Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gregory Bauld Hike

I got to join my Dad for another great hike in the Smokey Mountains. After getting off work and driving to Dad's for another great lunch by Mom, we headed out. We dropped the van off at Abrams Creek Campground and headed to Cades Cove. Cades Cove is always a wonderful place to visit. On the backside of the Cove we took Parson Branch Road out to the Gregory Bauld Trailhead. Mom took our picture and headed out, as did we.

We hiked the 4.1 miles to campsite 13, which is a 1900-foot climb. We dropped our packs at the campsite and then hiked the other half mile 200 foot climb to the bald. All of the way up we had passed photographers with very expensive looking cameras heading back down. Everyone was excited about the flaming azaleas at the top. As you can tell by the pictures they were extraordinary this year.

At the top we had a young man approach us and said that they had been hiking for a couple of days now. He said that he was from the Nashville area, a small town named Murfreesboro. I let him know that I too was from that small town. It turned out that he and his buddy were MTSU students and worked at TGI Fridays in town.

After enjoying the views, we retreated back down to the campground and set up camp. There were about five groups camping there. After a short discussion we decided it wasn't worth trying to find firewood. We did pick up a few sticks and leaves to burn the debris left by previous campers and our own. We collected our water and had a good dinner.

A man from St. Louis came over to ask about the sunrise time. He and his girlfriend were going to catch it at the top in the morning. They were both students and had been camping a couple of nights. As it was getting dark a ranger came in with a gun complete with night scope to say that the hogs were bothering campers and he would be doing some shooting tonight. We counted three if he did good shooting.

By the time it got dark enough to light the fire Dad informed me that it was 9:00. Well we didn't need a long fire going to bed at 10. When I woke to use the bathroom, this was the quietest camp that I had ever been in. Nothing was making a noise, and I mean nothing. It was quiet enough that I thought I heard a tick fart. It struck me as very odd and was just as quiet the next time I got up. It was almost embarrassing to snore. I did anyway.

The next morning after breakfast we headed back down to Parson Branch road. When we came to the spring we saw a mother doe cleaning off a fresh young fawn. I couldn't get my camera out in time for the shot, but it was amazing to watch. It took us two hours to hike up and only one and a half to hike down. I think we took a short cut.

We crossed over Parsons road and took 7.6 miles of the Hannah Mountain Trail. This is not a very popular trail as it was more grown over, but a beautiful hike. It starts at 2800 and with a few hills drops down to 1300 feet. On this trail we passed one backpacker who is from Georgia and a student at Valdena. He caught up with us as I was taking a picture of a very large tree on the side of the trail. We visited with him a couple of times as we passed each other. We also enjoyed some blueberries, as they were ripe for the picking. There were a couple of times that we disturbed some very large animals, but never got to see them. Just heard the loud racket of them running off. Everyone we talked to on this trip said that they had seen bear. We assume that is what we heard.

We took 2.7 miles on the Rabbit Creek Trail back to Abrams Creek. As soon as we got going on this trail we disturbed another large animal. As we got to the top of the mountain there were three rangers that had been doing trail maintenance there. They had heard the animal as well and had a bear approach them earlier in the day. Dad got to throw out a few names and do some ranger talk with the men.

It was another great hike and great time with my Dad.


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