After being sedentary for much too long, I finally got in a decent solo hike yesterday.
And I really needed it!
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.
Once 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.
Another 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.