Yesterday, Friends of the Smokies held its monthly hike in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We went to Cataloochee and walked the Big Fork Ridge – Caldwell Fork Trail — Rough Fork Trail, one of my favorite hikes.
When Keith of FOTS and I scouted the hike a couple of weeks ago, the railing on a bridge on Caldwell Fork Trail was missing. The river was wide and there was no way we were going to rock hop across this river. So I went through the water and Keith crawled across the bridge. We got across but I could not expect FOTS hikers to do either. What to do?
Reluctantly, I decided that the prudent plan was to go up to Caldwell Fork Trail up to the graves, come down and go up Rough Fork Trail to the Woody House and back down. I also sent an email and a picture to the trail maintenance folks in the Smokies with a plea to fix the bridge.
We had over 20 people yesterday, the biggest group on a Classic Hikes of the Smokies series. I told them of our plans and they seemed satisfied – such a helpful, cooperative group. Then Lenny, my husband, said “I’ll take the group back down and over. Why don’t you take anyone who wants to cross the river on the loop?”
A great offer but I was skeptical that I was going to get too many customers. Still when I made the offer – Go with Lenny for dry feet or with me for wet feet or a balance exercise – everyone wanted to do the loop. “Don’t feel any group pressure,” I insisted but still they came.
I was worried that hikers were going to balance on the plank because they didn’t want to get their feet wet. The group was fine but I didn’t have the mental stability to watch each one balance and cross.
But when we got to the bridge, it had been fixed. Thank you to the park maintenance crew for such responsiveness.
But the fun wasn’t over.
We were privileged to have Steve Woody, grandson of the owner of the Woody House, on the hike. He talked about his family tree, his grandfather and what he remembered of Cataloochee before his grandfather moved out. A fascinating talk. I’ve heard Steve several times before and I always learn something new.
The next FOTS hike will be on Thursday November 15. We’ll go to Hyatt Ridge. You want to see a secluded place? This is for you. To sign up, call Keith at Friends of the Smokies at 828.452.0720.