The weather forecast for today was 100% chance of rain in Gatlinburg. That’s not chance; that’s certainty. Still almost forty people came on the April Friends of the Smokies hike. New hikers, returnees, locals and some who live several states away.
Porters Creek in the Greenbrier, Tennessee section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its spring flowers.
Our Friends of the Smokies hike today didn’t disappoint. It was a riotous combo of almost all the spring flowers in the book. And then some.
The Porters Creek hike is a little over seven miles with a gentle uphill grade. If you want to wallow in flowers, you don’t have to go much further than the first mile. Besides the flowers, you’ll find remains of the Ownby settlement including a well-maintained cemetery.
Next, you pass a cantilevered barn and house that became a cabin for the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. After you cross the creek, the climbing starts.
Some hikers found the bridge a little unnerving. You have to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, hold on and keep moving. I always ask the group to limit the number of people on the bridge at one time. Because this is a long bridge, I limited it to three people at one time.
I follow this practice when I lead after the Cave Creek disaster in New Zealand. There, a viewing platform collapsed after several students jumped up and down to check out its stability. For years afterwards, every backcountry bridge in New Zealand had a sign stating the maximum number of people it could hold. Though no one was jumping up and down on our bridge today, limiting the number of hikers on backcountry bridges is probably a good idea.
By the time we started down the trail, the rain had stopped. I was soaked from head to toe, and a little cold. We stopped for a couple of flowers that we might have missed but mostly we moved.
The next FOTS hike, on May 10 , will go to Hyatt Ridge. If you’re wondering where that is, well, you’ll just have to come. Don’t wait too long to sign up.