Yesterday, it was hard to remember that we’re in the middle of November. Several of us were in shorts as we climbed Chimney Tops Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Yes, it was the second Tuesday of the month, so it’s Friends of the Smokies hiking day.
Anna Lee and I had scouted the trail in the spring when the trail was officially opened by Superintendent Cassius Cash. But today it was just twenty-two of us, along with Tobias Miller and Eric Wood, who had managed and worked on the Trails Forever program to refurbish this trail. See their picture below.
Tobias and Eric had pictures to show us the “before” pictures. Wow! The trails were rocky, eroded, and bare. Now, they replaced the hazardous surface with a solid trail that looks natural along with lots of steps. But the trail was still steep. The Trails Forever crew did not cut the mountain down.
We plodded up at our own pace and made it to the top in record time. But the top of the trail is not the top of the rocky chimneys. There’s a reason that the mountain is called “chimney tops”. It’s high and steep, but only two miles of walking.
Some dropped their packs and poles and started scrambling up the rocks. The rocks and roots were wet, much wetter, than when we went in May.
Only a few people actually made it to the top. But that was OK. No matter how far you got, you got great views with some cloud cover.
Tobias and Eric gave us more details of the three-year project, which cost $500,000. They thanked Friends of the Smokies and Trails Forever for their support.
When we started back down, I reminded the group of the movie Everest. All the trouble and fatalities happened on the way down. So be careful of the slippery steps covered with leaves.
Elkmont Historic District
But with all that, it was only about one pm. So most of us went to Elkmont to see the Elkmont Historic District.
The Elkmont houses require a full blog post of its own. But since it was part of the same day, I think that I need to mention it.
We started at the Appalachian Club, walked through DaisyTown and found the Spence Cabin, shown in the picture above. No, it wasn’t lost but I tried to minimize the walking around this time, so we could see many houses before people got impatient.
The Spence Cabin and Appalachian Club have been remodeled by the park. You can now rent it out for weddings and meetings. What a place that would be.
The last Friends of the Smokies hike of 2015 will be on Tuesday December 8 at Deep Creek. Tradition calls for the last hike to be a half-day hike, only about five miles. If you’ve been wanting to try a hike but were reluctant to plunge into an all-day hike, this is the hike for you. After the hike, we’ll visit the Swain County museum and park store.
To sign up, contact Anna Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-452-0720.