Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ladies Spring Backpack 2016

Once again Diane has succeeded in getting us to the Great Smoky Mountains for a ladies Spring backpack/camping trip. We met up in Greenbriar. I had gotten there early and did a short hike on Porter’s Creek to see the wildflowers. Diane, Sara and Nancy got to the Grapeyard Ridge trail at lunch time. We hiked up to campsite 32 where I had been with Craig and his dad on a previous hike. We saw the wrecked engine in the creek, missed on the previous hike due to missing the right trail. After hiking back down, we drove to Cosby Campground and met Amy, set up camp and gathered firewood. With firelogs and plenty of starter and a big bag of paper we were set for the week.

Day 2 
We packed our packs and drove to the Maddron Bald trailhead. Up and up to the Albright Grove Loop to see the old growth forest. After lunch Nancy headed back down, to camp at Cosby for the night. The rest of us went on campsite 29. Rocky but with a good fire ring and logs to sit on, we recalled the last time here; the squirrel that Sue knocked out with a rock. We had to really search for firewood but we had enough for the night. Saw a young dayhiker come thru late and then go back down.  Just before dark the wind started blowing and howling up through the valley, making us wonder if our tarp and tents would stay put. We went to bed to hold them down. My tarp was taking a beating, stakes got pulled out 3 times. I gave up and took the tarp down, and watched the stars. Didn’t realize how much my hammock would blow and rock with the wind. Diane had to rescue her stakes too, she found mine the next morning.  
Day 3
When we took our food bags down we found holes chewed into mine and Diane's. Those darn mice ate my pastel M&Ms!!! and got into my peanut butter crackers. They had Diane's crackers too. Yuck!
Finished Maddron Bald, went up Snake Den to the AT (yes Sara you have to do it) then down Snake Den back to Cosby Campground for the night. We hiked the Cosby Nature Trail, with Nancy reading the descriptions of what we should be looking for on the walk. Plus wildflowers everywhere.
That evening the wind started kicking up and rain was coming in, I took down my hammock and tarp and slept in my car, no wind. Nancy had Diane’s car for the night.

Day 4 
We had breakfast at the picnic shelter, out of the rain. Met some other campers from NC, SC and PA. Guys getting together every year to hike in the Smokys too. We were hiking today in different places; Amy on the Gabe’s Mountain Trail, we dropped her off at Maddron Bald. We went on to Gatlinburg to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Baskins Creek Trail is 2.7 miles with a few stream crossings and Baskins Falls and a CLIMB at the end. In the rain. There were a lot of trees down at the start. We picked up the other car and drove to Sugarland’s to have our lunch in the dry. I bought a jar of bread and butter pickles while strolling thru the bookstore. On to Husky Gap. I needed the 2 miles of trail up to the junction with Sugarland Mountain. We saw so many wildflowers on this trail; dwarf crested iris, yellow and large white trillium, mandarin, bellwort, ginseng, anemone, star chickweed, trout lily, and Morell mushrooms! We were going to harvest them on the way down, but someone or something had gotten them before we got back. After coffee and treats at the grocery store, we ended up at Laurel Springs Resort for the evening, hot showers and warm sunshine to dry out tents and clothes. The parking lot looked like our packs had exploded. We went out for dinner at the Magnolia Tree. Amy had lunch there after her hike and had recommended it, we had seen it on the way. Yes, yes and yes it was good food, delicious whiskey sirloin, fried corn and lots of butter for the baked tater. We tried not the interrupt the bear’s card game in the back. Full and happy, we had a peaceful night.

Day 5 
I ran a shuttle for the other ladies for their overnight on the Old Settlers Trail so they end at their cars. They had a long hike today to get to their campsite. I headed to Cades Cove to meet my hiking partner for the day, Craig’s dad Jim. I had lunch at the cove store, then he and I headed to the Finley Cane/Lead Cove Trailhead. I needed a 2.5 mile segment of Bote Mountain Trail and this loop got that in. We saw lots of wildflowers on the Finley Cane Trail. Jim was challenging my ability to name the white ones. DWF. We climbed Bote, then down Lead Cove with lots more wildflowers along the bottom section. We had Carol’s brownies for an after hike treat, then the family tradition ice cream in Townsend. Yumm! I dropped Jim off at home, and after getting some more brownies, drove home.

It was a wonderful time with the ladies in the Smoky Mountains!

The other ladies will have to fill in day 6 for the Old Settlers Trail.


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