Saturday, December 31, 2011

Your Hometown Hiker's Live Band List 2011

It's New Year's Eve and Black Betty and I are going to celebrate tonight at The Grey Eagle in Asheville (our favorite music venue) with Town Mountain and Acoustic Syndicate (two of our favorite groups).

The following is a list of many of the bands that we saw in 2011. We were fortunate indeed to see most of them numerous times. As I said last year, "There were so many incredible shows, so much inspiring music!"

Once again I would like to thank all the outstanding musicians who helped to make our year so incredibly fun and filled with great tunes.You know that we love you! I'm hoping for a repeat in 2012!

Hometown and Black Betty

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cooking With Quanta @ Soul Infusion Tea House

Last Friday night, Black Betty and I caught our favorite local band at the Soul Infusion Tea House in Sylva.
It was a jammy night of original music and some pretty groovy covers by our friends in Cooking With Quanta. The fab four (Neil, Scott, Adam, and Greg) rocked the house. We boogied till we dropped!

We love Quanta and we love the Soul Infusion. What a great venue for this group, it really feels like a house party with all your best friends. It was another "mighty-fine" night of live music in western North Carolina.
You really should try to join us next time!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Town Mountain and The Freight Hoppers @ The Grey Eagle

                                                                                                                                                                     Two of the finest String Bands in the mountains came together on Friday night at The Grey Eagle in Asheville.

The Freight Hoppers are from Bryson City, NC and play Old Time and Traditional tunes from the 1920's and 1930's. David Bass (fiddle) and Frank Lee (banjo, guitar, vocals) have been together since the Freight Hoppers started their Great Smokey Mountain Railroad gig in 1993. After a hiatus of seven or eight years, the band regrouped in 2007 with Issac Deal (guitar,vocals) and Bradley Adams (bass).
Town Mountain is, without a doubt, our favorite Asheville area bluegrass band. Black Betty and I try not to miss a local show with this smoking hot, bluegrass band. Their rawness and grit manages to get under your skin, and you become a convert after one Town Mountain show. Their rough around-the-edges sound fueled by Robert Greer's outstanding vocals and the band's skilled licks keep us coming back for more.

Town Mountain's strength and appeal lies in their ability to keep it real and gritty while refusing to allow their sound to become a polished out white-bread Nashville caricature of bluegrass music. This is working man's grass, it's the real deal!  They feature outstanding original tunes penned  by banjo player Jesse Langlais and mandolin player Phil Barker; they also do some great covers, including Bruce Springsteen and John Anderson. If you are extremely fortunate, you may even hear Robert Greer sing a heart-wrenching version of the Grateful Dead's Brokedown Palace. Their newest CD is Steady Operator.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

No Knead Dutch Oven Bread

I thought I would try my hand at some Dutch oven bread last week and have really been impressed at how easy it is to make.

Looking online I found the widely disseminated Jim Lahey recipe and followed it pretty close. There are numerous discussions and websites on the topic of this simple bread. It does make a perfect loaf with very little effort. I've been using a whole wheat variation by substituting one of the 3 cups of flour with whole wheat. This is great slicing bread and is as beautiful to look at as it is tasty to eat. I haven't tried cooking it outdoors with coals as my heat source yet but will get there I'm sure.

You will need to mix this dough the day before you bake it so it does take a little planning.
The recipe yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
wheat bran for dusting

parchment paper
6 -8 quart cast iron, Pyrex, enamel, or ceramic covered pot.

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1 5/8 cup of  warm water and stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 12 to 18 hrs. at warm room temperature.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. At this point I dust a sheet of parchment paper with wheat bran (you can use flour or cornmeal) and put the dough seam side down on it. Dust the top of the loaf with wheat bran and let it rise for 2 hrs. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4.At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put your covered dutch oven in the oven as it heats. When dough is ready, slice a slit or two across the top of it and carefully (using the parchment paper) place it into the hot pot. Cover it and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for about 15 minutes longer until the loaf is brown. Cool on a rack.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Asheville Fall Charity Jam

Black Betty and I had the pleasure of attending the 1st Annual Asheville Fall Charity Jam in Arden on Saturday.

The Asheville Fall Charity Jam is dedicated to raising awareness about local heroes in our community.  
This year the benefit was held for the family of Asheville Firefighter Captain Jeff Bowen who lost his life while fighting a massive building fire this summer.  A few words from Stacy Bowen about her husband.

