|Footbridge to the left of the "road"|
When I got to the parking area I decided to take the Old Sugarlands Trail and when I got to the junction for Bull Head I'd decide which way to go then. The Old Sugarlands Trail used to be a road and near the start of the hike it crosses LeConte Creek. I opted to walk through the water in the "road" instead of crossing the creek using the little wooden footbridge.
The pavement eventually gives way to gravel and once past the sound of the creek there was much to see including some fungi and signs of the old settlements that used to be in the area.
|property line most likely|
There was a pair of ladies who got on the trail right after I did and as I was contemplating taking the turn for the Bull Head Trail they caught up to me so I asked them to take a picture for me.
At this point I'd gone 0.4 miles and was itching for a challenge so I took a left and headed up.
What I didn't know was that Bull Head was the name of a mountain. Sometimes not knowing where I will end up going is a good thing or I might never go. How did I get that shot of me on the trail? I attached my new Canon Powershot D30 to my hiking stick! Just plant it in the dirt, set the timer, and selfies can be yours without outstretched arms in the picture!
As I kept ascending I was glad that I'd opted for the light camera and all pictures in this post were taken with it or with my iPhone, including the one below. Owl pellet?
|Rue enjoys the view- selfie with iPhone this time|
I also got the ingenious idea to use the flap on my unzipped pack as a seating pad. Must have been all that oxygen I was getting to my brain. Dry pants are important.
|Protection from a snowy perch|
With my footing secured I was free to enjoy the climb and take in the views. Even though there was snow on the trail it was 40F with only the occasional gust of wind and with all that exertion I kept warm easily.
The snow looked like no one but me had been on it that day. Well, me and a few icicles.
Besides the views I had lichens to keep me entertained including some rather large pieces that had blown off the rock face above me.
But my favorite was a new discovery just before I turned around. I wasn't in the park 24 hours and I found 2 lichens that I needed to look up because they were new to me. I guess I have to start packing that guide on trips.
|Whoa! extreme close-up|
On the way down I kept a quick steady pace and with the timing I figured I must have gone about 1.5 miles up after I turned onto Bull Head. With the 0.4 mile addition on Old Sugarlands I estimated I hiked about 4 miles. Not too shabby for a "quick hike". It only took me a little over 2 hours and Cory was just waking up when I got back. Traffic in Gatlinburg on Superbowl Sunday was nonexistent, we picked the perfect time to come...especially to escape the blizzard conditions back home in the Midwest. Sunday it snowed and blowed all day back home and here in Gatlinburg we're worrying that we might get less than an inch today because the temperature might actually hit freezing. I knew it was a good time of year to get out of Chicagoland!