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Day 3 - Great Meadow Campground to Yamacraw Bridge

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sheltowee wanderer
on trail
on trail

Joined: 25 Oct 2004
Posts: 30
Location: Lexington, KY

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 2:02 am    Post subject: Day 3 - Great Meadow Campground to Yamacraw Bridge Reply with quote

The first night on trail was a restful one. It is not everyday you go to sleep listening to a Whippoorwill. I quickly grabbed some breakfast and headed over to the Deer loop where the Sheltowee passed by the campground and where my new friends from the night before were staying. I saw Carl, Lesley and Jacob at their camp just finishing up breakfast. We parted ways and I wrote down the Web address for so they could see their picture online. I continued north to Hemlock Grove and took a break underneath the covered picnic area while letting some of my cloths dry off. I took quick bath in rock creek and when I returned I found a
newt of some sort investigating my gear. I chased it around for a while with the camera until I finally got a good shot of it. I packed up and headed up Mark's Branch Trail which is not a very long trail but can test your patience and balance with its 17 stream crossings and soggy conditions. At the end of Mark's Branch, just before you ascend to Peter's Mountain, is a waterfall that was little low on water. Would you call that a trickle fall? After some pretty steep climbing (stumbling) I made it up to Forest Service road 569 where the
Peters Mountain trail head is located. I broke for lunch and tuned in to some news and a forecast on 100.50 FM out of Knoxville TN. Clear skies till the end of the week.

I followed the white diamonds (reassurance markers) that lead me down a gravel road to the laurel ridge sign. On the way I noticed that the road was being worked on and ran into a Dept. of the Interior employee. He said that they were doing regular maintence to the road. Continuing down the very long gravel road I passed by some things that you would not really expect to see. First I saw a random trailer on some private land with no apparent driveway in the middle of national forest land. Further down the road I pass by the Kidd/Bleavins Cemetery with what looks a temporary place of residence at the back end of the property. Not far after passing the cemetery I got off of Laurel Ridge road by turning left as indicated by the white diamonds. I work my way from the hot and humid air of the ridge top and into the coolness of the valley below where I get water from a stream and clean up a bit. I take a short break and enjoy the protective covering of the overstory and geology and move on the down the trail.

I must have been moving along quietly because I look just ahead of me and see a Black Bear moving off the side of the trial and down towards a stream, crashing through the brush. I immediately drop my pack and pull out my camera hoping to pull off a shot or two. It was too late; however, I did manage to record the bearís position using the GPS which I later submit to the Stearns Ranger Station just north of Whitely City.

Still amazed that I just saw a bear I continued down the hill towards a wide creek, rock creek I believe, and ran into another animal of the two legged variety. It was Brent Jones, a local resident of the area. He heard me crossing the stream and thought it was a deer. His
family and friends were having an evening cookout along the creek and were just finishing up when I arrived. Present were his Wife, Becky, and two daughters, Brittany and Baronica. His friend Rusty was there with his daughter Allison. They invited me to join them for dinner and without a lot of arm-twisting I accepted. After eating a doggy bag of uneaten food was packed in foil for me to eat later on. Included in the doggy bag was a T-bone steak. I had not anticipated eating better on the trail than I did back home!

I told Brent about the bear and he said that he had seen 5 of them in this area recently and mentioned that were also Black Panthers and Mountain lions in the area. I told them I was headed for Yamacraw Bridge and they offered me a ride and were headed that way. Remembering the amount of road walking that was involved and the cooling effect that the Cumberland River would have, I accepted. I only regret that I missed Koger arch to add to my list of waypoints. As we made our way towards the bridge Brent told me that there were few people that would do this anymore and that most would just look the other way but mentioned that he knew he would be happy to see someone help him out if he were in my situation and that everything comes around in the end.

That night I camped close to Yamacraw bridge, ate steak, and thought that the chances of me feeding a complete stranger and giving them a ride were much higher now...

The Photo album - Day 3

Away, away, from men and towns, To the wild wood and the downs, To the silent wilderness.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
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