Monday, June 20, 2011

Gregory's Bald

Day One:
Twenty Mile Trail 0.5
Wolf Ridge Trail 5.2

Day Two:
Gregory Bald Trail 1.2
Long Hungry Ridge Trail 4.6
Twenty Mile Trail 3.1
Total: 14.6 Miles

We did a special backpack this weekend. It was a Fathers Day hike with my Dad, a TTA hike with Sara and Lora, and an a wildflower hike to Gregory's Bald to see the Azaleas. This would be a first hike for Sara and Lora to Gregory's Bald and new trails for Dad and I.

Sara met me at the firehall after work and we drove home to get Lora. We were going to take The Dragon to the trailhead, which Sara was all excited about since she had never been on it. We stopped and picked up some Subway and then headed to The Dragon. When we got on 129 Craig said Wee, Lora said Wee, and Sara said STOP! I guess it wasn't too good on the stomach.

Well anyway, we met Dad at the Twenty Mile Ranger station. The trailhead parking was FULL! We finally managed to squeeze in a spot and a hiking we went. It was a beautiful overcast day. I guess it was about a mile from the trailhead that the rain began. As we all did the poncho deployment move, a gentle gale force wind started to blow. We heard a loud crack followed by more cracking as it seemed to be getting closer. I looked up in time to watch a large branch fall onto Sara, Lora, and myself. Luckily it hit me on the head and there were no more injuries. The rain came down and on we hiked. It turned into a drizzle for most of the afternoon.

We passed a lot of wet day hikers that were coming back down from the Bald. There were a variety of trash bags, a few ponchos, some rain coats, and lots of just wet people. Day hikers that were not prepared. Imagine that.

There were a lot of wild flowers along the trail. Fire Pinks, Sundrops, Buttercups, Indian Pipe, Spiderwort, Pippissiwa, Tassle Rue, Rhododendren, Flame Azaleas: Pink, Orange, White, Red, Yellow.

As we crossed Parsons Bald, we heard a loud Squeal, a few snorts, and then we got to see three hogs heading through the brush. That will get your attention!

When we got to campsite #13, which we had reservations for, there were plenty of tents already set up. We found us a corner and made camp. By the time we set up, collected water, got fire wood, and ate dinner, it was time to light the fire. After some good visiting we gave up and went to bed.

The next morning we woke up to the sound of thunder. The stars had been out all night, what is up with that? Now do you rush to pack up before the rain or do you sleep in through the rain? Well we didn't have to choose as all we got was noise. There were three deer that walked into the campsite and were hanging out by the other tents.

We packed up, ate breakfast, and then headed to the Bald. On the half mile walk to the top we walked into a cloud. So to see all the beautiful flowers we had to walk up to each bush. Needless to say the view of Cades Cove was not to be seen.

After the flower show we hiked on down the trail. Before you get to the Long Hungry Ridge Trailhead there is a side trail to Moore Spring. It is marked with a sign that says no horses beyond this point. We had never known that this was here, but found it in the trail description. So we had to check it out since we were here. It is a good strong spring. We got water here and then took the other trail from the spring that connects to the Long Hungry Ridge Trail. The trail description says that a cabin that used to stand here burned in the early 1970's. I don't remember it.

It was all down hill from here. We hiked down and took a break at campsite #92. This is a very large campsite and we explored it for a while since the description told of a three foot section of railroad track leaned against a dogwood. We never even found a dogwood.

Further down the trail we were talking about bears. Sara said that she had never seen a bear outside of Cades Cove. I told her that all she has to do is ask my Dad and he would schedule it for her. He has a track record. Sure enough on down the trail a black bear crossed the trail in front of us. All my Dad could say was "Anything else?"

We stopped at the Twenty Mile Cascades and took some pictures. After that the rain decided to kick in again. That is when Dad found that he had lost his poncho. Thinking that it was back at campsite #92 he declined the offer to hike back and get it. It quit raining right after that.

Another great hike with great company. This time on the Dragon, Sara said Wee, Craig said Wee, Lora said STOP! OH MY. We stopped on The Dragon overlook on the way back and then stopped to look at the "Tree of Shame" where they hang all the motorcycle parts of those that didn't make it safely down the Dragon.


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