Baskins Creek Trail
New Trail Miles: 2.7
Total Trail miles: 5.4
Date Hiked: August 25, 2013
Today was Hike #1 of my goal to get in at least 20 days of hiking before moving to Atlanta. I chose the Baskins Creek Trail because of the shorter length. I haven’t done much hiking or any exercise for that matter and really just wanted something a little easier. Plus there was the added bonus of their being a waterfall in the middle of the hike. And who wouldn’t want to see a waterfall?
The trail basically starts at the beginning of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail which is a one way road that goes through the forest. The trail ends at about half way through the one way road. To get to the Baskins Creek Trail I parked on the left side of the road right where the one way road starts and walked 2/10 of a mile to where the trail starts. There is a spot for one maybe two cars at the trail head but if there is not then you are forced to drive the one way road.
I didn’t get started hiking until about 11:15. Luckily for an August day it wasn’t too hot already. I have to say that there is nothing spectacular about this trail. And by spectacular I mean mountain top views with grand vistas. Any trail in the Smokies is always amazing to me. I was hoping that I might see a few summer wildflowers but I must have picked the wrong trail for that.
About midway through the hike there is a side trail that takes you to Baskins Creek Falls. It’s a pretty easy side trail until you get close to the falls and then it gets rockier and steeper and I have no doubt really slippery if it’s been raining out. If you go to the falls make sure that you cross to the other side so that you can see the whole thing. I am glad there was someone there to tell me that or I would have missed it.
After a short break and a snack I headed back to finish the trail. At the end of the trail there is a cemetery. You can’t wander through this one like you can other cemteries. There is a sign that says it is closed for restoration. But I think the signs have been up there for a while. I took another short break at the end of the trail and a couple came up and started talking to me. I told them about the waterfall and they were really excited. They didn’t know there was a waterfall on the trail. They in turn gave me some trail magic in the form of a cold tea.
I knew I had to make the 2.7 mile trip back to the car. It really stink sometimes hiking by yourself. You have to do a lot of in and out hikes. It didn’t take long for me to catch up to the couple that gave me the tea and we hiked together the rest of the way to the falls. It was really nice having conversation on the trail. We parted ways and I continued my uphill journey back to my car.
On the way back I decided to do something that I don’t do very often. I pulled off the side of the trail and sat on a rock in the middle of the creek. I took my boots off and let me feet soak in the water. I need to remember to do this more often. I’m a pretty slow hiker so I get fixated on getting to my destination.
If you are only wanting to hike to the falls and don’t care about hiking the entire trail I would suggest driving to the trailhead that is about 1/2 way though the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It is easier doing this way and there is more parking.
Camel Gap Trail, Appalachian Trail, Low Gap 1 Trail, Big Creek Trail
Date Hiked: May 4,2013
Day 2: I wake up to a very cold, damp and windy day. Luckily it didn’t rain much in the middle of the night so I didn’t have to the dreaded task of packing up everything wet. While packing I decided to go ahead and fix me some breakfast. I don’t generally cook breakfast but decided on grits with some Velveeta added and some precooked bacon strips. It was the first time I tried the precooked bacon and will definitely bring it on the trail again. I managed to get everything packed up and hit the the trail.
The first trail of the day was the Camel Gap Trail up to the Appalachian Trail. I loved this trail. It is a nice well graded trail that runs along the side of a creek for most of the way. The Camel Gap Trail is 4.7 miles long and only gains about 1600 feet in elevation. The sun never managed to come out and the wind started blowing like crazy. Even though I wasn’t hiking that steep I was hiking against the wind sometimes and that is hard. And then it started raining. Not very hard but just enough of a rain to make one miserable. I actually got cold while hiking and had to put my long johns on and my jacket. I tried to find my hat but couldn’t find it anywhere. This got me started worrying. I knew that tomorrows hike was going to be about 10 miles of ridge walking and the forecast was 70% chance rain. I knew I had a decision to make.
I had to decide if I was going to continue my hike as planned or was I going to abort and head back home. I would decide when I got up to the Appalachian Trail. The decision was quickly made when I made it to the AT. It was even colder and more windy there. I didn’t even take a break to have a snack. I made my decision rather quickly and instead of turning left on the AT to go to Tri Corner Knob Shelter I turned right and headed north.
