What a beautiful November day to hike the Lake Shore Trail loop out of Bryson City in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a Friends of the Smokies group. OK. Most of us know it as the “Road to Nowhere” hike but we try to use the same terminology as the park.
Sixteen hikers went through the tunnel and walked about nine miles through pretty recent history. Most of the hikers had never been to this section of the park and I was thrilled to introduce them to such a historic and relevant place. I gave hikers an outline of the history of the North Shore Road saga. You can write a book and a PhD dissertation of the subject and I’m surprised that I haven’t heard of anyone doing either, yet.
You don’t really see Fontana Lake on this hike but you walk along Forney Creek for a while. This was also our lunch spot. We sat on the bridge talking and exchanging information about previous hikes and future dream trips. Our Friends hikers are a wealth of knowledge on traveling.
I was in front most of the time but I always let faster hikers go ahead of me and ask them to stop at every intersection.
Brent, the AmeriCorps Outreach
Associate, working at Friends of the Smokies, and later, Gracia, took turns being sweep which means they stay in the back with the slower hikers. Thank you for sweeping.
The highlight for me was taking the group to the Woody Cemetery. We saw some evidence of Decoration Days and climbed the short but steep trail to a large cemetery. Only one headstone says “Woody” so we speculated as to why it’s call the “Woody Cemetery”. Maybe a Woody donated the land for the cemetery or maybe a Woody was the first person to be buried here.
The descendants are raising money to identify and place new headstones on the graves of almost forgotten people. Here are headstones waiting to be placed in the right spots.
After the hike, we congregated at Mountain Perks for a well-deserved hot drink. We feel it’s important to support local businesses. Usually I introduce us as a Friends of the Smokies group. Unfortunately the young man making the drinks wasn’t really interested in socializing. Holly Demuth came to meet the hikers and we enjoyed our drink.
December 17 Hike
Our next hike will be on Tuesday December 17. We’ll walk the Old Sugarland Trail (Yes, in Tennessee) and pass through a CCC camp on our way to a cemetery. Then we’ll shop local at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
To sign up, please contact Friends’ Waynesville, NC office at (828) 452-0720 or email Brent at firstname.lastname@example.org