Thursday, September 17, 2009

Survival tips from The Naturist

Huh. It's almost like being in the woods with my husband.

I nearly died laughing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jakes Creek Trail summary

On August 23rd we hiked out Jakes Creek Trail in the Smokies past backcountry campsite #27 to Jakes Gap. It is about 6.5 miles round trip, depending on where you park.

The beginning of the trail is an old gravel railroad bed that runs parallel to and above Jakes Creek. The area was logged in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

A small side trail leads to the Avent Cabin. We were surprised to see a sign here, the last time we visited there was none and the trail was easy to miss. It was wet and muddy as usual getting down to the creek.

The highlight of the day was an amazing variety of fungi. Lots of photos ensue.

The roadbed ends in a circle and a footbridge crosses the creek.

A downed tree, with rocks captured in its roots.

Somebody lost a boot.

More magical mushrooms:

(I spent more time crouched on the ground than walking, I think.)

Fall is on the way.

This is the *omgcute* mushroom of the day! Smaller than a green pea.

After about 2.5 miles and at about 3500ft elevation, we reached campsite #27. A nice spot with a couple bear cables and several decent camp spots. Nobody was there. Pushing on..... passed a lone hiker heading back down the trail.
At 3.3 miles we reached Jakes Gap. The elevation is about 4055ft and the wind had picked up a bit.

Stopping there after our sweaty uphill climb lead to a rapid chilling. We went a little way onto the Blanket Mountain manway but decided to put that off until later in the season. We'd need pants or gaiters on to comfortably pass through the damp underbrush. Saw an astoundingly huge fresh bear poop on the manway, but didn't see any bears all day.
This will be an excellent fall/winter hike, also want to head over to campsite #26 on Dripping Spring Mtn.
On the way back we passed a couple backpackers.
I believe we were out about 4 hours.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Treasury feature

Yaaaarrrr, matey! My copper skull necklace was included in a wonderful pirate-themed Etsy treasury created by paintandink. Some really neat stuff!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Forney Creek Trail to campsite #68

On August 16th we went up high in the Smokies to escape the summer heat and enjoyed some cool temps and cloudy, misty conditions part of the day. Along Clingman's Dome road we saw a bear digging in the grass.

From the Clingman's Dome parking lot we hiked down Forney Ridge Trail to reach Forney Creek Trail, and down to Forney Creek Cascades and backcountry campsite #68.

Distance: 6.2 miles roundtrip. Time: 5.25 hours

The trail is downhill the majority of the way, and is extremely rocky in many areas. Some sections along the Ridge trail have been stabilized with logs and steps.

These fresh logs were so slippery when wet! I almost went sailing off one....

The spruce-fir forest smelled wonderfully of dampness and Christmas trees.

After 1.1 miles we reached the flat, green intersection with Forney Creek Trail. Downhill from there....

....and mostly felt like hiking in a narrow, rocky creek bed. A wet one, since it'd rained just before.
Yes, I've posted a lot of trailbed pics here but I found the terrain very interesting. One spot in the trail is a tad precarious, room enough for one footwidth with an incline on one side and drop-off on the other.

According to my National Geographic Smokies trail map, Forney Creek Cascade is the small rocky area you cross through in the sharp bend of the trail about 1/2 mile northeast of the campsite... not sure about that. But I am sure you should continue on down to the campsite to enjoy a more exhilarating water feature.

We passed two backpackers coming up from the camp who told us there were some nice swimming areas down there. We crossed the long split rocks and Forney Creek on this wobbly log. Almost there.....

Success! We reached #68.
This is really pretty site right next to the creek with several good spots to pitch a tent. Great atmosphere.
Some gear was hanging but nobody was around, must have taken off for a day hike.

After entering the camp you see where the water flows rapidly down a long rock slide with some impressively large embedded quartz lines. Although the depth is shallow, the force is quite strong. The backpackers were right, there are a few nice swimming spots here. I took off my shoes and waded for a few minutes; the air temp was pleasant but the water was too cold for a dip.

We had a snack and a rest before heading out. Along the way we passed two backpackers working their way down and a few other people. Upon reaching the intersection with Forney Ridge Trail (which leads to the popular Andrews Bald) and then upwards to the parking lot, we passed about 20 people.

A very enjoyable outing, well worth the effort.