After a few miles I made it to the Cosby Knob Shelter and ended up taking a break there. I knew I had a long way to my car and wanted to make sure that I fueled up. One of the backcountry rangers showed up at the shelter and checked everyone’s permits. Another hiker asked him if he knew the weather forecast for the next couple of days. Tomorrow had been bumped up to 100% chance of rain AND they were expecting 2- 4 inches in the next 24-36 hours. I realized then that I made the right decision.
I headed on my way continuing north on the AT until I got to Low Gap I trail (there are 2 Low Gap Trails) where I would downhill for 2.5 miles. Low Gap 1 is just about as miserable as Low Gap 2. Steep downhill with lots of rocks and roots. I didn’t think I was ever going to make it to the bottom but finally made it to the Big Creek Trail intersection where I would hike 5 miles back to my car.
Double check to make sure you have all your gear. (I don’t know if having my hat would have made a difference but it might have)
After my trip to Ramsey Cascades earlier in the week I was excited to see more wildflowers. And I couldn’t wait. I was afraid that if I waited they would all be gone by the time I got there. I mean it was late April and I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. I hadn’t ever heard of the White Oak Sink area but the people on the Smoky Mountain Wildflower Facebook page were talking about the area. I did a little Google research and realized that this was a place that I for sure wanted to visit. Not only were there going to be wildflowers but there were also caves and a waterfall. Wildlife South has some great info on this area and even a map of the sink area that you can print out.
I recruited my friend Jim to go with me on this trip. It’s almost always more fun to go with someone else especially if you are going to be taking a lot of pictures. So we met up at the Bass Pro Shop so we only had to drive one car. Our first stop was the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg. If you have never been you must go. They have the nicest fluffiest pancakes and you always get your order really fast.
With bellies full we went on our merry way into the park. I was enjoying the ride along Little River Road. Usually I am the one driving so it was nice to just get to look around and enjoy the beauty of the Smokies. We finally made it to the Schoolhouse Gap Trail parking area. OMG, the parking area was filled plus people were parked on the side of the road. I knew this must be a special place. We had to drive up the road a bit and turn around. Finally we got parked and situated and headed up the Schoolhouse Gap Trail.
To get to the White Oak Sink area you have to hike just a little bit over a mile on the Schoolhouse Gap Trail. This is a fairly easy trail. It’s on old road so it’s wide and well graded. After reaching the intersection of the Turkeypen Ridge Trail go about 50 yards and there will be trail to your left. There is no name for this trail but there is a “no horse” sign. This is the trail that will take you into a whole new world.
It’s only about .8 miles down into the sink area. It’s mostly pretty easy but there is a steepish downhill section which means that on the way out there is a steepish uphill section. Thankfully it’s short. There is so much to explore in this area. Unfortunately I had to be back in Knoxville to go to work so our time was cut a little short. There are 4 caves. No you can’t go into them. One even has a waterfall that falls into the cave. There is also the Blowhole cave. It is blocked off but you can walk up to it and feel the cool air coming out. There is a rocky cliffy area above the cave and this is where I spotted some Columbine.
And of course there are more wildflowers than you can imagine. Although I saw a bunch I am sure I didn’t see near as many that are actually there. And I am thankful again for all the nice people that were out on the trail this day. They were more than happy to share their knowledge. If it hadn’t been for them there would have been several flowers that I wouldn’t have seen such as Wild Ginger.
Date of Hike : Monday, April 22 2013 Miles: 8 miles total Weather: Absolutely beautiful
I was feeling ambitious today. I haven’t really hiked since early last summer and my workouts have been sporadic at best and here I was about to go out on an 8 mile hike. This was an in and out hike, so 4 miles of uphill and then 4 miles downhill back to the car. I picked this trail because I had heard on the Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Facebook Page that the wildflowers were beautiful on this trail and then of course there was a waterfall at the end. What more motivation did I need?
I got started hiking around 9:45 AM. It was quite chilly at first and started out with my rain jacket on. But it didn’t take long before I was taking it off. The trail started off on an old road bed so it was wide and also a nice gradual incline. I have to say that I was kind of disappointed with the wildflower display. I guess I was expecting these millions of bright colored flowers blanketing the sides of mountain and all along the sides of the trail. And that is not what I was seeing. Yes, there were wildflowers, just not what I was expecting.
