December 30th, 2011  Hercules Glades Blair Ridge Trail Head

Weather was clear with 43 for a low and 60 for a high during the day.   Not an official Royal Ranger Backpack!  With 5 of us it was low key!

I don't know what happens to make these trips possible but all I can say is they are a blessing.  3 weeks earlier Rob and I had came down the Blair Ridge Trail for the first time and it had occurred to us we would like to bush wack the dry creek down to long creek.  So we planned for it.

It really didn't matter to us. It was expected to be cold...yet to our surprise it was a perfect backpacking weekend.  They just really don't get better than this forecast so along with that we picked up 3 others that also enjoyed the Backpack and bushwack.

Friday night we left my house at about 7:15 pm with Mark, Damon, Cody and Marshall and then picked Rob up at his house.  I scared the fire out of Rob by walking up on him while he was packing his backpack out in the garage and he wasn't expecting anything and BAM, I was standing there..made him jump.  We quickly loaded up his gear and headed down his road and went right through the middle of the Chadwick 4 wheeler trails and camp crossing a creek and several holes full of water... all in the dark. It was fun.  At 8:30 pm we arrived at the trailhead.  Soon we were walking along a nice trail in the pitch black with head lamps lighting the way. 

They said this looks like a great spot...and I said. guys we have only walked in 500 feet... lets go a bit further...GRIN!  So we went in about 2000 feet and found a tree that had fallen and we hand enough dry firewood to last us.  Base camp was found and we sat up camp and had a nice fire going.

As always the fellowship around the fire is always the best.  We laugh at each other and things just seem to happen.  Just a sample....  Rob was setting up to cook some microwave popcorn in his "new to him" Swedish Army Cook Kit" and had filled the stove with denatured alcohol...and well some went around the base of the stove and he had a stick out of the fire Cody brought from the fire and was helping him get it fired up.  It wasn't' a few seconds and only about 2 feet from me when a sight to behold unveiled.  Cody got the stove to burning.. the alcohol  that Rob had spilled ignited and Cody started stomping the leaves and in his excitement kicked the stove towards Rob and I saw this stove cart wheeling towards me..the area of leaves between Robs spread boots up to where his legs join his body was now all on fire... It was exciting... as Rob was moving fast but not fast enough to get the flames out... it made going on this trip..just his one sample case of excitement.  Well soon enough we had the fire put out and popcorn popping in the cook kit.  Still laughing at each other and having a good time of fellowship telling stories.  Sharing what was on our heart. Sometimes serious sometimes comical sometimes just camp talk.  Things happen quick. You have to be there to catch the excitement!

At 11:30 pm I hit the sack.  The leaf bed beneath my tent was so thick that I didn't even setup my backpacking cot.  Soon I was sound asleep. 

Next morning I awoke at 8:30 am.  It was beautiful.  I thought wow its warm out... I got up and looked at the thermometer and the high and low through the night was 46 and 44 for a low.   For December 31st, 2011 it was a rare weather blessing.  I got up and put a few handfuls of dry sticks on the fire.  Pretty soon I saw President Obama out campaigning for reelection and he helped get our fire going.  Those politicians have great lungs and it wasn't long before the smoke had went away and we had a fire going.  Obama visits us out Backpacking Link

After a quick breakfast we stashed our gear in our tents and headed due west down the hill about 180 ' drop down to a dry creek.  We bushwhacked 2.89 miles down to Long Creek Falls. This little creek went from a small pool of water to a 8' wide creek full of waterfalls and several other dry creeks with water joined in to make a absolutely beautiful bushwhack.   It was easy to follow the water down..but if we tried to follow it up it would be a hard task as ravine after ravine poured  from both sides of this stream.   Topo of the Trip Link

After a 2 hour bush wack we arrived at Long Creek Falls and had lunch.  It was new years eve so we didn't dally long at the falls and headed back up Blair Ridge Trail back to base camp.  I think it took us a hour and 15 minutes to make base camp and we then packed up our gear and head back to the ended up being about 6 minutes from truck to base camp.  Took 125 back to Chadwick stopped in the little store and Rob bought sandwiches and we ate them while I drove down back through the Chadwick 4 wheel drive and crossed that creek with water flowing across it...

A great time.  A fun time.  A time to remember all the blessings God has for us and to see God's Handy Work in a area that seldom see's human visitors.  I still make new years and enjoyed a time with the family and a few Advil's for those 7 miles of trail we covered! 

Wooo Hoo Ranger!

Mark Jones   Click on  a picture to get a larger view.