Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Easter Weekend Backpack in the Smokies
Diane planned a three day weekend trip in the Smokies and 5 ladies said “I want to go!” I met up with all of them in Crossville at the Cracker Barrel. They drove from Nashville (Diane, Sue, Gloria Dale, and Nancy) and the ‘Boro (Sara). My sweetheart drove into the parking lot just before we took off. He was heading to Maryville to spend the weekend with his mom and dad, and I needed a hug before hitting the trails. We all took off for the mountains.
We stopped at the Subway at the Sevierville exit and then joined the millions of cars heading into the Smokies. Diane whipped out the road map and found 416 to Greenbriar. Yeah! No driving thru Pigeon Forge!!!! We got off 416 onto 321 just outside the road leading into the Porter’s Creek Trail. Lots of folks were along the river enjoying the pretty weather and holiday weekend. Lots of cars at the trailhead. We jumped out and sat down to eat our Subway sandwiches; then off we went.
Porter’s Creek Trail is one of the most popular trails well known for spring wildflowers and there were bunches! We saw so many different kinds: Yellow Trillium, Showy Orchis, Dwarf Crested Iris, Pink Lady Slippers, Phlox, Wild Geranium, violets, one of the violets has two different blooms on it; one purple, one white. So pretty. The Pink Lady Slippers drew quite and audience, fancy cameras and tripods set up waiting for the light to be just right. More flowers: Sweet Cecily, Toothwort, Fringed Phacelia, Squaw Root, Brook Lettuce, Torch Grass, and Frasier’s Sedge.
We checked out the old cemetery and saw the remains of a rusted old car. We passed Fern Falls, I got a picture of the falls waiting for everyone to cross the slippery rocks. We hiked to the campsite at the end of the trail and took a short break. It’s so cool to look up at Charlie’s Bunion looming over you. This is a great campsite and pretty. There were Painted Trilliums blooming close by. We were reading the trail description and some wanted to know where Fern Falls was; I told them we passed it on the way up and would make sure they saw it on the way down. We spotted Umbrella Leaf coming back down the trail.
Back at the trailhead we drove back to 321 and went to Greenbriar Island Campground to set up for the night. Sara brought a six person tent and it worked out perfect for our crew.
Watched the stars pop out and got a good night’s sleep.
Day one 7.2 miles
We got up early packed up and took one car to the Bullhead Trailhead, and drove back to Porter’s Creek. Looked at the wildflower show again on the way to the Brushy Mountain Trail. We stopped long enough to check out the old SMHC cabin built 1934-1936, a big barn and the spring house. Lot of history here. Then it was up, up, up the trail. And it started getting WARM. We noticed lots of piles of rocks on both sides of the trail, left from old settlements. We saw more wildflowers that we didn’t see yesterday: golden ragwort, chickweed, and lots of buttercups. There was an old washtub and a collapsed chimney at an old homesite.
When we got to the trail junction for Trillium Gap we took a long lunch break resting from the climb. 5 of us went on to the end of the Brushy Mt. trail while 1 watched our packs; she had already hiked this part before. The view from the top was of the towns below and sand myrtle was blooming along the way. Then up Trillium Gap. We found Ramps, nice oniony smell, lots of Spring Beauty, Trout Lily, and Bead Lily. We have now walked from late spring back into early spring wildflowers. We had great views of Brushy Mt. and Mt. LeConte going up. This is the trail the llamas are used to take supplies to and from the Mt. LeConte Lodge. We found evidence. I think they are trained to all go at the same spot on the trail. One poops, they all poop.
We made it to the top by 4 pm and found the shelter. Oh no! The door to the privy was lying on the ground. Anyone at the shelter can wave at you while you potty.
We walked back down to the Lodge and pumped our water. Rested for a while and then Yoga time. Stretch out those muscles. Thanks Diane and Nancy for Yoga class. We walked up to Cliff Tops to see the sunset with all the people from the Lodge. It was windy and sort of cloudy; the sunset was beautiful and made pink and orange swirls.
Day two 10 miles
I woke up sometime thru the night to look at the stars. Seems like you can reach up and touch them. I woke up at daylight and jumped out of my sleeping bag; I wanted to see the sunrise from Myrtle point. I hiked maybe ¼ mile past the shelter and there’s the sun! It rises earlier on the mountain top? It was cloudy on the horizon so the sun was shining thru the multi colored clouds. What a glorious Easter sunrise!
Back at the shelter everyone was up and cooking breakfast. The Easter Bunny showed up with treats for all and hopped along the trail with us the rest of the day.
We started down Bullhead Trail and down it is. Lots of pretty views going down. We got to the Pulpit and took a short break studying the trail description so we wouldn’t miss seeing the head of the Bull. Found it. Well, a couple of the ladies found it and spent some time trying to help some of us see it too. I think I saw it. Then on down we hiked to a rock house and stopped for lunch.
Just around the bend was another rock house, more room for sitting, and not as damp inside. Oh well. We finally made it back to level ground and to the parking lot. Picked up the other car at Porter’s Creek and headed back to I 40. Back in Crossville we ate supper at the Cracker Barrel and then headed for home.
Day three 7.6 miles
Total miles 24.8
Six Wild Wacky Wonderful Women Walking in the Woods, Watching for Wildflowers!