I finally made it to the 2 big tulip trees. These things were huge. But then I went around a small curve and there was a
really huge one. Of course I had to ask the couple that was there if these were the trees they were talking about in the Little Brown Book. They confirmed that yes these were the trees. We talked for a few minutes and took pictures of each other in front of the tree. I was glad I ran into them. It’s hard to get pictures of yourself when you hike alone.
I sat down to eat a snack and enjoy the beautiful weather. I caught up later with the couple again. And not because I am such a fast hiker but because they were slow and were looking for birds. Wwe started talking and I learned that were in town for theSpring Wildflower Pilgrimage. They come every year for it. They had come up early to some of their own exploring. I was telling them that I was a little disappointed in the wildflower display and she looked at me like I was crazy. We started walking together and she started pointing out a few flowers such as the Yellow Mandarin. I would have never have noticed that flower because of my preconceived notion of what I was expecting.
I thanked her for sharing with me and went on my to the falls. I decided to push myself a little bit and see how fast that I could there. Of course I got slowed down even more when the trail turned really steep and rocky. But I finally made it to the falls. They were amazing and it was so worth the 4 miles of uphill hiking. I think the most amazing thing was that I actually had the falls all to myself for about 5 minutes before other people got there. I enjoyed conversations with several other people before I made way back down to my car.
Lessons from the trail:
~ All wildflowers aren’t brightly colored. Some are white, some are green, some look like weeds, and some look like fungus.
~ Talking with people on the trail restores my faith in humanity. People are generally nice and want to share their knowledge with you.
~ I can hike 8 miles even being out of shape.
Day One – May 31 James River to Punchbowl Shelter – 10.5 miles
I call this the day from hell. We got started hiking at around 11:30, right in the heat of the day. First, I did not have a proper breakfast. Second, it was just really hot. Third, we started with a huge 3000 foot elevation gain. And fourth, I had 6 days of food which made my pack freaking heavy. I mean heavy. I bet it was close to 35 pounds. Maybe a little heavier since I needed to carry a little extra water. Anyways we set off. We took a short break at the Johns Hollow Shelter. I was already super hot which meant I did not eat enough. As the day went on I felt sicker and sicker. I was feeling extremely nauseous which isn’t a good thing. I was really hating Virginia at this point even if it was beautiful hiking. We managed to finally make it to the top of Bluff Mountain. The views were awesome. And this meant it was all downhill until the shelter. Yea for me. We finally made it to the shelter and got the tarp set up. I managed to find enough energy to make us dinner which I ate all of 5 bites of. We stayed dry and survived the thunderstorm complete with lightening that night.
Day 2 – June 1 Punchbowl Shelter to Brown Mountain Creek Shelter – 9.5 miles
Terrain wise this was the easiest day of the trip. There wasn’t a lot of elevation change so it was nice hiking. Well until the rain came. For those that don’t know, I am really blessed when it comes to hiking in the rain. If it rains when I am hiking it is usually just a light misting. Nothing that makes me look like a drowned rat. And 1 out of the 2 times that it has poured down it was my last day of the trip so I don’t have to deal with the wet nastiness. Well that changed today. About 30 minutes before I got to the shelter where we were going to take a lunch break the skies opened up. Yep, I looked like a drowned rat. Needless to say we decided to stay at that shelter for the day. We ended up sleeping in the shelter so we wouldn’t have to set up the tarp.
Day Three – June 2 Brown Mountain Creek Shelter to Seeley-Woodworth Shelter – 15.8 miles
I knew today was going to be a challenging day. First thing I had to put on cold soaking wet clothes. Let me tell you, nothing feels better than that. Second, the day was starting out with a 4.5 mile climb. And third, just the high mileage of the days hike. I am still new to hiking over 10 – 11 miles per day. But once the climb was over the terrain was generally easier. Todays highlight was going over Cold Mountain. It was a long day but we finally made it to the shelter. Ended up staying in this shelter as well. I was too exhausted to deal with setting anything up.
