This trip was a combined vacation / ASEE SE Executive meeting and took place from Oct 10 -> Oct 16, 2018.
Oct 10 - Drove from Memphis to Pell City, AL (Holidy Inn Express, 240 Vaughan Lane, Pell City, AL 35125). Stopped here since I was just starting to see the firstnrain band from
Hurricae Michael that just hit the Forida Panhandle and is moving quickly towards GA and SC.
Oct 11 - Drove from Pell City, AL to Atlanta, GA for ASEE-SE Meeting. The hurrican moved quickly though GA and SC so I did did not hit any rain. Infact it was a geourgious day.
Had lunch (Subway), then into the meeting, dinner at Outback then the 2nd meeting of the day, then bed.
Got in around 1:30pm and checked into my cabin (19A). Decided to walk around a bit, so went down to the bridge which is THE symbol of the park. Got some great
shots and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
Went into town for a food run, since I plan to eat in the cabin most of the stay. Hit Food City in Crossville and then back to the park. After putting away the food, I decided to
to take a 2nd walk. Did the Lake Trail, a newly opened, paved, ADA complient trail (0.60 miles)
After the walk, and a stop at thr Civilian Conservation Core Museum, it was back to the cabin for Pizza and a Beer and a good nights sleep.
Oct 13 - Woke up and had a typical breakfast, then off to my first big hike.
Decided to do the Pioneer Loop Trail (4.5 miles+). Great hike on a great day for hiking, crisp and cool. The trail was along the lake and onto the feeder stream, so mostly
flat, with a few rocks and roots. At times the hike reminded me of the
Smokies with rhododendron tunnels with a stream bubbling in the background. Other times it reminded me of thr Buffalo River Trail with rock formations over the stream.
Didn't see too many people on the extended loop, only on the short loop sections.
Tried the swinging bridge at the turn off for the short loop (both out and back).
Most of the time, swinging bridges, even on the low ones, cause me a lot of issues, but this time no fear whats-so-ever. Odd, but it felt good.
Ater getting back I took a shower (a nice hot one) then lunch and then had a nice nap. Woke and took annother walk around the Lake Trail.
Stopped at the Aviary and
checked out the birds. Unfortunatly, none of the birds cooperated with my photography efforts. Got a kick out of the feeding habbits of the Barred
Owl 'hunts by night or day and perhaps most at dawn and duck'. Stopped at the camp store and office, found a nice fleece sweater, really didn't
expect it to be as cold as it has been (50s) so I didnt bring one (just my long sleeved Columbia Shirt - which isnt cutting it). Then back to the cabin for dinner and the
Oct 14 - Awoke to a light rain. By the time Sunday Morning (TV news program) and breakfast was done, the rain was done for the most part and the radar looked promissing
so I decided to hike.
Started on the Cumberland Plateau Trail. Then continued to the Byrd Creek and then to the Overnight Trail. My first goal was the campsite (working
clockwise ~ 8.3 miles). Got there with no issues so I just kept going and did the whole loop. Favorite part was coming off the Overnight trail back to the Byrd Creek Trail you cross a
washed out road/bridge. Looking down the stream, I thought I saw some small water birds playing in the water. Upon zooming in the camera, it was not birds but river otters.
it was fun trying to get good shots of them, and I think I got a few. I think there were three or four of them. After leaving them I did see two deer, but couldnt get a shot of them.
No other wildlife to speak of (except birds and squirls of course). Did get one wopper of a heal blister on my right heal. Hope it cools off by tomarrow for more hiking.
Got back to the room and took a shower and then napped a bit before dinner then had a quite night in the room and planing the hike for the next day.
Oct 15 - Woke up, had breakfast then drove to the Black Moutain Trailhead.
Glad I read the review on the AllTrails app on my phone or I would not have seen the trail, or belived it was a trail crossing. It didn't look like a trailhead and there
was no blazing for some distance (thanks to Jacob Green who wrote "Trail head is tough to find. It is on the side of the highway (68) directly opposite the
paved parking pull-off. It is faintly marked by some sureyor's tape, but otherwise hard to see.")
As I expected, the uphill once again proved that I am out of shape and/or something still isn't right, but a I was able to make it to the top. On the way, I discovered I was
actually on part of the Cumberland Trail. At the top I found the official campsite (closest water is counterclockwise on the loop trail at the spring house - more on this latter).
After a small break I decided to take the loop trail (clockwise). Wondeful rock formations at the top, Huge rocks, with all sorts of intresting divits. cracks etc. Loved the steps in the crack
between bolders. First overlook wasn't much...and I was begining to wonder if there was a good overlook anywhere, when I finally hit it. Good views at the Southern Overlook. Around this time, I met up with a trail maintainer and thanked him profusely for the freshly groomed trail I was walking over. Hit the springhouse
and remains of the main house, then back to the campsite for a break. Just about the time I sat down, it started to drizzel, but stopped quickly. Hike back was uneventful. Did
take the side trail to the cave on the way back down. Other than the massive blister on my right heal bugging me (had to stop and do a duct tape job on it to get up the hill)
no real isues.
Got back to the room and took a shower and then fell asleep listening to the rain that began to fall. Then ate dinner before starting to pack for the trip home.