Monday, May 5, 2014

Bent Arm Manway

Cluster of Trout Lilies along the trail today.

Bent Arm Manway Hike

Sunday April 20, 2014

David & Betsy Lee
Dana Koogler
Curtis & Cheryl Travis

13 miles loop hike
5 miles approx. off trail
Led by David Lee

Photos are here:
     I had been wanting to hike the Bent Arm Manway for a long time.
I made that fact known when I posted a Hiking Wish List on Go Smokies.  David
saw the post and was kind enough to invite me to join him and his wife and friends
on this trip.   I quickly agreed.  I had hunted for this old, unmaintained trail a 
couple times before without any luck.  I realized looking at the map and reading some 
info I had on it that I was going to need help.   I don't think I'd have found it alone.
I had thought I knew where it was, but I was wrong. 
       We agreed to meet Sunday morning at the Jakes Creek Trailhead parking at 8:15 am.
I got there about 10 minutes before everyone else.  We greeting one another and made introductions.  I had never met any of these folks before.  I had just communicated with them 
online.   Curtis had recovered well from a stroke a few months earlier.  Once he knew
I had been ill he was very supportive. It was especially meaningful to me coming from someone
who had overcome worse than what I was going through.  I had so appreciated his 
encouragement. I was very pleased to meet him as well as the others.  

      We had pretty weather.  It promised to be a nice clear day.  The skies were blue with a few
puffy clouds.  We had sunshine and fresh air! 
 Near the start of the manway. It is like a trench here.

David pointed out this quartz rock embedded in a tree.
Apparently this is some sort of ancient survey marker.
It fits the description of another one that the Meigs Party
put in, but according to him.. it is the wrong sort of tree to be the Meigs Line.
Still interesting bit of history.  

  We started out on Cucumber Gap Trail which was green and filled with flowers of every sort.  We worked on our wildflower identifications.  I was the designated guidebook, but I don't think they believed me.  We kidding one another and chatted as we went along.  David pointed out
some interesting spots along the trip that were of historic significance. 

     Top--spring creek drainage along Bent Arm Manway nearer the start
Bottom--slopes with tall trees and white great flowered trilliums

Today was not an easy hike by any means, but it was not as taxing mentally or physically as the previous weeks hike to Wilson Falls.  Once we got on the manway it was not hard to stay with it.  I enjoyed getting to talk to and getting to know a little about new friends.  All of them were interesting people.  The climb was gradual and varied between wide open forests with some tall, tall trees to rhododendron tunnels.   

Cluster of trees along the manway hike. 

     We came to another area along the way where we were out on the edge of the mountain.
It was cribbed with rock, but there was lots of downfall over it.  What was left of the old trail
had crumbled and was sliding off the mountain.  Beyond that was a rhodo tunnel area.  
We had partial views from this point. 

Top--Look to my right.. behind me.
Middle --Look to my left.. ahead of me
Bottom--Partial views through the trees to the west of us toward Jakes Creek.

       We continued onward and upward until we reached the crest of the ridge.  We had decided to stop there and eat our lunches. David had scouted this and shared with us about an intersection of sorts.  It was a point where the path became harder to spot and follow. We figured we'd sit and rest and eat before continuing.  Drawing near to this point we passed beautiful slopes covered in spring beauties that looked like a light dusting of snow over green grass. 
Slopes coated in flowers near the top.

   It was good to sit down and rest and get some food and something to drink.   It also felt good to
finally be doing something I'd dreamed of for such a long while.   Days like today are the stuff dreams are made of to me.  The forest had changed and had lots of birch trees.

Curtis and Cheryl up ahead of me nearing the 'intersection".

    We finished lunch and lifted up our packs to proceed.   The manway here split into many different, tiny barely visible threads through the faint vegetation.   We knew we had to go up over a knob and climb back down so we just headed in the right general direction.   It was not too bad and soon we were heading around a ridge and slightly downward.  We were moving toward Miry Ridge now.
We would not come to a real trail until we got on it where the manway merged with Miry Ridge Trail.

   It was such a pretty trip with the sun beaming down through that early Spring forest.
We only missed the correct path once and that was not for long.   We were heading down along what seemed at first to be a pretty good track.  David having scouted it reckonized we were off it.
He went up the slope scouting and in just moments he was hollering for us to move up the slope to join him.  It was a steep climb with us doing lots of complaining and bellyaching, but we did it.
We moaned and groaned and wanted to know whose idea this was anyway?  About the time we got
complaining really good we popped out on the trail. On we trudged along Miry Ridge.

Top--Curtis and Cheryl Travis and you can barely see Betsy.
Middle--Miry Ridge Trail going on through the heath.
Bottom--David climbs up through the heath to an overlook of 
Lynn Prong drainage.

   We were on a real path again. We seemed to make a little better time. The next stop 
was Jakes Gap.  We paused there for a drink of water and a pee break.    We then continued down Jakes Creek Trail from that big trail junction.   It was very pretty along the entire trail.

 Top--trillium and chickweed along the trail
Middle-- a mat of too many trout lilies to count
Bottom--trout lily closeup

     We passed the campsite next CS 27 to our right.  We stopped at the next good side stream where I filtered water to replenish my supply with fresh, cold water.   The creek was very mossy and green!
We passed creek crossings and footlogs I had forgotten. It had been several years since I was up this
far on the trail.   It was prettier than I remembered.  I enjoyed everything about it.
The scenery was a nice diversion from the discomfort of my tired feet.

     Jakes Creek was gorgeous but I did not take as many photos along it. I had grown very tired.
I was ready to wrap things up and be done with it.   I'd like to come back up here and just focus on this area and get some photos and soak it up.  The stream has many beautiful cascades and is so lush and green.

Betsy Lee taking in the view. This is nearer the beginning of the hike.

   Don't let Curtis fool you.  He can get a move on when he is homing in on that car at the parking lot!
All talk of 'we're lost" and "I'm not gonna make it" ceases and he means business! The business of finishing!   I enjoyed chatting with Betsy toward the end of the hike. We all traded spots around.
Took turns who we hiked near and chatted with. It was fun and very interesting.  
Betsy has a great sense of humor. I must say it was good to hike with two long time married couples
who not only love each other, but LIKE each other!  

    We were on the downhill stretch. We started passing the old cabins down here the bottom.
Before we knew it the gate was in sight and the parking area.  We said our goodbyes.
We parted company. I certainly liked everyone I met and I hope to hike with all of them again.
I want Kenny to meet them and hike with them too. 

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