July 12, 2013 · 5:30 PM
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After consulting two of my trail gurus, here's the plan: We will hike the Slickrock Creek Trail (13.3 miles) on Friday night and Saturday. It includes 12 creek fords and the "Ball Buster" 2,000+ climb at the end. Be prepared to wade through deep water up to your crotch. We'll camp at Naked Ground Gap, which will be the highest point of our hike, with good views.
Sunday we'll take the 4.5 mile Naked Ground Trail down to the Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail, where we'll have a half-mile road walk to vehicles.
I plan to walk right through the fords and not change into dry shoes and socks until after the last one at the 8-mile mark. Also, we'll have to make our way around several big blow-downs (fallen trees) on the "Ball Buster" climb. Finally, be prepared to do some briar-cutting if a trail is over-grown (lightweight handheld pruning clippers are just the thing).
We'll drive over Friday evening to park just off U.S. Hwy 129 near the Cheoah Dam, then night-hike .6 miles to a trail campsite at Ike Creek. One or two folks have said they plan to drive over early. I'll be coming from South Carolina (visiting family just out of hospital) and hope to stage one or two vehicles at the end point near Rattler Ford, then drive down to the start point.
Cynthia or I will be posting a place and time for those meeting Friday afternoon in Nashville to meet at.
Besides preparing to be wet, I also recommend you treat your clothing and gear for ticks (I use Permethrin) or bring something to spray yourself for ticks and mosquitoes.
It'll be an adventure and a great hike!