Coon Tree Loop

Coon Tree Mountain Trail

Coon Tree Trail

Coon Tree Trail

Today was a very short hike up the right fork of the Coon Tree Trail.  We only hiked to the ridge junction and turned around and hiked down.  Nice day in low 40’s.  The trail was muddy and there were a lot of trees down after the wind and ice storms last month.

We passed several women on the trail. Only one man and his wife were finishing up as we got started.

The creeks were up.  There is a lot of water running out of the mountains right now. The ground is real squishy.

Coon Tree Trail

Coon Tree Trail

Coon Tree Trail

Coon Tree Trail

Coon Tree Trail

Coon Tree Trail

Daniel Ridge Loop

Daniel Ridge Loop

Finally! A sunny day on a weekend!

Daniel Ridge Falls

Daniel Ridge Falls

We finally got some good weather to go hiking.  The high today was in the mid to upper 40’s and the sun was shining.  That is my favorite hiking weather.

Last year, our logged hiking miles were abysmal. It was a rainy year and we had a lot of family and health issues that got in the way. This year, I will strive to do better.

Today’s Hike

  • Distance: 5 Miles
  • Elevation: 827
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Today, we hiked the Daniel Ridge Loop near Brevard, NC.  It is a gentle trail without a lot of elevation gain. You walk around the creek for half of the hike and it is one of the more beautiful creeks in western NC. It is actually the north fork of the Davison River.  But, it is actually creek sized.

Sacajawea Peak

Sacajawea Peak in Bridger Range

A Personally Challenging Hike

Stats (Per my AllTrails tracker):

  • Distance: 5.3 Miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,011′
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Location:

From Bozeman, MT take Highway 86 N toward Bridger Canyon.  Drive approximately 20 miles and take Fairy Lake Road on the left.  The trailhead is approximately 7 miles. Be advised that Fairy Lake Road is rutted out badly. You will need a vehicle with a lot of clearance and 4WD is advised.  Some of the ruts are over a foot deep and as wide as the road so there is no getting around them.  You have to go through them.  The road bed has washed down to exposed rock.  It is like driving on a river bed. It took us 40 minutes to drive the 7 miles on Fairy Lake Rd.

September 17, 2018 Hike Description:

Sacajawea Trailhead

The hike begins near Fairy Lake with a walk through the forest and a quick left detour out to see the lake. There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.  Take advantage of it because there are very few places for potty privacy on this trail.

Fairy Lake

Just a few hundred yards from the trailhead is a left detour to Fairy Lake. It is only a few yards from the main trail to a great viewing area of the entire lake.  We have not taken the time to circumnavigate this little lake, but plan on doing it in the near future.  It is aptly named and minerals cause the water to have an ethereal hue that almost glows.  It is truly beautiful.

Pomp's Peak

Pomps Peak

Bridger Ridge (South)

Bridger Ridge South

Then, you begin switchbacks while you are still in the forest.  As you near the bottom of the ridge, you can look up and see Pomp’s Peak on your right (North) and the knife edges of the Bridger Range (South) to your left. In the hottest part of the summer, this section of the trail is inundated with horse flies. They bite. It hurts!  Wear bug spray and/or protective clothing.  On a previous hike in July, I was bitten over 30 times and suffered with nausea and dizziness by the time I got to the summit and had to cut my time on the summit short.

View of Sacajawea Gap from Summit

So, after you get out of the trees, you hike up to where the trail begins to switch back and forth up with swag that leads to the gap between Sacajawea and Hardscrabble Peaks. The picture at the right is taken from the summit looking down at where the switchbacks begin down from the gap. 2018 has been a very wet year and parts of the trail in this area has been washed out.  I had to get down on my hands and knees to crawl up in a couple of sections.  Conversely, coming down, I was on my butt sliding down the scree to get to the next section of the trail. There is no large vegetation going up to the gap but in the right season, it you pay attention, you can find the most beautiful little wild flowers.

Sacajawea Gap

Walking up the leeward side, the wind can take you by surprise when you reach Sacajawea Gap. It blows in from the west and is magnified in the gap by being “squeezed” between the peaks.  The gap is marked with cairn constructed one rock at a time by previous hikers.

Leaving the Gap to Peak

Turn left at the cairn. This will take you up the west side (the windy side) of the Bridgers just behind Sacajawea Peak. From this vantage point, you can see for miles and miles both east and west. If you don’t think you can stand the exposure of the heights to go the rest of the way on this hike, the views from the gap is worth the work. Leaving the gap you begin to feel a bit more “exposed.”  The ground is covered in small loose rock and it is like walking on ball bearings. This year, 2018, there was a lot more scree because of the rain.

Southwest

As you get to the back side of Sacajawea and start up to the summit, the trail gets steep. There was a lot of scree and I felt a bit tentative in my footing. As with the trail below the gap, there were sections that had washed away. It was really hard for me to get over these sections because you are on a very steep incline covered in scree that is totally exposed.  I was again on my hands and knees going over these sections and on my butt coming down. I’m surprised I didn’t get a blowout in the seat of my shorts!

Phil on Summit

The summit, however, is awesome.  I’m a bit nervous every time so I just stay seated. To me, it feels like a big accomplishment when I make it. Phil walks back and forth close to the edge without batting an eye.  I think he is part mountain goat sometimes. He is also a walking google maps.  He sits on the top and names all of the peaks, towns, valleys, rivers and river drainages…in excruciating detail.

