Monday, December 4, 2023

Mill / Crowder Branch Overnight

Cherokee National Forest 
September 29-30, 2023 

This was an outstanding night of solitude out in the forest and a fun hike. Click here for my past blog where I give a description of the actual hike. The hike itself was easier as I did not have Frank to contend with on the uneven Crowder Branch Trail, but I did unlock a new hiking fear. Acorns, you hit a pile of those hidden underneath some leaves and it is like stepping on marbles. 

The campsite itself is beautiful right on the Crowder Branch Trail, complete with a mountain spring that doubles as a natural refrigerator. I was able to set up my tent in a decent spot, but I could not find anywhere that was perfectly flat. That did not matter though as it was one of the best solo overnight outdoor sleeps I have had to date.    

I did not see any wildlife other than a few birds flying overhead, but I heard a ton, more than I have ever heard on the trails. I had birds, ducks, woodpeckers, squirrels, hunting dogs, coyotes, owls, and even possible Sasquatch knocks (I will get into this a bit later). I literally just sat by the fire and listened to all the nature that was around. I usually camp out by streams or creeks, so maybe not having the sound of rushing water helped to amplify the wildlife noises.  

In the morning I got a small fire going and boiled up some coffee as usual and had a pouch of blueberry granola. Packed up and got back on the trail. Without Frank I was able to hop off trail from time to time to take in the surroundings and found a little cascade/waterfall that had a nice little pool one could get in on a hotter day. One day I might do this hike in reverse, but the only concern is the trail at times is at an angle that could be a little hard with a heavy pack on.  


When it comes to bigfoot / sasquatch I have always been a “hopefully sceptic” I do not necessarily think they are out there, but I am open to the possibility. For me it would be cool if they were really out there.  

This all being said I have never encountered in kind of sasquatch evidence when out on my outdoor adventures, but this night sitting out by the campfire I heard some wood knocks. It was something I had never heard before in the woods. It was not a branch or a tree falling, nor did it sound like a woodpecker. It literally sounded like a person taking a bat and banging it a tree twice. I heard the first two knocks coming from the east and then a minute or so later heard a response double knock from the West.  

This could have been people out “squatchhing” but if it was not people then I cannot explain it. I will keep my eyes and ears open for more evidence while I am out. I might start a special blog section devoted to the evidence I find while out.  

Hike Pictures:

Story Links: 

  • Cherokee National Forest

YouTube Video:

~ Video Coming Soon ~


The Sasquatch Report:

I am what you would call a "Hopeful Skeptic"  with all my time in the woods nothing has shouted BIGFOOT to me until recently. I was on an overnight backpacking trip in Cherokee National Forest and I heard distinct wood knocks. I cannot confirm these were from a Bigfoot and could have been people out looking for one but I also cannot say it was not a bigfoot.

I have create this page as a sort of index for interesting bigfoot information I run across along with any personal experiences or lack there of I have out in the woods. 

Sasquatch 2023:

  • Mill / Crowder Branch Overnight 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Hiking Somewhere to Nowhere

Cherokee National Forest
Saturday, August 5, 2023

This day started out as a complete and utter disaster. The first thing I did was let Frank out to use the bathroom and he immediately got blasted by a skunk. While getting him cleaned up one of the cats decides to puke all over the house. At this point I was running late so I rushed to get packed and could not find Frank’s water bowl and forgot to grab my tracking poles. 

- Frank & my route on Saturday, August 5, 2023 in Cherokee National Forest -
I searched South Citico Creek in AllTrails and did not pay attention to what it selected and proceeded to go. As Frank and I got closer to the trailhead I realized we were heading to a trailhead I was not prepared for nor did it say South Citico Creek. Since it was late in the day, I decided to go with wherever we were as it would take too long to get to the original location I wanted. Anyone who has watched my videos of hiking with Frank knows that he is excitable, to say the least, when we start so I did not get out my map to check things out.  

- Frank @ Jeffery Hell Trail Head -
I knew I was on Forest Service Trail 196 that is named Jeffery Hell, but what I did not know was this trail dead ends into South Citico Creek or Forest Service Trail 105 which is the one I wanted to hike. Like most National Forest Trails in the height of summer it was overgrown, and I was wearing sandals with Sealskinz socks because I had planned on a lot of creek crossings. As you can tell from the elevation profile from my AllTrails map there is quite a steep grade for about a half mile, and it was not fun in sandals. 

Just a little over two miles I reached a trail junction, and would you know the sign had rotten away, so I still did not know where I was. The trail went what looked to be straight or so I thought and decided to keep going. What I did not know at the time was this junction is actually South Fork Citico. A quarter mile or so after the junction going west on South Fork Citico you reach a beautiful little waterfall. Frank was even able to swim in the little pool for a while. 

