Monday, April 6, 2009
All this makes it a dicey time of year for hikes. When it is nice out, it's perfect. The sun is out. It's warm but not hot. Wildflowers are in bloom. Waterfalls and streams are bursting. When it's not so nice, you'll get drenched, then frozen, then picked up and carried to Oz. So far I've been lucky with hikes, and none of our big weekend plans have been called on account of weather. Saturday's hike to Possum Creek was no exception.
Possum Creek is a ten-mile stretch of the Cumberland Trail near Soddy-Daisy. I've hiked a short bit of it before, but doing the whole thing really requires a shuttle. Unfortunately, it takes a good hour to get cars from one end to the other and back, and the drive to the trailhead is 2 1/2 hours, so it makes for a really long day.
The hike is worth it, however. Highlights include Big and Little Possum Creeks, which run through gorges, and Imodium Falls. There are numerous small cascades and rock formations. But this is one hike where even the "boring" woods are very pretty. You aren't just trudging to the next attraction - at least until the end, when the next attraction is the car, and Niagara Falls would barely get your attention.
At that point you're tired, because this hike has its challenges. There are 3500 feet of elevation change thanks to the gorges. (Tip: Start at the Big Possum Creek end and do the worst while you're still fresh.) Little Possum Creek does not yet have a bridge and has to be forded. It is deep in spots, fast, and cold. To our surprise, there was a second stream, much more placid, that also needed to be forded (pictured). Normally, we were told, it is only half an inch deep; it had risen up to our knees.
All in all it was a beautiful but challenging hike.