“What’s a BoBerry biscuit?” I naively asked Alex
“You’ve never had BoBerry biscuit!!” he replied indignantly.
It was 5 am, and I was about to learn all about the BoBerry..
Alex and I go way back. We guided and paddled together on the Ocoee together in the late 90’s, but then life took us down different paths until the love of adventure, challenge, and desire to help people brought us back together under the BUSAR banner.
For December’s BUSAR field training day, Alex, a.k.a Goat, was tasked to be the team leader. In an effort to build solid leadership skills throughout the team, each month’s training is lead by a different member, much like our weekly workouts.
The Goat’s plan was to knock out some manways that are popular places for off-trail searches. The Porter’s creek drainage is equally notorious for it’s manways among hikers, and it’s searches in the Ranger ranks. In fact the last time I was there, Chuckzilla and I were searching for Morgan Briggs, after he missed the manway coming out of Campsite 31 and spent a couple days up on Porters Mountain. It is beautiful, steep, and challenging country. http://www.smokymountainnews.com/archives/item/1725-hiker-airlifted-from-remote-region-of-smokies
Fast forward to this past summer, and an icon in the manway world went missing in the same area. A legend among hikers, Jenny Bennett’s body, was unfortunately found in the same drainage. Her blog, not only shows her love and passion for the Smokies, but also showed us the route for Alex’s trip. https://streamsandforests.wordpress.com/tag/lester-prong/
With one teammate in Blackhawk school, one working the ER, one laid up with stress fractures, and another just returning from a canyoneering trip out west, it was left to the three best looking, bearded guys on the team.
Jenny’s blog does a great description of the route, so I won’t bore you with my version, Instead, I will just throw up a bunch of pics.
You put a waterfall in front of these guys and they will climb it, in fact when got carried away climbing a short series of cascades, we lost track of our elevation to turn up. Instead of backtracking, we shot straight up and had to do a sketchy traverse to get back to our intended route. Nolan, our most experienced climber, lead the way. Fun times.
Once on the knife ridge, the fun continued..
This arrow showed our destination for lunch, the Pyramid..
And this one shows our approximate starting point..
With this being our fourth monthly training, things are starting to roll pretty smooth from the training standpoint. Each hour, we rotate, so everyone gets a chance to navigate, while those in the rear work on their tracking skills following the leaders.
Once we topped out on the “Real Bunion”, we dropped right back down Dry sluice manway.
GPS stated it was a total of 13 miles, 7 off-trail, that took us 9 hours. All the lunges and other brutality of our weekly workouts paid off, as we all felt strong throughout the day. And while we carried along Commando ropes in hope of finding a testing ground, we didn’t really find anything that justified their use.
Obviously trips like this have risks, but mitigating them doesn’t take a lot of effort. All the guys on this trip have years of experience, including climbing. We were dressed for the weather, had overnight gear if we got caught out, good first aid kits, and medical training. We filled out a trip plan, leaving it with Alex’s girlfriend, texting it to my wife, and emailing it to a ranger buddy that has the most time in that area. Downloadable here: http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/bpo-trip-plan.html
All that, and we had a satellite messenger, SPOT, along for the ride.
Adventures are fun. They make life enjoyable, but they also carry risk. It only takes a little training, some gear, and leaving a trip plan to stack the odds in your favor so that you can share your very first BoBerry biscuit on top of the Pyramid with old friend..
BUSAR is actively recruiting experienced, outdoor athletes to conquer the world..