- The First Waterfall After Turning East -
A little way past the waterfall the trail opened and then turned boggish. About 3.3 miles into the total of the hike the trail got overgrown with thorns and I did not want to take Frank through those, so we turned around. Thinking I must have taken the wrong trail at the intersection with the rotten trail sign we made our way back to it. There we had a quick lunch and headed in the opposite direction where we eventually ran into another waterfall/cascade. 

After continuing a little was down from the second waterfall we again ran into a heavy patch of thorns along the trail. At this point I figured it was good to call it a day and head back to the Jeep.

- The Second Waterfall / Cascade of the day going East at the trail sign. -

I was never lost and if I had wanted to take the time could have found out exactly where Frank and I were as I always carry a map and compass. When hiking with Frank it is hard to stop and get the map out without him getting anxious, but in hindsight I should have taken it out while having lunch. All that being said, I need to get back to this area and do some more exploring. I would love to just hang out in the area for 2-3 nights and just take it all in.

AllTrails Recording of the Hike:

Route down Jeffery Hell to South Fork Citico Creek and then back up Jeffery Hell.

Recording -  |  - Profile -

Related Video: North Fork Citico

Frank and I explore North Fork Citico Creek back in September of 2021. This was the actual Trailhead area I wanted to go this time.

YouTube Video:

Additional Story Links:

Friday, November 10, 2023

Surviving Carter Caves

Carter Caves State Park - Olive Hill, KY
July 21 - 23, 2023

Four friends start out on an epic three-day adventure that will take them to a sunken steamboat, rappelling off a natural bridge, hiking to three more natural bridges, and finally trying to concur the Bat Cave. However, as the trip progressed it became a struggle just for survival. This is the story of Surviving Carter Caves. 

Note - This was an outstanding trip and has been one of the harder video edits I have done since I was using multiple camera footage. It has taken a lot of time to get together and work has been especially busy, so it has taken me longer to get this all put together.  

I wanted to go ahead and get the videos up and a page to index them, however there is a lot of story I want to be able to tell and this one has a lot more research than just giving a summary of a trail. As time allows me, I will be updating this adventure blog, so check back for updates.  

Halls on the River & the Sunken Steamboat
July 21, 2023 – Winchester, KY 

Video: Surviving Carter Caves

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Alum Cave Trail & Coffee on Cliff Top

Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Saturday, July 15, 2023

Alum Cave Trail, what can I say that has not been said already. This is one of the Smoky Mountains’ most popular trails and there are a few reasons why. This trail has it all starting with the views and there are many along this five and half mile trek. There are several distinctive features that stand out as well with Arch Rock and the Alum Bluff. Finally, this is the shortest trail that will get you to the top of Mount Le Conte.  

My Route: 

Alum Cave Trail ...... 5.5 Miles
Alum Cave Trail ...... 5.5 Miles 

~ Click Here for AllTrails Recording ~

I woke up early and hit the trial around 5:30 am well before first light. I always like getting the jump on the crowds when it comes to the popular trials in the Smokies. The first two and half miles follow the creek up at a gradual elevation. At 1.4 miles you come to Arch Rock that is a type of land bridge you hike through. Then at 2.2 miles you come to what people call Inspiration Point where you can get some fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. Finally at 2.5 miles you hit Alum Bluff that is a huge rock face on the side of the mountain. It really puts size in perspective and pictures just do not do it justice.  

Trail sign @ Alum Cave, Rainbow Falls, & Bullhead Junction 

It is here that the trail gets steeper and narrower. There are splendid views throughout this section of the trail, but you also have steep drop-offs. Especially when the leaves are off the trees there are times you feel exposed and if you are afraid of heights, it might get a little difficult. They have installed cables in a lot of these areas to give people a handhold to help. On crowded days, some backups could develop in these areas as well.  

It was through one of these tight sections that I ran into a bear. Luckily, the bear was going the same direction I was, so I gave it some space and eventually it must have climbed off the trail as I never saw it again. Just before you get to the Rainbow Falls, Bullhead, and Alum Cave Trail junction the scenery turns heavily wooded. From here I headed up then turned on the 0.2-mile side trail the heads to Cliff Top.  

~ View from Cliff Top ~

It was a good morning, with rolling clouds, bright blue skies, and I was the only one there for a good 15 minutes. I brewed my coffee and took the beautiful moment in as several groups of people showed up, then dispersed, and it was just me again. It was nice to be able to just sit for a long while and take it all in.  

