Saturday, October 4, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Boogerman Loop

After parking at the empty trailhead parking lot, I crossed a high log bridge over Cataloochee Creek. I then hiked along a pleasant, relatively-flat Caldwell Fork Trail
Caldwell ForkTrail
for a bit which, not surprisingly, closely followed and crossed Caldwell Fork.
Caldwell Fork
After .8 mile and a ford of Caldwell Fork I was at the junction with the Boogerman Trail which I would follow for the next 3.8 miles.
Trail junction

Almost immediately I found myself gazing at a very large tree: a big tulip poplar. I took a photo of myself standing next to it and then moved on.
1st big tree
As I walked I realized there were lots of other big trees in the area but that most of them were dead.
big dead tree
I'm guessing these dead trees are hemlocks that have succumbed to the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. From this first big tree I continued on up the trail which climbed a bit more than I had anticipated.
Eric on Trail
I followed a short but steep trail up to a mossy flat area that I assume is a cemetery. There were no headstones, but the flat cleared area covered with moss seems to be pretty typical of Smokies cemeteries.

Eventually I found another large tree, another tulip poplar, off to the side of the trail. Again I photographed myself standing in next to it.
looking up
This particular tree has one of the largest girths of any tree I have ever seen! I followed a user trail around the tree and found that the other side was hollowed out and so I took another photograph. This time I stood just inside the hollow tree.
inside big tree

The trail continued on into some signs of habitation. First there was a stone wall.
Then I found another hollow tree.
inside another tree
Soon after there was another wall with a trail leading up hill to a small, two grave cemetery.
small cemetery
I contemplated the solitude of the spot with its two anonymous, lonely graves and then headed back to the main trail where I continued on and soon found an old home site. There was a rusted piece of metal tool or old machinery
metal equipment
there which I guessed the purpose of for a bit, before giving up and heading over to the Caldwell Fork Trail.

The Caldwell Fork Trail crossed the fork several times. I knew there were some bridges out and had brought my sandals for the crossings. There only ended up being 3 wet crossings and 2 of them were actually the same crossing the I made two times.
fording creek
Still, I didn't mind getting my feet wet on this chilly fall morning.

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