View from top of Mt. Pisgah

Mt. Pisgah

3 mi round-trip

Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Climb: Climbs Moderately
Lowest Elevation: 4980
Highest Elevation: 5730
Total Elevation Gain: 750
Configuration: Out-and-back
Starting Point: Mount Pisgah Parking Area, Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 407.6

Pisgah Inn View
Pisgah Inn View
View Downtown Asheville
View Downtown Asheville
Bear Poop
Bear Poop
Tower on Mt Pisgah
Tower on Mt Pisgah
View of Cold Mountain
View of Cold Mountain

Mt. LeConte, 2017

Trail:  Alum Cave

Trip # 27 – November 9 – 22, 2017

  • Trail: Alum Cave Trail
  • Hiking Time Going Up: 3 hours 7 minutes
  • Hiking Time Coming Down: 2 hours 15 minutes

This year we decided to hike up and down Alum Cave Trail. Due to trail closures, we haven’t gotten to hike this trail many times in the past few years. We got on the trail a little later than usual (around 11 am). It was very foggy with a heavy mist — just enough to get soaked.

Hurricane Irma had come through the Smokys a few weeks earlier and we found a lot of damage. There were lots of trees that had been blown over and these trees snapped other trees as they fell. Just from what we could see from the trail, there must have been over 30 downed trees. Crews had done a great job, however, on getting the trees cut away and the trail reopened.

Our hike up was a steady slog through the mist. There were no views through the fog.

At the top, our cabin was warm from the lp heater and we quickly changed into dry clothes and went to the dinning hall to get coffee and hot chocolate.

Friday was a beautiful day. We had breakfast and then walked out to Myrtle Point. It was warm on the rocks and a bit out of the wind. We also walked down Rainbow Falls trail to the Bullhead Junction. Our goal was to see if we could get part of the way down the Bullhead to see the fire damage from last year but we couldn’t get past the trail junction. Then, we hiked the loop to Chimney Tops.  It was beginning to get crowded on the rock face so we didn’t stay for the sunset.

We got on the trail early Saturday. It was game day after all. We made it home in plenty of time before the 3:30 kickoff of the Clemson game.

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Grassy Mtn via Trail 119

Grassy Mtn Via Skidway Campground

October 9, 2017

  • Distance: 5.0 Miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1575 ft.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous (very steep)

Grassy Mtn via Skidway

Grassy Mtn via Skidway

Park at the back gate boundary of Skidway campground. Follow the forestry road from there all of the way to the top of Grassy Mountain.

The road meanders through the forest for awhile and then opens up in a beautiful meadow with a gorgeous view of Mt. Edith. We passed a few Moose on the way.

After you get through the meadow, the road gets a lot steeper the rest of the way to the top.

This is definitely a hike to take our visitors.

Skyline Trailhead

Skyline Trail

September 9, 2017

  • 2.0 Miles Round Trip from Exclamation Point – Elevation Gain: 472′

After several years of closure, the Skyline Trail was re-opened in September of 2017. Apparently, the original trail was closed after a toddler fell to its death.  Since then, the trail has been re-routed and fencing was added at the top of Hickory Nut Falls to keep traffic from wandering too close to the top of the falls.

To get to the trailhead, you need to park in the upper parking lot at Chimney Rock State Park and take the steps up to the Chimney. Continue on from the Chimney up past the Devil’s Head to Exclamation Point.  Climbing the steps from the upper parking lot to Exclamation Point is work.  I counted the steps a few years back and this is what you will be dealing with just to get to the trailhead.

The trail is a woodland walk that is set back slightly from the steep ridge-side. You aren’t exposed to the escarpment, but if you were to get off the trail, it could be dangerous.  You walk .4 of a mile through the woods to a picnic area with 2 tables and a fenced look off area looking across the gorge toward Rumbling Bald and Party Rock.

Continue on the trail through the woods and there are a few creek crossings. Forestry roads crisscross the trail at regular intervals.  A significant amount of the trail is graveled. When you get to the end, there is a nice railing approximately 50 feet above the creek that keeps hikers away from the upper cascades and the top of Hickory Nut Falls. It is far enough away to keep hikers safe, but not quite close enough to get a good view of the falls.  I was a bit disappointed, but I totally understand why the trail is where it is.

It’s a nice peaceful walk in the woods. Well worth the time it takes.

Skyline Trailhead
Skyline Trail Lookoff

MTS – Little Sam – Flat Laurel Creek Loop

Park where the Mountains to the Sea Trail intersects Hwy 215 north of the Blueridge Parkway and hike east on the Mountains to the Sea Trail. Hike a little over 2 miles and fork left on Little Sam Knob trail. Hike for approximately 1.5 miles to the intersection of the Flat Laurel Creek Trail and take a left. Hike back down to Hwy 215.

As the summers here in the south are hot and humid, we try to find trails that are as high in the air as possible. Most of this loop is over a mile in elevation making this a good “hot weather” hike.

  • Distance: 6.4 miles RT
  • Elevation Change: 794 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Check out my activity on AllTrails.https://t.co/vLDcgQd5Bd

— Sandy Rumsey (@SandyRumsey) July 15, 2017