My fiancee and I headed out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving this past November, with plans to hike a figure 8 in the eastern half of Tennesee's Savage Gulf State Natural Area. We had made contingencies for either a 3 or 5 day loop dependent on weather, mood, and trail conditions.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
We self-registered at the Savage Ranger Station. We began heading up the Savage Day Loop, We headed to the intersection with the South Rim Trail, and I hung a waterproof bear bag with food for the second half of our trip. With a much lighter pack, we then pushed up the Day Loop until we hit the North Rim Trail. My fiancee, who does NOT like suspension bridges, made it clear I would have to go first.
As we proceeded along the North Rim, we encountered many excellent overlooks, and fall colors were surprisingly strong despite the drought that has plagued the southeast this past season. The best viewpoint by far was Tommy Point Overlook, with views into three major gorges, about a mile before Hobbs Cabin.
We arrived about an hour before dark. Leslie began gathering firewood and I visited the water source. It was very dark water, and though I filtered it, it still looked like weak grape Koolaid. I considered heading down the Connector Trail to look for some more water, but my financee agreed to go with this stuff for the evening. At least we had a warm dry home for the night and we had it all to ourselves.
We nestled in and spent a comfortable night.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
We awoke and discussed our options. Leslie's ankle was sore and a bit swollen from a twist she took the previous day. Also, the sky was threatening a nasty day. We has planned on pushing up the North Plateau Trail to Dinky Line Campsite, 5.7 miles away. Under the circumstances, we chose to stay at Hobbs.
We spent the morning relaxing and gathering firewood, as the temperature was beginning to drop. I considered heading down the Connector Trail for water, but considering the skies, I waited, hoping I might be able to gather water the easy way.
A father and son arrived just after noon, and the sky opened up. I strung my tarp out to catch water and had a couple of fresh gallons just a half hour into the storm. Inside, we all enjoyed a good fire, a good dinner, and dry sleeping.
The kitchen area was also very convenient:
We went to bed happy and content.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The next morning was wetter, colder, and mistier than any other previous day.
We decided not to push for the long day necessary to get back on track. We would have had to churn out about 13 miles to do so. In the cold mist, we decided to simply push an even 10 miles back to the Savage Ranger Station and out. Thus we headed out from Hobbs Cabin.
The North Plateau Trail was more level than the North Rim Trail, though longer by a couple of miles with few good water sources and no views to speak of. However, the cold, wet mist spurred us on to make excellent time. Our orange pack covers and wind gear made us readily visible to hunters in the area.
After just a very brief stop to grab some food at Dinky Line Camp, we moved on quickly. Leslie took the straightest route back to the ranger station once we reached the Savage Day Loop again. I doubled back to the other intersection where I hung the resupply cache and met her again about a 1/2-mile from the trailhead.
We headed out and enjoyed Thanksiving dinner at a Chinese Bufet. Though the trip was shorter than originally planned, we enjoyed it immensely, especially the last day or so of fall colors before the storm and cold rain of that Wednesday and Thursday brought down nearly all the remaining foliage.