Sunday, July 3, 2011

Very Special Death March

You are here by TheTurducken
You are here, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
Last weekend I led my last hike with Nashville Hiking Meetup, my final death march. The goal was to do as large a loop as possible at Frozen Head State Park. The plan was to go up the Cumberland Trail from the volleyball courts, join Bird Mountain, turn onto North Bird Mountain, follow it out to Coffin Springs, then head south to the lookout tower at the top of Frozen Head, and take Chimney Top down. I wasn't able to get a clear answer on the condition of North Bird Mountain, though, so I warned people to be flexible. Also, there would be several opportunities for people to change their minds if it proved too tough.

The first part of the hike was the toughest; we gained then lost 1000 feet before reaching the point indicated in the photo. Then the trail hauled back up another hill to the top of Jury Ridge. I should mention that the Bird Mountain trail was actually in worse shape than North Bird Mountain. NBM started off bad - waist-high weeds for at least half of mile - but then it opened up and was well-maintained. Still, after lunch we slowed down, and we elected to cut off a corner of the hike and head up to Frozen Head.

There's an intersection where some the trails up Frozen Head meet, and a good chunk of our group elected to head down to camp. We were left with 5 of our original 12. As we headed up to the top of Frozen Head, thunder started rumbling and a few isolated raindrops fell, but the storm passed us. Good thing, because we weren't going to climb the metal lookout tower in a thunderstorm!

After, we were pushing it on time, so we took South Old Mac, the shortest trail back to camp. When we came off the trail, we still had a mile roadwalk, but it was our lucky day - Ranger Mike was in the parking lot, and he gave us a lift back to camp.

All told, it was about 15 miles, with a ton of elevation change.

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