The Smokies are always a surprise. No matter how many times I walk a trail, I always experience something new.
Lenny and I walked the Bradley Fork Trail to Chasteen Creek up to campsite #48. Scouting hikes for me is like putting money in the bank. I never know when I’m going to use the hike.
We got to the trailhead by 9:15 and it was cold. Smokemont campground was full of campers huddled around their campfire. Hey, campers, Bradley Fork is one of the easiest trails in the park. Get out there and you’ll get warm.
Part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
Once on Chasteen Creek, we found the waterfall and followed a tiny trail to this viewpoint. Bradley Fork and Chasteen Creek are now part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina. The hiking directions through the Smokies are really hidden in the bowels of the MST website but here they are. On this route, you’ll find gems like the waterfall.
We turned around at campsite #48 and walked down the trail, chatting and not expecting anything unusual.
All of a sudden, a grouse came out of the grass and squeaked several times. She fluttered her wings furiously and walked in a snake-like route, back and forth. Sometimes she was in the grass. Sometimes, she just followed the trail down.
Was she trying to protect her young’uns hidden in the tall grass? Why was she walking the trail instead of shooting into the bushes? Or did she sense a snake or other dangers? Were we the dangers? Eventually, she flew into the trees and disappeared. We had never seen this type of behavior.
I just looked up grouse behavior. Maybe it was a male, protecting its territory.
Back on Bradley Creek
Back on Bradley Creek, hikers were coming up. Some had packs; others just a cell phone in their hand, as if that could protect them from the “wilderness”.
A group of riders came from the Smokemont stables on horseback. They were headed for the waterfall and looked happy. That’s one of 25 excursions at the ATC Biennial Conference in July. Have you registered?