The line up included The Southern Lights, East Coast Dirt, Ras Alan, Chalwa, The Whitewater Bluegrass Band, Phuncle Sam, and Snake Oil Medicine Show.

The location was great, the crowd was friendly and intimate, and the line-up was stellar. We had a wonderful time, made several new friends, visited with old friends, and listened to some really talented local musicians.
I sincerely hope that lots of money was raised for this great cause. We can't wait to see how this event will continue to unfold in the future.

Here's a little video of Ras Alan and friends performing during the afternoon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

MagnoliaFest 2011 Report

Black Betty and I packed up the little pop-up and cruised on down to the lovely Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for the 15th Annual MagnoliaFest last week. We arrived in time to set up camp in the usual great spot, find a few Festivarian friends, and head down to the amphitheater stage in time to catch a few of the Thursday night acts.

Col. Bruce Hampton and the Pharoah Gummitt tore things up with their bluesy rock. We love this band featuring Nick Johnson on guitar, Kevin Scott on bass, and Duane Trucks on drums. Col. Bruce even channeled the late great Howlin' Wolf during a blistering cover of Smokestack Lightning.


Next we saw 7 Walkers featuring Papa Mali, Bill Kreutzmann, George Porter, Jr and Matt Hubbard. We had first seen them a year ago at Magfest and have been listening to their killer "swamp-a-delic" jammy bliss ever since. 7 Walkers thoroughly lit it up and warmed the cool night air and played for nearly three hours. They performed many of their own Robert Hunter penned songs and several Dead covers including Sugaree, Bird Song, He's Gone, I know you Rider and encored with New Speedway Boogie. What a way to start out MagFestAs an added bonus we got to meet and talk with Matt Hubbard who stood in the long coffee line with us before the show.

    Papa Mail and Bill Kreutzmann of 7 Walkers

Friday, we enjoyed a leisurely morning around camp before heading over to the amphitheater to catch the Mobile Alabama rocker, Grayson Capps.
Friday night, we managed to catch the jamgrass allstars Railroad Earth who encored with a crowd pleaser, Bird in the House. The Travelin' McCourys and Keller Williams seemed to be a perfect match for each other playing some great tunes from both the McCoury's traditional roots and Keller's more contemporary side (Oh, yes, they played the Port-a-Potty song).  Keller / McCoury set on Internet Archive
We also walked over to the new mega-stage at the meadow for the big Lucinda Williams show. It was actually the first time that we saw Lucinda. She has a great band but otherwise maybe more "super-star" status than I'm used to in my local live-music scene.

There was lots of other great bands playing on Friday including: Dread Clampitt, Steel Pulse, Galen Kipar Project, Sloppy Joe, The Corbitt Brothers, and moe.

 Grayson Capps

                                                                   Railroad Earth

Saturday afternoon, Mr Americana himself, Jim Lauderdale, entertained the crowd at the amphitheater with various guests joining him on stage including the Infamous Stringdusters. The Lee Boys featuring the incredible Roosevelt Collier on pedal steel got the meadow rocking. Victor Wooten jammed on bass and provided every one there with a rhythm lesson. By this time if you weren't off your seat and on your feet there was something bad wrong.

                                        Jim Lauderdale joined by The Infamous Stringdusters

                                                       Lee Boys with Victor Wooten

The defining moment of the weekend revealed itself to me when Bela Fleck joined Cornmeal for an unbelievably sweet-jam-bliss-eighteen-minute-long Shady Grove. Man! Allie, Kris, and Bela absolutely transcended the physical realm on that one!  Wavy Dave really brought it on too and holds his own against the banjo guru! I couldn't believe that I was in the right place at the right time and got to video the whole damn thing! Talk about good karma! I'll get to re-experience this moment for years to come!I still get goose bumps when I watch it.


Donna the Buffalo played Saturday night on the meadow stage. It was strange to have them so far above and beyond the audience. It's really not the whole Donna vibe. They were absolutely great though. They even started on time if you can believe that. I think it may have something to do with Dave McCracken doing the sound check. And talk about McCracken, is there a better keyboard guy around?  Jeb and Tara have really put themselves together a hard driving boogie-groove machine with this rhythm section. Jeb talked some about the state of the nation (as he should) and about the Occupy Wall Street movement. He sang about loving life and the life of the living in a song called All Aboard. Most of all it was just a great Donna show; all about feeling good, feeling the love, singing the words, and dancing! They encored with Hot Tamale Baby before they were booted off stage by the stage manager who was in a hurry to set up for moe.
Donna The Buffalo set on Internet Archive

                                                             Donna The Buffalo.
Saturday many other bands played including the New Orleans Suspects, Papa Grows Funk, The Mosier Brothers, Grandpa's Cough Medicine, and moe. Sunday schedule included Acoustic Ensemble, The Lee Boys, The Mosier Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Cornmeal, and Donna the Buffalo.


