Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Smokies Hikes

Hepatica


 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