Friday, April 16, 2010

The Hiking Continues

We have had two more days of good weather and two more good hikes bringing our total miles hiked for the month to just over 68. The wildflowers continue to amaze and thrill.
Cateby's Trillium

Yesterday, we hiked over 10 miles, but the hike was on a well-graded foot path with alternating ups and downs.  Although the distance was farther, it was not as difficult as that big climb up Bote Mountain.  We saw three deer, but no other wildlife yesterday as we made our way from Fighting Gap along Sugarland Mountain Trail then down Husky Gap to the Little River.

Nice spot for a break

We had to crawl over several significant blow-downs.  Gene was a little sorry he hadn’t brought along the saw. These trees were far too large for his little saw, but at least he could have cut off some of the smaller branches to make the crawl over, under, or through a little easier.  About halfway down Husky Gap trail we ran into the trail crew.  They were hard at work cutting blow-downs and cleaning out water bars.  We met them again on our return trip.  They had their work cut out for them on Sugarland Mountain trail.  Big hugs all around for those guys.  They did some work yesterday.

One of the old vacation homes
We wanted to hike today, but we wanted something slow and easy.  We selected the Little River/Cucumber Gap loop which is located at the back of the Elkmont Campground.  We started out on Little River for the very gentle climb up to Cucumber Gap trail.  I always enjoy this hike because I love to see the river as it tumbles downhill.  It was certainly gorgeous today.

Painted Trillium

We stopped for a break and a group of fishermen caught up with us.  They were struggling under the weight of very heavy packs heading up to a campsite where they’ll spend the weekend.  They’re hoping to catch a few trout.   There were about 7 of them and their packs were huge.  One gentleman kept inviting us to go along and help carry some of the weight.  Another said his pack weighed 75 lbs.  We could tell from what gear we could see they were not light weight backpackers.  We also suspect that plenty of Johnny, Jim, and Jack will also be around the campfire tonight.

view from our lunch spot
On both trails today, the wildflowers were fabulous.  Part of the reason we chose this hike was so I could get a few photos.  The camera was heavy to carry, but I was glad I took it along.

Trout lily

Elkmont is one of those historic districts inside the Park, but unlike Cade’s Cove it has not been restored.  In fact, the old vacation homes of wealthy Knoxvillians are falling down upon themselves.  The last we heard about this project is that the park service will select a few homes to be restored and destroy the remainder.  I wish they would get on with it.  As it is now, it is very unsightly.
That’s it for today.  No more hiking until Monday.  We’ll find something else to do over the weekend.  Starbucks comes to mind.

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