Sunday, July 28, 2013
Start: Pilkey Creek – CS 77 | Finish: Upper Lost Cove – CS 91 | Miles: 13.3 | Total: 87.3
Today was a good day. Feels like it’s back to hiking…. instead of a trudge through an abandoned mining, logging, or road grading operation. Or miles of packed gravel roads. The fact that my blisters are healing helped a lot too. Was unable to keep my socks & shoes dry all day. More about that later. The trail was a real dirt path most of the day, winding through the woods. Fairly flat, no big climbs, just minor stuff. Saw a huge bird in the treetops this morning – “Valley of the Raptors.” There were thousands of tiny frogs underfoot all day, and yesterday too. On a side trail during break, I found a grave site that appeared fresh but was probably just well cared for – the earth was brown with no weeds, and plastic flowers. It was in a mossy clearing, and I think it was a mother and baby.* About 10 minutes later at Camp Site 81 I stopped to get water. I heard two wolves howling, call and response. One seemed very close, the other much farther away.
Lunch was near an abandoned town, Proctor, that was once farming, then logging, then farming again. It was abandoned when the GSMNP was created. There is one house left, and someone lives there. The rest of the town was eaten by the woods. I saw one stone chimney, and some rusty car parts.
The final mile turned back in to the park away from the lake. The trail followed a stream up in to “magical” forest – mossy rocks, etc. There were about 8 stream crossings. The first three I managed to stay dry. That was tricky – for one I had to get to the narrowest part, which was a waterfall about 3 feet high and 4 feet across. I then threw my backpack to the other side, and walked across on some arm-thick logs somebody had laid across. 100′ later the trail doubles back and crosses again. That is where I finally took my shoes off and walked the last 1/2 mile to camp in my Crocs. There were probably 4 more wet crossings after that.
Camp is nice. Quiet and not too buggy.
Tomorrow I will be out of the Smokies. The mystery of the resupply awaits. I have several scenarios worked out, so I’m not worried.
*I read later that the abandoned Highway 288 project mentioned earlier, was intended in part to allow access for the displaced former residents of this area to visit family grave sites located in the Park.