I’ve just been lent a gift, a treasure trove of material from the Smokies 900M club. This is the society of people who’ve hiked all the trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The club was started in 1995 but the founders had the foresight and hindsight to capture the stories of those who finished the trails before the club was started.
The first two who finished were Margaret Stevenson and Elgin Kintner; they completed the trails in 1976. Of course, their reports consist of 20-year old recollections but exact recollection is not the point. Here’s a bit from Margaret’s report.
Elgin and I hiked the Hazel Creek Trail from Fontana Lake to Welch Ridge Trail to the Appalachian Trail, across Silers Bald to Sams Gap, and down to the Middle Prong at Tremont. Richard Kintner had taken us across Fontana. My husband, William Robert Stevenson, was to meet us at the end of the Tremont Road at 7 p.m. He wasn’t there! So we walked on down to the Smoky Mountain Institute, where he was waiting. The gate had been closed! It was October 15th. 33 miles in all.
Though Margaret didn’t give a year for that hike, we know that she and Elgin hiked all the trails between 1973 and 1976. She was born in 1912. I’ll save you the arithmetic. She did these 33 miles between the ages of 61 and 64.
Another part of her report says:
All of the Lakeshore Trail had not been completed we did all the trails. One time we had Luther [Ed. ??] take us across to Forney Creek. We told Luther we planned to come back to the parking area at Fontana Dam, where Elgin had left his car. We went up the Forney Creek Trail to Jump-Up Ridge to the High Rocks Tower, down the Cove Creek Trail to Hazel Creek to Sugar Fork Trail, up to Pickens Gap, and down Pinnacle Creek with its many crossings, to Eagle Creek to the Lost Cove Campsite, up the Lost Cove Trail to Sassafras Gap on the A.T. and back.
The Sugar Fork Trail is no more and neither is the Pinnacle Creek Trail. But I walked Pinnacle Creek Trail before it was closed; a retelling for another day. Here’s what David’s Web Corner says about that trail.
This was formerly part of the lakeshore trial [trail], but was rerouted due to numerous stream crossings and erosion. The first edition of the book Hiking Trails of the Smokies described this route, but the narrative was removed from subsequent editions after the trail closed in 2002. All I have heard about this trail was that the numerous crossings made for a slow and treacherous hike.
I’m not going to go through almost 400 reports and write them about them all. But soon, I’ll look at what Dr. Elgin P. Kintner said about his hikes.