Entries For: April 2010
It was time to repaint the blazes on our section of the Appalachian Trail. Our section, from Devil's Fork Gap to Rice Gap, between Madison County, NC and Unicoi County in Tennessee, is now well-used by thru-hikers.
Equipped with semi-gloss paint, a brush, a cut-out cardboard form and a scraper, we climbed up the dirt road to the beginning of our section on Rice Gap. We only do this once every three to four years, so we don't remember how to do this properly. We forgot a bucket so once the paint can was open, we had to carry it carefully in our hands, hoping we wouldn't trip.
Lenny insisted that we only blaze one way, so we could see what hikers were seeing. Still, we disagreed on how and where blazes should go. As with everything else dealing with the A.T., there are rules.
Both in-line and off-set double blazes should be used sparingly since they become meaningless with frequent use.
Still there's the definition of sparingly.
"We should have a blaze here."
"No, the trail is well-defined here."
"But the trail makes a bend."
"But it's an obvious turn. Look how clear it is here."
"It's clear because the vegetation is down. What happens in the middle of the summer, when the sides are covered with leaves, stems and small trees."
And so the day went - discussing every blaze. We met over 20 thru-hikers, heading to Maine. The older ones stopped to talk to us and find out what we were doing. The younger folks were listening to their Ipods and just blasted through. But I made sure they at least knew that real people maintained the Appalachian Trail.
We only met two guys going southbound like us. They were out for the day and wanted to have their picture taken painting a blaze. Here's Cookoo from Elkin, NC.
They were really enjoying themselves.
Like Tom Sawyer and the fence incident, we should have charged them for the privilege. To the right is Nebo from Boonville, NC.
The flowers were at their best - several types of trilliums, violets and many other species.
My favorite is larkspur, shown here.
Lenny will be leading a Carolina Mountain Club hike on May 9 which includes this section of trail, so come on out.
But as I mentioned, we only blazed one-way, so tomorrow, we go out to do the same thing the other way. At least, we'll now know what we need to take.
The fun never ends.
It was a momentous weekend in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove opened up this past weekend and so did I-40. Visitors should have been happy and satisfied. But still there are those that came in with,
"Everything is closed. What can we do around here?"
"Well,", I point out, "there are over 800 miles of trail and you can get to all of them, somehow." But what to do from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, if you've come without any ideas:
- Mountain Farm Museum with its old buildings and animals
- Oconaluftee River Trail. It's flat and well-maintained. Local mothers from Cherokee take their babies in a stroller down this trail.
- Mingus Mill, a working mill with a miller that will explain how it all works.
- Mingo Falls, on Big Cove Road.
Shall I continue? There's plenty of stuff to do, right around OVC. You don't have to go to Cades Cove, even if it is open.
It was raining when I started out for Kephart Prong Trail but I wanted to see it again, since I'm hoping to do a program on the trail.
I handed in a draft proposal to lead a hike to the shelter. It's amazing how much more I saw of the Civilian Conservation Corps remains, now that I'll be guiding people on the trail.
Most people note the stone sign board since it's right on the trail. But what about the water fountain, to the left?
Imagine - these guys had a water fountain that probably worked all the time. Try to find a water fountain now.
Walking further up the trail, on the left, was a large square stone structure which I assume was their water tank. Yes, even back then, they had to treat the water.
If anyone knows what this is, in a more definite manner, I'd appreciate hearing from you. I need to go to the Smokies library to check it out for sure.
I also made a flower list. The newest ones were the showy orchis, shown at the top of this post - only a few of them.
Since it was raining, there were no visitors on the trail when I started out. But as soon as it stopped, people started popping up, like ephemerals. I talked to five people.
President and Michelle Obama took an hour-long hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail north of Asheville. They planned to go from Ox Creek to Craven Gap, a two-mile section east of Asheville but they didn't make it. They turned back after a mile. So much for the first hiking couple.
I don't doubt that the President and the first lady could walk four miles (round trip) but they were probably hot and getting sweaty. Maybe no one thought to bring water and snacks. What I can't understand is why no one thought to put a car at Craven Gap so they could have a shuttle hike. With all the comforts and logistics at their disposal, you think that someone would have thought of that. But no one was a hiker, I guess.
He was the first sitting President to come to the Blue Ridge Parkway and you can believe that Superintendent Phil Francis was thrilled.
