Trail Crew Volunteer- GSMNP October 2008

Day 1 and 2-
Christine's current project was the restoration of the trail out on Andrew's Bald. A 1.7 mile hike from Clingman's Dome parking lot (uphill in both directions). The trail has seen a lot of use and is in rough shape out on the bald. I broke rock, rolled rock and dug dirt, but it started to look better

Hard to complain about the view out your office window with this job!

What was big rocks blocking the trail end up being knocked down and smoothed over to make a new trail

We packed in all the tools needed

Ate lunch together

The work is incredibly hard, but some how the views make it worth while

Day 3
Today was a different story. A front moved in with 70 mph winds on Andrew's Bald. Could not work there so we went in search of downed trees on the trails.

Hiked about 10 miles in the rain and cold. Had to just eat where we could.

I am sure I had more fun than C or KJ or Preston who have to do this all the time, but even in the rain it was a pleasure to be in the woods.

Close Encounter with an Elk

A large Elk cow right in the parking lot before our Cataloochee loop hike

Cataloochee Loop Hike GSMNP October 2008

All togged up and ready to go on a 3 day adventure in the Smokies. It was a very beautiful, if chilly day. I was really glad to get back on a trail. It has been some time since I was hiking and I forgot how much I miss the woods.

Christine is the Trail Crew Supervisor for the Cataloochee District of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, so we took a tour of some of the trails she is responsible for mantaining and improving. About 30 miles in 2 1/2 days.

The leaves on the ground made for some great color as they completely covered the trail in golds, greens, reds, purples.

Everytime you got a glimps through the trees you could see a sea of color

Colors of the trees were in their prime

Laurel Gap Shelter, still has the old bear fence on the front, not too inviting, but we thought we would have it to ourselves... but around 7 pm, 9 first time hikers from Vanderbilt and their teacher showed up to join us.

Chistine made a great fire that warmed everything up

A cold and chilly morning- I look like the cousin to the Michelin Man

The moon was still up and the day was clear and inviting. Heading up to Mt.Sterling and the big climb

Along the trail there was still color, some wild flowers have survived through October.

Mt.Sterling lookout tower

Made it to the top of Mt.Sterling

What spectacular views from the top of the tower on Mt.Sterling

Perfect camp site on Mt. Sterling. 3rd Highest campsite in the Park

Went to bed with the promise of a beautiful evening full of clear skies and shining stars


Things change quickly in the Smokies especially at 6000'. Woke up to blizzard conditions with complete "white out" from the fog and clouds.

Christine had on everything she brought!

Off of Mt. Sterling in the fog and cold and back on the trail toward the Little Cataloochee trail also part of the Benton MacKaye Trail through the Park

As soon as we dropped off the mountain top the beautiful weather reappeared. Bright sunshine and the trail looked great... going down hill!

The highlight of the day was looking up! The colors of the forest canopy were spectacular.

We passed old cemetaries


and homesteads

The Smokies are always alive with color and diversity

And at the end, some of the Parks famous inhabitants.. The Elk.
Support Our National Parks - Preserve - Protect - Enjoy