I broke the spring break rule and went camping. (Hey, I was gone for less than 36 hours.) My intent was to leave Wednesday morning and return on Friday, but I ended up coming back early.
Yesterday morning I drove up to Frozen Head State Park. It's a good park for serious hiking or backpacking - some of the trails are long enough to make the backwoods sites necessary. And some of the trails don't connect to the main entrance - the map shows them as abruptly disappearing at the park border, although I doubt this is the case. I was simply car camping, which limited my options. Then I discovered that I had forgotten my hiking boots. Luckily, I had brought a pair of Columbia sport sandals with me. I've hiked in them before, but generally when it's really hot. I like the ankle support of boots, but these seemed fine.
For the afternoon, I opted to hike up the Old North Mac trail to where it joined with the Panther Branch trail. After a little while, there is a short side trip that leads to Emory Falls. Returning to the trail, and at this point heading all downhill, you eventually come to Panther Branch Falls.
This hike is nice because the hardest part is first, when you're fresh, and most of the spectacular scenery is at the end. The only downside is that you don't end up where you start, and you have to hike a mile or so along the road.
Today I got ambitious and decided to hike up to the top of Frozen Head. I headed up the South Old Mac trail this time, then took the .5 mile Lookout trail to the very top.
Fire Tower on top of Frozen Head
The ambition came in when I selected a route down - I elected to go via Chimney Top, which doesn't just go straight back down but detours to the top of Chimney Top Mountain. There is sandstone all along the top, making these neat piles.
Not too long after this photo was taken, about 1/4 mile from the top, the heel strap on my right sandal gave way. There's a reason no one hikes in flip flops, so I had to find a way to repair it. Lacking duck tape, I used a string in my pack that is supposed to be a necklace for a whistle.
Sucky Sandal + String Solution
It wasn't as tight as the original, so going uphill I had to stop every 20 feet or so to jam my foot back in - and I was still 3.4 miles from the end. It would have been longer to turn around, though. This took most of the fun out of hiking, so I didn't even get a photo at the mountain top. Luckily, it was mostly downhill from there, so my foot slid forward into the sandal. Still, it wasn't the most thrilling end to a hike ever.
The reason I planned to stick around for another night was to do a hike in the morning, but I prefer to hike in shoes. ( I had another pair with me - not suitable for hiking.) So I took down my tent and returned to Nashville.