The above is not what they would have seen. It's a picture from Lunch Rocks, about 2.5 miles from the Folk Art Center.
I walked it (and back) to scout it for a hike which I'm leading for Wordfest, a poetry festival, in two weeks. What am I doing with all those poets? I have no idea; I'm not even interested in writing a memoir but they asked me to lead a hike and when people want to hike, I'm there.
We will hike to Lunch Rocks and then stop to write some poetry. OK, they'll write poetry; I might write about the hike and people's reaction to being on the MST. So check out Wordfest!
I just came back from three days at the Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Smokies. The event goes on until Sunday but I managed to keep exhaustively busy for the time I was there.
First, I went on a wildflower walk, led by Lynda Doucette, the supervisory ranger at Oconaluftee. About 15 people walked on the Oconaluftee River Trail that I had checked out on Monday. The walkers came from the Midwest, Georgia and even two women from Taiwan. My daughter-in-law is from Taiwan and I've been there three times so visitors from Taiwan make an impression on me.
We all got our money's worth and then some. We saw mayapples in bloom.
We also learned why trilliums turn pink as they get older. It means that they've been pollinated. It's a sign to the insects to leave them alone.
We barely got to the bridge but it was 5 P.M. before we got to the Farm Museum and I hustled to get to Gatlinburg.
That evening, the entertainment was Joe Wiegand, as Teddy Roosevelt. Wiegand is a TR reprisor, a word he made up, not an impersonator. He spoke as TR for almost an hour and a half. He was great; he didn't hesitate or stumble once. He talked about his life, his children in the White House and conservation efforts. What energy!
The next morning I went on a bird walk, but didn't see much. In the afternoon, I went on a history hike through Elkmont. The leader, Raymond Palmer, emphasized Elkmont's railroad past, while I was more fascinated by the houses. Either way, Elkmont has a long history.
Raymond also talked about the CCC, which made an impact all over the park. He had obviously done some good research on the CCC. Raymond is a Master Ranger, with several medals and patches. Very impressive. More evidence of the military influence on the National Park Service.
Her work has been accepted at the Folk Art Center - and that's a great achievement.
Visitation is definitely picking up. Not just the numbers but where they travel from.
One of my first "customers" was a couple from Saranac Lake, New York in the Adirondacks. They were part of the New England 111 club, that is, they had hiked all the mountains over 4,000 ft. in the North East. I know that some Western North Carolina readers laugh about hiking over 4,000 ft. when they might live at that altitude but in the Northeast, that's quite a challenge. The mountains include the New Hampshire 4,000 footers, the New England 4000-footers, the Catskills 3500 (don't laugh) and the Adirondacks 46. Lenny and I finished everything on that list but about 20 Adirondack mountains before we moved to Asheville.
This couple were backpacking to finish their South Beyond 6000 by climbing Marks Knob, a trailless mountain in the Northeast corner of the Smokies. I congratulated them ahead of time for their great accomplishment, especially coming from such a distance. I also told them about hiking all the trails in the Smokies, the Smokies 900 club. There's always more hiking to do in the East.
Several visitors asked me to suggest "something to do" in the time they had. I don't think we have a publication that suggests:
If you have two hours
If you have a day ....
I made up my own itinerary, based on what they told me they wanted to do.
I met international visitors from Australia, Spain, China and Germany. Lots of Germans - they are great travelers and they want to hike. I wondered if I'd ever have any French visitors, I could actually be helpful. I didn't have to wait long.
A couple of stumpers:
"My husband has a carry permit and he wants to make sure it's legal". A carry what?? My first gun question.
"It's up to the gun owner to know the law in each state. But you can't bring in a gun in a visitor center". That much I knew.
"Why is the flag at half-mast? Another woman asked.
Yesterday was the National Day of Service and Remembrance for Victims and Survivors of Terrorism. It also was the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing. And you, dear reader, thought I just told people where the restrooms were.
After 2 P.M., I headed out to the Oconaluftee River Trail to check out the flowers. A big group of teenagers were hanging around the Mountain Farm, along with several women speaking French. This was my chance. They were a group of high school musicians from the center of France, playing with American high school orchestras. I told them I was a volunteer, though I didn't know the French word for volunteer. If I don't know the French word for something, I just describe it.
