Sunday, July 14, 2013

Into the Smokies with friends... and Buddy

I joined friends Pathfinder and Holly for a short overnight in the Smokies.  We started from Abram's Creek Ranger Station and hiked the Cooper Road Trail and Little Bottoms Trail to campsite #17.

Pathfinder has been thruhiking the Appalachian Trail this year, but was taking a vacation from the Pennsylvania rocks.  I hadn't seen her since when I backpacked with her during her first days on the AT.  Now she's a seasoned thruhiker with over a thousand miles under her belt, and it was so cool to see how she has transformed and to hear about her experiences.   *check out Pathfinder's Trail Journal Here*

Immediately upon arriving at the trailhead, we were greeted by a stray dog named Buddy (according to his collar).  Buddy ignored the fact that dogs aren't allowed in the Smokies, and that I usually avoid hiking with dogs, and despite our best efforts, he proceeded to join us for our trip.  We didn't have cell service to call his owners, but we were reassured that his tag proclaimed "Buddy knows his way home."
Buddy provides encouragement on the water crossings.
Wide Cooper Road Trail followed the creek about half a mile to the closed Abrams Creek campground.  From there, it was a little less than a mile to the turnoff for Little Bottoms Trail.  We took our time switchbacking up the ridge and Buddy trotted up and down to check on everyone when we got spread out.   It was fun watching Holly interact with Buddy- she sure has a way with animals.

Upon cresting the ridge, we were greeted by the sound of Abrams Creek which would be the soundtrack for the rest of our trip.  The trail was narrow with tricky footing on the descent to the river.
On Little Bottoms Trail following Abrams Creek.
After arriving to campsite #17, Buddy proceeded to circle around and check the perimeter of our spacious site.  It was a super campsite with three bear cables, sandy beach, and excellent water source.  We enjoyed a leisurely evening with awesome conversations.
Holly and Buddy got along fabulously, but we didn't see Buddy the next day.
The southeast is in the midst of unusually wet summer, and I can't recall a day when we haven't had rain.  In the evening, we heard thunder and clouds looked ominous, but it never rained, despite what Holly declared was 400% humidity.
Soaking feet in the cool waters of Abrams Creek and watching the sky turn from dark gray to sunny blue.
A glorious site- sun, not rain, on my tarp.
I was delighted to be around friends that shared a love for the outdoors and that have similar backpacking styles.  Trips like this one remind me that sharing the trail with others can really deepen the experience enormously.  I sure hope we can do another trip again after Pathfinder finishes her AT adventures.
Rhododendron along the Little Bottom Trail.
For more information:
-Get a Smokies backcountry permit here.  It's easy, you just need to do it ahead of time.
-Hiking Trails of the Smokies, for trail descriptions and elevation profiles. 
-Trails Illustrated map #316 Cades Cove/ Elkmont.


  1. I would love to visit more of the Smokies some day. Rhododendrons seem to be blooming late?

  2. The Smokies are so vast and varied- this area was completely different than the other trails I've visited. And yes, the rhododendrons seemed later, but everything seems to be crazy with the cooler weather and all the rain.