17 Aug Chunky Gal Trail – Boteler Peak and Little Clay Knob
This is an out and back overnight backpacking trip along the Chunky Gal trail from Glade Gap on NC Highway 64 over Boteler Peak and on to Little Clay Knob. After camping on top of Little Clay Knob, I hiked back to Glade Gap. This hike was approximately 20 miles round trip. Much of the trail past Boteler Peak paralleled a road. This is a well blazed though sometimes overgrown trail. I saw no other hikers over the weekend. Boteler Peak has two nice vistas, one of Lake Chatuge and another of the mountains to the west.
Drive on NC Hwy 64 north from Haysville, NC. When you reach the top of the ascent, you are at Glade Gap. Look for unpaved road to left and trail sign labled 77. Chunky Gal trail is trail numbe 77. Turn left onto unpaved road and in about 100 feet you will see another “77” sign on the left. This is the trailhead. There is room for one vehicle to park on the side of the road directly in front of the trail. Carry plenty of water. No well marked, easy, and reliable water sources for the next 10 miles or more.
Day 1, August 16, 2014 – “Hiking with bear hunting dogs”
At summit of Mt Boteler I sat down at the overlook to eat my subway sandwich and take in the view of mountains when I was startled by the quick approach of the pounding feet of animals coming up from behind. Seconds later I was relieved to have two bear dogs for company. The alternative could have been bears. I heard other bear dogs baying in the distance.
After hiking another half hour, I reached a road crossing just as a bear hunter pulled up in a pickup truck. Only shortly before my dog companions had disappeared. One of their habits was to run off. I told him about my introduction to these two dogs. At that moment, the male sprang into view and ran toward us. Speak of the devil. The bear hunter checked the collar and said that it wasn’t his. He took it anyway and locked it in the pickup kennel. I suppose that taking care of bear dogs is a cooperative enterprise among hunters. Quickly checking his radio, he told me that his dog was around the bend in the road. Leaving his pickup, he ran up the road and out of site. It seems that this dog had committed the sin of tracking pigs instead of bears. I hiked on without canine companions.
All day water was a concern. I has enough to hike but needed a supply for camping. I hiked down the first Tuskeetee road in both directions. I found water in the culvert alongside the road in the northerly direction (to the right).
I turned off the trail and climbed to the top of Little Clay Knob (elev where I camped for the night.
Day 2, August 17, 2014 – “Half a dozen Grouse”
After crossing back over Tusquitee road (unpaved) and beginning long climb, I lost the trail by veering off on a false trail to the left. Eventually I reached a dead end at a clearing with a thick briar patch. Using my Iphone GPS app, I navigated a right turn straight up the mountain where I regained the trail near the top of the mountain. (I came prepared with downloaded map and trail track. Go to redtrails.com to download trail tracks.)
On the return hike, I chose to hike sections of unpaved road that paralleled the trail. Dropping into one low spot, the hammering sound of grouse taking flight from a nearby tree startled me. A few steps later another grouse took flight from weeds a few feed ahead of me. Over the next hundred feet, one grouse after another flushed as I entered their space. Always, I thought that the each was the last one only to be surprised again after another 10 steps.
Using my GPS, I marked waypoints of at least 4 water sources. They were either well off the trail (Tusquittee Road) or somewhat hidden or meager or both.
Below are Purple Flowering Raspberries. Bloom on left and raspberry on right. Found on overgrown road on Chunky Gal trail just above and beyond Highway 64.