Lakeshore Trail GSMNP Day 1 February 2012

I have not hiked with Christine for almost a year and a half, so when she suggested that we hike the Lakeshore Trail ( 40 miles ) in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I jumped at the chance.
She had done some of the beginning and we had done a bit of the end previously but neither of us had seen the entire trail or knew what is was going to be like. The Adventure was on!

DAY 1  Twenty Mile Ranger Station to Camp Site 90

 The first challenge is to start at the lake level and climb all the way to the Appalachian Trail!
5 miles of steep uphill trail

Twenty Mile Cascades
 Reaching the AT
 now straight down on Lost Cove Trail- steep and narrow. All the elevation we gained from starting at the lake level  we will lose again as our campsite is along the lake

Lost Cove Trail had more in store than just a steep down hill. we needed to cross the creeks at least 8 times to reach the end of our day. None of the creeks were bridged!  Not wanting to get to wet, even though the temperature was nice, we needed to look for creative ways across each creek.

We finally reach campsite 90

It turns out to be just a beautiful campsite right on the lake
The TVA draws down the level of the lake every year during the winter, so we are actually walking on what will be underwater by 30 feet later in the summer
 A perfect night to sleep outside

I fixed up the broken fire ring and a great fire to keep us warm
 Day 1:
8 miles in approximately 5 hours
4,150 feet of elevation gain and lose
9 creek crossings

Lakeshore Trail GSMNP Day 2 February 2012

Day 2 dawned clear and cold- the amount of stars out the previous night was amazing. Today we have to get 12 miles over terrain that Christine had never seen before, so this was going to be the most remote section of the trail with some 6 to 7 miles without any other trail crossing.
The temperatures got down to about 34 degrees, making getting out of the warm sleeping bags difficult.
The sun came out early and the walk was flat and pleasant for the first half of the day.

We came across the old Calhoun House that the park service uses as a storage and base facility. There used to be an entire town here including a railroad for the mining.
Hazel Creek
After the Calhoun house the trail began to disappear. the last half of the day was spent on a barely there horse trail and lots of painful side hilling as the trail was not well defined at all. The last 5 miles of the day was not fun!
The Hemlocks are dying in the Park thanks to the Woolly Adelgid and they lay on the ground like pick up sticks

We finally arrive at camp 77. the section from 81 to 77 was rough and remote.
 Camp site 77 was nice and open with a nice stream running right next to it for water

Rain was threatening but a great fire again makes everything warm and great.
 glowing embers of the nights fire

Day 2:
12 miles in 7 hours
many blow downs along the trail and hard going from campsite 81 to 77
Animals Heard:
Hoot Owl

Lakeshore Trail GSMNP Day 3 February 2012

Rain, Rain, Rain... that is the start of our day. the previous 2 days had been sunny all day, but today the clouds rolled in during the night and started to rain early. We only had 8 miles to go today, so we piled on the rain gear and started about 8:30 am after packing up and having some breakfast of pop tarts and clementines

Water everywhere as every stream was running well

today was the first time the Lakeshore trail actually took us by the lake for most of the day

 Wet but having a good time
Many old homesteads along the Lakeshore trail. this was the proposed "Highway to Nowhere" so you could see homes and old abandon cars from the 30's to 40's as well.
 one of the homesteads had planted daylilies and they were already coming up.

Campsite 98 by a roaring stream, but wet. no way to make a fire or stay outside. We arrived in camp around 1 pm and spent the next 16 hours in the tent. Moved the cooking pot just outside to make dinner around 7:30 pm. Had to get something hot inside us, to try and ward off the chill.

Day 3:
8 miles in 4hr 30min
16 hours tent bound

Lakeshore Trail GSMNP Day 4 February 2012

The final day- the rain stopped during the night and we woke up and got everything packed about 7:30 am. Today we started with everything we had to wear. The day promised to warm up, but not until the sun could break through and we had to pack up everything that was wet.

Christine is happy to get moving after being trapped in the tent all night.
 The lone trees of brown we have been seeing are the Beech trees. they keep their brown leaves all winter and then the new ones push the old ones out. I found out later that Beech leaves burn wet or dry. this would have been nice to help make a fire the previous night in the rain.

These 3 pictures are just an example of the many blow downs, mostly Hemlock that we had to get around all 4 days of the trip

 The day did turn bright and sunny. the temperature stayed low in the mid 40's for most of the day, but the sunshine was welcome after the rain of the night before

We crossed Forney Creek- the day seemed to fly by and I made more than one comment to turn around and start back the other way or go on up another trail and just keep going.

 sunshine made nice shadows and helped the day to pass quickly.

The road to nowhere ends at the tunnel built but never used.
Christine posing against a silhouette of the tunnel entrance

Finished put not really ready for it to end. waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the car we left at Twenty Mile ranger station

Day 4:
12 miles hiked, 6 hours
Recommended Restaurants:
Lulu's in Sylva
Support Our National Parks - Preserve - Protect - Enjoy