Day Four – June 3 Seeley Woodworth Shelter – Harpers Creek Shelter – 14.2 miles
Today is another longish day but at least the weather was nice. Today’s highlights are Spy Rock and the Priest. Spy Rock was beautiful. I definitely had to get out of my comfort zone since to get up to the top you have to do some bouldering but it was worth it.
The next climb would be The Priest. This climb didn’t bother me one bit. I was feeling strong. It was the down that was brutal. 3ooo feet in about 4 miles. It was steep and the first half was so rocky. Sometimes the down hills are worse than the uphills and this was definitely no exception. We finally made it to the bottom to the Tye River. Just one more climb and a couple of miles to the shelter.
Harpers Creek Shelter was an awesome shelter. Great tent sites. Nice shelter. Creek in front of the shelter. The first thing I did was soak my feet. After that brutal downhill it felt so good. We thought we would have the shelter to ourselves but “Brown Banana” from Switzterland came in pretty late. He had just hiked 3o miles into the shelter. At least he was cool.
Day Five – June 4 Harpers Creek Shelter – Campsite – 14.7 miles
Today started with a 3 mile climb. At least it was in the beginning of the day. Today was pretty uneventful. I was tired and definitely getting cranky. I had planned my food poorly and all I had thought about for a couple of days was wanting to eat macaroni and cheese. We made it to the Dripping Rock parking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway and took a short break. Only 2 miles to go to the campsite. While we were there another hiker was dropped off by a car. I was secretly hoping that it was trail magic. The hiker was “Talks Alot”. She decided that to camp with us on top of the mountain. The only downside was having to carry water to the campsite. I filtered water for Mr Breeze and sent him on the way to find a campsite. Then I loaded up myself with water and started trudging up the hill. “Talks Alot” caught up with me and we hiked together for a bit. It was nice to hike with someone and have a conversation. But then she went ahead. It had started raining a little bit and she wanted to get set up. At one point I looked up and there was Mr Breeze. He had come down the trail looking for me to make sure that I was OK and walked the rest of the way with me.
This was the best night on the trail. We had wonderful views and a beautiful sunset. Mr Breeze had built a great fire as usual. The rain had stopped. There was great conversation. A deer walked around our campsite. And I only had 12.5 more miles into town the next day to get some macaroni and cheese 🙂
Day Six – June 5 Campsite to Rockfish Gap – 12.5 miles
Today was the last day on the trail. And I didn’t take any pictures. I was excited to be getting some real food. I am grateful that that the terrain was easy. There were a couple of short climbs but nothing serious. It was a great day. We made it to town by 2:00. And after this second long trip of the year I feel like I can do anything. Well actually I know I can do anything. As long as I stay positive and believe that I can.
I got a later start than planned. I had worked a double on Saturday so was kind of tired. But I drug myself out of bed and got going around 9:30 in the morning. This put me starting my hike at around 11:00. I was planning a pretty high mileage day so was kind of worried about starting this late but figured I could change my plans if need be. I could have opted for an in and out instead of a loop. After the previous high mileage day that I hadn’t planned on doing I was a little more prepared for this one. I ended up carrying about 25 pounds. I carried my sleeping bag and tent along with some other essentials.
So I made my way to Cosby Campground and hit the trail. You really have to watch where you going at first because there are a bunch of nature trails and side trails to the creek. I had to go .4 miles on Low Gap Trail before I would get to Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail. This trail is 7.5 miles long before it reaches the Appalachian Trail. I have to say that this is a really awesome trail. It was beautiful with plenty of water along the entire trail and the grade wasn’t too steep. And there was a really pretty waterfall. It wasn’t in the guidebook so it was a nice surprise.
At just over 3 miles there is a designated campsite (#35). It looked like an OK place to camp with plenty of trees for hammocking. I took a short break there and had a snack and then I looked up the hill and saw a dog. It took me a minute to realize that there shouldn’t be any dogs. They are not allowed in the park. It looked like one those sled pulling dogs. I saw a collar on it. Then I briefly saw a small little white dog but it turned and went away. I don’t know where they came from or where they went but I never saw any other human on this trail. They didn’t look hungry and I didn’t feel threatened. But I was ready with my poles just in case.
