Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mountaintown Creek Trail

It was a long, winding, bumpy drive over washed-out forest service roads to the well-marked Buddy Cove Gap trailhead on FS 64.  From there, the Mountaintown Creek Trail follows part of the Pinhoti Trail in the Cohuttas.   Our guidebook said this was a little-used trail, and sure enough, we didn't see anyone all day.  The trail had lots of mushrooms sprouting up in the middle of it-- as if people hadn't walked on it for some time.

Puffball fungus
Elegant stinkhorn fungus
Starting 3,120 feet up at the trailhead, we descended steeply for about half a mile until we reached the small trickling headwaters of the Crenshaw Branch.  The trail follows along this creek as it descends through the valley.   There are no bridges on the trail.  The first water crossing were easy, but rock-hopping grew tricky as the stream swelled in size as we went downstream.

Still Waters makes it across with dry feet

On our descent, we first heard and then saw a wild boar crash down the trail at our approach.  It looked HUGE!  Thank goodness it was running in the direction away from us, because it moved at lightening speed.  After that, we tried to make more noise as we moved along so we wouldn't startle it again.  I'd only see a wild boar once before, at dusk in the Smokies, though I've seen plenty of evidence of their destruction in the forests.  They root around, tearing up the ground and killing native plants in search of food, causing so much damage this invasive species has become a the target for control in many areas.

What is the wild boar doing there?  After reading about them, I learned that wild boar lack sweat glands so need to cool off by wallowing in mud or water.  It could have been down near the stream for the same reason I was there- to enjoy the natural air conditioning of the valley.

After about a mile, the stream cascades down beautiful rocky slides, over falls, and finally through a long v-shaped gorge.  At the base of the falls, there were small moss-lined rocky pools perfect for soaking hot feet.  One of my favorite parts of summer hiking is taking the time to wade around in streams, and to feel the texture of moss, mud, sand and rock with my toes.  So much of the time when we hike, we rely on just a few of our senses to experience the outdoors--  we mostly just look around.  Rarely do we actually, literally, touch nature.  But give it a try-- wave your feet in the water, squish your toes in the mud, rest them gently on a mossy rock.  It's a little scary at first to take off your shoes and walk around because you never know what's going to be sharp, or scratchy, or even latch onto you.  You can start small, just resting during a hike with your shoes off, feeling a breeze on your bare skin.  Try wading on rocky streams where you can see the bottom.  Maybe you will experience a connection with nature that you hadn't felt before.

Falls of the Crenshaw Branch


  1. The Hog must have been an adrenaline rush! We saw a lot of rooting when we were in the Cohutta's. As for the foot soaking, it is my secret weapon in the summer. Cools my body, shrinks my fat feet and keeps them from smelling so very bad......

  2. They sure were! I also thought of you on this trip because I got a wasp sting-- just one but it sure did me in and hurt so much to walk! Not to mention feeling out of sorts from the benedryl. I can't imagine getting more like you did.