Sunday, March 27, 2016
Day One: 7.1 miles
U.S. 321 to spring after Wilbur Dam road
Day Two: 9.9
Spring to Spring after Monument
Day Three: 11.6
Spring to Double Springs Gap
Day Four: 11.4
Double Springs to Spring before Damascus
Day Five: 1.9
Spring to downtown Damascus.
Total Miles: 41.9
We met Mom and Dad in Damascus Virginia and got our car registered to leave in the parking lot by the old Mill. We took the extended trip to the trailhead on U.S. 321 because I missed a turn. With Love and brownies we headed off.
We walked around the lake and across the dam seeing lots of wildflowers and a few day hikers. We noticed a sailboat out on the lake and thought about my brother in Michigan. He should have his out by now (Smile).
We climbed up the ridge and got some good views from above of the lake. We camped at the first spring after Wilbur Dam road for the night. Lora stumbled and fell over a rock while looking at the spring. No damage other than hurt pride. We got to listen to owls during the night while we sat around the fire.
Lots of views from the ridge line that we hiked. We passed two more shelters and checked out the Nick Grindstaff Monument, which was for a famous hermit. I don't know how he got famous, but I guess he pulled it off. We camped at the spring just past it. It started to rain just as we were ready to make dinner, so we cooked and ate under the shelter. We had already started the fire, so after dinner when the rain stopped, we got to spend some time enjoying the fire.
The rain had quit by the time we got out of bed. We got packed up and hiked in the fog for awhile and then it cleared up for some more sights. When we were taking a break at the Double Springs shelter, a thru hiker from Montana stopped in. We enjoyed a visit with him and learned that most of the thru hikers were well behind us. We saw him again at Double Springs Gap where we spent the night. He and six of his buddies went on to the next shelter.
Today we saw the foundation from where a fire tower stood on McQueens Knob. We also saw the oldest and smallest shelters just past there. We saw more thru hikers today and other backpackers heading south. Then the celebration for us at the Virginia State Line! Three states down....??? to go. We camped at the spring just out from Damascus.
Just a short hike today to down town Damascus. We visited the hiker supply store just because we could.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
I drove to Bryson City to meet up with SMHC for a Deep Creek overnight. Tim and Steve picked me up. Lynn had started on a different trail to meet up with us at the campsite. We drove thru Cherokee to 441, to the upper trailhead for Deep Creek. The trail dropped steeply and we crossed little streams. Campsite 53 was in much better condition than the last time I saw it, no trash left behind. Then more streams, all heading toward Deep Creek. We did have to switch to water shoes a couple of times. We found Lynn at campsite 55 with her tent already set up. #55 is a large site/horse camp; but it was clean and had two sets of bear cables. The set up for the horses was broken down but still had rubber mats. Steve and I had to search a little for perfectly spaced trees for our hammocks, lots of trees, some too close ,some too far apart, finally just right (read Goldilocks and the Three Bears). We decided we didn’t have enough time to hike the Pole Road Creek trail before dark, so we gathered firewood and kicked back for a while. The moon came up and we had a nice fire and watched some stars pop out.
Our plans were to get up EARLY and start, we were all awake at but managed to go back to sleep till daylight. Got a fire going and packed up, hung our packs and started Pole Creek with water and snacks; except for Lynn who after Pole Creek was heading out Noland Divide. We left her and started out. We crossed Deep Creek on a nice long bridge. The first crossing of Pole Creek was too high to rock hop, so Steve demonstrated his balancing technique on a tree that had fallen across the creek. I was carrying my water bottle and pitched it across to free up my hands in case I needed to crawl across the tree. (did I mention I throw like a girl) only to have it land on the rocks, the lid popped off, Steve grabbed it up and saved a little bit of my water. We had a lot of creek crossings, with one more big tree in just the right place, flat, Tim assured us, with spongy moss covering it, no slick places. Sweet!
We arrived at the junction of Noland Divide/Noland Creek only to have Lynn catch us with her full pack, dry shoes. Back down, crossed creeks again, back at camp, lunch, packs on. Tim went back across the creek to look for signs of an old manway. He had gotten an email from a man who remembers the trail from the 1940’s, and gave Tim clues to search for.
Then we started down. Only it’s up and down. You follow Deep Creek sometimes right beside it, sometimes way up above it, brings back memories of the Lakeshore Trail. We met a group from Ohio heading to #55, they will appreciate the firewood we left. The road walk had nice bridges and some Tonka Toys and Tom Branch Falls was really pretty. Lots of hikers on this section, with three waterfalls not far from the parking lot. Lynn had already finished her trail and was gone.
After a 13.6 mile hike it felt really good to sit in the car for the ride back to the upper trailhead. When we got to 441 there was a flashing sign “441 closed due to snow and ice.” Uh oh. We were hoping they had forgot to turn off the sign, but found a barricade further up the road with a Ranger turning people around. Cars coming down the mountain had snow on them??? Plan B: We asked the Ranger if we could go up to get Tim’s truck. He offered to drive one of us up, but had to wait for another Ranger to get there to direct traffic. Steve and I waited for them to get up there and back. When Tim go back his truck was covered with snow. Drove back to Cherokee, and parted ways trying to find the quickest route home. I went back via 19, 74, 64, 60, 30, navigate off road, (GPS) home. In Andrews I could see snow on the mountain tops. Tim said they went the long way around, thru Maggie Valley to I-40 then to Maryville. Lots of choices for routes, all long.
Great time with the SMHC backpackers.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
I got to the University of the South early so I drove around the campus looking at the buildings and grounds. This is a beautiful place to visit; the architecture is so cool.
I met the M’Boro/Highland Rim hikers at the Greens View trailhead. There is a gorgeous view of the valley at the end of the road there. Sara, Joan, Ann, Julie, Tony, Jenny, Bruce Lee and I started down the trail. We hiked a loop combining a few trails, with a side trip out to Piney Point overlook. We took a break here and then sprinkles started. As we came back thru Shakerag Hollow the wildflowers were putting on an early spring show! Bloodroot, Anemone, Chickweed, Violets, Toothwort and a few more I can’t name, and the trilliums were just starting to open. The waterfalls and creeks were flowing well so we had lots of picture ops. At the end of the hike we drove to Shenanigan’s for lunch. Good food and great company.
After lunch, I drove around the Monteagle Assembly area. The old houses here are so pretty, most have big front porches or wrap-around porches.
Thank you Sara for arranging the hike.