Monday, January 18, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Middle Prong, Greenbrier Ridge, AT, Miry Ridge, Lynn Camp Prong Hike

Noelle gave me permission to head over to the Smokies to do some hiking today, and so I took full advantage of it. On the agenda for the day was a 20.2 mile lollipop starting from the Tremont area of the national park. The drive to the park was uneventful in the pre-dawn darkness. I arrived to a very cold, and nearly empty parking area and hit the trail at 8:00, immediately crossing over Lynn Camp Prong
start of the hike
and its cascading waters.
The Middle Prong Trail is a real joy to walk. I had hiked the lower sections of it back in March of last year. The trail is a wide old road that is easy to walk, and the cascading waters of Lynn Camp Prong are never too far away.
Lynn camp Cascades

I took the side trail over to the old Cadillac
frosty Cadillac
and then continued on past the junction with the Panther Creek Trail.
1st junction
I was happy not to be making the ford of the creek on this cold day! The trail continues on to the site of an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp. All that I could find from the CCC days was a crumbling chimney
CCC camp chimney
and some assorted rusting metal pieces. Shortly after leaving the camp area, at a switchback in the trail, I found a cairn marking the start of the unofficial trail to Indian Flats Falls. Indian Flats Falls is actually a series of 3 waterfalls. The only one that is easily accessible is the upper falls,
Indian Flats Falls
but from the ledge where one views the upper falls, you can get a partial view of the middle section of the falls.
middle Indian Flat Falls

After a short stop at Indian Flats Falls, I headed back to the main trail and continued my ascent up to the Greenbrier Ridge Trail.
2nd junction
As I made my way up Greenbrier Ridge, I made my way into the land of the frosted trees.
curve through the frost
It appears a cold fog flowed over the mountains here, coating every tree, shrub, and plant
frosty vegetation
in shimmering, sugary frosting.  Every now and then a break in the trees offered views of the surrounding mountains.
mountain through the trees
However, I was usually walking among the trees and frost.
another frosty trail shot

When I reached the Appalachian Trail the wind kicked up on the on the exposed ridge.
white junction
It was extremely cold.
very cold hiker
I stopped to eat a quick snack and get a drink of water, but my water bottle was frozen shut.
frozen water bottle
I had to bang it on a tree a few times to break up the ice and open it up. It was not easy to drink the slushy water. Even with the extreme cold, there were lots of great views of frosty trees. The contrast with the bright blue skies made for some great photos.
frosty tree 2
more trail through wonderland
I reached the junction with Miry Ridge and started to descend.
better junction
It was nice to get off of the exposed ridge.

Views on the Miry Ridge Trail, then the Lynn Camp Prong Trail were excellent. There were limited views off to Clingman's Dome, but again the frost covered scenery was very photogenic.
Great Frosty Trail
One attraction was a large yellow birch whose branches split in two. Growing in the crotch of the two branches was a rhododendron bush.
cool tree with frost
The frost covering the branches added to the ambiance. Lynn Camp Prong Trail crossed a few small streams
frosty creek
and started out as a singletrack trail, but at campsite 28 turned into a road.
campsite 28
The road made for quick and easy hiking. It would be all road walk back to the car in Tremont.

1 comment:

luksky said...

Wow, looks like you had a beautiful, but VERY cold hike. I'm a native southern girl, I don't do well if the temps go below 50 degrees.