Sunday, Pressley Cove and Maxwell Creek Cove
Last week’s hike around the Avery Creek Drainage left us curious about the forest road toward Maxwell Creek Cove. For this hike, we began at the trailhead for Pressley Cove where we ended our hike last week.
About 25 minutes into the hike, we turned left on a foot path. Approximately 200 feet from the trail was a camping site with fire ring. It was protected from wind and weather by the surrounding ridges on 3 sides and lots of dead fall for fires. The ground was sloped, but there were a few spots appropriate for a 2-3 man tent. Pressley Creek was only 200-300 yards away. I noticed that the gnats were heavy around the fire ring, so this spot would be better in the winter when the bugs are wintering in Florida.
The trail from the road up Pressley Cove Creek is steep, but short. National Geographic Survey lists the trail length at 1.1 miles to the junction of forest service road number 5022 where we turned west. At the inside of this junction stands an old dry stack chimney. An official historical notice of preservation is posted to make sure no one destroys the chimney. As you see in the picture below, a large rock that spans the width of the entire fireplace is strategically placed where a mantel would normally be. Someone took a lot of care in creating that rock work. I guess it was the Pressley’s old home place.
The forest was made up of a majority of poplars. Around the chimney, so close that they had to have come up after the house disappeared, were several poplars that looked to be over 100 years old. The hearth faced downhill toward Pressley Creek.
Near the home place we found a few old fashioned rose bushes just putting on their leaves. It will be interesting to go back in a few months to see the blooms. My bet is that these bushes were the same wild pink climbing roses as most Scotch-Irish immigrants planted around their homes in the 1800’s. Many wildflowers were also clustered near in various stages of emergence. I am curious as to the history of this site that is in the middle of nowhere. The inhabitants left evidence of pride and care in their belongings. In other words, it appears that someone that lived there cared what things looked like.
We walked on down the unused forest road for about 1.5 miles. Phil remarked about the width of the road. It had 2 gravel tracks and is a popular biking road. I took extra time to check out the foliage along the way. God seems to be a lot better gardner than I. The wildflowers were abundant and healthy. God doesn’t have to use bug spray, fertilizer, mulch, or sprinklers. How does he do it????
Our last turn was south onto an abandoned trail. However, the forest service is the only one to have abandoned it. It was well traveled and very obvious to follow. The wooden sign at the trail junction was past its prime. It was rotten and the paint had long since been weathered away.
This trail followed the creek right down the center of Maxwell Creek Cove and is not shown on our map. We passed another chimney, but this one had long since fallen down and it looks like people have taken some of the rocks away from time to time. I guess the historical society hadn’t gotten to it before it’s demise.
Halfway down this trail, we found what Phil thinks might have been an old whiskey still. There were 2 barrels with axe holes in them beside a fire ring that looks like it was made out of some sort of foundation for the still (or whatever it was). This was situated just a few feet away from its water source, Maxwell Creek. Less than 200 yards away was a grassy meadow. There was evidence that this meadow is “bush hogged” regularly. It would be a good place for a group camping trip.
The meadow was about 1/4 mile from the end of our hike. The trail ended 300-350 yards from the trail head where we began. In spite of the steep first mile, this wasn’t a difficult hike. There were enough new interesting things to explore and it made our day a lot of fun.