|Water levels were low enough to exposed the unique jagged rock formations of the Hiawassee River.|
|Fascinating geology and diverse plant community including pawpaws, one of my favorites.|
|Joe pye weed along the Hiawassee River.|
|Lunch at one of the many picnic areas along Hiawassee River Road.|
The 2008 reroute between Towee Creek and Wildcat Creek led further away from the river and up over a tall bluff. We followed beautiful Towee Creek before switchbacking up to the spine of the ridge. It was a hot humid climb and we were dripping in sweat. Afterwards we joked that we'd bagged a 14er. Such bad-ass JMT hikers! Of course it was only a 14-hundered footer, but whatever...
|It was hard going. Gnats were especially vicious and kept flying into nose, eyes, and ears.|
In the morning, we decided to follow the old route of the JMT/BMT on the return trip to the car. The section was much more used and still marked with signs and blazes all the way to the suspension bridge over the Hiwassee River and the Apalachian Power House.
|Looking up at the tons of pawpaws all along the trail.|
read that copperhead bites are really rare, that they only inject venom half the time anyway, and thought it's painful, hardly ever deadly. Not that I'd ever step on one on purpose, but it's another thing that I'm not gonna fear.
Overall, the first few miles of the JMT from Childers Creek were exceptionally pretty and I think they'd make a fantastic day hike, especially in fall or winter when the weather wouldn't be so brutally hot. It was great to be on the trail with my friend Salt and on the way home we scouted out the next trailhead for the BMT so I'll look forward to returning to this area for more adventures.
Information and trip planning notes
(note: information on the John Muir National Recreation Trail was really disappointing and lacking so I've included an annotated description of resources.)
Sherpa Guides has some regional information here.
The BMT Trail Guide for Tennesse showed the old and new reroute, which was helpful. However, it wasn't as detailed about the confusing road crossings.
The Trails Illustrated map #781 Tellico and Ocoee Rivers is easier to read than the trail guide, and shows road access. However, it didn't show the old BMT route, even though both new and old routes are still signed and blazed. Potentially very confusing.
This Backpacker Magazine article on the JMT at least had directions to the trailheads and for the shuttle. However, it doesn't describe the reroute even though it was published in 2010, and the description made us wonder if the author had actually hiked the trail.
Unfortunately, the BMTA trail descriptions that had been so helpful for sections 1-11 are not available for this section, but a map is available for free download.