The Mt. Cammerer hike with Friends of the Smokies was not easy. It was 11.6 miles and over 3,000 feet of ascent. But still ten Friends came from Old Fort, Asheville, Haywood County and Knoxville to climb to the historic tower.
We started at Davenport Gap on the border of NC and TN on the Appalachian Trail. To be on the A.T. in the Smokies. Could it get better than that? We agreed to go at our own pace, fast or slow, and meet at the first intersection.
Before we started our hike, I set the first question:
Who (or what) was Cammerer?
No one was really impressed with the question. They all walked, talked and caught up with each other. As usual, we had a group of returnees and a couple of new faces.
It was hot and we were all sweaty and we had just done 1.9 miles when we stopped at the intersection with Chestnut Branch.
Arno Cammerer was the head of the National Park Service when Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created in 1934.
We changed sweeps (tail-end Charlies) and the climb really got serious. In another mile, we hit another intersection with Lower Mt. Cammerer.
What is the significance of the Mt. Cammerer tower?
Now the trail really got steep. The group got spread out and we were dripping. The trail offered two views into the mountains and a good excuse to stop. When the first group got to Mt. Cammerer Trail, I suggested that they continue onto the tower. I was concerned about the weather. Only about 8 minutes later, (yes, I timed it), the rest of the group showed up.
“Oh we were so far behind.”
“Only 8 minutes. Let’s keep it in perspective.”
We all had lunch at the tower and I explained quickly that redoing and rehabilitating Mt. Cammerer was the first project that Friends took on.
I had a longer story from Gary Wade, the first president of Friends, but the skies were getting dark.
And oh no, I never got to tell my Mt. Everest story.
“Oh. Is that where we’re going next?” June asked.
We moved on the way down. And sure enough, the skies opened up – rain, thunder and lightning. I figured that metal poles on riverlets on the trail was not a good idea with lightning. Even with a pack cover, everything was getting soaked. including me. I was getting cold. I’ve been hot and I’ve been cold and hot is better.
We got back to the cars at 4:30 pm. That was a record.
“It doesn’t get much more challenging than this,” I pointed out. Now I’ve got a mound of wet stuff to dry out – boots, pack and everything in it.
Next month’s hike to Big Creek will be a dawdle compared to this. And maybe I’ll get to tell my Mt. Everest story. Sign up for the Sept, 20 hike. Call Holly at (828) 452-0720.