We’re on a two week road trip, which we didn’t spell out in our last blog post (click here if you missed it). We’ve been working hard on our new home (closed on it on 2/1/2019 in Myrtle Beach), getting it ready for our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons to spend their Easter Break with us. We needed a bit of a
vacation break, but more importantly, we needed to spend time with Bill’s mom – to celebrate her 98th birthday and to be supportive of Bill’s brother and his wife. They have been her caregivers for the past five years. We are trying to cram as much as we can into two weeks while driving from Myrtle Beach through the Smoky Mountain National Park; to where his mom is in Mount Vernon, Illinois; to visit the State Capitol in Indianapolis, Indiana; to do some hiking near Bloomington, Indiana and then to spend one night in Newport, Tennessee to finish our drive back home.
We left you with a cliff hanger last blog post, so without further delay, let’s see how our third hike in the SMNP turned out!
The SMNP did not disappoint! You do have to do your research if you want to find your ideal hikes and there is no easy way on how to do it. We did stop in the Sugarland Visitor Center to ask for help for our hikes – but getting to the trailheads was another thing. We’ve also learned the value of reading reviews and they are pretty accurate on All Trails. I don’t recall if I found our next hike on-line here or on the app. I use both. Somehow I found the perfect hike, one that was less traveled. We only saw one other hiker, a back packer the three and 1/2 hours we were on the trail. Now that is solitude.
We had planned to come here this past fall. I found the Mount LeConte-it was a hike I wanted to do – very high elevation, challenging and great views. I forgot about it by the time we arrived here this time. There was no way we could do it after Charlie’s Bunion this week – so it’s on our bucket list and this is one we will do next time! But we may have been on a part of Mount LeConte – the mountains seem to run together.
Bull Head Trail – is noted for solitude. It goes to either Mount LeConte or to the Rainbow Falls. While we didn’t really want an aggressive trail, I failed to note the elevation on this trail! It turned out to be 1,421′ in 2 1/2 miles. Which was where we finally turned around. We actually kept trying to hike to the top peak, but every time we turned the “corner” we saw more peaks! We finally decided we had gone as high as we could for this day since the wind started picking up. There were warning signs to not climb during high winds because of the great fire in 2016. There was a greater chance of falling limbs and trees. We heard several trees “creaking” so we decided to hustle back down the mountain(s)! But first, our typical attempt at finding the trailhead. We went there and the trail and trailhead was closed down. So we parked in a little roadside pull over and tried to find another trail the app said was nearby.
Oh my, we are getting some nice views of Gatlinburg. And we are seeing the remnants of the fire of 2016:
This is a fire for the history books,” Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner said. “It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.” (Another story is here if you missed it.)
The Bud Ogle Cabin, built in the late 19th century by it’s namesake, Noah “Bud” Ogle, was a farm and cabin located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The homestead consists of a cabin, barn, and tubmill, all of which were built by Bud Ogle, and were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
The Bud Ogle Cabin itself is actually two cabins that share a single chimney, often referred to as a “saddlebag,” cabin. The two cabins were built roughly five years apart, the second cabin added to accommodate Noah’s growing family. Both of the cabins measure 18 feet by 20 feet and the construction is the same, both one story with a loft and made of hewn logs with half-dovetail notches. The land also include an apple orchard and Noah Ogle also grew corn.
Well, that wasn’t exactly an easy hike – but it gave us the solitude we enjoy. But we were sure satisfied with the hike and our progress. We are staying in a hotel downtown Gatlinburg. It’s a dated hotel but somehow we got the deluxe suite with a much needed jacuzzi hot tub. Our muscles needed it after these hikes!
Our last hiking day, we decided we wanted another hike like Bull Head – maybe not as high of elevation climb. After research on all trails, I found Ace Gap Trail (click for details.) It sounded perfect, but the downside was that it was nearly an hours drove on the other side of the SMNP. But to us it seemed worth it. But we really should have looked at Google Earth (suggested by fellow blogger and hiker, Pam Wright) to check out the drive. We would have discovered it was a long, narrow, winding road up up up a steep mountain. We were on a similar road one time, but in our truck. Now we are in a smaller and more nimble car. But Bill decided he couldn’t go to the top. We saw so many trees down and big tree trucks up and down the roads – what if we met one on the road? No room…..Here is a three second video to give you a taste of the road there!
So back to square one. We lost nearly two hours going to Ace Gap. So I quickly do a search and the best we come up with is Abrams Fall:
Abrams Fall is a popular waterfall with a 25 foot drop over a rocky cliff beside it. The trail is well maintained. It does have a few spots with roots and rocks. The trail gets a lot of use. Expect other hikers. At certain times of the year, it will be extremely crowded. (From All Trails website.)
We thought we hiked on this trail in 2012, but I couldn’t find any pictures of it. Bill says we did it and he had memories as we went along on the hike, remembering that indeed, we did hike here. It was another rewarding day, pictures to follow:
This ends part two of our two week trip. We absolutely enjoyed our times on the trails and it made us really miss our motorhome lifestyle. BUT the good news is we are learning to adapt. You may notice we don’t talk about restaurants or what else we did while here. We’ve never been big on eating out – which was why it was great having our kitchen and well-stocked refrigerator with us. We’ve become clever and are figuring it out. More on that later. Upcoming will be our time in Indiana after family time in Illinois.