The trail was chock full of flowers. Lynda Doucette, who is leading a wildflower program on Wednesday for the Wildflower Pilgrimage, will have no problems keeping the audience busy and entertained.
I also met a fishing group from Healing Waters, a program that helps veterans by taking them fly fishing.
You meet a lot of interesting people on the trail.
So tomorrow, I head back to the Smokies for the Wildflower Pilgrimage.
The good times never stop.
This weekend, I organized a trip to Congaree National Park, outside of Columbia, South Carolina. Our group consisted of 25 Carolina Mountain Club members from North and South Carolina.
It seems that everything at Congaree is a scramble. You can't reserve campsites so several of us went down very early on Friday to grab three sites which would hold eight people each. We were lucky and got sites in the After Hours campground, where the parking area was only maybe a hundred feet away. With the other campground, you have to walk in almost a mile. They were primitive sites, with no water and only two outhouses for potentially 64 people.
Friday, we hiked on the boardwalk and down to the Oakridge Trail. Congaree is a floodplain forest and the signature trees are the bald cypress with its characteristic knees - small, rounded pieces of the tree that is though to stabilize the tree and give air to submerged roots. The hike was flat and we made really good time, almost 2.7 miles an hour, even though we stopped for everything. It was all new to us mountain hikers.
That evening, the group went on an owl prowl with Ranger Fran, a 29-year veteran who was very entertaining. We didn't see owls but learned about the ecosystem as we toured on the boardwalk.
Saturday, some of us went canoeing while others walked on the River Trail loop. The trail took us down to the Congaree River. On this hike, we wildlife was amazing - snakes including the rough green snake, shown to the left, two barred owls and even three feral baby hogs. I have hiked in the Smokies for years without evey seeing a hog and here they ran right in front of my eyes.
The group had a pot luck dinner on Friday evening at the picnic shelter - another facility we couldn't reserve. We heard from Dr. Bob Janiskee, a retired USC professor who worked on turning the Monument into a national park.
By Saturday evening, we were ready to go out. Cooking without running water is not fun.
Congaree is not close to any town. The closest restaurant was off of I-77, about 30 minutes from the park. We wen to Lizard's Thicket, a cheap meat and three vegetable place. For less than seven dollars, we had a good meal.
Sunday, Lenny and I and others finally got to go canoeing on Cedar Creek. The park offers canoes and a guided trip to 18 lucky guests - lucky if they win the telephone scramble two weeks before. The park opens up reservations at 8:30 A.M. and 15 minutes later, the spots are gone. But I was able to grab three - Lenny, me and Sawako, a CMC member who sat in the middle. Sawako took the picture of Cedar Creek, above because by that time, my camera battery had died.
The poison ivy in the park is as lush as the rest of the vegetation. We came home and washed and scrubbed everything. I expect to break out in the next couple of days. A great place, even if you have to scramble for every facility.
If you open the Smokies newspaper, you'll see all kinds of programs for visitors - fllowers, birds, history. If you take a program, you'll casually follow a ranger or volunteer as she/he talks about what you're seeing.
But the program is not put together casually. It's the result of working on themes, objective and goals of what ends up to be an hour's walk.This interpretive program needs to be "place based", i.e. it can't be done anyplace else. It then has to be approved and maybe dry run. This all sounds like a lesson plan that you may have learned in your college education course. The only difference is there's no formal assessment; you're not going to give your visitors a test.
As a (retired) computer science professor at Kean University, I never had to write lesson plans though I certainly took many workshops on how to improve my teaching. Well, I'm going to create a "lesson plan" now if I want to do a program on a trail. Somewhere in the National Park Service, there are educators and interpreters (probably not the right word) who work on these guidelines. I'm sure there are Ph.D. dissertations on Park interpretation.
From the NPS website, interpretation is the process of providing each visitor find an opportunity to personally connect with a place.
After my four-hour stint at the Visitor desk, I roamed Mingus Creek Trail. Fantastic flowers, no visitors - not a one. If you want solitude, go on the Mingus Creek Trail. I'm going to start suggesting that when people ask for a hike.
I then walked to Mingus Mill where I met several visitors who had questions before they got to Dave, the miller. Dave grinds corn as he talks to visitors but the flour he grinds is not sold because it is not FDA-approved. The Great Smoky Mountains Association sells corn from Pigeon Forge, which is pretty local.
