Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eagle Creek Hike


Three ladies with a long weekend went to the Smokey Mountains to backpack.

Garnett invited us to come to her house Friday night so we could get an early start on Saturday. She was baking apple pies and blueberry crumb cake when I got there and the kitchen smelled wonderful. Nancy and Amy came in with wine and cheese. We had a wonderful supper and enjoyed the slumber party.

Saturday’s morning shower washed the day clean. We drove to Cades Cove to leave our shuttle cars. Getting there just as the gates opened at 10 hindered our parking for a little while. You cannot leave cars in the picnic area overnight at the Anthony Creek Trailhead where we would be exiting the trail. We left them in the gravel lot where the horse ride area is. 

We drove around the loop to Parsons Branch Road. Drove that way to 129 to Fontana Marina for our shuttle. Lots of motorcycles on the Dragon Tail and around Deals Gap. We made it to our boat shuttle with 5 minutes to spare. 

Danny took us on the pontoon to Campsite 90 to drop us off. The sun was shining bright by now. We had our lunch at the campsite, but not in the rock sectional sofa where we wanted to eat; it was underwater! Lots of kayakers were staying at this camp. 

We hiked to Eagle Creek and put on our water shoes for the day. We had 8 creek crossing to get to campsite 96 which is on an island in the split of the creek. Good camping area with a nice spot in the creek for the ladies to do a little skinny dipping. Our firewood was a little damp but we got it burning anyway. During the night I had a visitor by my tent that made a blowing noise right by my open tent flap; I yelled, it jumped and took off. Woke up Amy and Nancy with my yelling.  Think it was a deer.

Woke up at daylight, rain shower made me run back to the tent. Got back up to cook breakfast, another shower had us eating in out tents. It finally stopped, packed up wet tents, put on water shoes for 8 more creek crossings. Had another shower after we started walking. Put on the boots when we started climbing. 

The trail goes straight up in places.  It was muddy here and there with seeps running in the trail in a couple of places.  Lots of trees had blown down in this area; someone did a lot of sawing to get all the downfall out off the trail. I kept looking for the rope or cable to help me up the hills, and kept hearing whimpering noises, with a little groaning to go along with it. Realized it was me whimpering. I had to wipe sweat out of my eyes to be able to look up to see the next climb. We did have a couple of switchbacks, the rest was straight up. 

We did see a lot of mushrooms and fungi, dead men’s fingers and eyeballs. Not sure of their Latin names…… We also saw Cardinal Flower, Bee Balm, lots of yellow and white bloomers, snails, salamanders, bees, blood, sweat, tears….ok not blood. 

We had two rock hops on the way up, one of us managed to get wet, so much for dry boots. We were so happy to find the water source for the shelter even if it wasn’t enough to jump into. It runs out of a metal pipe. 

We unloaded all our wet gear and spread it out to dry at the shelter. Some young hikers came by for water. They were from Chicago and wanted to hike on to Rocky Top while they were close. A little later the rain came again. Glad to be in the shelter. Four backpackers came in after hiking 17 miles, all National Guard guys, couple of them on their first backpack. I heard some more groans and whimpering only it wasn't me this time. One guy said even his eyebrows hurt.  17 miles in the Smokies would make anybody hurt. They told us bedtime stories to put us to sleep. Two more backpackers (husband and wife from WV) came in and climbed into their sleeping bags. It was her first time backpacking.  Thought it was morning when I heard some talking and eating going on, looked at the time 4:30??? Not Yet!

Monday morning sunshine greeted us as we headed for Russell Field Trail along the AT. We headed downhill to the Anthony Creek Trail spotting Fringed Orchids along the way. We got to the picnic area at Cades Cove and back to the cars. I headed for home and Nancy and Amy headed back to Fontana to pick up the other car. It was a great trip with fabulous ladies to backpack with. Thanks ladies!

18.4 miles

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