Surprisingly, before I knew it I had reached the trail junction at the Appalachian Trail. It had only taken me just under 3 hours to hike 7.9 miles. Of course this was the easier part of the trip. Just a nice gradual uphill with some nice flat walking.
Now was the hard part part. Climbing for the next 2.3 miles with an elevation gain of around 1500 feet. Not terribly strenuous but hard enough especially after already hiking for almost 8 miles. I would be headed south on the AT until I reached Low Gap. The next couple of miles of trail aren’t like normal trail. There are a lot of log steps to climb. For some people this is good and some bad. I like the stairs. This part of the AT I did a couple of weeks prior so it was kind of boring. I really tried to push myself to see how fast I could get to the top. It took me 1 hour and 25 minutes to get to the top.
It was about 6:00 when I finally made it to the trail intersection of Low Gap which would take me back to the car. I still had 2.9 miles to go. At least I wouldn’t be walking in the dark. But the trail was a steep downhill. Downhills are sometimes so really hard. I don’t have to stop and catch my breath like on the uphills but they can be quite jarring to the body. It was a beautiful trail even if it was rocky. I was just glad to finally make it to my car.
This post is just a quick recap of my journey. I will posting more details and photos in the next week or so.
March 22 – Hiker Hostel
The Hiker Hostel is run by Josh and Leigh Saint. The provide bunk space and shuttles to the trail. And a wonderful breakfast to help you get started.
March 23 – Springer to Hawk Mountain Shelter – 8.1 miles
5 of us from the Hiker Hostel started at the Springer Mountain parking lot. SilverGirl, Long Stride, Old Tyme Ed, Mr Breeze, and myself known as shoe. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone when starting this hike. It was a rainy wet day. Normally I would delay my hike until the weather was nice and sunny but not this trip. Go me. Mr Breeze caught up with me at the first shelter where I was talking to some other hikers and we hiked together for the rest of the day. Old Tyme Ed caught up with us and we all camped at the Hawk Mountain shelter.
March 24 – Hawk Mountain – Gooch Gap – 9.2 miles
Day 2 is always a tough day for me especially in this section. It seems all you do is climb up and then climb down and then back up and back down. I started a little before Ed and Breeze because I knew what was coming ahead. I actually did pretty good. My goal was Gooch Gap for the day because I was expecting Kellye there with cold drinks. (she wasn’t able to make it.). A long hot day.
March 25 – Gooch Gap – Lance Creek – 7 miles
Kellye showed up in the morning with a Diet Dr Pepper for me. Yea Kellye. And brought some donuts as well. I was kind of feeling it again today. I was hot and dirty. We made the 3.5ish miles to Woody Gap where my awesome hiking group the Traildames were doing a hiker feed. Hot dogs, chips, drinks, treats. It was great. I tried getting Kellye to run me down to the hostel where I could take a shower and wash clothes but she refused. So what else is there to do but to keep walking. We made it to Lance Creek camping area and my fire minions made me a fire and we had a great night. Me, Ed, Breeze, Darwin, Mark and Herman were at the site.
March 26 – Lance Creek – Bull Gap – 8.6 miles
Today was Blood Mountain Day. Ed and Breeze were way ahead of me for most of the day so I hiked with Darwin and Mark for most of the day. It was a hot and brutal day. The climb up Blood Mountain wasn’t too bad and the views were awesome. But the climb down was brutal. It was soooo hot and there was no shade. And we all fried like little lobsters. Finally made it to Neel Gap. I was happy to see that Breeze had waited for me. I can’t believe he waited for 2 hours. We did laundry and took showers and resupplied. And I ate a $7 Tony’s pizza. But we still had 1.2 miles to go for the day to Bull Gap. And it was all up. Needless to say my shower didn’t last too long. Darwin and Mark ended up staying the night at Mountain Crossings.
March 27 – Bull Gap to Low Gap Shelter area – 10.3 miles
The first part of today’s hike is the only section that I have done only once and I was not looking forward to it. It turned out to be quite beautiful. Nice ridge walking with some great views. And of course Cowrock Mountain. We had a little bit of trail magic at Tesnatee Gap with some soda and chips. And chairs. 🙂 It was nice to sit in a chair for a few minutes before we had to climb Wildcat Mountain. Of course Ed and Breeze passed me so I hiked most of the second of the day by myself which was OK. I knew I would see them again. And of course my fire minions didn’t let me down and we had a nice fire. I actually even got some firewood today.
