Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blackrock Gap to Ivy Creek Overlook

Today was another foggy, cool day, but we managed to get in a nice hike before the rain set in this afternoon.  Actually, I kinda like the overcast days because its a little cooler.  I don’t get so hot and the bugs are not as bad.

Gene at Black Mountain

This morning on our drive to Blackrock Gap, just as we entered the Park, we saw something small scamper across the road about 75 yards in front of us.  When we got close enough to see, it turned out to be a bear cub.  There were 2 cubs and the mom on the side of the road.  Of course, our diesel engine sent the little family scurrying up the hill before I could get my camera out of the case.

We both got out of the truck and started hiking north at Blackrock Gap.  I hiked about 4 miles to Brown Gap with Gene, then I turned around and came back to the truck.  He went on to Ivy Creek Overlook where I picked him up this afternoon.

Ivy Creek
In 2008 when I hiked that section between Loft Mountain Campground and Ivy Creek Overlook, I was very nervous about bears.  There seemed to be an abundance of bear scat on the trail.  I wasn’t much in the mood to hike through there alone again.  Seeing the bear by the road this morning didn’t do anything to bolster my confidence.  I had originally planned to hike as far as Doyle River parking area, but by the time we got to Brown Gap, the fog was really moving in.  I wanted to get back to the truck before it started to rain.  What a wimp I am.

We hiked around Blackrock Mountain almost first thing this morning.  When we were there, the fog was thick and there were no views.  Later, on my return trip, the sky was still overcast, but there was a bit of a view off the mountain.  Blackrock is a pile of large boulders.  It is quite interesting sitting out in the middle of all the green trees.

View from Loft Mountain Campground
Between Blackrock and Brown Gap, there used to be a large group campground.  Today, we were surprised to see it has been changed to a picnic area.  Camping is no longer allowed, but there are restrooms and water for the weary hiker up the short connector trail.

After our short rest break in Brown Gap, Gene had the opportunity to climb Loft Mountain.  The Loft Mountain campground is closed, either because it is still too early in the season or because of renovation.  I’m not sure which.  There is quite a lot of “fixing up” being done around the park.  The camp store is also closed to the dismay of a few hikers, I bet, gut the Wayside is open and serving those fabulous blackberry milkshakes.  We stopped there on the way home and, yes, we got a blackberry shake.  Loft Mountain was fogged in today, so I have included a photo from 2008.

Gene reported that there is again what seems to be an abundance of bear scat along the trail in the Ivy Creek area.  I’m sure glad I didn’t go down there by myself.  This section of trail veers away from Skyline Drive and feels very remote.  Gene didn’t have a camera with him so I have included a photo of Ivy Creek taken on my hike through there.

Tomorrow, hiking friends from Nashville will be stopping by.  We’ll give them a shuttle down to Jennings Creek as they start their section north to Rockfish Gap.

That’s it for today.

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