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Cammerer via Leadmine Ridge October 17, 2010

Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
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Ed climbs up the rocks


Only six people went on this outing of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. Oh, what fools you others are to have missed out on this wonderful off-trail adventure on a beautiful October day!

We started up the right fork of Groundhog Creek and traveled easily in or near the creek through open woods. Before long we reached the Lower Cammerer Trail and made the short traverse over Rowdy Ridge to the drainage of Rowdy Creek. The original plan had been to go up Rowdy Ridge, but assorted knowledgeable people had consulted with each other and decided that Rowdy did not offer sufficient rewards to offset the punishment of the unrelenting thick brush.

As a matter of fact, I led an SMHC hike up Rowdy with Al Watson back in the 80s. I have to admit that it was pretty much 100% brush crawling, but we did have a great time at the top singing all verses of “Clementine” from the copies of the old SMHC songbook that I had brought along, much to the horror of other hikers who happened by.

The difference between Rowdy and Leadmine is that the latter offers some fun rock scrambling near the top that gets you out of the dense laurel.

We climbed steeply through open woods to reach the ridgecrest and then started dealing with the laurel and rhodo.


David and Hiram negotiate the ridgecrest


Rebekah seemed to be having a good time.


Rebekah climbs up the faint bear trail on the ridge


There were places where bears traveling on the ridge had very thoughtfully created neatly spaced footprints up the steeper sections of the deep, soft duff.

Just when the brush was starting to get a bit too claustrophobic, we started encountering some large boulders that we could scramble up and get out of the vegetation.


Looking up the rocky section of ridge


We had emerged from cool, dark shadows into a world of light and space and color.


Hiram's hiking apparel was color-coordinated with the foliage


It was the kind of day that makes you think of yodeling. You will be relieved to hear that none of us actually did that.


Looking down the ridge at a world of color


We reached the fire tower and encountered a few other people who liked the idea of Cammerer on a nice fall day.


A few other people had the idea of visiting the top of Cammerer


We relaxed on the large boulder on the far side of the fire tower, ate lunch, and applied the lavender-scented hand sanitizer that Rebekah had brought along. It was nearly enough to overcome any offensive odors that might possibly have developed during the strenuous brush-crawling.

Then it was just a matter of descending the Groundhog Ridge manway. The soil in the upper section of the manway has always reminded me of chocolate pudding. An old friend in the Hiking Club commented once (after I made that comparison), “Remind me not to have dinner at your place!”

The soil is rather slippery, the upper section very steep, and I decided that I would make it a personal challenge to see if I could get down the manway without my butt touching the ground. I almost succeeded.

We got down safely, stopping for a break on the Lower Cammerer Trail, where we continued a longstanding SMHC tradition of gossiping about the more notable “characters” in the club.

All in all, it was a wonderful day.


Chris descends the Groundhog Ridge manway



1. David Smith - October 17, 2010

It truly was a wonderful day. Thanks to Hiram and Ed for their expertise. Great write up Jenny. On to the next adventure…

Jenny - October 17, 2010

I’m looking forward to getting out there again!

2. Laura Townsend (David Smith's cousin) - October 18, 2010

Nice read! And with pictures!

3. brian - October 19, 2010

Beautiful. Thank you for letting me see the fall colors in the mountains. All we get where I live are red maples and a few sycamores planted in the Walmart parking lot. Your story of inflicting “Clementine” on your fellow hikers brings to mind something I’ve always wondered. Why and when did people quit singing together for fun? Apparently in the 1920s it was still perfectly normal to walk around in the woods singing songs and from what I understand the same in bars or at work. Personally I enjoy singing to myself while hiking alone. But if I called up my buddies and suggested we take a stroll in the park while singing popular tunes… well, who would ever do that? One of the strangest experiences I ever had traveling was taking a long walk with some men in a very remote village in Tibet. They merrily sang one folk song after another together. I was having a Woody Guthrie moment. Then suddenly they started whistling a tune I recognized as “Once, Twice…” by Celine Dion from the movie Titanic.

Jenny - October 21, 2010

Love the Tibetan moment! Reminds me of hitchhiking across Greece many years ago and getting a ride with a truck driver who spoke no conversational English but sang several times, with great feeling, “Please oh Lord don’t let me be misunderstood” by Eric Burden and the Animals (or was it still just the Animals? Rock history trivia experts will know.)

4. Greg Hoover - December 1, 2010

Loved it. Good write up.

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