Hiking solo with Jim and Harv

December 4, 2006

After being sedentary for much too long, I finally got in a decent solo hike yesterday.

And I really needed it!

Coldspring Mountain on the AT
View from Coldspring Mountain toward Camp Creek Bald

My last solo hike was in June, I’m sorry to admit. And if the truth be known, I was sorta forced into making this hike. But I’m not complaining.

About a week ago I realized I was in charge of the next backpacking trip for my son’s Boy Scout troop and we hadn’t picked a destination yet. So I decided to go back to a place I’d hiked a couple of times before to see if I could find a decent route for a trip.

I headed to a section of the Appalachian Trail near Jerry’s Cabin, between Allen Gap and Flint Gap. My goal was to find a route to this area that was doable by our youngest boys, but challenging and interesting enough for our older boys. Sometimes that involves splitting the troop into a couple groups, giving the younger boys a shorter, easier route.

As soon as I started out on my approach to the AT on the Fork Ridge Trail, I realized this wasn’t going to be the route. For two miles it went straight up.

Jerrys CabinOnce I reached the AT, I headed northbound and quickly arrived at Jerry’s Cabin. (Many maps and guides refer to it as Jerry Cabin, but a sign hanging in front says “Jerry’s Cabin,” so I’m going with that.)

I stopped here to eat my lunch, and as I was unpacking it two day hikers strolled up from the blue blaze trail to the nearby spring. They said they were students at East Tennessee State University. We chatted a while and compared notes on the trail. They said they had started at Camp Creek, and that helped me realize that’s likely a better starting point for a scout trip because the trailhead is much closer in elevation to the AT.

Maybe I’ll head back up there this week and check that out. I have vacation time I need to burn off before the end of the year and I can’t think of a better way to do that than hiking.

Pond on Coldspring MountainAnother thing I want to do is learn more about a pond I saw on the bald at Coldspring Mountain. It’s odd to see a pond on a bald. But this was rectangular, so I figure it’s man-made.

But why there? Is it for livestock? Is it spring fed? I suppose it must be if it’s on Coldspring Mountain.

Balds are sometimes used for grazing livestock, but I didn’t see any evidence of that. There were also no warning signs about using the water, which I think there might be if it was a pond intended for livestock.

Curious. I think I’ll call the forestry service office in Hot Springs to see if I can learn something about it because this might be a good camping spot.

At any rate, I didn’t find the route I was looking for, but I got in a good 10-mile hike and a good excuse to go again. Can’t beat that.

And there was another good thing about the hike. Though I was hiking solo, I got to spend a little time with Jim and Harv.

You see, they were two friends of mine. They both died suddenly, a couple weeks apart. Jim was a kayaking buddy. I’d known Harv for about 20 years. They were both in their mid-50s.

That’s too young. That’s too close to home.

Anyway, it was real good up on the trail, thinking about Jim and Harv and stuff.

Yep, I think I’ll go back up there again this week.