Monday, April 12, 2010

N. Chickamauga Segment of the Cumberland Trail

Some hikes, just like days, start out a little rough, but with a little sticktoitiveness it all gets better. Che kept at it last Wednesday til she found the right road and we followed like little ducklings. Finally, we arrived at the gate where we parked and started walking down a service road where there was a bit of a search for the turn to head down in to the first gorge.

This hike was nine miles of variety (more if you were with me, Val, Ray, and Bill at the end!). We followed a meandering trail, but soon there were boulders and rock formations, tenacious wildflowers popping with color, and sun-dappled woods. We arrived at a creek with Wayne and Stormy leading the way across; however, Bob called for those that wanted to see a fort to follow him. Of course, I did and a few yards ahead we spied an area built up with small stones underneath a rock ledge- perfect for a campsite.

Not too far beyond the creek, we came to Stevenson Branch Campsite. An idyllic spot by another rocky ledge. There were rocks lined and arranged like chairs beside a gorgeous waterfall above a sweet pool of water. Bob stuck his line in and pulled out a little fish! 

We didn't stop for lunch here, but kept on farther to finally walk thru a boulder filled dry bed to find Chickamauga Creek. We settled down for sustenance and water relaxation before we turned back and followed the boulders back to the trail. It seems fate always hands us a climb after lunch and this day was no exception. Huffing and puffing (okay..that was me) we all made it to the top where we found a waterfall with a cable crossing to take us to the other side of the mountain. In no time, we were on a plateau following an old roadbed, scattered with bits of coal. Several of us caught sight of our first snake of the season- a 4 or 5 foot black snake slithered off the trail as we passed.

When my group joined those waiting at the intersection, we all gave Georgina kudo's for a private accomplishment. Way to go, girl! Che arrived and we headed down to a scenic overlook. With a rickety  ladder to help us down further, we began the home stretch. There were more waterfalls, more plateaus, switchbacks, and a loop down to the creek that my group took where we ended up going back to find our way- a big thanks to Ray for showing us the way out! Montlake Road never looked so good.

All in all, a great hike..diverse, moderate to strenuous, a great group of folks to follow the trail with...what a blessing!