Sunday, March 29, 2009

Colditz Cove State Natural Area

It rained hard last night. I was glad that Noelle and I stayed in the cabin and were not camping in the rain and lightning. This morning despite some drizzle and wind our spirits were high for our long anticipated backpacking trip. Noelle made some last minute preparations, then we checked out of the cabin and headed to the Bandy Creek Visitor Center to get our back-country permit. After that was done we drove to Leatherwood Ford where we dropped off the Subaru. We should have been a little bit more observant when we were there. It would have saved a lot of driving.

From there we both took the Civic back past the Pickett State Park office to the point of the highway where the John Muir Trail crosses. There's a small parking lot there where we parked, got our gear ready, then hit the trail.
It was a bit chilly and drizzling slightly. We were happy to be on the trail though. That is until we lost the trail. We hadn't even been on it for 5 minutes when the trail abruptly ended in a large swampy area. There were no blazes to be seen anywhere. We backtracked and still no sign of trail. Finally we gave it one last try. We noticed that an old road that the trail followed made its way into a creek. Sure enough, on the other side was trail sign. We would have to ford the creek. Eric took off his shoes and socks and started to wade across the swollen creek. The water was deeper than it looked and it reached up to near his hips. There was no way Noelle would make it! To top that off, the map showed that we would have to ford the same swollen creek three more times!

Our backpacking trip had ended just as quickly as it began. We hiked back to the car and thought of something to do to salvage the day. After thinking and crying for a bit we finally decided to head over to Colditz Cove State Natural Area. It is the site of Northrup Falls.
Falls and Eric for Scale
We drove the Civic through some small east Tennessee towns like Aldardt, and finally arrived at Colditz Cove. Let's just say this place was well worth the visit. With all the recent rain the falls were flowing strong and the setting was beautiful.
A good time was had by all.

After visiting the falls we headed to Oneida where we got a surprisingly good lunch at a Mexican restaurant, then back to Leatherwood Ford to pick up the Subaru. When we got to Leatherwood I decided to take a look at the river. The footbridge across was completely covered with water. We couldn't have started our hike from this side either. The ranger at the VC should never have issued the permit. Oh well, five dollars down the drain. Noelle and I decided that we would part ways. She would head back to Lexington, while I would head down to the Smokies for a few days in the mountains.

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