Starting with 224.1 miles, 30,700 ft. ascent
NC-80 to Woodlawn Park on US 221
12.7 miles, 2,300 ft. ascent
I've had pain in my right hand for several days, now. You'd call it repetitive stress or carpal tunnel symdrome, probably from pounding my hiking stick for hours on Wednesday. I rested my hand a little but yesterday, I went on a strenuous 12.7 mile hike over Woods Mountain, which started the pain all over again.
It was a Carolina Mountain Club hike which attracted 12 strong hardy hikers. The hike was a tough uphill to Woods Mountain. On the ridge, we had views on both sides: Hawksbill and Table Mountain on the left and the Black Mountain range on the right. But most of the time, we were looking at our feet and huffing and puffing.
We walked in a green tunnel of rhododendrons and mountain laurels with a few yellow and purple violets and star chickweed popping up. The area was dry and didn't attract the variety of flowers we had seen in the Balsams.
This section is past the CMC section and it was not as well maintained. Lots of blowdowns that we had to go through or around. At lunch, we took a half-mile side trip to a firetower site - the tower having been long removed.
Then after six miles, the trail went down, sometimes gently and sometimes steeply. The trail widened into a road and we finally crossed a stream at a campsite, where we saw other people for the first time. At the end near Woodlawn Park, there was a fitness station, as if we didn't get enough exercise.
Cumulative after Day 19 236.8 miles, 33,000 ft. ascent
Starting with 206.4 miles, 27,250 ft. ascent
Balsam Gap Maintenance Yard to Old Bald
11.1 miles, 3,150 ft. 7:50 hours
Since we stayed in Sylva, Sharon and I were on the trail by 7:50 A.M. Balsam Gap is very close to US 74. We are not going to start as early again for a long time.
We are now in Carolina Mountain Club territory, my hiking club. The club maintains over 140 miles of the MST, starting from Scotts Creek Overlook to Black Mountain campground. But it has been a hard winter and this area is quite far from Asheville. So it needs a lot of maintenance.
I started to write down where the blowdowns were but couldn’t keep up with them. Also, blazes were missing in several critical area. Blazes were hit and miss until we climbed over Pinnacle Tunnel, a steep section. Then the blazes were gone completely.
But I should not be so critical. I know that this is the best maintained area that we will walk through in the mountains. CMC takes its maintenance responsibilities very seriously.
Spring flowers were blooming in full force. We got excited about the first yellow violet, then we saw:
Purple violet, bloodroot (shown above), cut-leaf toothworth, toothworth, hepatica, spring beauties, squirrel corn (to the left), trailing arbutus and trout lilies.
Trillium and mayapples were up but not blooming yet. Go out there in a week or so, and the flower show is bound to continue.
The trail paralleled the Blue Ridge Parkway and US 74 for quite a while. We may have seen Harrah's Casino in the distance. We were going slowly, mostly because we stopped for flowers. I have many pictures of the same flowers.
We kept wondering how far we've gotten. I didn't take my GPS because I figured it's all been documented so well but a GPS would have told us how much we've done. Also, it would have been a third data point between Walt Weber's and Scot Ward's book. We were also slowed by the blowdowns. They were all easily negotiated but it took time.
At about 11:30, we stopped for a break and Sharon discovered that she had lost her camera, probably as she was going around or over a blowdown. When she saw that her camera was missing, she dropped her pack and sticks and went back to try to find it. I didn't get the chance to ask her how long or how far she was going to walk but I did at least have the presence of mind to note the time she left.
After 30 minutes, I started to blow my whistle in bursts of two, not three - that's reserved for emergencies. I didn't want to leave her pack on the trail; an animal could take it and drag it out of sight. I went to look for her. I couldn't carry her pack so I took out her wallet, keys, glasses and cell phone and started walking back. After 10 minutes, I saw her coming back, hot and out of breath. Of course, she didn't take water. Another lesson.
1. Never get separated from your pack. Your pack is you, and you are your pack, especially for women who don't have their keys and wallets in their pockets.
2. Always decide how long you're going to walk and when you'll return. Tell your hiking companions and stick to the time.
We spent a lot of time discussing this incident. No real problem today because it was a warm, dry day and we had plenty of daylight. But it was a worry. She never did find her camera.
At Grassy Ridge Mine Overlook, we found two cyclists and we exchanged picture-taking favors.