Magfest Vibes:
  1. As always the camping was sweet. We had some pretty chilly overnight temps in the high 30's so it was good snuggling weather.
  2. The best part of the festival is always reuniting with our festival friends. We were happy to be able to spend time with them. We missed the ones who were unable to make it.
  3.  The Meadow Stage now seems to be the main stage. This makes sense to some extent but it seems to be mighty damn big and far away. The sound is absolutely spectacular though. 
  4. I see the food vendors are back to taking cash instead of those stupid tickets. I bet they are glad about that.
  5. We liked that the shows started later and the bigger shows at night were staggered so you didn't have to decide who you would see or miss.
  6. We didn't seem to be able to see enough of our old Magfest favorites.
  7. We were bummed that we couldn't stay for the Sunday shows. They are usually our favorite part of the festival especially the Donna  and friends jams. We both had to work on Monday with a seven hour drive home.
  8. Boogie Cat was in attendance but was off his boogie! 
  9. The apple crisp at Sweet Revenge Cafe is still the best!
Jen, Van, and boys with Black Betty.

Hittin' The Note. (because music matters)

Johnathon, Black Betty, and Bob.


Mark with his "off" switch.
                                                              Evan on mando.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Emmitt-Nershi Band at The Grey Eagle

The jamgrass super-group, Emmitt-Nershi Band performed at The Grey Eagle in Asheville on Friday night. It was the first show of their current tour, and they couldn't have asked for a more appreciative and enthusiastic crowd to play for.

Black Betty and I, along with family and friends, staked out the Bill Nershi side of the stage and hung on for the duration. I managed to shoot a few decent videos and enjoyed the wildly exuberant crowd of young music aficionados who clearly inspired the band to give it their best.

The Bristol area band Folk Soul Revival opened and got the house rocking. Emmitt-Nershi played two sets of their original tunes and threw in several interesting covers including Don't It Make You Want To Dance? (Rusty Wier) and encored with Sweet Child Of Mine (Guns And Roses).

It was another over-the-top night of live music in southern Appalachia!

Emmitt Nershi Band Bio

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion 2011

After missing Bristol last year, Black Betty and I were happy to be able to attend again this year. Especially after hearing that Railroad Earth would be back.

We were joined by our friends Marie, Sam, Michael, and Melanie at the super sweet Sugar Hollow Campground. This is a beautiful 300 acre wooded campground owned by the City of Bristol Dept. of Parks and Recreation. It has lots of shade, flush toilets, showers, electricity, and sites not big enough for the RV crowd. Sites are $12.00 a night (reserve early summer by phone and check) and a shuttle bus runs the few miles to the music venues on State Street.

                                                     Gnometown at Sugar Hollow

Friday evening, we arrived in time to catch our first glance of the David Mayfield Parade at the Piedmont Stage. We were instantly hooked and stood transfixed throughout his performance. All I can say is check him out for yourself. You'll see what I mean.

Next, we caught the young Americana super-star, Justin Townes Earle followed by one of our favorites, Railroad Earth. As always, RRE jammed it out to the delight of the crowd. The mystery group billed as the "High Country Allstars" playing at midnight turned out to be the Infamous Stringdusters! How cool is that?

                                                                     Railroad Earth

Saturday, we battled the insane State Street crowds to catch several great shows. We managed to see performances by 18 South,  The Everybodyfields, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Randolph Band, and Folk Soul Revival.

The much anticipated reunion of the Everybodyfields had to be the highlight of the whole weekend for me. It was really good to see Sam and Jill back on stage together. I don't know that it will last, but the thousands of fans massed at the Piedmont stage singing the songs were evidence that I am not alone in my admiration for this group. We'll see.

