmandmb32/library/BSF_OCT2012
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Owen571 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2012, 3:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the TR and pics! I canceled my trips out West this fall, but am doing some shorter ones within driving distance, and BSF is at the top of my list. Want to see those arches and bridges! I'm waiting 'til November, hoping it's real cold, and nobody is there...
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2012, 3:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

QUOTE
Ran into many species of mushrooms.





hmmmmmmmmmm................. ???



nice tr, btw......
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ashepabst Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2012, 3:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

nice. did you guys enjoy the trails?  i'll have to check out the John Litton Loop... looks like my kinda trail. were the falls running?

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backpackbman Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2012, 4:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

@kevinumberger - I had heard about all the mushrooms, but you gotta see it to believe.  They were all over, many shapes, colors...


@Owen571 - I agree, going at that time would limit the number of hikers.  As I said, the whole weekend we only saw 5 groups of people total between the two areas, less than 12 people from what I recall.  I hope to get out East again this winter and get on the AT with a buddy who lives in TN.

@Ashepabst - thanks again for the help!  It was a great trip.  Falls were runnin'!  Not much firewood to speak of...we got lucky and made it an objective each evening to take time to gather what we could for a decent fire.  Temps were low, but we dresses appropriately.

The other things that stuck out was all the large leaves (not sure the species of tree) which were white on the underside of the leaves....looked like random peices of paper all over the ground.  Let me know if you all can access the pictures, I have more to add plus titles.
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Owen571 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2012, 4:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I got the pictures, but had to google photobucket, then paste in the search there, and it took several tries. Right when I said screw it...the page with your pics loaded :)
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ashepabst Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 11 2012, 5:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

lots of cucumber magnolia trees down in those canyons... i'd bet that's what you were seeing.

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