Saturday, May 2, 2009

Father/Son Hike 2007

This year's trip was back down to the original three, Dad, Steve, and Myself. Dan opted out early this year and Jim held in until the mention of low water level, I mean something came up. We were operating on plan C as far as trail plans. This year, just for a change we did the drought conditions. The original plan of finishing the Appellation Trail was once again taken out of the picture as all of the springs along the trail went dry. Of course it will be plan A next year again for the fourth consecutive year as we don't give up easily.

With the extreme weather conditions that have occurred over the years, I packed everything I have into the truck and head East. I had a beautiful trip over to Maryville with all the trees putting on a great display of colors. Steve's flight was slightly delayed and with Mom and Granny going to pick him up, I got some quite time on the Ponderosa. Dad, who had to show us that we were still just young pups, decided to get a short eleven mile hike in the day before we headed out on our backpacking trip. Yes, he is the man!

So after the gang made it back to the Ponderosa, we headed out to meet up with Dad at the trail head so we could preposition the van. On the way, Mom had a couple of things to pick up in town. After we gathered up all of her goodies, she suggested we stop and get a drink. As we were walking into the Burger King, a strange but wonderful thing happened. Yes, I received a sign, I would assume from God. The large lit up sign saying those oh but wonderful words "ICE CREAM". As I froze with those wide staring eyes and a small drool starting at the corner of my mouth, Mom asked if we would like some ice cream. I said OK.

When we went in we searched over the many wonderful flavors available. Steve went with a multitude of chocolates and I with Raspberry. The lady at the counter took the ice cream over to a tabletop and asked what I wanted added. What, more? Yes, they could mix in all sorts of goodies with the ice cream. I added chocolate candies and real raspberries. She mixed all of this up and put it in a cone bowl. She then mixed up Steve's. After he got his and I had already tried mine and I was in the middle of proposing to the lady that made this wonderful gift, Mom grabbed me by the ear and led us out. There was some mention of getting Dad something, but I could hardly hear it over the slobbering noises coming from Steve and I.

Well we met Dad at the trailhead and got registered for the hike. Dad threw his daypack into the trunk and we started the wild ride back home. When we pulled into the driveway and Dad pulled the keys out of the keyhole he told Mom that these were her keys and to make sure he took the van keys with him tomorrow on the hike. Well when we walked around to the trunk to get his stuff out, there were his keys just dangling from the trunk lock. A laugh was had by all. That night after a wonderful meal, Granny and I kicked some butt at the card table.

We awoke to a great breakfast and last minute packing. The weather was looking great with no rain in the forecast. Mom dropped us off at the trailhead and after a couple of pictures headed on her way to town. Kathy had ruined her big shopping extravaganza and left her to just do her normal routine.

This year we decided to start out with an uphill climb. That was different. We headed out of the "Y" in Townsend with comfortable t-shirt weather taking the Chestnut Top trail. We did see quite a few folks out on the trail, but this was weekend hikers. We especially planned a weekend in the trip for the convenience of the brother-in-laws.

From Chestnut Top trail we took Schoolhouse Gap trail and since we had only nine miles scheduled we took a side trip to White Oak Sink, a sunken valley once home to up to ten families and some caves. Here we found a very heavy gauge metal cage over the front of the cave and a sign about the bats inside. We also explored a huge waterfall that turned up dry. This is where we ate lunch. A small trickle of water came over the edge into a large hole in the ground where a pool once was.

We returned to School House trail to Laurel Creek road and took Bote Mountain trail to the West Prong Trail to campsite 18. This was a large campsite area with numerous separate camps. We found one that was off by itself and set up camp.

We didn't have to find firewood because no fires were allowed. We had four younger guys come in later and took the site next to ours. We didn't hear very much from them. We relaxed awhile and ate a dinner of Spaghetti. There was a river with water running in it next to camp so we soaked the old pigs and got refreshed. It ended up being an early night, after we sat in the dark and told lies until the eyes got tired.

We didn't even set up the tarps. It cooled down quite a bit that night and we had to climb in the sleeping bags, but it was beautiful out. I got up once for a bathroom break when Steve came jumping up in his hammock going straight to the attack position. I quickly let him know that it was just me to calm him down. He said that he was in a deep sleep having quite a dream when he heard me. We laughed a while at that one and everyone took a bathroom break.

The next morning even after we had gone to bed early, we slept in and didn't get on the trail until close to ten. On the way out of camp we noticed that there was four other campsites that were taken. We decided to go uphill this morning and continue on to Tremont.

When we got to Tremont Steve decided to use a real restroom at the office. It was out of order so he went to the dorm where a worker there had quite an attitude and threatened us with trespassing on private property. You know that one scared us.

We took Lumber Ridge trail to Meigs Mountain trail. This was quite the uphill climb. We stopped and I had Dad pull out the old bandanna to keep the sweat out of the eyes. This is when we found Bug. Connie had put a plastic bug in my pack, which I found out was before my last hike, but was never discovered. Bug would join our pictures from here on out.

When we got to the saddle we were ready to stop for lunch. When we got to Meigs Mountain trail dear old Dad quickly decided to go uphill. It was an honest mistake; because when ever we come to a split we always go uphill. This time after a short discussion we actually got a chance to go downhill. Meigs Mountain trail had many water, or rock, crossings. Not much water at any of them. If there was water it took the form of mud.

When we passed campsite 19 there was no water at all. We stopped at an old cemetary by the trail and checked it out. Not much action there since 1920. Most of the markers were just flat rocks. When we got to campsite 20 we were all ready to stop. The river here showed very little action. Not much bathing to be done but we gave it our all. We had a very large campsite with of course the Bear warning sign attached. After getting our hammocks hung, which of course takes about three tries before being right, we had chicken stew for dinner. Another night of lies in the dark and an early out. It was warmer than the night before but the wind was blowing and every leaf in the woods ended up on top of us.

We got up the next morning and headed out. We took Meigs Mountain trail to Jakes Creek trail to Cucumber Gap trail. On Meigs Mountain trail we passed the volunteer rangers that take care of campsite 20. They said that the bear warning sign had been up for a few months.

When we got to Cucumber Gap trail we came upon a group of folks whose leader said that this was their first solo hike and was sending each of them out by themselves about fifty yards apart. Steve thought that this was one of those self-esteem classes. There were alot of them and some of them had already joined up further down the trail. Not much esteem there. Anyway when we got to Little River trail we stopped for lunch.

There was water in the Little River, but not much. From here we hiked to the van and headed out for our ice cream reward. When we got home Rick and Linda joined us for our celebration pizza and beer. We got a few hands of cards played, laundry done, and looked at our pictures. After a little discussion we decided to take in a hike in the morning before I headed back to Murfreesboro.

We got up Tuesday morning and Dad decided on a six-mile hike to get me back in time to leave. The weather was very muggy and a little warmer than what we have been hiking in. We ended up taking Little Bottoms trail past campsite 17 to Abrams Creek. It was one of those trails that you were glad that you didn't have a pack with. Most of it was just straight up and down, but some of it was like a goat trail. It was a very beautiful hike and around eight miles long. We ate lunch at Abrams Creek crossing, took a little rest and then headed on back. I had no problem working up a good lather and the gnats were very glad to hike with me. When we got back I ran through the shower and headed out. It rained from Maryville to Murfreesboro. Everything went as scheduled and we had another great trip.

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