Trip report. Uwharrie Trail, NC. 18-20 April 2014.
note: some of the photos here were taken by Bones.
Me, Bones, Mustang Sally, Jim, J.D.,Katherine, & Jake. This trail is listed somewhere at around 23 miles, Buff & Bones had originally planned it, but both had to bail and I took over as host. When I was drawing my gpx file at trimbleoutdoors.com, it came out to only 17 or so miles, not sure why.
The plan was for 6 of us to start at the northern trail head Friday evening and link up with Mustang Sally at our planned camp on Big Island Creek Saturday evening.
Friday’s drive and 6 mile hike to camp 1 on Spencer Creek was uneventful. By the time I arrived everyone was there and setting up camp. We didn’t make a campfire. Around 6pm it started drizzling pretty good and I retired to my tent to make dinner under my vestibule. (thank God for vestibules!)
It started raining pretty good a little later and seemed to me to rain most of the night. It was still drizzling pretty good when we woke, so it was breakfast in the tent once again.
We all packed up and were ready to go around 8:30am. I gave a mini brief on the day’s target camp, Big Island Cr, to everyone, except J.D., who couldn’t be bothered to wait around or say goodbye. J.D.’s a seasoned hiker and seems very capable, said he’s hiked this trail before, and wasn’t carrying a map.
It seems no one but me had a map….Anyway, off we go, Bones and I taking up the rear. It started drizzling even more. Fortunately, there was a bridge across Spencer Cr so I was pretty hopeful at this point. Bones said that the stream crossings were VERY minor during his last trip.
As fate would have it, there must have been at least a dozen (seemed like 50) crossings, every single one swollen over the normal rock-hopping points.
At one particular gnarly crossing, with no visible rocks above the swollen surface, the trail could be spotted directly across the stream. We searched high and low for a suitable crossing, but found nothing. So….it was off with my boots for a barefoot ford attempt. Once across and feet dried with bandana, we searched and searched for the path, as the one we spotted came to a dead end and so did the white trail blazes.
But no luck, fortunately, it was raining again so that was nice. I couldn’t tell from the map which stream we were stuck at so I had to pull out my phone’s gps/map app (Backcountry Navigator Pro), well wouldn’t you know it, the trail didn’t actually cross the creek, it took a sharp 90degree left turn on the far bank and followed the stream and then crossed back and forth a few times.
And, as luck would have it, we were on the wrong side. I postulated that the group in front of us could have made that same mistake, possibly bushwhacking to the top of the hill in front of us and following down the other side to re-join the path on this side of the stream.
We attempted to follow the stream on our side, but soon got entangled in dense brush and Bones said fuck this! So, we returned to the trail, now soaking wet and beaten by the wet brush. I took off my boots once again and tip toed back across the stream. By the way, Bones, who is 6’4″ for more, was able to make a series of death defying leaps across slippery rocks and certain death! like a fucking elf.
I use my now soaking wet bandana to dry off my feet and put my boots back on. Twenty minutes later we’re back at the same fucking stream, this time also no where to cross, but there is this wet fucking log to try to make it across. Now, I don’t normally do logs because I don’t want to die, but this log was short, 2 steps was all that was needed, and wide enough. Luckily we make it across with no problems.
A few hours and twenty more crossing (I exaggerate, but not much) we reach Big Island Creek camping sites. How did we know we were there? There are 2 little signs nailed to trees (plus I used my gps map app). We had landed at the exact planned point.
But…we were the only ones there. WTF? Not again?! So now I have to try to “logic” it out. Where are they? In front or behind? If behind were they lost? Could they have possibly crossed the same creek we did and bushwhacked on and gotten turned around? Remember, they didn’t have a map. If they were in front of us, where the fuck are they? They don’t have a map, but there are 2 signs! J.D.’s been here before, but was he with them?
If we keep going, and they are behind us, are they going to worry about why we aren’t there?
So we camp, at the spot where we were all supposed to camp.
The rain is only a drizzle, but Bones and I are able to get a good fire going, in spite of the area being picked over and not much nearby dead-fall.
Once again it rains for what seems the most of the night. Next morning, sunshine! We break camp and hit the trail about 8:15. We head over the little hill next to our camp, after crossing another fucking swollen stream, and guess what, there’s the rest of the group, minus J.D.
J.D. had continued on to the trails end and slept in his car (without sharing this little factoid).
Mustang Sally had linked up with group in front of us that prior evening. Seems she had run a 5KM “tough mudder” type event Saturday morning but still had enough pioneer spirit or need for punishment to go backpacking that same day! Damn! I’d probably be in the hospital recuperating! You definitely want her on your team.
Now that we’ve finally linked up and everything’s cool again we head off and finish the damn hike, in the sunshine.
J.D.’s at the trail head, he stuck around because he was our shuttle car back to the northern trail head (that was so nice of him…)
Then it’s off to lunch, then to R.E.I in Raleigh.
In the sunshine.