I found a willing backpack partner for the weekend, so Smoky Mountains here we come! Ace Gap trailhead is on the park boundary at Rich Mountain Gap. I passed a couple of bicycle riders going up Old Cades Cove Road, and when I met Judy at the trailhead, they rode by and kept going. With all their energy we could have hired them to carry our packs J The trail descriptions talk about Campsite 4 at Kelly Gap (no longer there) and Campsite 7 at Ace Gap (no longer there). The old railroad bed crosses here. Judi says the pink lady slippers put on a show between Kelly Gap and Beard Cane Trail. I will have to come in the spring to see them!
We were heading to Campsite 3 on the Beard Cane Trail (still here). It is a pretty campsite, level under the hemlocks and by the junction of Beard Cane Creek and Hesse Creek. We had to cross two creeks to get to the camp. Not bad today but we could see where the water had been up after the last rain. Glad is was lower! We got to camp early enough to collect plenty of firewood. We had nice log furniture for cooking and sitting by the bonfire. It was a warm day and didn’t get cold enough to get the fire going the next morning so we left plenty of wood behind for the next campers. We were packing up and I took the water bag down to empty it, looked inside and found a critter inspecting the filter. Crawdad. His story follows this one. I carried him back to the creek where I scooped him from the day before, not sure but I think I got a dirty look from him before he disappeared….
We started back toward the car and watched for the big pines described in the brown book, one with a lightning scar and one 30 inches in diameter. We think we found the big one, but never found the one with the lightning scar. Considering the year the book was published, that tree may have fallen.
I was hiking up the creek about to go over the cool waterfall. It must have been at least 10 inches high! When all of a sudden I saw a big blue UFO come out of the sky an hover over the creek, it opened a door and landed in the creek, then it started coming toward me and the next thing I knew it swallowed me up! The door closed and I knew we were flying away from the waterfall and no telling where the UFO would take me. I knew we landed and then slowly the water started seeping out. The tall white thing was drinking all my water!!!! Then the UFO took off again, the door opened and down we swooped! I could hear the creek and thought I could escape, but the water gathering was so quick it washed me back to the bottom of the UFO. When it landed again, night was falling and water started seeping out again, but the tall white thing must not have been as thirsty so I still had enough to survive. Daylight came and again we were flying, the door opened and splash, I WAS BACK IN MY CREEK! I ran under the closest rock in case they tried to catch me again. The big blue UFO flew away
The very nervous Crawdad