The mileage seemed too short for what we did but we decided to stick with Scot Ward's mileage.
Even with our slow walking and picture taking, we got to Old Bald by 4 P.M.
We had dinner at Soul Infusion in Sylva, a casual tea, beer and great food place. I had a Cobb salad and Sharon had a trout wrap and we shared a pot of herbal tea. The restaurant is only open Tuesday through Friday but it's doing well. We stopped at City Lights bookstore. The bookstore is open until 9 P.M., a big plus when you want to wander a town. I wanted to see if they needed more of my hiking books but the woman there couldn't make the decision.
Make Sylva a trail town. It's about eight miles from Balsam Gap - quite close to the MST. There won't be a town this close until Asheville - and we've already done this part.
The next day, we walked from
Scotts Creek Overlook to the Maintenance Yard
6.5 miles, 300 ft. ascent, 2:50 hrs.
It looked gray and the forecast was of rain, some of it hard. But we had a small section, 5.5 miles from Scot's book, 6.5 from Walt's. I should have brought my GPS. We went with Walt's distance, not because it's longer but it made more sense, based on how long it took us to walk it.
We started at Scotts Overlook where the CMC section starts on the Blue Ridge Parkway. CMC will eventually be responsible from Plott Balsam OV. A couple of miles are built from Soco Gap but the real start is here.
It's a new fresh section. The blazes are perfect, the trail is like a boulevard. It's not easy to turn rocks, roots and trees into a trail. So new that we removed flagging tape as we walk.
The bridge over Woodfin Creek was very impressive. We didn't take the blue blazed trail down to the Parkway to see Woodfin Cascade. We'll catch it on the road.
We reached Greenspire Dr., a gravel road and then we rolled down the road. But the gray finally changed to hard rain. We put on rain jackets and rain pack cover but I was very cold. Finally when we're good and wet, we stopped for rain pants, thermal and warm hat. I couldn't find my warm gloves. Nothing to do but hurry down. Obviously we're not going to do another piece of trail today - we're soaked.
We comment on the houses perched on the mountain overlooking the Parkway. Why would anyone want to live up there? How many of these houses are now in foreclosure? What do they do up there?
The trail drops down to Orchards Overlook, crosses the Parkway. We walked on the side of the Parkway for a while. It's official MST. I understand that the CMC crew member are having trouble planning around Waterrock Knob. It's high and very rocky. I bet that in a couple of years they'll decide that putting a small section on the grassy side of the Parkway is probably a good idea.
Then the trail plunged into the woods - that's a surprise. We thought it would just parallel the parkway until we cross the overpass over US 74 because we saw the blazes on the bridge. But no, the trail works itself below the Parkway. This is not a wasted trip; we find more bloodroot there.
Sharon, who to be fair, doesn't have a camera just whizzes by but I quote her Samuel Johnson who said When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.
"When a hiker is tired of flowers, she's tired of hiking - and I'm not tired." So I stop and take more pictures of bloodroot. They're no better than any of the others. They're just today's flower, along with yellow and purple violets.
Cumulative after Day 18 224.1 miles, 30,700 ft. ascent
Starting with 196.6 miles, 25,850 ft. ascent
Plott Balsam Overlook to Scott Creek Overlook
9.8 miles, 1,400 ft. ascent, 4:40 hours
Back to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the mountains. You may remember that Sharon and I finished at Plott Balsam Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway in early December. Then the Parkway closed for the horrible winter. But now it's open from the Smokies north for many miles.
I was supposed to meet Sharon at 10 A.M. at Scott Creek Overlook (Milepost 448.4) to shuttle north on the Parkway to Plott Balsam Overlook but I got there an hour early. So I went to find Old Bald where we will need to put our car tonight. Old Bald is not an overlook but just a feature on a blue blazed trail. I checked Walt Weber's MST book which had the side trail at MP 433.9. I drove there and found a mowed trail on the north side and figured that was it. I didn't have time to actually walk it so I just drove back to our meeting point.
Today we walked on the Parkway, wearing our orange vest and North Carolina flag. We walked on the grass or the road - there was little traffic. We passed several impressive rock slides. No wonder the Parkway just opened.
We waved to most cars and motorcycles but we did meet a family from Romania, taking a soccer break on the median close to Waterrock Knob. The mother is teaching in South Carolina and this was their fourth trip to the Parkway.
