Archive for March, 2021

Tribute To A Legend – 3-23-2021

View looking South along the AT at Big Stamp with Big Bald just beyond. (Photo by Randy Tarpley on 3/11/2021)

The Clyde Smith Memorial Sign

I (Randy ‘RAT’ Tarpley) have been a member / trail maintainer of the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC) since Spring of 1991. This year (2021) marks my 30th year on the same section (Spivey Gap to Little Bald). It was recently divided into two sections, I now maintain only from Whistling Gap to Little Bald. When I was first considered for the section trail maintainer position, I met at Spivey Gap with veteran trail maintainers Jack Springston and Dwayne Stutzman, where we hiked up to High Rocks and back. Along the way up, we built two large ‘rock water bars’ for which Jack was so famous for. They taught me that process and how regular water bars were made using both wood, rock, and various digging techniques. By days end they were convinced that I was suitable to be the maintainer for this section. It was on that day they told me about an old sign somewhere high on Little Bald, on the old AT that had since been relocated off the main ridge. It was honoring a trail legend and master sign maker, Clyde Smith. The name did ring a bell as I had been to the AT shelter named for him in the Roan area before. I had no knowledge at that time of who he was or what his accomplishments were. I would eventually learn all that later.


Posted on 28 March '21 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Work Trip On AT section – 3-11-2021

White blaze high on Little Bald Mtn.

A new year means a new season of trail work. After waiting on the 2+ feet of snow to melt off the TN/NC mountains, we were finally able to access my trail section for a Pre Spring walk through to see what shape the trail was in and how many blow downs would require the saw crews. It was a cool and cloudy morning as my son Tyler unlocked the forest service gate so that we could get my Jeep up the old, overgrown forest road to make the 2.5 mile trip to reach access to our trail section. There was something different about the road but, being half asleep and not feeling very good from working too hard in the days prior, we just could not put our finger on it. We were pleasantly surprised that the road was clear of all but one or two small blow downs that we had to chainsaw out of the way and also noticed that someone had removed several trees since we were last there. I knew it was not the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC) so it had to be the USFS which was odd as they stopped maintaining the road many years ago. We made good time without any issues and soon found ourselves hiking up the short side trail to the AT. We did stop and drop a 12 pack of Mountain Dew in the Spring for any hikers that may be coming through on this day.


Posted on 27 March '21 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Martin Creek Falls and more ! – 2-21-2021

Tyler and I at Martin Creek Falls

Having been nearly two months since my last outdoor adventure (mainly due to inclement weather), the forecast for a warm and sunny day would make it possible for a last minute trip to be taken on this late February day. It was already noon by the time I called my son Tyler to ask if he wanted to ‘go on a short hike’ ! He was all in so, I figured I would take him to somewhere close by with not a lot of hiking needed to get there and out by dark (which was still around 6pm). Knowing he had not ever been to Martin Creek Falls, I decided to go there as it is a short drive and a short hike and there was some side trails I wanted to explore further that we could use the rest of the time doing. Luckily the ‘Covid Crowds’ were not there as we found only 2 other vehicles parked and we would pass their owners on the trail, both coming out as we went in. It is only about a mile to the falls so it did not take us long to get there. The sun was bright and I did not bother bringing my larger camera that has filters (as I already have decent pics of these falls anyway) so, using my pocket cam made for low quality images.


Posted on 27 March '21 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.