Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Great Smoky Mountains

On top of Clingmans Dome

The first week in June A-Fish and I went to the western part of the excellent state of North Carolina, for some much needed "us" time and to hike some of the A.T, then spend a couple day's in Asheville. The weather and the people were great.

We dropped the car at Big Creek, an awesome little back woods park with great rivers and streams and the Chestnut trail, a killer trail! We desended it two miles, and with the changes in climate and natural selection of trees, made it really interesting, the lower we were the more humid it was and there were more hard woods too. We took this from the A.T to get back to the car. Amelia found this retired fellow via the internet who shuttles people to and from their cars in southern Virginia and N.C, that are doing sections of the trail. This was huge as other times I had to hitch hike back to the car and it's a real pain with the logistics and the muged and or murdered thing.

We met him at seven am for the hour and forty five minuet drive to our starting point at Clingmans Dome 6,643 ft. The drive there was sick, looking down on the clouds and an endless sea of mountain sides and ridges. When we arrived it was 43 degrees and great visibility. Ronnie, our driver, weighed our packs, mine 34lbs and A's 31lbs, took a pic of us for his scrap book and drove off leaving us 35.6 miles from the car, we were excited knowing it would just be the stuff on our backs, this incredibly beautiful and rugged place and the company of a best friend for the next four days.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has a road on the southern border and a road on the northern border and dissected through the middle by another. We started in the middle of the park and walked north. We did the northern section.

We started walking at 9:30 Monday morning the 7.1 miles to Ice Water Spring shelter, the trees were pine and spruce, beech and birch, mountain ash and cherry.
This whole park brags old growth and virgin forest,the section we did had some of the last remaining American Chestnut trees, and the yellow- fringed orchid rhododendron was in bloom and the Mountain Laurel was starting to really go off, these things grow thick on the mountain sides and are the tallest I have ever seen.

I am sure that more than a few sections of trail we hiked are originally from the Cherokee tribe along with hundreds of years of trading and traveling folk.

We did the trek in three day's instead of the four originally planned thought the scenery would be so awesome that we would feel like we missed a lot if we didn't allow sight seeing time so I was looking at four days last day was to be the shortest, we arrived at the shelter around three pm, it was a cool one too we were lower than we had been closer to 5,000 ft and their were wood pecckers and chipmunks, lots of activity to enjoy. We rested and ate some food looked at the map again and A-Fish threw it out their that we could finish it up and be in Asheville tonight, wow! I like the sound of that,go hard finish strong and celebrate a great time had in a side walk restaurant.

When we returned to the car the beers in the cooler were still cold so we sat in the stream and cooled our smoking feet off. That was an excellent way to finish it .

Asheville is so fun, we ate great food, listened to music in the streets and enjoyed the spring like weather cant wait to go back, with more time to spend biking and messin around in the river, fishin and paddling.