The drive to Hot Springs was uneventful, but the Laurel River did appear to be muddy and swollen. We had gotten some heavy rain last night, but this area must have really gotten nailed. I made my way to Hot Springs, drove through town and then headed back towards Tennessee on US Highway 25/70. I soon found the turnoff for Upper Shut-in Road and quickly realized that something was not right. There was a “construction ahead” sign and lots of trucks hauling rock. I slowly followed one of the trucks up the hollow and noticed an increasing amount of water along the side of the road. Soon the road was covered in mud and the houses on the other side of the creek were not accessible. The storm last night must have washed out several bridges.
At this point I was between two large, slow-moving dump trucks and there was no place to turn around. Sections of the road closest the creek were washed away. Things were not looking good. Eventually all traffic came to a stop. I used this opportunity to turn around. The hike to Betty’s Place would have to wait for another day. I headed back to Hot Springs and formulated a plan in my mind as I drove.
I decided I would head to the SIlvermine Trailhead where I parked the other day for my hike on the Pump Gap Trail. I would hike the short Lover’s Leap Trail. The road back to the trailhead was covered with mud and debris, but was still easily passable. I parked the car and hit the trail under an overcast sky. I retraced my route of my previous hike in the area until I came to a junction. The Pump Gap Trail continued straight ahead while I followed a switch-back to the right. It was obvious from the faint white blazes on the trees that this trail I was following was originally the Appalachian Trail before the AT was rerouted.
This section of Appalachian Trail was impressive. It was a narrow footpath blasted out into a sheer rock face.
I followed the swollen river