                                                                The Everybodyfields

So this is the deal, Bristol:
  • Twenty two stages and over 150 bands? I say it's too much. We've gone to this festival several times over the years and it really has gotten too big, too fast
  • There is not enough room on State Street to accommodate the crowds. At least, the Belle Chere Festival in Asheville manages to spread it out in the downtown area where there is room to disperse the crowds somewhat. 
  • And 150 bands? Why? Too many of the groups are playing in horrible little venues with terrible sounds. I can remember several years ago The Everybodyfields trying to play upstairs at the State Line while a rock band was playing downstairs. Needless to say.....
  • Did I mention that they still smoke in the bars in Bristol? 
  • This year we ended up leaving to eat dinner on Saturday. We could not even find a place that we could get into without an incredibly long wait with total chaos reigning. If you don't choose street food, you may have to get in your car and leave to find a place to sit down and eat. That's what we did.
We still love this festival. It holds a special place in my heart; this is the place that I was introduced to lots of incredibly fantastic bands for the first time. The magic moments and the killer memories still exist.
I understand that I'm not in charge of it and have no say in it. I'm sure that there are scores of people who would disagree with me about the organization of the festival.
Black Betty and I both said that we would have to re-evaluate how we participate in it in the future. Maybe we'll just go during the night and not try to do a daytime thing.
I'll let you know how it goes next year!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Music On The Mountaintop 2011

Black Betty and I really enjoyed Music On The MountainTop once again this year. It was held at a new location at Grandfather Campgrounds In Foscoe, NC about 10 miles outside of Boone. The venue was very scenic, beautiful, and appropriate and may make a nice home for the future of this festival if they work a few little bugs out.

Once again the lineup was stellar. We got there early on Friday afternoon and set up camp near the Wautauga River. After a little afternoon soaking rain shower (it really knocked the dust down), we headed to the little and remote third stage to see two of our favorite North Carolina bands, The New Familiars and Town Mountain. Unfortunately the stage was experiencing problematic technical sound difficulties through The New Familiars set and they finally unplugged, came down into the audience,  and played their last couple of songs to the delight of the crowd. You've got to love this band, this is exactly the kind of festival memories that really stay with you and keep you coming back!

We next went to the Main Stage area (Main Stage and Side Stage sat pretty much side by side) and caught Sol Driven Trail, Acoustic Syndicate, and Railroad Earth. This is when things started getting dicey, weather-wise. The sky grew increasingly dark and threatening through Sol Driven Train's set and by the time Acoustic Syndicate came on the rain was pouring down. Acoustic Syndicate sounded really GOOD! They started off appropriately with Water of Love as the crowd danced in the cool rain. Sadly, after just about five songs, nearby lightning forced the end of the set.

After the hazardous weather passed, Railroad Earth came out and performed their hot and jammy tunes. They were just really getting cranked up when the clock hit 11 pm and the sheriff rode up on a golf cart and signaled "cut-it off" and that was it. The boys came out to the edge of the stage and played one last tune unplugged, but that was it for the night. This place had a very strict and enforced noise ordinance! Eleven o'clock on Friday night in Foscoe is as wild as it gets!

Saturday, we hung out at the Main Stage area and checked out tons of good music; Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, Do it to Julia, Greensky Bluegrass, Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush, and 7 Walkers.

Hurricane Irene was hitting the Atlantic coast on Saturday, and although we were in the far mountains of western North Carolina, we experienced high winds all day.  The bands really toughed it out and took it all in stride. At one point during the Sam Bush show, they had folks holding amps in place to keep them from blowing over and they had to tape the drum set to the stage floor.

All the music was great and 7 Walkers with Papa Mali and Bill Kreutzmann  finished the night out right. Talk about your swamp-a-delic rock and roll, they have got it down and do it up right! Besides performing various original Robert Hunter penned 7 Walker songs, they did a few Papa Mali covers and the Grateful Dead's Cosmic Charlie, I Know You Rider, and Wharf Rat. (I really loved their Wharf Rat!) As an added twist to 7 Walkers, they had Kirk Joseph (Dirty Dozen Brass Band) on sousaphone sitting in as bass. I'll bet that sousaphone was hard to hold up on stage in the 40 mph winds!

Of course, we were still in Foscoe so the music once again came to a screeching halt at 11 pm. Papa Mali stated that he'd love to stay and play for several more hours, but alas!

                                              Black Betty, Aimee, Todd Sheaffer, and M Diddy
                                                    Black Betty at the Main Stage Area.

