Friday, April 29, 2016

Joyce Kilmer TTA

Nancy and Gloria Dale planned a camping/hiking weekend at Joyce Kilmer. At the Rattler-Ford Campground (snakes???) group camp on the road going toward Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in NC. I had to work Friday so I got there after suppertime. I got off work and couldn’t find my car keys; Craig had taken me to lunch and I sent my purse home with him after taking out my necessary things. Forgot my keys were in there L. My rescuer had to bring my keys to me, so I started out late. The drive from Tellico Plains to the campground was spectacular! The Cherohala Skyway shows off the beauty of the mountains. (Except for the teenager on the bridge spray painting her declaration of being there)The rest of the group had gotten to camp in time to hike the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest trail, set up camp, grill brats and were having dessert when I arrived. Lots of food and a birthday cake for Marietta! I set up my hammock and joined the party around the campfire, and thanks to Ewing we even had marshmallows to toast. Yumm!  Lots of stars out and a peaceful night sleeping by the creek, life is good.

Saturday 13 of us loaded up to hike to the Hangover, Ewing and his brother David, who had arrived late last night from Virginia, guarded the camp, a few more went hiking and exploring Robbinsville and the surrounding area. The 3 carloads of Hangover hikers drove the FS road to the Wolf Laurel trailhead. Short trail to Stratton Bald trail. After inspecting part of the Stratton trail, we turned around to go the right way, finding lots of wildflowers, red trilliums, Canada mayflower, violets, and as we climbed higher, the early spring flowers, trout lily, anemones, spring beauties, and flowering trees, silverbells, dogwoods, service berry, and flowering bushes, viburnum, and/or witch hobble, and hydrangea. And a few piles of bear scat, evidently that bear had eaten well! The Haoe Lead trail took us to Hangover Lead and the Hangover. Top notch lunch spot with a 360 view of mountain after mountain after mountain. The trail to the Hangover was clear, the first time I came here we had to push our way thru the overgrown bushes and trees. Glad to see it’s maintained. As we hiked back the thunder started and down came the rain and out came the raingear. The rain washed everything clean and made the green things greener. And it settled the dust on the FS road. Back at camp, plans were made to drive into Robbinsville for dinner. I had a little while to relax so I drove to JKMF to hike the loop the others had hiked yesterday. I remembered those huge trees from the trip Craig and I did in January four years ago and wanted to see them again. I met some folks at the trailhead asking about trails in the area so I gave them info about the hangover and how to get there. Two more folks asked me where I was from and knew about Bloody Bledsoe and the Sequatchie Valley. It’s a small world after all. The lower loop trail and a little bit of the upper was all I had time for to not miss dinner. It’s a different trail with the spring wildflowers showing off.
Dinner was at El Pacifico, good food, and all of us got our food piping hot, not sure how many servers got it on the table that fast. No beer or margaritas here, it’s a dry county. We can always make up for it at camp with the right cough medicine.  Got back to a rainy campground so everyone retreated to their tents to read. Or drink cough meds.

Sunday morning the birds singing woke us up. We packed up and parted ways, 3 left ahead of us to check out some overlooks along the Cherohala Skyway. 6 of us traveled together stopping at Hoopers Bald, where we hiked up to the pretty meadow on the bald. It would be cool to see the native azaleas in bloom, might have to come back in June. We drove on, stopped again at West Rattlesnake Rock trailhead (what’s with all the snake names???) This is a nice trail, lots more wildflowers. We hiked about a mile, then back to the cars. Another car pulled, driver got out and raised the hood, we asked if they needed help, he thought maybe water, and Betty just happened to have a gallon jug full. On to Bald River Falls, always pretty, but the previous night of rain made it spectacular! Then on to the Tellico Plains Visitors Center to shop. Just behind there is a neat eatery Tellicafe. Ran by some NY’ers serving some really good food. Nancy and I tried the trout cakes, and fried green tomatoes. Gloria Dale said her catfish was the best ever, Kathy said the Rueben sandwich had to be good made by a NYer. Betty and Joan raved about their food too. Offers of being hosed down out back if the napkins were not enough made a heehawing group of ladies. Right Nancy? We then went our separate ways with plans for a return trip to Rattler Ford Campground in October. On Monday a message from Nancy said if we had hiked further on the West Rattlesnake Rock trail there is a waterfall. Our book didn’t have this trail in it so we didn’t have descriptions; next time…..

What a wonderful weekend with old and new friends: Nancy, Gloria Dale, Thomas, Jerry Lynn, Marietta, Ewing, David, Sherlene, Jan, Julie, Kathy, Jackie, Kate, Betty, Sue, Joan, Alice, Joni.


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