Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cherokee National Forest: Turkey Pen Cove and Middle Spring Loop

Another nice day and so we decided to get out of the house for a hike. I found a nice loop marked on the map and decided that it did not look too difficult for our experienced hiking crew. We loaded up the car and hit the road headed for Horse Creek. We arrived at the Horse Creek picnic area, parked the car and got ready for the walk.
Walking Horse Creek Road photo P1010322_zpsfc917b92.jpg
The start of our hike followed the rough, flower-fringed 
Fringed Polygala photo P1010321_zpsb6820307.jpg
Trillium photo P1010327_zps4649b28a.jpg
Horse Creek Road for a short distance before crossing Horse Creek on a footbridge and heading into the Sampson Mountain Wilderness.
Wilderness photo P1010324_zpsa6c3feb0.jpg

I knew there would be a few creek crossings on this hike, but I was surprised to find the first few were bridged,
Crossing Bridge photo P1010325_zpsffa32165.jpg
especially considering that we had entered into a designated wilderness area. Soon, however, we passed into a small section of private property and an old A-frame cabin I along the banks of Squibb Creek. The owner of the cabin must have some sort of easement to allow entry of wheeled vehicles etc. into the wilderness area.

After we passed by the cabin, we crossed Squibb Creek
Crossing Creek on Stones photo P1010326_zpsb368b023.jpg
and followed the trail into a tunnel of rhododendron gently ascending. A little later we found ourselves at a trail junction where we left the Squibb Creek Trail and headed up Turkeypen Cove. The climbing got very steep and Parker had a difficult time with it. To make matters worse there were several blow-downs that we had to make our way over , under, or around.
Over Blowdown photo P1010328_zpsba80c45b.jpg
Eventually we found ourselves on the top of a ridge and it was here that we started to make our descent on the Middle Spring Trail.
Trail Sign photo P1010329_zps37220b6c.jpg

Sierra was in good spirits this whole time. She never complained at all despite a wet diaper. We changed her right on the trail, ate a snack and made our way back to Squibb Creek. All in all it was a good hike, but it was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

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