Right On:
The music, the lineup, the vibe, the camping, the price, the mountains.
Always a nice crowd. Plenty of clean port-a-johns.
You can bring your own cooler with your own beer and purchase a $10 wristband to drink.
Lots of Outdoor gear and Eco-oriented sponsors.
The best Appalachian-hippie-kids-eco-Mother Earth parade this side of Middle Earth.
This is a great little festival which donates part of their proceeds to a couple of  meaningful causes,  Appalachian Voices and The Mountain Alliance.
Read more info about this on  their website MusicOnTheMountainTop 

Near Misses:
I didn't see the need for a third stage. They actually had a really cool and educational Eco-Village set up there and this area was somewhat remote from the Main Stage Area. Several good bands played and much of the crowd never sauntered over there to enjoy them. It seemed to me that there was ample room in the big field for the Village and the extra bands could be dropped or added earlier in the day to the big stages.

There did not seem to be any clear Ingress and Egress into the large Main Stage Area. I don't know where you went in at, but I and hundreds of others had to walk through a campsite, squeeze past a tent, and walk through a narrow opening between vendors. It was very hazardous and haphazard.

The bands (especially the headliners) did not get enough playing time. The sets were way too short, both the fans and the bands seemed short-changed. Eleven pm is a ridiculously early ending time for outdoor live music. If it must be that way let the bands start earlier and jam longer. It really is about the music!

Boohoo, no Caroline Pond, Snake Oil Medicine Show, or Larry Keel this year!

                                                                 Eco Village Area.

                                                                Greensky Bluegrass

                                                      Hometown Hiker and Mike Devol.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Sons Of Ralph

The Sons of Ralph are an Asheville institution and favorite of Black Betty's and mine. They are also the house band at Jack of the Wood. We happened to catch them there during Bele Chere weekend when they rocked down the house to the delight of the crowd.

At 83, Ralph Lewis is still going strong. Ralph jams with the boys on mandolin, guitar, and vocals. He usually plays the first set of the night and then heads home. You can tell that his sons really love him and the crowd absolutely adores him.
They play a lively blend of  pure Appalachian Americana music ranging from Bluegrass to Country to Rock and Roll.
Ralph's sons Marty and Don make up the Sons of Ralph along with cousin Steve Moseley and "other brother" Ozzie Orengo Jr.
Read their bios and purchase their merchandise on their website: Sons Of Ralph
Better yet see them in person.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hometown's Salsa

Somehow I ended up growing cayenne peppers this summer. I didn't plan to, I actually thought I was planting jalapenos but when the peppers started coming in they were long and skinny. It didn't really take me too long to figure it out. Not only did I have cayennes but they were incredibly prolific with the bushes literally loaded down with peppers. So I figured I'd make salsa.
After some initial research and experimenting I think I nailed down a great tasting recipe which is pretty easy to make. I hot water-bath canned mine but it could also be refrigerated until serving.
I figured I'd better blog it, so I can remember how I did it next summer.


1/3 box of Roma tomatoes (about 6 lbs)
14 big cayenne peppers, sliced with seeds (to make a medium-hot salsa)
3 onions, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
several cloves of garlic, crushed
juice of 2 squeezed limes
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 cup vinegar


Drop the tomatoes a few at a time into a large pot of boiling water. After a minute or so scoop them out and drop them in a pot of cold water. This will loosen the skin and set the color.
Drain, peel, and quarter. I then use a food processor to crush the tomatoes.
Place crushed tomatoes in a large pot on the stove and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil.
Spoon into clean, hot canning jars and process in hot water bath taking the proper precautions.


I didn't raise enough tomatoes to use this summer so I picked up a box at a local produce stand. I find it easier to work a third of the box at a time so I estimate it by filling the box lid with them.

Add or subtract the peppers for your taste. This will take some experimenting and guessing. My opinion is that the heat in this recipe is around medium range. Some folks might consider it mild or hot. I can say that the taste is really delicious and the heat does not seem to linger.
Jalapenos would also be perfect in it.

I like my salsa chunky, so I don't over work the tomatoes in the food processor. (Be quick on the button.)

It makes about 7 pints per batch. It's pretty in the jar.

Be sure you make plenty. My family is putting a hurtin' on this stuff!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bele Chere 2011 with Railroad Earth

Bele Chere picked a winner with Railroad Earth as headliner on Saturday night at the Coxe Avenue stage. Though they were hot off the heels of Floyd Fest the band still managed to have enough energy to get the huge crowd rocking downtown Asheville. They even managed to play a couple of my favorites, Smiling Like A Buddah and Head.  Todd Shaffer further endeared the band to the Asheville crowd when he channeled Jerry Garcia for the uplifting spiritual, My Sisters and Brothers.
All in all it was another great Railroad Earth show. It seemed as though there were lots of folks seeing RRE for the first time in the crowd and discovering that they really were digging them. I imagine that there will be many more hobos jumping on the train next time they come to town.

