Sunday, October 25, 2009

Father/Son Hike 2009

Mountain to Sea Trail: A 935 Mile trail starting at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and going to Jockey’s Ridge State Park at the Atlantic Ocean.

This year’s trip started with some excitement. Steve’s luggage didn’t arrive with him so I got the call to bring extra backpacking stuff. I arrived a little later than planned with some traffic problems. Luckily when I arrived, Steve had already retrieved his backpack from the airport.

We headed out to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to drop the van off. This is a two and a half hour drive from the Ponderosa. We were slowed a bit by a bear jam on the other side of the road, but were blessed with seeing some Elk at the Visitor center when we arrived. There were three bulls and four cows. Of course we didn’t have a camera on any of us.

After dropping off the van, we headed back to the Ponderosa to a dinner of steak and shrimp. I had already gone with no sleep the night before on shift and then driven three hours, which turned into four and then ridden another five hours dropping off the van. I went to sleep after dinner.

We got up early the next morning and after a great breakfast, Mom took us to Clingmans Dome. This year we were planning on doing the 28-mile Smoky Mountain section of the Mountain to Sea trail. At Clingmans Dome we found that we would be hiking through some snow and ice just to make the day a little more challenging.

We had passed quite a few folks backpacking the AT and then on the Fork Ridge trail we met a couple of gals that turn out to be some seasoned hikers. Smokyscout and Danny We did jump frog them a couple of times until we crossed Deep Creek where they headed on and we stayed at campground 53.

We had one of those cold fires as all the wood was wet, but we did finally get enough hot coal to stay warm. We sat around the fire checking out the stars taking cough medicine.

The next morning we got up and headed out about nine thirty that morning. We hiked down Deep Creek to Martins Gap Trail which I was excited to see was part of the Benton MacKaye trail which I have been wanting to hike. It follows along the Mountain to Sea trail until Newton Bald.

We did see some chipmunks and kicked up a grouse on the trail. We also saw a ranger on horseback doing some chainsaw work along Deep Creek.

When we got to campsite 52 we got to join a group of 14 college backpackers from Michigan. They had driven twelve hours and hiked in from Smokemont so they didn’t make it long into the evening. They did provide some entertainment, but camped on a knoll down from us.

We got a fire going with dry wood and watched as Dad showed us how to collect your Mountain House meal from the ground after spilling it. Not to let us down, he also showed us how to toss a brownie into the fire afterwards. It was of mom’s good brownies so yes, he did dive and retrieve it without burns.

Later that night or into the morning we got some rain. It did stop long enough for us to get packed up and on the trail in the morning. The rest of the day we got some mist on us, but nothing serious. We hiked down to Newfound Gap Road and the Mingus Mill. We did a quick tour of the mill and then hiked to the Oconaluftee visitor center where we did get to see another elk and had our cameras with us to take some pictures.

We got in the van and headed up Newfound Gap Road to Clingmans Dome where we were turned around as the road was blocked and they said would be for the next three hours. We had to go back to Cherokee to 40, which turned into a five-hour drive home for pizza and beer.



  1. Great pix...already snowing in the Smokies...NICE!!!!

  2. Love the pictures, would like to hike that trail sometime. I would reach into the fire for a brownie too.

  3. Hey, guys, it was great meeting you on the trail! We passed the 14 Michigan backpackers as they were going up Newton Bald and we wondered if they would keep you guys up late while you shared Campsite 52.

    Sharon aka Smoky Scout