17 Jul Dripping Spring Mountain Hike – Smoky Mountains
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Meigs Creek to Meigs Mountain to Jakes Gap, to Miry Ridge Trail to Dripping Springs Campsite 26.
Spent the night at the Fontana Hilton once again. Arrived at midnight and found one other person sound asleep in the shelter. A couple of tents were pitched on some pads down the hill from the shelter.
Early morning westerly view from Foothills Parkway.
The next morning I drove the Dragon Tail and the Foothills Parkway to Townsend, ate blueberry pancakes and positioned my bicycle in the woods near Tremont. The Tremont road was closed due to a violent storm that swept away trees on July 5th. This storm had killed two people in the Smokies. A lady in the creek at Abrams Campground was hit by a tree and a guy riding a motorcycle was hit by a limb. Due to the road closure, I would have to walk an extra 3 miles along the road from Middle Prong trailhead to Tremont.
I parked my car at the Sinks to begin the hike. Meigs Creek trail had some difficult deadfall. I slipped down the side of steep slopes while working my way around fallen trees. It was good fortune that after about a dozen tough detours, the trail improved and I was to find very few trail obstacles for the remainder of the weekend.
Numbers of silent giants, hemlocks, stood stripped bare of needles along Meigs Creek. They seemed to be motionless even for a tree; greying tombstones. The trail passed between three that stood closely together like sentinels on barren desert. I am reminded of youth hikes over level paths carpeted with soft fragrant hemlock needles. I remember the feeling of deep shade and cool air rising from the stumbling brook. At the time, my only wish was for the path to gently continue, soft and cool, just a bit longer before turning up the rocky slopes of a sun heated mountain.
Once on the Meigs Mountain trail I began seeing other hikers. One group had seven 9th graders in the first year of a 4 year program with the Forest Service at Tremont. They were on the last day of a four day hike. On their first day, they navigated freshly downed trees along Goshen Prong trail. The trail was officially closed due to storm damage shortly after they struggled through.
Jakes Gap trail was a tough steady climb. Once on Dripping Spring Mountain, I walked up to the open area and rolled out my sleeping pad for a nap and long break. It was still early and I only had a mile to go. A rabbit hopped up behind me and was fearless enough to remaining while I relaxed.
Dripping Spring Mountain campsite is well off the trail. It is set in some healthy green hemlocks and patches of grass in open areas. A nice isolated and peaceful spot.
Sunday, July 15th, 2012
Miry Ridge Trail to Lynn Camp Prong Trail to Middle Fork Trail to Tremont Road to Tremont, bicycle from Tremont to Meigs Creek Trailhead.
Turk’s Cap Lily
I love the morning walk from campsite 26 to the Lynn Camp turnoff. This portion of the Miry Ridge trail is on high ridge and level. This is my favorite type of morning walk. I slept well last night, the temps dropped and a cool breeze blew. I had to zip up my 40 degree bag.
Turk’s Cap Lily.
Lynn Camp trail is an easily walked road bed. Not too steep and I was going downhill. I stopped at the falls turnoff on Middle Prong Trail. These falls have 3 drops into seductive pools. You have to climb down rocks and roots to reach each lower portion of the falls.
Three drops in the falls on Middle Prong Trail.
After 3 miles walking the road, I found my bike hidden in the woods. Yippee! (I hadn’t hidden it well and was hoping that it would be okay.) I dipped my shirt in the creek and put it on to cool off, but as soon as I had the wet shirt on it started raining and rained hard for much of the bike ride back to the Sinks.