Campsite #35 – Gilliland Fork
Lower Mount Cammerer Trail – 3.3 miles from the Trailhead at Cosby Campground and , 4.1 miles from the trailhead on the Appalachian Trail. Elevation 2,680
Water: Gilliland Creek
Gilliland Fork Campsite is a bit unusual in that it is arranged in several sections labeled A, B, C, D and E. The first 3 sites are near the creek. A & B have nice grassy spots that appear to drain well for tents. Site C is a little more impacted for some reason and may not drain as well. Sites D & E are about 100 yd’s further up the trail. They are much more secluded although level ground may be a challenge. It seems that often among the flattest best places for a tent is directly under the bear cables and such is the case here. But for hammocks, the upper sites offer much more privacy.
- Well Drained Sites
- Low Impact
- Good Water
- Bear Cables
- Leave No Trace Layout
Campsite #18 – West Prong
West Prong Trail – Campsite #18 is 2.1 miles from the trailhead at the parking area off Tremont Road.
Water: Available from West Prong.
The hike in is relatively for overnighters and the site lays along the picturesque West Prong of the Little River. The site is actually several sites but they are principally located in a front area on the West Prong and a more suitable area further behind. The site’s capacity is listed as 12 but there is profound impact on the front area indicating a fair amount of overuse. The area opens up immediately upon crossing the footlog over West Prong and the trial appears to pass through the middle of the site. There is little ground cover and much exposed dirt which would drain poorly. But there are plenty of level sites for tents. There is no seclusion whatsoever in the front area. The back area is a much better option. In fact, the bear cables are located in the back section which may indicate that is the intended site. But flat areas along the West Prong proved too attractive.
- Bear cables – generally a given but some site may not have them
- Good water source
- Level tent sites
- X Factor – West Prong is pretty nice.
Blogging without sharing is a diary. There’s nothing wrong with a diary and journals are often published. One is never sure if what he has to share is worth sharing but there is only one way to find out. So it is with 900milerblog.com. The site has been up a few months now and many of the kinks are straightened. There is a flow and a bit of a routine and now there is enough content to prove to myself that this is more than a foggy idea. Now it’s time to see if there’s anybody alive out there.
There is a growing community of those who desire to complete all the hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I am 120 miles into my second tour and I created this website to capture the experience start-to-finish. Hopefully it will serve as an online guidebook and offer insights on equipment, techniques and a bit of spiritual connection to creation and its Creator.
So with this social media debut, all the connections to Twitter and Facebook have been made and this is the maiden voyage. (It’s really a test to see if it actually shows up anywhere). If you manage to find it, give me a buzz and let me know what you think…
Shalom. Strider out…
Every journey has a beginning and an ending. Given that humans are creatures bound by time and space, we tend to measure our journeys with various milestones and devices including clocks and maps and events. All this effort serves to provide the stuff we use to tell the stories of our adventures.
The AT Thru-hiker starts somewhere, usually Springer Mtn., GA and ends, usually on Mt. Katahdin, ME. Thru hikers will count the days and in some cases the hours. They may track dates and locations and miles covered. Rituals mark the start and finish such as signing in at the ranger stations in Amicalola State Park and at Baxter State Park. Packs are weighed. Pictures are taken. Good-byes are said. Tears are shed. Memories are forged.
I suspect with 900 Milers, many don’t mark the beginning of their 900 miler journeys; at least the first time. With me it was an awareness of having hiked several trails and then reaching the point where I decided to start tracking the mileage and the dates of which trails were hiked. As a consequence, the actual “beginning” of the journey is not marked by any ritual or celebration.
But the second map is different. A second 900 Miler is deliberate. One begins with an awareness of what is to come and the challenges ahead. Such an undertaking should be marked with a worthy kickoff. Some sort of event that is befitting a four-year project such as starting on an iconic mountain. Perhaps a unique challenge that is difficult and memorable. Perhaps it is an activity for which the answer to the question “Why?” is difficult for the casual observer. Perhaps the answer to that question is simply, “because I wanted to see if I could…”
Mt. LeConte – Sunset from the Lodge
So why not hike all the trails up Mt. Leconte? In 24 hours? It’s a 45.7 mile challenge and it’s doable. I know this because I did it 4 years ago. That hike was documented in detail at www.leconte24.com. My original hiking partner for that hike was Brian Thomas and he is joining me again for this chapter. From what we learned the first time, Brian designed a route that minimizes altitude climbing and shuttling between trailheads. With this new route, we hope to cut 2 hours off our original time of 22 hours and it will save about 900 feet of climbing.
Here is the new itinerary:
- Park at Rainbow Falls/ Bull Head Trail head
- Up Rainbow Falls (4,000 ft.) – Down Trillium Gap
- Up Bull Head (4,000 ft.) – Down Alum Cave
- Shuttle to Newfound Gap
- Up Boulevard (3,724 ft.) – Down Brushy Mtn.
- Car at Brushy Mtn. Trailhead in Greenbriar.
Date and time: Saturday, September 19, 2015, 9:00 am EDT.
And so it begins…
This blog began with the start of my second “900 Miler” quest.
For those who don’t know, there is an informal club of people who have hiked all the maintained trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It is called the 900 Miler Club, which is a misnomer really because there are only officially 800.4 miles on the list. On the other hand, if you complete this quest, you manage to hike over 1,000 miles to log the official list.
On the brushy summit of Brushy Mountain
On August 7, 2015, I summited Brushy Mountain in a rainy fog to complete the trek. On my first “map” as it is called, I was fairly haphazard about documenting the experience. The effort took many years and didn’t really take shape as a concerted effort until well into it. On top of that, my main focus was to get it done. I took a lot of pictures and tracked my mileage but there is no record of the experiences beyond the telling of tales around the water cooler.
I tend to hike alone mostly, The reasons will be revealed as we go but for now let me say that one has a lot of conversations with himself and his Creator over a 900 mile odyssey. One also meets interesting people, animals and as Mr. Muir would say, one also delights himself among the plant people. So it seems appropriate this time that I should capture as much of the next experience as possible.
I intend to document the various hikes, of course, and we will end up with a fairly extensive photo account. But I also want to share my encounters with Creator and Creation alike for this is the reason I saunter. I’ll tell you about my gear and whether or not I like it or would buy it again. We’ll talk about food and aches and pains.
If you’d care to reply, please do so. I’d love to hear form you.
Enjoy the Smokies with me!
Mt. LeConte – A Treasured Place Taken from Clingmans Dome