FKT: Jason McVey - Big Frog Mtn (TN) - 2023-06-17

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7h 10m 41s

Went out for the Big Frog Loop FKT on 6/17/23. Had a fantastic day for it too! Started at the Jack's river trailhead in Alaculsy with a pack full of junk food envied by all 10 year olds everywhere. First river crossing was about 1.8 miles in. After that, I crossed that river SO many times with waist deep water at times. It was all in good fun though...Filtered water on the Penitentiary Branch trail (left the trail and went down the hill for it). Little did I know, soon there would be a stream right across the trail. Once I got on the Hemp Top/Benton Mackaye trail, I nearly got struck by a huge rattlesnake. The snake was in some thick weeds right next to the trail. I was just cruising along and enjoying the breeze, when my foot landed right next to it. The snake immediately recoiled and was ready to strike! Fun times!

My plan was to filter water at Double Spring gap before the climb up Big Frog. I went to the right of the trail and found wet ground but no flow. I went to the left and found some more wet ground and a puddle a couple feet across. The water was cold and clear, so I filtered there. Once I made it to the top of Big Frog, I continued on what I thought was the Hemp Top trail, but it just dead ended at a campsite...I came back to the trail junction and took the only other visible trail off the mountain (the trail sign even seemed to point in the direction the Hemp Top was supposed to go). That turned out to be a big mistake that I'm still kicking myself for! I finally realized my error at the next trail junction that told me I was still on the Benton Mackaye. After having a little moment I wasn't proud of, I turned around and went straight back up the way I came. I figured the FKT was a bust at this point, and I kind of lost some of my fire...After making it back to the top again, I finally found the "trail." It was barely visible and completely choked out with briars and undergrowth. I was thankful I had the Gaia app on my phone, as it came in handy when the trail bed completely disappeared!  Also, all I could think about was rattlesnakes. Every stick, pinecone etc. looked like one, so I walked quite a bit of this. Once I hit the forrest service road, it was good running to the end. Really want to come back to do this one again. I almost didn't submit it here because I was really unhappy about the extra miles, but I figure if someone else who's looking at doing this route can learn from what I did and improve on all my mistakes, it's all good!