Monday, May 28, 2007

Collins Gulf hike

Yesterday we hiked Collins Gulf in the Cumberlan Plateau. Everything in the Plateau is quite scenic and more dramatic than the pleasantly pretty Nashville area. The trail starts, like many of the hikes in area, by going downhill from the Plateau - this is what we did at Virgin Falls last weekend, too. We did a lot of boulder-hopping next to tall rock cliffs. The hike follows the Collins River at this end, and it hops over the river or creeks feeding into it. This picture at left shows a bridge over the river, which is probably necessary most of the time - but not on our visit. When it is wetter out, the water is much higher; the hike is recommended for spring because all the water also makes the waterfalls better. Eventually we passed out of the dramatic rocks and into more level forest. We were hiking through the woods at the top of a ridge, and along the way there were three scenic overlooks. All the hills have flat tops and are the same height; that's why it's called a plateau. At one overlook we had lunch; at another we found a rattlesnake. After almost six miles we start going gradually downhill on Stagecoach Road Trail, which is a real pain. There are rocks the sizes of oranges and grapefruit everywhere: too small to hop, too big not to walk on. This road is only 1.6 miles but it feels like forever.

Finally we hit the other end of the Colins Gulf trail. Not long after, we reached a side trail to Schwoon Spring. There is a small cave at the spring. We went in far enough that we couldn't see the entrance, but the cave doesn't go too much farther beyond that, I understand. The picture is of a nice little formation near the entrance.

After that point it's mostly uphill out. About two miles from the end, we reached Horsepound Falls. Horsepound Falls were pretty, despite the dryer weather. Not all the falls fared as well; a little bit later on, Suter Falls was only a thin trickle. I was really dragging on the way out. I know it was a long hike, but not that much longer than a hike I did not too long ago at Frozen Head, plus the elevation change was less than half of that hike. Part of it was the mid-80s temperature and humidity, part of it was that a couple of odd muscles were sore from yoga class the previous day, and part of it was that I let the other hiker set the pace. I tend to lollygag, and since he is very tall, he set a brisk pace - we were doing 2 miles per hour for the first 2/3 of the hike. Also, it was a long hike, period. Actually, today I'm stiff all over, but I am not experiencing any particular muscular soreness.

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