As we looked out, we saw the damage that was being done to the mountains in view. A maze of dirt roads had been cut in the mountains, in the hope of developing the area for mountain houses. The picture at the beginning of this post shows it best. I wonder how many occupied houses there will be or whether all that will be left are road scars.
We arrived at Waterrock Knob for lunch and found some shade opposite the entrance to the side road. At this point, we were way over 5,000 ft. with lots of dark spruce trees. Then the road went down, down down to Scott Creek Overlook.
We drove back to pick up my car and then investigated where to park in the Balsam Gap maintenance yard. A helpful worker suggested that we park where employees park. Heck, I'm not ready to do that at Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the Smokies where I volunteer every week.
We drove north on the Parkway to find the MST at Old Bald. By now, we had both taken off our boots - I had sneakers and Sharon wore flip-flops. Well, we thought we were finished walking.
I showed her the roadbed that I discovered this morning. We bushwhacked up through the briars and weeds and saw plenty of evidence of garbage which was a good sign in this case; it meant that people had been there. But still no MST.
When we looked at Walt's book again, we realized that we (or shall I say "I") had interchanged the BRP and MST lines. The dark line is the MST, the important trail; the BRP is the dashed line. So we were looking on the wrong side of the road. But the road bed was here at MP 433.9.
We went down to 434.1 and found it on the correct side, complete with a blue blaze. Once we saw it, it was obvious. We walked about 0.1 mile to find the MST. But how to find it again, tomorrow, as we hike from the opposite direction? I wrapped an orange bandana on a post, just before the turn to the blue blazed trail.
I was dry and exhausted. We drove down to Sylva and checked in at the Sylva Inn, an old Comfort Inn.
Three things we learned
1. Get flagging tape, so we wouldn't to sacrifice a bandana as a trail marker.
2. Take the mileage in Walt Weber book with a grain of salt. I've written two hiking books and I've had mistakes pointed out to me.
3. Learn the difference between the BRP and MST in Walt's book.
Cumulative after Day 16 206.4, 27,250 ft. ascent
Some people mistake me for a park ranger. I only wish.
I am a park volunteer, one of over 4,000 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So how can you tell a park volunteer from a ranger from a Great Smoky Mountains Association staff member? Look at the uniform.
Chuck on the left is a volunteer, just like me. He has a tan National Park Service-issued shirt with brown pants. His patch on his left sleeve says "volunteer".
Dan, in the middle, is a park ranger. He wears the green pants with the gray shirt. His patch is an arrowhead with a bison.
Ila works for the Great Smoky Mountains Association, the non-profit that runs the bookstores in the park. She has a beige shirt with the GSMA logo and tan pants.
Lots of visitors today from the moment I came in to the moment I left. I picked up my short-sleeve shirt and patch, which I had sewn on later.
Lynda, the supervisory ranger at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, was back after two weeks away. A fifteen minute chat with her on park issues is worth all the time behind the desk telling visitors where the bathrooms are.
But there were some more interesting questions.
One woman came in very flustered. She had driven from Gatlinburg and didn't like mountain driving. "I'm from Michigan," she said "and I want it flat." She was not happy when I told her that the only way to get back was back over Newfound Gap.
"Well, no", I said. "Technically you can drive to Asheville and around the mountain but it will take you over three hours." I showed her the map. She said that she didn't care; that's the way she was going to do it.
A well-dressed woman walked in with two school age girls, holding Junior Ranger booklets. She told me that her daughters didn't have time to do all those activities in the park. "Could they do them online?"
Now the purpose of the Junior Ranger program is to get children to learn about their parks on the ground. Some of the activities include going on a ranger-led walk, picking up trash, noticing animals and flowers... I told her that these activities were meant to get children outdoors. I hope she found time to let her daughters get their badges properly.
After 2 P.M., I roamed Kephart Prong Trail. Trillium were in bloom - see above - as well as hepatica, spring beauties and purple violets.
I had 28 visitor contacts. I mostly told them about the Civilian Conservation Corps and the conscientious objector camps that were located at the start of Kephart Prong trail. I walked up to Kephart Shelter and back down.
It was a beautiful afternoon and the river was really flowing.
I was hot in my uniform. But the purpose of roaming is to talk to as many people as possible.
On the way down, I met Tobias Miller, Smokies Trails Supervisor. His uniform is a T-shirt. Why not ours?