~ Me in front of the Inn ~

From Cliff Top I tagged the summit and stopped by the inn. I was there during the off time and decided to hike back down instead of waiting for an additional hour. It called for storms later in the afternoon and I did not want to get caught in them if I did not have to. The way down was more crowded than on the way up and I had to wait for people to stop taking selfies in the middle of the cable runs. The way down is just as beautiful as the way up and the whole hike was wonderful.  

Story Links:

Related Blog Posts:

Hike Video:

Full Time Lapse Video:

Thursday, August 24, 2023

In Search of Gregory's Bald

Great Smoky Mountain National Park
June 22 - 25, 2023

The past two years went by fast, faster than I would like to admit, but it was time again for the bi-annual trip with my buddy Greg. We decided to return once again to the Great Smoky Mountains and make Smokemont our basecamp for a second time. Our adventure this year was a hike up to Gregory’s Bald with an overnight at backcountry site #13 Sheep Pen Gap at 4,640 ft.  

Greg and I before I hike up to Gregory Bald

Day 1 – The first day of our trip of course is always travel. Greg drove down from Indy to my house and then we took my Jeep and trailer into the park. We were able to get everything set up and squared away before our traditional rain shower. For those of you who do not know, on about every one of our trips we always get a fair amount of rain and by fair amount it is usually a torrential downpour.  We were able to get a fire going and cook a good dinner before calling it a night. 

Day 2 – Can not start an adventure off without some coffee and a hearty breakfast. We then packed our bags and headed out on the road to the Twentymile Ranger Station where the trailhead started. Below I listed the route we took for this loop hike.  

Our Route: 

  1. Twenitymile ...................... 3.1 Miles
  2. Long Hungry Ridge ............ 4.6 Miles 
  3. Gregory Bald .................... 1.2 Miles 
  4. Wolf Ridge ....................... 6.3 Miles 
  5. Twentymile ...................... 0.5 Miles 

Area Trail Map GSMNP

I hiked this same route going the opposite direction back in April of 2022 and I will list all the information from that hike in the link section at the end of this blog. The reason for hiking it starting with Long Hungry Ridge is while a longer hike up it is not as steep this direction. In hindsight I might take the greater elevation gain with the shorter distance after slugging all that way up with an overnight pack on.  

The morning was rainy and gave way to the sun around 11:00 but by the time we started to reach the top of the mountain a thick fog / haze moved in. By the time we reached Gregory Bald the view was totally obscured in a thick fog however the Flame Azaleas were in full bloom and popped against the grey sky. It really did feel as if we were on a different planet.  

After taking it all in for a few minutes we stumbled on into camp and started setting up. We tried to start a fire but I was pretty sure it was not going to take off. Between all the rain, humidity, and mist all the wood was just saturated. We could at least get it started but could not get it to catch so we settled in for a couple of adult beverages and dinner before calling it a night.  

My sleep setup for this outing

Day 3 – I was planning to get up with a couple of other guys who camped with us that night and go and try and get a view back a Gregory Bald. When my alarm went off, I stuck my head out from underneath the tarp and saw the mist had turned into a deep fog and some light rain. There was not any sense of getting up for another fogged in view, so I curled up back in my sleeping bag and got some more shuteye. 

Story Links: 

Finally got up a couple of hours later and got my coffee going. Greg got up around 9:00 am or so and we had breakfast, broke camp, and started back down the mountain. The weather could not make up its mind and fluctuated from mist to rain then sun and back again. The downhill was more pleasant than the uphill and we made pretty good time. Parson’s Bald was really grown over from the last time I was there. We missed the rattlesnake who had made the Parson’s Bald sign his home according to a few other hikers coming up the trail. As we moved lower streams started to reappear and the sounds of running water stayed with us until we got back to the Jeep. 

Got back to Smokemont and took a quick dip in the stream and almost went swimming with a couple of snakes. We then had a celebratory steak with a few more adult beverages.  Another great trip and Smoky Mountain adventure in the books the next day we packed up and headed home. The mountains never disappoint.  

YouTube Video:

Past Blogs and Videos on Gregory Bald:

Hiking Gregory Bald
April 22, 2023

My blog post on my very first hike up to Gregory Bald. This was the same way Greg and I went but hiked the loop in reverse. 

- Click Here For Blog Page - 

Hiking Gregory Bald
April 22, 2023

AllTrails recording of my first hike. See my time elevation gain and all that happy stuff.

- Click Here For Recording - 

April 22, 2023

I have wanted to do this hike for a few years now. I have not yet been to Gregory Bald and I had heard it is a sight... - Video -

April 22, 2023

This video will take you to Gregory Bald then down Long Hungry Ridge and Twentymile and we will stop at the Twentymile Cascade... - Video -

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Mill / Crowder Branch Overnight

Cherokee National Forest  September 29-30, 2023  This was an outstanding night of solitude out in the forest and a fun hike. Click here for ...