Monday, January 16, 2012

Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area

Joyce Kilmer Memorial trail 2.0
Jenkins Meadow trail 0.9
Connector trail 0.9
Naked Ground Trail 1.6
Day one total: 5.4 Miles

Naked Ground Trail 2.7
Haoe Lead Trail 0.6
Stratton Bald Trail 7.9
Road Walk .25
Day two total: 11.45 Miles
Total Hike: 16.85 Miles

Lora and I headed to NC for the weekend. We had heard about the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area and wanted to check it out.

The Cherohala Skyway is worth checking out by itself. A beautiful drive with views of mountains as far as you can see. As soon as we crossed the boarder the roads were covered with packed snow and ice. We figured that we would be in snow as we were going to hike up to 5336 feet.

Our first stop was the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. There is a two mile figure eight trail which covers the biggest trees in the area. Well worth the drive. After that we went to the Jenkins Meadow Trailhead to park. We took this trail to the Naked Ground Trail.

The Naked Ground trail climbs along the Little Santeetiah Creek up to Naked Ground Gap. There are many huge trees all along this trail. We camped just after the Adamcamp Branch.

We got some flurries as we hung out around the campfire. We got to see some clear stars early in the night before the flurries. Sometime in the night we had a visitor. Not sure what critter it was. Lora said she heard clucking noises, I heard some kind of snorting noise, and something bumped our cooking pot. We didn't find any tracks in the morning.

We got on the trail and not far after that we came across the hollow yellow poplar approximately 16 feet in circumference. Yea, we had to get inside it.

The snow got deeper as we climbed and we saw coyote tracks, mouse tracks and bobcat tracks. There was one tree down that, yes, I got stuck with my turtle shell. Lora, after finally getting over the laughing fit and taking pictures, had to push down on my pack so I could get through.

The total climb on this trail was 2560 feet. The last section was 1060 feet in 1.2 miles. Now that will work those legs and lungs! We had about three inches of snow on the top and it felt like a twenty degree drop in temperature. We got in some good views and then topped off our water at the spring. It doesn't take long to filter water when you have no feeling in your hands.

We took the Haoe Lead trail to the Stratton Bald trail and up to Bob Stratton Bald. There besides all the views, we got to meet a group of hikers from UTC. They were doing two nights out. We headed back down Stratton Bald trail and dropped down off the side where we ate lunch.

On the way down we met a father and two sons that were backpacking up. On the lower half of the trail you get some wonderful views off Horse Cove Ridge. Then you cross back over to the Joyce Kilmer side for some more huge trees. The trail continues down till you get back to the road. You have a quarter mile walk back to the parking area.


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