                                                     Becky, Tim Carbone, Black Betty
Set List:
Walk Beside Me

Like a Buddha
The Jupiter and the 119
Long Walk Home
Lone Croft Farewell
Stillwater Getaway
Mourning Flies
My Sisters and Brothers
E: Bringin' My Baby Back Home (with Jason Flournoy on banjo)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Holy Ghost Tent Revival at Bele Chere

Black Betty and I hit Asheville for Friday night at a scaled-down Bele Chere with some hot, hot, hot, Holy Ghost Tent Revival. This rockin' roots band from Greensboro NC seems to get better each time we see them. Even with out a banjo (seems to have been short a D string) the band had the crowd whipped into an enthusiastic, dancing, sweating, frenzy. It was certainly a great start to Bele Chere 2011!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Smokies Hikes


 I spent 5 days camping with the family in Cades Cove last week and managed to get two good loop hikes in towards my goal of hiking all the trails in the GSMNP.

On 7/8, I rode my bicycle to the Anthony Creek Trail head at the top of the picnic area. I followed this pretty trail for 1.6 miles and then veered right at the junction of  the Russell Field Trail. This trail follows the Left Prong of Anthony Creek (crossing it a few times on foot logs.) The trail passes some impressive old growth trees and climbs steadily to join the Appalachian Trail at the new Russell Field Shelter. I spotted several bear tracks in the mud on my hike up. I ate a quick lunch at the shelter while reading the shelter journal and then hiked north on my familiar old Appalachian Trail to the beautiful Spence Field. Here, I joined the Bote Mountain trail, and I drank my fill of ice cold water from a wonderful spring just a hundred yards or so below the ridge. This is an interesting old road, deeply ravined and rocky. The elevation dropped quickly in the 1.6 miles before I joined back with the Anthony Creek Trail to hike 3.6 miles back down to the Cades Cove Picnic area. About 1/2 mile from the trailhead, the skies opened up with a drenching rain and I ended my hike completely soaked.
Miles Hiked: 13.4

                                                                Russell Field Shelter
                                                         50 inch Northern Red Oak

On 7/11, I returned by bicycle to the Anthony Creek trailhead to do another loop hike. This time, I hiked Anthony Creek back to the Bote Mountain Trail and then turned left (downhill) on Bote Mountain. I followed it down to the little Lead Cove Trail which I followed down to its end at Laurel Creek road. I crossed the road and hiked 2/10 of a mile on Turkeypen Ridge to join up with the Crib Gap Trail. As I hiked this low-elevation, road-skirting, non-descript trail through the deep heat and humidity of the day, I told myself that I would never remember anything about this trail unless I happened to see a bear. About five minutes later, I made eye contact with a black bear who promptly exited the trail! I guess I will remember Crib Gap Trail after all. Crib Gap joins Anthony Creek to complete the loop.
Miles Hiked: 8.8

                                                                   Bote Mountain Trail
                                                                 Bote Mountain Trail

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flat Creek and Spruce Mountain Trail

Black Betty tagged along today for a little Smokies adventure which involved hiking two separate trails and working in a bicycle shuttle to boot.

To start with, we drove to the Heintooga picnic area and left our bikes at the trail head for the Flat Creek trail. Then we drove back down Heintooga Ridge Road to the southern trail head and hiked north on the beautiful and moderate Flat Creek Trail.

This trail was actually built in 1934 by the C.C.C. and still seems to receive regular maintenance. And if you can believe it, the lush grass which borders the trail for most of its 2.6 miles seemed to have been very recently weed whacked! We certainly enjoyed the beauty of the pristine creek and surroundings and the rather gentle grade of the trail in general. This would be a great one to take kids hiking on.

When we reached the picnic area, we hopped on our bikes and rode downhill 3 1/2 miles to the car.

Next, we drove the one-way Balsam Mountain Road about 6 miles to the Spruce Mountain Trail. Interestingly enough, we saw a turkey hen with about a dozen little chicks and then a ruffed grouse hen with several chicks while driving between the hikes. 

Spruce mountain trail is a short and sweet 1 miler which runs up to the junction of the now closed Polls Gap Trail. It featured a pretty little stream crossing and several large beeches, yellow birches, and red spruce trees. I hiked the 2/10 mile to campsite #42 to check it out. Distant thunder and threatening skies prevented us from hanging out too long so we headed back down hill to the car.