Sunday, June 21, 2009
North Chickamauga hike
This segment of the Cumberland Trail follows a creek that has several swimming holes along the way. Locals tend to prefer the spots closest to the parking lot. The upside (and downside) of these spots is that anyone can get there. We out-of-towners instead head four miles to Green Hole, which we then have pretty much to ourselves. The water is refreshing, and there is an excellent rope swing. (Note: There is a hornet nest on a tree right at the nexus of the trail and the water. So don't go grabbing or disturbing the tree!) We spent quite a while swinging, floating, and generally frolicking.
This time we weren't quite alone; a local trail runner showed up and we co-opted him. He proved handy later, as we shall see.
After swimming, a small group of us headed .5 miles farther to the Stevenson Branch campsite. It is a very nice campsite, but the trail is really just a series of blazes and not worth hiking to just to hike. It took much longer than one would anticipate. As we went along, we found the smoldering remains of a campfire. Geniuses had tried to burn plastic and then not put their fire out completely. That's sheer laziness; the water was only 25 feet away. Our new friend showed proved his worth by getting water and smothering the remains.
What with the swimming and the extra bit, not to mention post-hike pizza, it was quite a long day. I would suggest, if you do this hike, not going to Stevenson Branch, and instead using that time to hop into one of the local's swimming holes as you near the end of the hike.