We got started Friday evening around 8pm at the Big East Fork trailhead destined for Old Butt Knob. This route was my choosing and Friday night looked like it was going to be pretty much a straight up jaunt. After checking all the gear and securing the vehicles I engaged my headlamp and set off. We were a little confused at the trail split but we ended up on the correct path and the ascent began pretty quickly. The first part of the trail was a moderate climb but as we got about a half mile in Old Butt Knob earned it's name. The trail became steep, you could hear roaring water well down in the ravine that my headlamp could not touch and trail was tight. My poles kept me from becoming a victim of sliding down the ravine a couple times. Being a Friday night I had plenty of energy to expend so we moved along quite well until we started coming across some downed trees. This made staying on the trail a bit difficult but someone had been kind enough to place some cairns on the path around the trees to keep everyone on the trail. This part of the Wilderness area does not have trail makings so be sure to keep a map and compass handy or a GPS system. The trail continued unrelenting until we linked up with the Art Loeb trail around midnight that night and settled in for some sleep at Shining Rock Gap. The ascent went up about 2K feet in about 2 miles up to almost 6K at the junction and temps dropped into the low 50's. It is definitely a climb but oddly enough it was a fun trail to conquer. Our camping spot was a little side trail pretty much right at the junction that opened into a little clearing. We more or less fell on it since it was fairly difficult to see.
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Warning: This trail is not for amateurs and will test your orienteering skills as well as your fortitude.
We met up at the Sunburst Campground area and geared up around 8pm for our usual Friday night jaunt of a few miles in. After gearing up we discussed that this may be an interesting journey and Peter had setup his iPhone with a suitable GPS app. So we set forth on the fire trail road which was to be about 3 miles before picking up our trail and heading in. The hike along the road was easy to moderate in ascent and moved along very quickly chatting away. We came across a sign (pointing uphill) with just numbers on it someone had carved into it TRAIL. So we consulted the map and assumed that the cut in the road was actually the trail and set forth on it. It was more like an old overgrown logging road that quickly turned into a trail. The sound of rushing water quickly grew near and we found some water spilling out of the mountainside and we descended further down to a river. I only showed a small blue line on the map but this was a large creek and the trail was on the other side. So, we stripped off the boots and made our way across in front of some falls into some really chilly water. We booted back up and got back on our way. This trip obviously was going to have some surprises in store. What an understatement that turned out to be.