March 28 – Low Gap – Cheese Factory camping area – 13.4 miles
Today was the longest day of the trip. The day started out really easy. The first half went by pretty fast as the terrain was pretty mild and then I don’t know if I got tired or what but it just started going slow. The climb up Blue Mountain usually isn’t bad but it seemed to take me forever. Caught up with Ed and Breeze here and took a boots off break and had some lunch. Then we headed down the never ending downhill into Unicoi Gap. The plan was to sleep on top of Rocky Mountain which honestly is just a bitch of a climb. The kicker…we would have to carry all the water we need for the night and the first few miles of tomorrow. Well we got to the top and it was full so we had to hike about another 3 miles to the Cheese Factory site. Yes, there used to be an award winning cheese factory here. S0 13.4 miles is my longest day ever in the state of Georgia.
March 29 – Cheese Factory – Deep Gap Shelter – 9.4 miles
Day 7 – otherwise known as the day of exhaustion. I am sure the the previous days mileage didn’t help today. We had a nice camp at the cheese factory site and camped with Blue Dragonfly and poco a poco (little by little). We started out hiking together trudging up to the top of Tray Mountan where we loaded up with water. It didn’t take long before Ed and Breeze were way far ahead of me. I hiked most of the day again by myself. I finally made it to Addis Gap where Kelly Knob was awaiting me. No one was waiting for me at Addis Gap 🙁 So I took a break before starting the climb. Kelly Knob is no joke. 975 feet in 1 mile with no switchbacks and no level sections and lots of false tops. And it was so hot with no shade and I ran out of water. I was so grateful to finally make it to the top. The rest of the day was all downhill to the shelter. And guess who was waiting for me at the shelter 🙂 I figured they had kept on hiking. I was so exhausted that I didn’t even set up my tent and slept in the shelter.
March 30 – Deep Gap Shelter – Hiawassee (Fooooood) – 3.6 miles
It was a quick few miles today. I think we all had showers and food on the mind. I know I had cheese dip on my mind. Ed opted to stay at the Blueberry Patch Hostel while me and Breeze opted for more luxurious accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express. After showering and doing laundry we went to the hostel and picked up Ed, Matt (split personality), and Joel (I think his name was) and we went to Daniel’s Steakhouse and all you can eat buffet. I opted to get a steak and baked potato instead of the buffet. Since it was getting close to hiker midnight (9pm) we all headed to sleep with full bellies
March 31 – Dicks Creek Gap – Plumorchard Gap Shelter – 4.5 miles
Today was the day to meet up with my peeps the Traildames. Kristen, Monica, Shemeah,Leslie, Nancy, and April. I started out the day before the others. I felt like I needed a little time to myself to process everything. My trip was coming to an end and I was so close to attaining my goal. It was kind of emotional. I did really good on this section. It only took me a little over 2 hours to get to the shelter area. Normally it takes me close to 3.5 hours. I had hoped I had talked Ed and Breeze into finishing the GA section with me but was afraid they would keep hiking on. They would never get to the end if they only hiked 4.5 miles a day. But when I got to the shelter they were there. They are awesome. Of course catching up with the dames meant taking goofy pictures with Monica (now known as shuddah bug)
April 1 – Plumorchard – Muskrat Creek Shelter – 7.3 miles
Today was the day. The day that I would cross the state line. The day my goal would be complete. I gave explicit instruction to Breeze and Ed to wait for me at the state line. They were not to cross the line until I got there. Well at least one of my minions knows how to follow directions. And he had to only wait for 45 minutes. Me and Leslie finally made it around noon. Nancy and April were at Bly Gap taking a break. I did it !!!
April 2 – Muskrat Creek – Deep Gap, NC and then home – 4 miles
I started the day out walking by myself. It was kind of a bittersweet day. I would be leaving my friends that I met on the trail. But at the same time I had just accomplished an awesome goal of mine. The trail was beautiful today. There was kind of a misty fog all over which kind of matched my mood. Mr Breeze caught up with me fairly quickly and we walked the rest of the way to Deep Gap. I had to wait around for the other ladies but that was ok with me.