Change of Plans…

Just when I thought I had this whole “Google Photos” thing figured out, I discovered that I used the wrong links here to our albums there.  No harm done.  I think I’ve got those fixed so be sure to check out the “Past Trip Droppings”.

Plans for the upcoming trip in the Smokies have changed a bit.  The original plan was to take the Road Prong Trail down from Clingmans Dome Road to Cliff Tops and then use an unmaintained man-way to get over to Sugarland Mountain Trail.  After a bit of research, I’ve decided that might not be such a wise choice with Loonie along…especially if we get much rain.  Instead, we’ll hop on the AT a little further up Clingmans Dome Road and take that straight to Sugarland Mountain Trail.  Sucks that we’ll miss Cliff Tops but I don’t think she’s going to want to tackle that steep bushwack.  We’re also adding an additional day onto the trip.  Here’s the new itinerary:

  1. AT – Sugarland Mtn – Rough Creek – Little River Trails to Site 24Day 1
  2. Little River – Cucumber Gap – Meigs Mtn Trails to Site 19Day 2
  3. Meigs Mtn – Lumber Ridge – West Prong Trails to Site 18Day 3
  4. West Prong – Finley Cane – Crib Gap Trails to finish at the Cades Cove Ranger Station.Day 4

At roughly 30 miles, it’ll be Loonie’s longest trip to date. Pray that she doesn’t want to kill me during or after!  Hopefully we’ll be treated to lots of wildflowers in bloom.

Speaking of wildflowers, we’ll probably pass on registering for and taking part in the actual Pilgrimage activities, opting instead to schedule our day hikes in such a way as to avoid the crowds as much as possible.  Some we’re considering….

  1. Schoolhouse Gap Trail
  2. Bote Mountain Trail
  3. Little Brier Gap Trail with a stop at the Walker sisters’ home
  4. Kanati Fork Trail
  5. Baskins Creek Falls
  6. Brushy Mountain via Trillium Gap Trail

The Whiteoak Sinks area, reached by an unmarked trail off of the Schoolhouse Gap Trail, is supposed to be spectacular for wildflowers but has been closed off to the public to protect the bat population.  The park service estimates that the park’s population of bats has declined by as much as 80% due to White Nose Syndrome.  The cave in Whiteoak Sinks is obviously an important habitat for the bats so the service has closed the area to limit human impact while they do further studies.  You can find out more about all of that here but the earliest the area will be reopened is March 31st.  Once we get to the park we’ll check on the status of the closure.  Hopefully it will be reopened.

There should be good displays along Porters Creek and Middle Prong as well.  How many of those we’ll actually get to will depend largely on the crowds and traffic.

The Accomplice quilt has been delayed by a week or so.  I bet those folks are busy as can be this time of year. We still should have it in plenty of time for the Smokies trip and possibly soon enough to sneak in a long weekend on the R2R Trail before hand.

As for the preparations for the AT trip with Deep Woods, I think the only things left to do are test the Heini pot/Esbit setup and finish gathering up the food.  I am SO ready to get back on the trail!!!

More to come …

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