Two seasons for the price of one November 8, 2010Posted by Jenny in hiking, Smoky Mountains.
Tags: Baxter Creek trail, Mt. Sterling
This hike was, I must say, a bit ill-fated. Literally. One of the people who planned to go on it became ill and could not go, and I myself became ill as I climbed up the trail and had to turn around short of the top. But I would not describe it as a waste of time at all. The three of us who went—Chris Sass, Steve Miller, and myself—got to experience some very unusual conditions, with autumn hanging on valiantly up to around the 4000′ level even in the face of a fresh dump of snow.
We decided at the start to abandon the original plan of going up an old manway that joins the Baxter Creek trail at 4600′—we figured that with probably around six inches of snow higher up, we just wouldn’t have enough time to get up to the top of Sterling and down again without running seriously short of daylight. We held open the option of doing the manway on the way down if by chance we made really good time.
But the hiking gods were not smiling on us this day. From the moment I started hiking, I did not feel well. An hour or so into the hike, I had to confess to my companions that I wasn’t feeling very peppy. I did manage to climb about 3000′ of the total 4100′ vertical before serious muscle cramps set in and I threw in the towel. As it turned out, I was simply coming down with a bad cold.
Chris continued on up to the fire tower, and Steve very kindly accompanied me back down to the trailhead. I enjoyed the chance to chat with him, a fellow resident of Asheville who is also a member of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club—there aren’t that many of us. Steve is originally from Morristown, and he knows all kinds of interesting places to hike up in the direction of Hot Springs, Erwin, and generally around the upper East Tennessee/western N.C. border. Considering the circumstances, it actually turned out to be a pretty decent day!